Ancient Artifact, Historical Artwork & Sculpture, & Archaeological Documentarian Services

Artifact, Ancient Artwork & Sculpture Digitization & Documentation

Over the years, our art photography services have evolved to include ancient artifacts and relics through our interest in ancient discoveries and travels. We now take on an important role an Art Documentarian when called requested by institutions and organizations. 

In Allen’s adventures and travels, he’s stumbled upon unique opportunities to capture priceless relics and works of art from past cultures. The journey has been full of surprises, often with a golden path that mysteriously threads through all the projects. We’ve photographed inside temples, museums, institutions, extremely remote areas, shady places, and private homes. 

Some of these projects have been spontaneous, requiring extemporaneous capture using any and all tools available. That’s not always easy when you’ve only packed minimal gear for a travel day, but stretches your creativity and resourcefulness (note: sheets and pillow cases make excellent light modifiers and can almost always be found in any culture).

We love the diversity in the process of art and artifact digitization. Each project is unique and draws upon many disciplines for a successful museum-quality level of execution. For example, in one shoot we may need to be equipped for shooting a massive Buddha sculpture with more of an architectural photography-like approach and in the other part of the day be using a macro lens to capture tiny relics, pieces of jewelry, or pottery pieces.

Other digitization projects are more coordinated with some as part of our video documentary projects. Yet many have been more “accidental” where something captured in the past becomes called to greater importance after destruction or loss occurs. When hired, we understand the importance of our role as documentarians and bring the equipment necessary to light and properly capture cultural and heritage items. 

Digital documentation of sculptures and artifacts is challenging and requires being quite adept in many areas of photography, historical locations, archeological digs and locations holding ancient wonders are most often not ideal environments for photography. Regardless of the conditions, we need to capture the essence of the piece, and often times its context. 

We use only top-level equipment and have stringent processes, as outlined on our Artwork Reproduction page. When necessary, we follow cultural heritage digitization imaging guidelines as closely as we can within the environments. It’s an alchemy of improvisation, nuance, and detail. 

Photo + Video Documentation

Archeological Documentary Videography & Photography

Whether you need photos of your archaeological relic findings, a full-length or short documentary video, or even an on-camera host for your videos, you can enjoy the benefit of a highly competent media production team to document both your story and findings on your journey or archaeological excavation. 

As natural explorers, we love the ability to apply our skills in various challenging environments to ensure you have top-quality images and videos. Having experience on both siders of the camera, our team is available on a project basis, or may be retained to journey with you on historical locations, archeological digs and the discovery of ancient wonders.

We welcome a discussion on your project. Contact Us.

Traveling Photography Services for World Heritage Sites

We offer cultural location documentarian photography services for world heritage sites that help their archival, as well as marketing and promotional missions. We love learning about the historical and cultural significance of these unique sites. Customers include UNESCO destinations as well as local nonprofit organizations relying on cultural tourism photography and also benefit from the promotion of these historical destination locations. 

Note how the tourists were removed and many subtle details were fine-tuned in each of these famous cultural and world heritage site photographs.

Documentarian photography for world heritage destinations is available for companies and organizations that need unique perspectives for their presentations. We know how to photograph cultural sites without people, using both in-camera and post-production techniques. We’ll work with your team to discuss the photoshoot’s objectives, determine the optimal time of day (or year), and can plan our shoots around tourist times. 

Our services can include both photo and video hybrid shoots and can comply with aspects of cultural heritage imaging guidelines if a project’s scope of work requires it. Contact us or learn more about our Travel Destination Photography Services

Frequently Asked Questions

Physical objects that have historical and cultural significance need digital preservation where we create very intentional “digital copies” of the original item. We use a variety of still-life photography techniques to ensure our methodology complies with established guidelines for cultural and historical imaging and depicts the ancient artifact or relic as accurately as possible.

The approach will vary based on the material and other qualities of the historical item. Each item is unique and requires the correct approach to highlighting and thus preserving its detail. For example, a stone carving may require multiple lighting angles to highlight the variances in texture to properly show the lines or patterns in the artifact. We will often photograph the items from all angles in high-resolution format to preserve all details.

Yes, we are traveling photographers. We’ve been flown globally for artifact photography commissions and artwork documentation assignments such as these. This is common for artifacts and art that are brittle, fragile, or preserved in a permanent fixture or case that prohibits shipping. 

We can set up photoshoots for relics in museums, public areas, historical centers, or almost anywhere your artifacts or art may be… Even in the field for archaeological projects!

Please inquire about our current travel availability.

All artifact and relic documentarian digitization projects begin with a discovery consultation. If an artifact or work of art is identified as fragile, brittle, light-sensitive, or extremely valuable, more formal procedures are followed.

One of the first questions we will ask is if we are allowed to move or touch the relic or art piece as somewhat of a litmus test of how formal the flow of the photo shoot will be. If the answer is no, it may be important that the photo shoot is adequately staffed with personnel who are capable of handling (and, if necessary, moving) the piece. We’ll work with museum staff, art curators, owners, art handlers, creative directors, and anyone necessary to accomplish the objectives. 

We require a waiver for all artifacts, relics, and artworks shipped to and brought to us, so fragile works need to be safeguarded properly. In most cases, it’s better if we travel to the piece.

Artifacts and anything with mounts, cases, fixtures, supports, permanent attachments or holding mechanisms need to be discussed in advance of moving or removal.

Preservation via digital copies of the original ancient art or fragile items is created to make them available to the public in presentation and print through mass media. This can also reduce the need for handling and transport and extend the life of the item. 

As documentarians, we have a responsibility for photographic accuracy. Everything in our art and artifact digitization photography process is calibrated because all parts affect the whole.

In summary:

  • We use only the best Nikon cameras and lenses from both Nikon and Sigma.
  • Each lens is calibrated to the camera manually for maximum sharpness.
  • The color temperature of the lights (with environmental consideration) is calibrated to the camera in each scene.
  • We use color calibration tools when capturing such as Calibrite’s Color Checker Photo Passport 2. This is placed in front of the piece in the final lighting configuration.
  • The computer’s monitor is calibrated using a mechanical device and custom color profiles.
  • We capture multiple lighting and metering variants of the work for flexibility in the post-production editing workflow.
  • When multiple angles are required, we uses turntables or other means of compositional and vantage point standardization. 

Given all these procedures, every user’s monitor will still give some variance, but we do all we can to accurately represent the work as the human eye sees it.

We travel worldwide to work with museums, various cultural institutions, universities, and archaeologists to document history’s greatest and rarest assets with museum-quality reproduction.

While there is no one global and governing standard, multiple regions have organizations that serve as governing bodies that establish cultural heritage imaging guidelines. We’ll discuss the options available for clients requiring adherence to cultural heritage imaging guidelines such as those created by Metamorfoze, FADGI, or any other organization in your region. Our scope of work will outline the quality standards we will use, and document a path of verifiable relations to the original as possible and as needed. 

We work with and approach rare artifact photography like art historians and/or art restoration professionals. We go to great lengths and intentionality to ensure we capture and relay the essence of the piece as the eye would experience it. We understand the importance of our role and each decision we make in our workflow.