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Photo breakdown: the museum mob

I recently visited the New Museum in NYC and the Pawel Althamer exhibit. I carried the M9 and 35/2 with me. I was working to find some order in the chaotic crowds. Seeing and capturing some kind of order or a story amid these sometimes “messy” situations can be challenging – and it’s something that I rarely do well.

Here’s the image I captured (click to enlarge):


Image analysis:

There’s a few things I like about this image, but it’s mainly that the forms and composition work nicely with the content and narrative. Certainly there is nothing terribly wild or exciting taking place in the image, but it does a solid job of capturing the place and the moment :

  • Tone and form… there are three main “groupings” of figures staring at the wall of text at frame right. A large group of 4 and a single figure at right. They are all in black, kind of featureless, and staring blankly. (The woman at the far left is the least convincing!) A central grouping are the “hero” figures – a quirky seated sculpture and a woman in white. The black/white clothing serves well to set her apart
  • There is a strong vertical (the wall) that divides the frame in two, and draws attention to the interaction observer/seated figure at the focal point of the frame
  • The mind  draws a line where figures in an image are looking. In this image – all the dark figures look across frame to the right… but the woman in white breaks this pattern. This tension is part of what makes the image work
  • I generally would prefer if group A (marked below) were either 3 or 5 figures – odd numbers tend to be more pleasing
  • The “dark figures” and the imaginary lines of their “projected” stares do a nice little job of framing the main interaction (group C)
  • I tend to like images where there’s a lot happening, and the subject is in the background. It’s not often that something like that works out nicely. This is a rare instance in which most of the elements add to the overall impact
  • Finally – and this is “inside ball” – the sculptor emphasizes social interaction and the viewer’s interaction with his work. This image does a nice little job of capturing this interaction. A heroine… appreciating the art, while the faceless crowd reads the words on the wall


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About Leica BOSS

I heart grain. I'm also an unapologetic Leicaphile - bringing original content and photography goodness from around the web with gear, photos & tutorials. Pay it forward.

2 Awesome Comments So Far

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  1. Dave
    April 7, 2014 at 2:29 pm #

    Doesn’t matter how many lines and squiggles you draw on that photo, it will still suck.

    • Leica BOSS
      April 7, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

      That’s a very interesting and insightful take, professor.

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