If you're about to visit an art gallery that recently allowed photography, you may want to put that camera away anyway. While many galleries have long prohibited pictures, a number have been allowing non-flash photography in an effort to deal with the growing presence of smartphones. But that doesn't make the photography the best thing for the gallery, or you. Here's a look at why you should continue to use your eyes only when in front of a work of art.
The time it takes to aim and focus a camera on a piece of art -- even if it's just a smartphone with auto-focus -- can hold up the crowds of people who are trying to see the piece of art. In a popular gallery, that could be a crowd-control disaster that prevents people from actually getting inside the gallery.
While you could argue that just standing there and looking at the art takes time, at least it's time you're meant to spend in front of the art, looking. And if you're just looking at the art, you can move around and let other people pass you. You aren't stuck in one area, trying to get the best shot.
Many galleries rely on gift shop sales and other reproductions of the art sold through other outlets, such as online stores, to shore up their budgets. If you take a picture, that's one less postcard or poster that the gallery can sell. Plus, many cameras, especially smartphone cameras, can't get the right combination of lighting, detail, and angle to produce a good picture, even if the camera is state-of-the-art. A postcard or poster produced especially for the gallery is going to be of much better quality, and for a reasonable price. Don't waste your time with the camera -- just go to the gift shop.
Hurting Your Memories
You should be going to the gallery to see the art, not just glancing at it through a screen and then moving on. If you hold everyone up and make people get out of the way for your picture, you're not going to have time to actually contemplate the art before other people push you out of the way so they can take their pictures.
Instead of looking through that camera, look directly at the work of art. Note colors, note prominent features, note how shadows affect facial expressions on people in the art, note how brushstroke direction influences the art in paintings. Use your time at the gallery wisely, and you will have more memories -- and more detailed memories of your trip -- than if you committed everything to digital storage.
Appreciating art is a lot more fun in person and through your own eyes than through the one eye of a camera lens. Contact galleries in your area, such as Art Gallery Editions Gallery, for information about showings, and see if the galleries offer classes on art critiques and production -- you'll gain even more appreciation when you see the thought that goes into the works.