Photography is literally “writing with light.” So as you can imagine, light and composition are the two major ingredients of a good picture. Since we are trying to pass a 3D item on in 2D we need to photograph it in a sharp, clear, defining manor. You can still take beautiful, artistic pictures of it too but be sure to get the essence of the piece. The difference is like Shakespeare vs. a technical manual.
The pictures above show some lead crystal passed down to me from my great-great grandmother. One is taken in its place in my home. I used a large aperture to narrow the field of focus to just the front part of the larger piece. It sits on a doily that the original owner’s daughter made. The background is natural but too busy for archiving. The other was taken in my “studio.” No background, aperture tighter, and shutter open longer. The only thing that could have made it more utilitarian is if I had placed a ruler in the front of it to get a sense of true size. The background is actually a white roller-type shade that I attached to the wall using 3M temporary mounting strips. I draped the shade over a table so I would not have any background at all. I used the same natural lighting and I used a tripod for both compositions.