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Composition at the National Galllery of Art – West Building

Learn from the Masters in the West Building of the National Gallery of Art

Quick Details


We begin the safari in the atrium of the National Gallery of Art’s West Building with a general orientation on photographic technique and principles of composition. Next we examine 10 classically composed black and white photographs from the 1940’s and 1950’s, by Parisian photographer Robert Doisneau, and Baltimore photographer A. Aubrey Bodine. We then go inside one of the galleries to photograph and critique the compositional elements of paintings of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. We also look at samples of modern-day abstract art and photography.

Participants will then roam the West Building National Gallery of Art with the instructor, taking pictures that embody some of the principles of composition they have learned on the safari, photos of artwork, the Gallery’s atrium, the sculpture, the museum visitors looking at artwork, or photos of the Gallery’s extraordinary architecture. We also photograph the classic Rodin and Degas sculptures in the National Sculpture Gallery.

In short, this is a safari to help you become a more astute critic of your own photos by studying and documenting works of the masters. We also teach you how to shoot artwork in low-light situations without flash or tripod, getting the right exposure and white balance..

The safari is led by architectural photographer and Washington Photo Safari director E. David Luria who studied photography in Paris with a protégé of the French photographer, Henri Cartier Bresson, famous for capturing “the decisive moment” in his classic photographs.