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Photo Tips by Mike Rosen

MAY 2013


Hi <<First Name>>,

Normally we visit art museums to view the art, but for those who are interested in bumping their photographic skills to a higher level, there are two other great reasons:

  • You can learn a lot about composition and light by studying the works of great painters. Note their use of composition techniques like the "rule of thirds," diagonal and leading lines, filling the canvass (your camera's frame) with their subject and simplicity (the "less is more" principle). Also look closely at their use of creative light sources, usually low sun, side light with long shadows, or light streaming through a window. Rarely do you see a fine painting where the subject is lit by direct, high sunlight. Emulate these great works. Your photographs will benefit.
  • Museums are almost always beautifully designed buildings with great classic or modern architectural features. Look for them with your artist's eye and shoot many pictures, especially if they include people walking around or viewing works of art. Also make it a point to look out the windows. Museums are usually in beautiful settings, and you can often find striking views of action on the city streets, parks, buildings and rooftops.
By the way, I recommend you don't waste time taking pictures of the art works themselves. You can buy better ones in the gift shop.

Here are some photographs that I have made of, in and from museums.

I was on the roof of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and made this three-layer image of Central Park and the skyline. The three distinct layers--foreground, mid-ground and background--provide a sense of depth to this autumn scene.

This is a night shot of I. M. Pei's iconic entrance to the Louvre in Paris. The diamond-like pyramid stands stunningly against the dark sky, and the people milling around add some nice color plus a dynamic sense of action to the image. 

I think this image validates my rule of always looking out the windows of a museum for possible great scenes. It's a small section of  Paris roof-tops seen through a window of the Pompidou Museum, and looks to me like an impressionist painting. I love the patterns created by the many diagonal and vertical lines, as well as the bright colors of the graffiti.

This fellow was making a photo of Andy Warhol's famous Marilyn Monroe painting at New York's Museum of Modern Art. I wouldn't have been taking that postcard picture, but I think this image is very interesting and says something about our celebrity culture. I was lucky to have a few seconds to shoot without other gawkers in the scene. 

This view of Frank Gehry's Weisman Art Museum is was shot from across the Mississippi River near downtown Minneapolis. I 
was drawn by the leading lines of the bridge and the vivid reflections. And I converted to black and white because it seemed more dramatic than the rather flat, boring colors in the original image.

I think Frank Lloyd Wrignt's Guggenheim Museum in New York is made for photographers. The layers of silhouetted viewers and the circular ramps create a great sense of motion. I like the "Kandinsky" exhibit title, which helps tell the story of what's going on. Again I was attracted to black and white treatment because there wasn't much color against the predominantly white structure.

Another iconic Paris museum, the Musee d'Orsay, was an old railway station with a very famous clock. This view is  looking through the clock toward Montmartre. I immediately was drawn to the silhouettes of the visitors and the clock structure. The image, like the previous one, has a strong sense of place, another effect I try to incorporate whenever possible.

So there's a sampling of museum photography. You don't need to be in New York or Paris to find great opportunities. Make a "photo date" with yourselves and try out the many stunning museums in the Twin Cities or wherever you live.

All the best,





Other Stuff


You can view and purchase any of my photographs at my website (click HERE). Better yet, just email me (click HERE), or feel free to phone me at 612-374-2766. 


To see or purchase a signed copy of my new, beautiful (my opinion) hard-cover coffee table book, click HERE

When you get to the book, just click or swipe on any page to advance to the next page or return to the previous one. You can also scroll across the bottom to pick whichever pages you'd like to view. Price: $60.00.


You may know that I teach a photography course for OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute), the highly regarded senior education program based at the University of Minnesota. OLLI is sponsoring an art exhibit at the Edina Senior Center for three months beginning June 3. I will have several pieces in the exhibit, including this one of a small stream in India:

The Senior Center is located  at 5280 Grandview Square near 50th St. and Highway 100 in Edina (off Eden Avenue). I hope you'll get a chance to visit over the summer.


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