“Alone in the Museum” by Johanna Liljestrand Rönn

This photo was taken at the beginning of this last summer. I was alone in the museum. I work at Uppsala University and I sometimes teach in that museum and I was there preparing some photos for an upcoming online lecture.

I love to be there alone. It is an old fashioned museum with lots of animals from all over the world. It is so silent. Huge windows all covered up, not to expose the animals for any sun that could harm the precious specimens, many of them collected more than a hundred years ago. Monkeys, snakes, birds, butterflies and weird creatures that are soaked in nasty liquids and that has lost their colours. Labels written by hand by some dedicated biologist long time ago.

When you switch off all the lights in the museum there is just some faint light that manages to come through from behind the thick curtains – I love that light and how it is reflected in the glass. I love playing with it!

I didn’t have my tripod so I built a stage for my camera. A trolley, and then, book after book until it was high enough. The reflection at the bottom of the photo was created by the shiny cover of the book on top. I pushed and pulled the trolley around, balancing my camera trying to find the best spot! I really love that museum, it is beautiful for many reasons. The light and the atmosphere being one, but also the fact that it has taught so many students and children about the amazing diversity on our planet. An important place for sure.

When I take my photos I am all absorbed by the process. I shut everything out and I am just seeing the light, the composition and the colours. I often get startled if something interrupts me. Only then do I realize how absorbed I actually was. In my photography the atmosphere often decides what kind of photo it will be. I try to go with that mood and then try to match it with depth of focus, hues of colours and light. The museum is easy, it is where my natural melancholy fits right in! It is a very special place.

What do you think are the TWO most impactful features that make your image a good photograph? Don’t be shy!

I think the place itself is gorgeous. The way that the light is shining through and how it is reflected in the glass on the sides of the window. I also hope that me, there in the photo, makes it more of a story. Who is she? Why is she there alone? Reaching for the light but still standing in shadows. It is as if it is fine to be in the shadow but reaching for light is always tempting.

If you would be able to make this photo once again, what would be the ONE thing you would like to do better or different?

I wished I would have had my tripod. I balanced my camera on books and tried to make it work somehow, but it would have been so much easier with the tripod. I would also have been able to explore the composition a bit more with a tripod.

Johanna Liljestrand Rönn shared this photograph in the FRAMES Facebook Group.


Johanna Liljestrand Rönn, Uppsala, Sweden


Equipment and settings

I used my Fujifilm X100F. I often use it for my self-portraits. I set it to take 20 photos with 4 seconds in between each photo. After those 20, I go back, evaluate, and go again until I am happy (or simply too tired).

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