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The Reasons and Myths Behind the “No Flash Photography” Sign


There’s always been a general consensus that there is an actual reason behind the “No Flash Photography” signs we see plastered all over the place. In some places it makes sense — not flashing photosensitive animals at the aquarium speaks for itself — but what about art galleries and museums? Why exactly do we have to rely on natural light there? According to Steve Meltzer on Imaging Resource, no good reason at all.

The other day, I went to an exhibition of photographs by W. Eugene Smith. Entering the museum, I spotted a sign that said, “No Flash Photography!” Out of curiosity, I walked over to a museum guard and asked him why flash photography was prohibited.

His response was that “the flash light is so bright that it freezes an object and the sudden cold shock is damaging to delicate paintings and other objects.”

At first, I laughed. Was this some weird Jedi mind trick?

The rest of the article goes on to discuss the main, less “Jedi mind trick” reasons behind those signs and why they’re all essentially bogus. Check out the entire piece over on Imaging Resource if you want more details and then, next time you see one of those signs at a museum or art gallery, ask the security guard and see what reason he gives you. Who knows, it may be time to drop the myths and take the signs down.

Does flash photography really damage art? The persistence of a myth. [Imaging Resource]

Image credit: No Flash Photography of This Exhibit Case Please! by Leo Reynolds