Ohio University

Panoramic Photography and Museums as Art

One of my favorite photographers in Thomas R. Schiff, who specializes in panoramic views of interior spaces and historical landmarks. The Kennedy Museum of Art houses dozens of Schiff's photographs from various points in his career. 

Thomas R. Schiff is an American photographer who grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and earned a BA in photography from Ohio University. Schiff’s unique photography style developed in 1994, when he began using a 360 degree panoramic camera and a custom-made tripod that allows him to elevate the camera up to 20 feet in the air. He also uses a wide angle lens, which allows him to capture more scenery both above and below the horizon line. Schiff’s artwork explores and challenges the way we view space, structures, and landmarks. He often works in series, choosing cities with historical and cultural significance. 

panoramic photograph of Corcoran Gallery of Art

This piece, Cocoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., is from his time working in Virginia. Other pieces in the collection focus on the National Air and Space Museum, the Lincoln Memorial, the Ronald Reagan Building, and the Washington National Cathedral. This piece was especially appealing to me because of its asymmetry and unique curvature. I was immediately drawn to the large staircase, and the two marble sculptures marking the edges of the room. The wooden walls and small artworks below the horizon contrast with the green paint and large paintings in the room on the second floor. The large pieces with green hues hanging outside of the balcony also add to the composition of the room and the photograph.

Additionally, I like the idea of capturing an art museum as a work of art itself. Schiff’s photograph perfectly captures the mystery and excitement I feel when turning the corner into a new section of a museum gallery. My eyes travel around Schiff’s piece the same way my body would move around the space and move from artwork to artwork. This photograph is not only a beautiful trick to the eyes, but an interesting and engaging way to portray museums as spaces of exploration.