Photographing shiny objects

Photographing metal objects requires patience and expertise. A shiny surface works like a mirror, sometimes reflecting the entire space around it. All these reflections must somehow be brought under control. This especially applies to silver but also to iron, gold or brass.

We experience silver as light in colour, so in turn the object needs to primarily reflect light-coloured surroundings. Other metals may have more dark reflections and therefore require less adjustment of the surroundings in the studio.


Foto's van metalen voorwerpen door Margareta Svensson

A precious diamond ring found during an archaeological excavation after a fire on the Langestraat in Alkmaar. In all probability the ring belonged to Maria Tesselschade Roemers Visscher (1594-1649). She is known as ‘the muse of the Muiderkring’. The photo was taken for the exhibition Dichter bij de Maria Tesselschade, nieuwe vondsten van een bewogen leven (Lit. Closer to Poet Maria Tesselschade, new finds of an eventful life) in the Stedelijk Museum in Alkmaar 2017.


The object seems expensive because of its sheen and sparkle. Therefore similar objects should be thoroughly polished and cleaned before being photographed.

foto's van zilveren objecten

A salt and pepper pot with spoons for sprinkling (London, 1777) from the collection of Duivenvoorde Castle situated between Leiden and The Hague.

Foto's van metalen voorwerpen

Burgonet helmet made of iron (Augsburg, Germany 1570) 34 x 20 x 28 cm, Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands. Iron reflects somewhat differently than smooth silver.

Foto's maken van metaal

Arm piece from body armour, (Germany 1580) 63 x 33 x 27 cm, Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands.

foto's van metalen voorwerpen

A turban-shaped copper cakepan, Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands. Here it is important that both the copper colour and the shape are depicted at their best.

Antieke klokken laten fotograferen door professionele fotograaf

Mantle clock with figure of Amor and butterfly, (nineteenth century) 33 x 14,5 x 14,5 cm, gilded brass with enamel clockface, Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands. This object reflects less than others, so the photographer and the camera are not visible.

foto's van metalen voorwerpen door Margraeta Svensson

Jug with lid, 32 x 15 x 10,2 cm, Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands. The surface is embellished with Arabic motifs,  This object is no longer so shiny; the aim is to capture the object in its current condition.