As soon as they stride through the doors of the main entrance, I see visitors get that instant urge to reach for their camera. It’s not surprising, though, being surrounded by the grand Greco-Roman revival architecture; I often take a moment to look around and feel lucky to work in such a beautiful place. But then these initial snapshots often evolve into an extended photoshoot of the #squad on the stairs, with the designated photographer bowed on one knee to capture the best angle. Then once they’ve climbed the staircase, this progresses to precariously leaning across the balcony (not recommended- unless you’re in a circus) for the best angle and shot.
Photography seems to have become a social norm, especially for people flocking to cultural destinations, taking hundreds of snapshots all in one go; like personalised souvenirs. I am aware that this sounds like an obvious inclination for anyone visiting a cultural place, however it’s something I’ve noticed over the past year and a half of working at the gallery. It’s interesting to observe the behaviour patterns of people “looking” at their surroundings and what motivates them to take photos of particular things.
When I see visitors taking lots of photos inside the exhibitions, I often wonder why that specific piece? Is it a photo to use on social media, to communicate and share experiences? Does it speak to them on a personal level? Does it provoke a strong emotional response for the visitor?
I imagine the most common reason is to look back on the photos as personal mementos, as a visitor recently told me; “You see something and then you want to be reminded of how good it was!”.
What is it that unites
these different approaches,
is it the public’s reaction to
a symbol like this?