Taking Photos in Museums

On taking photos in museums by Natalie ParkerI’ve been showing you my New York vacation scrapbook pages, a lot of which feature some bad museum pictures.  It’s been 8 years since that trip and I’ve visited many more museums with my camera.  Here is what I learned:

Take Just a Few Photos: No one wants to see photos of what I saw in a museum unless it’s a rare circumstance.  I take a few photos to convey the experience, not to document exactly what I’m seeing.

What do I mean by that?  I didn’t try and get the best picture of Monet’s waterlilies at the Orangerie.  Instead, I snapped a couple photos of Mr. P contemplating them.  I can show how the visit felt, the curvature of the room, and it helps me remember the time Mr. P spent taking in the paintings.

On taking photos in museums by Natalie ParkerI’ll snap a few photos of objects or paintings just to use in my scrapbook later.  If I can, I’ll try and get the sign outside the museum.  Other than that, I’m at the museum to enjoy it, not document the heck out of it.

I’ve learned not to ever use a flash in a museum.  If I can’t get a good photo without it, I don’t get one.

Follow the Rules: This always bugs me so listen up!  If you are carrying a camera it is your responsibility to know the photography rules of the place you are visiting, period.  Some museums allow photographs, some don’t.  Most don’t allow flash photography.  If you don’t know how to turn off your flash, don’t take the picture.  If photography is not allowed, then no pictures, not even with your phone.

When Mr. P and I visited the Valley of the Kings, we couldn’t bring cameras inside the gates.  I was bummed because I at least wanted to get pictures outside the tombs in the Valley.  Our guide told us flash photography really damages the paintings inside the tombs and too many people used their flashes, claiming that it was an accident or they didn’t know how to turn it off.  Result? No cameras for anyone in the Valley of the Kings, not even outside the tombs.

The photo at the beginning of this post is of the Mona Lisa in the Louvre.  I snapped a couple pictures of the painting when we got there, then went back right before lunch to capture the melee.