Guide: Photographing war memorials



  • The two factors that need to be taken into account when taking a photograph are environment and subject matter.
    This is an example of a well exposed image:

    A well exposed photo

  • When possible, shoot with your back to the sun, as opposed to facing towards the sun; this will avoid potential overexposure and lens flare
  • Some Rolls of Honour may be located within secure glass cabinets. Using the camera flash tends to generate large amounts of glare off glass surfaces, so this should generally be avoided. You may have to use a tripod or brace the camera against a solid surface in order to avoid camera shake.
  • Generally, plaques or Roll of Honour boards are made from materials that produce a reflection when a light source hits the surface e.g. metal and polished wood. Keep this in mind when taking a photograph. If the reflection is too bright and washes out the image, take the photo from a slight angle in order to minimise reflections.
  • If there isn't enough light to take a well exposed image, the options are:
    • Use a flash and take it from a slight angle to reduce the glare of light bouncing off the surface.

      An example of glare and no glare

      The photograph on the left was taken straight on with a flash, whereas the photograph on the right was taken at a slight angle to reduce bounce.

    • Use a tripod, turn off the flash and then use the timer (to avoid vibrations caused by pressing the shutter button)
    • Or brace your camera against a solid object, pressing the shutter button smoothly.


  • On digital cameras there is an option to change the ISO setting. ISO determines how sensitive the camera sensor is to light. The lower the ISO number (e.g. 100 ISO) the slower the speed. The higher the ISO number (e.g. 800 ISO) the faster the speed.
  • Use an ISO of 100 or 200 when taking photographs outside in sunny conditions. If the sky is overcast or it is evening time, then use an ISO within the range of 400 to 800.
  • If you set your digital camera to a low ISO, for example 100, the resulting photograph will be better quality than one set at 1600. The higher the ISO, the more grainy the photo will look. Therefore, use a low ISO setting whenever possible.
  • Generally monuments, cenotaphs and gates are situated outside. So the variable factors are either the weather is sunny, overcast or raining.
    • If it is a sunny day and there is enough light on the subject matter, shoot the subject as is.
    • If the lighting is too harsh and creates shadows, use the flash and shorten the shutter speed.
    • If it is overcast or raining:
      1. use the flash, or
      2. turn off the flash and use a tripod (otherwise, brace the camera against a solid object), then lower the shutter speed to let more light in.


  • Generally centre your subjects in the middle of the photograph, creating a nice horizon line three quarters of the way down the photograph. See the example below:

    A well exposed photo


A well exposed photo

  • Make sure the camera focuses on the main subject matter because automatic focus sometimes focuses on the wrong thing. Check your focus points and settings, refer to your Digital Camera Manual.
  • If your image looks blurry, it is generally because the camera misfocused, or your hands are producing camera shake. To avoid this, follow the above steps for using a tripod or bracing against a solid object.

For further information please visit:

Images courtesy of Peter Levarre-Waters