Archive for the ‘photographing artwork’ Category

Shooting at MoMA (Part Two)

This is part two of a series of posts about photographing people looking at artwork at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. If you missed Part One, see it here. The woman above got very close to this Jackson Pollock, leaning in some times, perhaps in hopes it might make more sense that way. I’m still struggling with Pollock’s work – viewed at any distance.

So, this was a painting that caught my attention. I agree with the message – but what does it say about itself as a work of art? No one seemed much interested in lingering over this one.

Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World is one of the most famous paintings of the 20th Century. (and one I can get my arms around more easily than the Jackson Pollock painting). I was intrigued that this photograph showed more of the viewer’s face than is shown of Christina’s face in the painting. What is the viewer thinking? Perhaps she is imagining what is going on in Christina’s mind. And your humble photographer/blogger is wondering about both women’s thoughts and feelings.

This gentleman stared at this painting for a LONG time. He listened to the audio guide, then checked out the work from straight on, the left side, the right side, up close and far back. He was totally absorbed, which made my job much easier. I never got “caught” on this one, even though I took over a dozen pictures of him.

Here’s our friend from the first post, still up on her toes on one foot.

You may be wondering why I didn’t show the whole painting here – but even if  you saw all the words, it still wouldn’t make sense. This woman had taken a picture of the work on her iPad, hoping that would reveal the paintings hidden secrets.

Remember Patty Hearst? Loved the Red Keds and green shoulder bag here – colors likely not featured in Patty Hearst’s fashion palette.

This kid was intently studying these paintings – each one a flat black rectangle, nicely matted and framed. Maybe the audio guide helped here – or perhaps going down in a catcher’s crouch provided the answers.

Out in the sculpture garden, this fellow got down low to capture these fountains on his iPhone. His friend, out of the picture frame, and I gave each other knowing glances.

Let me know what your reactions are to these pictures. As always, I appreciate your interest in my work.

Working both in the studio and on location, photographer Blake Robinson serves the Connecticut communities of Darien, New Canaan, Stamford, Norwalk, Westport and Greenwich.

Shooting at MoMA (Part One)

On Thursday, I went into New York to take pictures at The Museum of Modern Art, or MoMA. My idea was to photograph people looking at the art. This was great fun! Some of the art is pretty challenging to understand, and so I tried to capture some sense of people struggling with what to make of the work. And I found a lot of humor. For example, in the image above, I’m imagining that LBJ, known for his expansive ego,  is not happy that he isn’t the center of attention.

This fellow walked right into the middle of the art. I’m wondering if the sculpture made more sense for him this way. A guard came right over and shooed him away.

One of the things I noticed is that people are drawn to art that features colors they like. This woman is obviously partial to yellow. I saw this over and over again in my day at the museum.

Also, I noticed everyone has a different body language when looking at art. This woman always had one foot up on her toes – I have 5 images of her looking at different paintings – all with the same foot posture – sometimes it was the left foot.

In shooting these images, I was trying to get one person and one work of art. This is not easy in a crowded museum! I was also trying to keep at least one edge – of an art frame or a doorway – squared up with one edge of the image.

This guard was making notes. After years of looking at the red painting, had he finally figured it out and wanted to write the “meaning” in his notebook? Or was he just making his grocery list?

In most of the pictures I took, the subject was not aware I was photographing them. This is perfectly legal – you can shoot anyone in a public space indoors or out. But I struggled a bit with it. Was I invading their privacy in some way? Was I being a voyeur – or worse, a stalker ( I did follow a few people through several galleries) ?  Sometimes, when I got caught, I’d just ask the person if it was OK to take their picture. Everyone said yes, but the shots I got this way didn’t look as natural. I’d suggest – “Just ignore me and look at the art.” But there was always a sense the person was conscious of me and posing to some degree. So, I mostly tried to stay incognito.

Another thing I learned is that most people don’t spend much time with each piece of art – often 5 seconds or less. So, I had to shoot fast. If I found someone sketching, like the woman above, I was in luck – I knew I had a bit of time and also knew the sketcher would be so wrapped up in the drawing that she would be less likely to notice me.

OK, the basketballs floating in a fish tank. I’d seen this at a show at the Whitney Museum some years ago. I don’t pretend to be an modern art expert, but I do have some issues to work out here. Is this fellow listening to the audio guide – or calling his son and saying, “Charlie, you’ll never guess where I found your missing basketballs!”

I’ll post some more pictures in another blog post in the next day or two.

I’d love to know what you think of the images – and the idea of of shooting people looking at art.

One last image, below. This is the only one I did pose.

Working both in the studio and on location, photographer Blake Robinson serves the Connecticut communities of Darien, New Canaan, Stamford, Norwalk, Westport and Greenwich.









dogs in the vineyard!

by Blake Robinson

April 26th, 2011    2 Comments     Add Comment
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A couple of years ago, I had the privilege of photographing some wonderful oil paintings to go into a book. The paintings are by Stuart Ferrell, an amazing painter of dogs – and other subjects. The story revolves around some dogs who go to work for an actual vineyard in Virginia. The vineyard, now under new ownership, has decided to use the image above for a wine label. I can’t wait to taste the wine!

In the picture above, the dogs, who have been hired to guard the vineyard, are asleep as a variety of creatures and critters look on. If you’d like to buy Stuart’s fabulous book, contact her at

Faithful readers know how much I enjoy doing headshots, and there are some lovely headshots in Stuart’s book, including my favorite one, below.