China’s terracotta army is one of the greatest and most important archeological finds of all time.
Discovered in the tomb of the Emperor Qin Shi Huang Di and constructed around 210 B.C., these soldiers were meant to guard the Chinese ruler in his afterlife.
There are about 8,000 terracotta army soldiers in all, and the entire “army” took about 40 years to assemble.
Because each terracotta soldier has their own facial features, there’s a lot to see!
We know that, when you’re traveling to Xi’an, China to see these magnificent warriors, you want to do all you can to get the best possible photographs.
We also know that you don’t want your photos to look just like everyone else’s.
That’s why we created this post, designed to share with you 5 of the most unique and unexpected photo ideas to perfectly capture the stunning beauty of the terracotta army.
1. Use A Wide Lens
In order to make sure you don’t end up with yet another grainy and blurry shot of the terracotta army, you need to use the right equipment.
The right camera will ensure that you can snap pictures of the extraordinary features of these warriors and that all the details are clear.
Since the vast majority of the warriors are contained in dug-out “pits” as opposed to individually displayed, you’ll need a camera that has the features to get these details even from far away.
We suggest using a camera that has between an 18-35 mm lens, and between 70-300 mm for close-up shots.
Also, to get a clearer shot, we advise you to head to the left side of the pits, which usually have a bit more room.
2. Show The Whole Scene
When you picture the terracotta army, your mind likely goes to a single soldier.
Few photographs really capture just how many – and how massive – these soldiers really are.
While getting great close-ups is important, we also suggest that you take photographs that show the whole scope of how they’re displayed (as you would in landscape photography.)
Keep in mind that there are several different “pits” of these warriors and that you should get a shot of each of them in their entirety. (You may need to use a panoramic lens or feature to really show the size!)
We especially love the first pit, which contains both warriors and animals.
It’s a total of 16 feet deep!
Especially if you plan to share your pictures with friends, it’s important to show the depth of the pits themselves. Doing this reminds viewers that these warriors stayed buried underground for thousands of years.
It also reminds viewers that there are still many warriors left to be uncovered.
To capture this image, lift your camera as high as you can and snap a downward-facing photograph.
We also suggest snapping a little picture of the history of the structure guarding the warriors. There was a flood that caused some of the walls to slope downwards and erode.
It’s important to remind those you share your photos with about the elements of the Earth, and the fragility of history.
3. Don’t Go For The Pristine Warriors
In keeping with our theme of taking photographs that really show the passage of time, we also suggest that you don’t just pick the most beautiful terracotta army warriors to shoot.
China is home to some of the oldest civilizations in the world. Make sure you take photos that reflect that.
Look for soldiers that have been eroded by the dirt, wind, and sand, that show a little age.
Some will even have sand permanently etched into the cracks in their “armor.”
You’ll even notice broken warriors, many of which are arranged in piles of heads – certainly reminiscent of the horrors of “real life” war.
When taking these shots, it’s best to focus on individual soldiers. That way, it will be clear that these warriors weren’t intentionally damaged, but rather have been around for thousands of years.
4. Focus On The Armor
Whether you love fashion or are simply fascinated with the intricate details of the terracotta army, it’s important that you take photographs that don’t focus only on facial features or rows of soldiers.
Also, be sure to include close-up shots of the army and weapons “worn” by the warriors.
There is a huge variety of uniforms throughout the pits. You’ll see detailing like tassels, plates, and even robes and elaborate headpieces.
These shots are a great way to really show off the attention to detail that these ancient sculptors focused on when creating the warriors thousands of years ago.
Don’t forget that these human soldiers aren’t the only ones “wearing” this armor! Be sure you capture a few photographs of the intricate bridles and saddles of the horses, as well.
To really get this shot, take it from the side of the horses’ face, to show the detailing of the bit.
5. Juxtapose The Then And Now
Of course, everyone wants to take a selfie with these warriors.
However, once you’ve gotten that out of the way, really think about how else you can show that the ancient and the modern worlds coexist side by side.
Do you see any “exit” signs or modern lighting you could include? Security guards?
What about the other visitors themselves?
Taking a “then and now” photograph will help to express how Chinese culture – and humans in general – have grown and evolved over time.
You can contrast styles of dress, mannerisms, and the stillness of the warriors with the movement of the museum.
Keep in mind though, that it’s always better to ask for permission to take a photograph of someone else.
Always be respectful – this isn’t the time for offensive poses, either.
You’re Ready To Take Exceptional Terracotta Army Photographs
You’re not taking the same trip as everyone else – so why should you take the same photographs?
You want pictures that will really take you back to what it felt like to be standing in front of these magnificent warriors. The tips we’ve shared here will help you to accomplish that.
For more advice on how to take the best photographs throughout all of China’s best landmarks, spend some time on our website.