Photography Art Direction
and Guidelines

WHILE WORKING FOR THE Art Institute of Chicago | 2018

With the redesign of the Art Institute of Chicago website, we took the opportunity to take a fresh look at every aspect of our web presence, including the museum photography.

Our team created a set of brand guidelines and used them to guide a web-specific photoshoot, aiming to capture scenes that illuminate the context of the galleries and the emotive experience of being in the presence of our iconic artworks.

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The unique challenge photographing an art museum is that it is difficult to capture the emotional reaction of the visitor and the artwork in the same shot—mostly because the visitor is facing a painting on a wall, so typically you only see a face or their back in front of an artwork.

On top of these logistical constraints, our museum is heavily photographed thanks to Instagram, making us hard-pressed to find new points-of-view that a visitor would recognize but had perhaps never seen in a social media feed. Given our intimate knowledge of the museum, we leaned heavily on scale, light, depth of field, and reflection, to find new and unexpected representations.

 Process shot of Kyle finding an angle from the floor of the sculpture garden.

Process shot of Kyle finding an angle from the floor of the sculpture garden.

 Tara, standing on a prop, to get a larger-than-life perspective in front of the painting.

Tara, standing on a prop, to get a larger-than-life perspective in front of the painting.

Kyle Obriot, the museum’s Creative Director of Video, and I co-art directed the new suite of images captured with technical excellence by staff photographers Aidan Fitzpatrick and Jonathan Mathias.

To give Aidan and Jonathan the most accurate visual direction, Kyle and I first went into the galleries together to experiment with shots and scout locations, spending hours roaming the museum looking for fresh ways to capture the space. When we’d find a good shot, Kyle would be behind the trigger and I would stand in for our eventual models.

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Look at all of our stump photos (of me, looking a-typically sassy) compared to the final products below.

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Try to find these images and more on our newly redesigned Art Institute of Chicago website and beyond!