Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Open Photo Policy: It's a Good Thing!


No pictures.

I went to the Japanese Embroidery exhibit on Monday, Serenity and Silk. And, having been told I could take pictures, imagine my huge disappointment when I got there and was told by the embassy that they were forbidden.

Verboten. Not even without flash. Nothing.

The Museum and Exhibition world seems so confused on this topic right now. And though I appreciate some of the museum's views on their rights to intellectual property, the damage that flash photography has on artwork, the distraction that camera-wielding visitors can cause to other patrons, and the potential loss of sales in their museum stores...

I believe that a No-flash open photograph policy has advantages to the marketplace that far outweigh the negatives.

Enter the Louvre. One of the most magnificent museums in the world.


A place to experience some of the greatest works of art in the world...and yes, you may take pictures of them.

Raphael, Rubens, Da Vinci...it's all accessible...fully accessible...


And so if I'm interested in the study of wings...I have only to snap a few pictures and I can compare and contrast GĂ©rard's Cupid and Psyche with Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss by Antonio Carrova...


If I'm interested in how to represent hands in my work...I can study Sir Henry Raeburn's Petite Fille and get a close up of just her hands holding a posy...


Or I can snap a picture of this Study of Hands by Nicolas de Largilliere...


And here's the reality. Except for the most famous of pieces, the museum store doesn't carry pictures of the things I want to study and remember. And they certainly don't carry close-up photos of painting details. I looked.

Like these two scenes from Francois Boucher. Boucher is known for capturing scenes from everyday life...And there are so many fabulous details...like the girl in the lower right and her toys...


Wonderful!

And his painting below called The Shepherd's Presents or The Nest...


And the close-ups of the faces, the flowers and the wooden bird cage...all these details are exciting to relive and study once I've come back home.


And, as you know, I have had owls on my mind...So, I am free to snap away and take away inspiration and share it...


And if I have a Carribean Garden collection box for a future project, I can slip in this photo of Anne Vallayer-Coster's Still Life with Shells and Coral...


And to be honest, I wouldn't have known her history...that she was a female still life artist in the 18th century at a time when neither females nor still lifes were welcome in the academies de peinture.

Taking pictures allows me to go home and research a subject further...to explore ideas...to research parallels...to participate in the museum's art and make it part of my education. It extends my visit beyond the one day and entices me to visit again.

To study the embroidered patterns on the dresses of Madame Pompadour, famous mistress to Louis XV (Maurice Quentin-Delatour)...



As compared to a full-length portrait of his wife Marie Leczinska by Louis Tocque...


And the study and contrast of these two woman, their relationships with the king, and their portrayal in these paintings is an adventure in itself...

My mind today is just as on fire as the day that I viewed all these pieces...so to have their pictures to review and to re-energize my life is a gift.

As is this picture of my brother interacting with ancient art...


And my sister explaining the history of the Mona Lisa to Jack...


And the picture of this generous and gentle soul who held everyone's coats...including mine...so that I could hold the camera...


Thank you Louvre for your open camera policy.

For what is not spread, is dead.

And I have no doubt that allowing me to take pictures and post about them will increase interest in the public and excite visitors to go to a museum, or to an exhibition or to a shop...

So...even though I have no pictures to share, the Serenity in Silk exhibition which runs through April 2, 21012 at the Japanese Embassy in Washington, D.C. is worth a trip...and the coordinating ikebana arrangements set the mood for a delightful detour if you're going to view the cherry blossoms.

Thanks for listening...and viewing...and sharing...

27 comments:

Sheila said...

Oh, you are so right! I was so disappointed when I wasn't allowed to take any close up photographs to study Isabelle de Borchgrave's recent exhibit at the Foreign Legion Museum in SF. My sketches are a very poor trade. Beautiful pictures by the way. What great toys in the one with the family... and the hands study. Wow!

Catherine said...

So sad you weren't allowed to share! But, it did lead you to this beautiful post and I was able to see things ~ up close ~ that I may not get to see in person in my lifetime! Thanks for sharing!! :)

Gerry Krueger said...

For what is not spread, is dead.
That is so true....how all our lives have been enriched by the internet and how is opens vast horizons... well except the Japanese exhibit you attended... I bet there were some cell phones photos... Ger

coral-seas said...

Sooooo, diappointed that you were not allowed to take pictures to share with us. Booo-hisssssss! I have already been informed that the JEC has a no photographs policy :-(

Great post. A good point well made and beautifully illustrated.

Marie Costa said...

Gracious and intelligent post Susan, as always. ITA with everything you wrote.

Your photography is AMAZING. I need to take a basic photography class.

Cynthia Nicole said...

Your photo of your sister, your son, and the Mona Lisa made me cry. And it made me decide that I have to get to Paris in this lifetime because I know for sure (now) that I want to see these timeless masterpieces that people worship at the feet of. :)

Cynthia Nicole said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vicky aka Stichr said...

i will show this post to my college girl,stephanie, who went to the L. also. i am curious to find out if she saw any of the pieces you saw, and if she did, how did she SEE them??? she has a museum bucket list, can you imagine that?

