Finding Mona Lisa

Finding Mona Lisa

Finding Mona LisaFinding Mona LisaParis
9 Apr 2008

We had one big goal in the Louvre. Finding Mona Lisa. We worked our way through some amazing art to the Italian galleries, and there she was. The lady with the mystic smile. A crowd of young folk snapping away on cellphones. Big crowd. She was behind armoured glass, and a rope kept everyone three or four metres away. Two guards.

Nice to look at from a distance, I guess, and I’ve ticked that box, but honestly, you get more out of a poster than going to see her in real life unless you are an art historian or someone privileged to get a closer viewing.

Finding Mona LisaNext room along took my breath away. I’d been muttering about ridiculously high ceilings, but this gallery was way taller than that. Glorious. Decorated ceiling, it was literally way over the top.

My wife and I found a bench and took a rest. I got out my point and shoot camera and zoomed in on a far doorway, where I could see people entering and repeating my reaction of open-mouthed awe whilst gazing way up.

Got a few people, but realistically the conditions were awful. The light wasn’t good for telephoto work and I ruined a few shots because they were blurred through the long exposure times.

Found her!

One young lady came in and I snapped her as she paused. It wasn’t until I reviewed my shots some minutes later that I caught my breath in amazement. One of the best photographs I’ve ever taken. She’s standing, looking up, while around her the crowds stream past in blurred motion. A small sign arrows people to the Mona Lisa, but it’s pointing at this lady. And in the background, more Italian art, high on the wall.

I couldn’t stop admiring my shot. Not anywhere near technically perfect in focus or composition, but I’ve caught the moment beautifully, I think.

Seize the day, capture the moment. I should be out in the garden, admiring the fresh day, amongst the flowers and the cool air before the hot day. The flowers are attended by bees, and they aren’t thinking of some moment nine years ago, you may be sure.

On the other hand, that moment of stillness against the rush. Priceless.