It’s certainly not enough to just win a trophy… you need to show off your accomplishment too! After all of the hard work it took to accomplish that big win, a good photograph can emphasize the gravity of such a feat.
But photographing trophies isn’t as simple as propping the object up on a shelf and snapping the shot. You really want to express what that trophy means. As such, your location and the lighting will make a big difference. Equally, most trophies are pretty shiny, which can cause some reflection issue and light bouncing around. Worry not, we have solutions to all of these problems! Here is our guide on how to make trophies look great on camera!
Some of the Problems With Photography Trophies
As you can imagine- trophies are shiny. Often made of polished metal, sometimes even clear glass, the properties of such materials reflect the photographer and any lighting source used. Although this fact isn’t something to fuss about when visually enjoying a trophy, it can be difficult for photographers!
The solution? A combination of using a polarizing filter and your angle in relation to the subject!
Polarizing filters are thin panes of glass that are attached to the front of your lens. Polarizing filters reduce glare from reflected surfaces- already eliminating issues caused by your lighting of choice (even natural light can afflict). The second is your position- have you noticed how reflections change when you view the same subject from different vantage points? This applies tremendously to photography. Adjust your perspective in order to eliminate reflections. As well, when positioning yourself, don’t stand under your light source because this will help minimize your own reflection.
The next issue is ensuring that the location you use fits with what you’re capturing. With trophies, depending on the accomplishment that yielded this victory, your location may change. Maybe you use a studio setting? Maybe a display case? Maybe even a lifestyle outdoor shot?
Trophies on Display
First instinct is to likely photograph the trophy on display. If it’s in a glass case, definitely use the polarizing filter to reduce glare from reflective surfaces! Try to keep the trophy centered, and use the display case itself as leading lines that help the viewer land on the subject.
Leading lines are parts of your composition that cause the eye to follow a line all the way to your subject. You can do this with various lines in a picture. Make sure all of them point towards your subject.
Trophies on Location
On location is a great choice, as you can get the background context for the trophy. Whether its in a sports arena or after a run, capturing the location can add a story to the picture. On location tends to be outdoors (as most sport activities take place there). If you are using natural light, try placing the trophy into the shadow or some sort of even area. Direct light tends to make the subject far too bright and exposure can be very difficult.
If you are able to select the location you photograph the trophy in, try to set up the shot during the golden hour. The golden hour includes the first hour after sunrise and the last hour of light before sunset. It is named as such because the sun being parallel to the camera creates a glow of gold light that washes over the image. This is the most beloved and eye catching time of day to capture photographs!
Photographing trophies in a studio can give them a very dramatic and sophisticated look. If you’re in a studio, you’re likely using artificial light. Both continuous lights (studio lights that stay on) and flashes (lights that release a bright spark synchronizing with your shutter) work great.
With the light of your choice you can do the triangle arrangement with three lights. Place one light in front of your subject, and two lights behind the subject on either side. Aim all of the lights towards the subject. The one overhead produces the nice even illumination while the ones on either side create a rim and separation!
Because of the reflective properties, just make sure your lights are angled 45 degrees and further away from the trophy. Make sure there is a good distance between the glass object and your light! You see, if the light comes from 45 degrees from the right, it will reflect back 45 to the left. If it’s directly over the shiny surface, it will reflect straight back at the camera. You want your lights far enough to the sides that you cannot see that reflection.
Trophies With Their Winners
Maybe it’s not your trophy that you are photographing- it’s someone else’s! Capturing fun and exciting shots of the trophy with their winner can really make that win shot stand out! Try to capture the energy and joy.
In conclusion, our guide should aid you in showing off your proud trophy to everyone in a beautiful photograph!