Katie said...

I agree with an open photo policy in theory, but just wanted to point out that in this case it probably had nothing to do with intellectual property. The sad fact is that most people cannot be trusted to turn their flash off, and flash is damaging to precious artworks (especially textiles, which are shredded by light). So museums without the conservation/restoration budget of the Louvre are stuck with a difficult choice. No flash photo policies are good in theory but don't work in practice. It's hard on people like yourself who would respect the artwork, but you're the exception, not the rule. Preserving textiles is a nightmare already, if flash is added to the equation those treasures won't be around for the next generation to admire.

Wendy said...

So sad that you could not take pics of the exhibit. And I agree with you an open photo policy needs to be in every museum and every showing of those items that are treasures.

flower friend said...

Thanks for another great post Susan. This is a subject close to my heart. I am very lucky living near London that I can take photos(non flash)in the V&A and British Museum however when it comes to new exhibitions, I feel the aim is to get us to buy the book (usually very expensive)that is part of the merchandising.Often there are a poor selection of postcards so we are being held over a barrel.I have observed in this age of mobile phone cameras people sneak a picture when the attendants are not looking so do these restrictions serve any purpose?In Canterbury Cathedral I paid a fee to take pictures, could not the same happen in other places?Sorry for rattling on.

Saturday Sequins said...

Oh, dangit! I'm sorry you weren't allowed to take photos.

Seeing all the pictures of the Louvre makes me feel like I'm there, makes me wish I could go there. Museums could think of no-flash photography as free advertising!

JoWynn Johns said...

And thank YOU for showing!

Elmsley Rose said...

"Except for the most famous of pieces, the museum store doesn't carry pictures of the things I want to study and remember. And they certainly don't carry close-up photos of painting details."

Exactly! It's SOOO frustrating, isn't it. And the different artists want different things, never mind the individuals - and the museums can't possibly support a commercial range of such shots.

gracie said...

And I was waiting...thinking any time you would be posting and sharing....so disappointed. Thank you though for sharing other magnificent pictures...

Rachel said...

Absolutely although I can see why museums and conservators might be anxious - our first digital camera didn't remember when you'd turned the flash off, and there was always a risk of an embarrassing incident.

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

I felt your joy in sharing these pictures with us; your excitement in pointing out little details and what you found interesting about them. What you want to learn more about and how they will help you when you design a piece. Yes, that's what the pictures conjure from deep within you.

Then, your disappointment of not being able to study further a subject you probably love even more that the art in Paris.

A good debate Susan and an interesting post.

Sharon said...

Thank you so much for what you could share they are just breathtaking...I could only imagine in real life how impressive these were...

Laurel's Quill said...

I am in total agreement with you. Despite the shutterbugs taking pictures in the Cistine Chapel, which was against the rules and VERY annoying, most people are courteous. I love looking at my photos of the great masterpieces in the Louvre and other galleries. Aahh, Winged Victory...what a masterpiece! Thanks for sharing. Laurel

Esther said...

Love your blog!
Your photos are amazing.

C in DC said...

As a tourist, I agree that it's annoying, especially when your favorite item isn't in the postcards, or even the books!

As an archivist, I know that part of the problem is that you cannot turn off the flash on some camera phones and that policing the "no flash" rule is a lot more complex (and costly) than policing a "no photos" policy. Often it's the cost of the extra staff more than the merchandizing that leads to the policy.

Sad, but true.

Ingrid Mida said...

I agree with you Susan. You proved the point brilliantly as always!

Createology said...

Well said Susan Dear.

Donna said...

I am filled with sadness when I can't take photos. Too often what I want a picture of isn't represented in the gift shop. I do have one strange alternative - which using garners me the attention of a guard who thinks I'm going to take a photo. I travel with a digital voice recorder. And can be found standing in front of museum pieces describing them to myself in great detail. Not the same as a photo, but it helps me.

Leeann said...

I went to one woman quilt show a couple of years ago and no photos were allowed. I was annoyed as it was a steep price to go to the show, and you were only told no photos when you arrived. There was nothing on the advertisements inviting you to the show. I was also annoyed as all of the quilts in the show had been published in magazines and the web before, but we were still not allowed to take our own photos!

Another show I went to, you could take photos but they said you must ask permission if you want to put on a blog. I thought OK but it's is a public display. Anyway I decided on about 4 photos from hundreds I would like to put on my blog and sent an email for permission... yes you guessed it no response. Then I had to see at least 5 other blogs that just used photos without permission... anyway I was annoyed. I like they way you have shown the positive side of having an open photo policy.

black bear cabin said...

what a fantastic blog! i completely agree...and often take pictures of the same things...stuff you know wont be in the gift shop. I am an art history major, so it is rather frustrating when you cant take photos. I went to the getty when i was in cali for thanksgiving, and took many photos (without flash) of the things that interested me...and it was great to research them when i got home. Lovely photos as usual! cheers~

LilyStitch said...

Here! Here! Thank you so much for putting into words one of life's greatest frustrations!

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