Taking Pictures in Galleries
This is a true story (only the names have been withheld, for considerations of privacy and copyright):I'm not sure what it says about our cultural institutions' photography restrictions generally, but I know what it says about that non-profit space's documenting practices. (Full disclosure: I feel free to say this because we're not always the best at documenting our exhibitions either [something on my "do better" list], but then we don't discourage bloggers from taking photos.)What does the blogger do in this case, and in the larger scheme of things, what does this scenario say about our cultural institutions' photography restrictions generally?
A young artist is chosen to be in a group show at a respectable small non-profit space.
An appreciative and enthusiastic art blogger captures an image of the artist's work installed in that space and publishes it on his site.
On a return visit to the space months later the blogger is told by people in charge that photographs are not allowed at any time.
The blogger ceases to photograph any artists' work in that space.
Two years after the image of the young artist's work appeared on the blogger's site a major museum in another city writes to him asking if it could have permission to use it in publicity materials being prepared prior to a solo show it has scheduled of the artist's work, since there is no other photograph of the piece available.
The blogger suspects that the piece itself may no longer physically exist, thus explaining the importance of his photograph.
And I guess that's the issue here. What are/should be the guidelines for taking photographs in galleries. We have a fairly liberal policy. We appreciate being asked (and have, on occassion, asked someone who didn't ask to stop if we're not sure who they are), but we welcome bloggers and other media folks to snap away. (Why not, they're hopefully going to post the images and that helps us advertize the show.) For a non-profit space to object to free advertizing, well, I don't get it at all (feel free to enlighten me).
I should note, that there are some restrictions with some work in our space. One of our artists photographs his sculptures, and those photographs also comprise his artwork. In that case, we prefer folks not to photograph the work (at least not from the same vantage points [close-up] the artist works from). Also, if taking photos would disrupt the viewing experience of other visitors, we ask the requester to wait.
Now I fully understand copyright concerns and context concerns, but I'm curious if anyone can recount an episode where a photograph taken in a gallery actually hurt the artist or their career (i.e., in particular their rights to profit from said piece).
In general, I see press as press. And press with pix is the best press there is. It has yet to bite us in the ass.
Other galleries? Any reason I should reconsider this position?
Labels: photography in galleries