Ardon Bar-Hama is known for photographing the world’s most treasured objects in libraries, museums, archives, private collections and
institutions. His clients range from private collectors toprestigious institutions to the Vatican. Objects he has digitized include archaeological artifacts, sculptures and manuscripts of inestimable religious and cultural value.
Ardon’s body of work includes photographing and digitizing the Dead-Sea-Scrolls Written between the third and first centuries BCE, the Dead Sea Scrolls include the oldest known biblical manuscripts in existence. In 68 BCE, they were hidden in 11 caves in the Judean desert on the shores of the Dead Sea to protect them from the approaching Roman armies. They weren’t discovered again until 1947, when a Bedouin shepherd threw a rock in a cave and realized something was inside. Since 1965, the scrolls have been on exhibit at the Shrine of the Book at The Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Among other topics, the scrolls offer critical insights into life and religion in ancient Jerusalem, including the birth of Christianity. , the Codex Vaticanus and the Aleppo Codex. He recently completed the journals and documents of Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, a project funded by Google who had recommended Ardon. Other works Ardon has photographed include the original architectural drawings of Robert Adam at the Soane Museum in London, the archives of musical scores from the New York Philharmonic and Julliard School of Music and many others detailed on this site. His work can be seen in museums, public institutions and private collections throughout the world.
With a background in architectural photography, Ardon pioneered the use of medium-format digital photography and other innovative methods for archiving delicate documents. Ardon was a proponent of the “one shot” method of capturing images of manuscripts with a digital camera. Until recently, photographers used scanning back cameras which required cold light, long exposure times, very steady copy stands, and the need to position and reposition precious materials – a very slow process. Ardon came up with the idea of using a camera that was mainly being used by fashion photographers due to the large scale sensor and speed of capture. Using a Leaf digital back mounted on an Alpa camera and a special technique that he developed, Ardon found that he could get amazing quality photographs in seconds.
Ardon’s first project using the new technique was digitizing the Aleppo Codex, the oldest existing Hebrew Bible from the year 920. Ardon credits the start of his digitization career to the vision of cultural entrepreneur George Blumenthal, whose experiences as the founder and chairman of Virgin Media helped him to see that high-speed Internet access could serve as a catalyst to “democratizing” archives that had been closed to the world. His second project with Mr. Blumenthal was photographing and digitizing the Great Isaiah Scroll, which is available online for anyone with an Internet connection to see.
Each project begins with a technical evaluation of the artifacts, to give institutions and individual collectors a full assessment of the project. Ardon’s entire photography studio fits into a suitcase. Despite this flexibility he achieves the highest resolution digital photography available.