'Two minutes in front of the Sunflowers'

August 19 2014

Video: Jon Sharples

For anti-photoists, the video above is evidence of gallery armageddon. There's even a flash! O.M.G.

Personally, I think it's pretty encouraging; the scene is orderly enough, people seem happy to be near the picture, some of them even take photos and 'look'. In fact, for one of the most famous pictures in the world, and certainly the most popular in the National Gallery, I'd say that it shows photography isn't nearly as distracting as some fear. And, although we've no video of the picture from before photos were allowed, you can be sure that it was just as busy.

Update - a reader writes:

Shock horror, there was a woman actually looking at the sunflowers, blocking snappers from getting a good clear photograph. Can we now establish a new etiquette?

Yes, urgently needed.

Update II - Rebecca Atkinson of the Museums Association writes of 'Selfie Scaremongering' here

Update III - a reader writes:

I am an avid reader of your blog and following all your posts on photography in art galleries. Almost every art gallery abroad I have been to have been ok with photography (without flash!). I even think that photography has become a huge part of my culture, we see something pretty or weird and we whip out our camera phones and take a snap. 

Last year I was naughty and snuck two photos of Michaelangelo's David at the Accademia Gallery. Though I did notice lots of others doing so as well! During my studies I was obsessed with Michaelangelo's work and so couldn't resist (I am usually one for respecting the rules and even check them before visiting places). I still managed to come out with a book and a jigsaw puzzle post card of the statue. I don't think it damaged their profits from me!

Update IV - a reader adds:

You won't be able to establish a new international etiquette, I'm afraid.

The last time I was looking up close at the Baptistry doors in Florence, a woman tried to nudge me away so she could have her photo taken in front of them. I told her I hadn't come to Florence to see her having her picture taken. She harumphed, rolled her eyes and moved on.

You really have to be tough, determined and stand your ground to look at art these days!

While another reader makes this essential point, which should be taken up by the National Gallery swiftly:

One small practical point that should be addressed is that there is no clear signage about what current National Gallery policy is. Now that photography is permitted, that might as well be stated big and boldly, with an accompanying statement about flash photography. At the moment there is nothing and the demoralised guards are left to fight a hopeless battle.

Update V - a reader asks:

Wouldn't it be nice if people left looking happier. The first selfie was the only one to smile, and that was for the camera. Everyone else seemed to come away tight-lipped and slightly desperate.

Probably people feel quite self conscious.

Update VI - another reader adds:

The sunflower video  makes me want to go and stand in front and ‘look’ at the picture for a few minutes. It looks like there is so much pressure from the photographers, forcing the lookers to keep moving.

I would find that extremely annoying, luckily my 18th century tastes mean there generally isn’t such a scrum!!

Notice to "Internet Explorer" Users

You are seeing this notice because you are using Internet Explorer 6.0 (or older version). IE6 is now a deprecated browser which this website no longer supports. To view the Art History News website, you can easily do so by downloading one of the following, freely available browsers:

Once you have upgraded your browser, you can return to this page using the new application, whereupon this notice will have been replaced by the full website and its content.