Behind the Scenes, Gardens and Architecture, Getty Villa, Photographs, Film, and Video, Voices

The Transformative Outer Peristyle

“I think there is something magical about shooting in natural light.” This week on Getty Voices, Tahnee Cracchiola shares her photographic encounters with wildlife on site at the Getty. Her first photographic love was architecture photography. Her journey shooting the Outer Peristyle led to some breathtaking architecture images at sunrise and sunset, as well as a  surprising visit from a new feathered friend!


During visiting hours the Getty Villa’s Outer Peristyle is bright, green and rich with sunshine. But it doesn’t always look so saturated with color. Sunrise and sunset are ideal times to shoot landscape and architecture to get the golds and oranges of the sun rising through the atmosphere, or the pink and purple hues of the sun setting. Even the most subtle shifts in light quality can change an image dramatically.

Sunrise over the Outer Peristyle

Sunset over the Outer Peristyle


The Outer Peristyle may appear quiet and calm in these photographs. I didn’t think anything more than insects and the occasional hummingbird visited the gardens, but on one early morning I was photographing the sycamore trees when a duck landed on the side of the reflecting pool! He was like a hotel visitor lounging by the hottub…swimming, drinking, perhaps waiting for his mate. The gardeners told me that he came here at the same time every morning with his mate. But she never came. It’s a mystery that remains unsolved.

Perhaps it was a tragic love story amidst the art and the gardens that we’ll never hear the ending of. We do know that this little guy is welcome to the Getty any day of the week.

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      It’s been 125 years since Van Gogh’s death, today we celebrate his life’s work.


      5 Ways to See Van Gogh’s Irises

      Through observations, visitor conversations, and some sneaky eavesdropping, we’ve compiled the top 5 ways people enjoy this painting.

      1. In a Crowd
        One of the most obvious ways that people see the painting is in a crowd. The gallery is almost always filled, and you might have to wait before you can get up close. The anticipation builds as you start in the back row, and slowly move until you are close enough to see the brushstrokes of Van Gogh’s thick paint.

      2. Online
        David from Colorado said that this was his first visit, but he had already seen the painting online. In addition to being available through the Getty’s Open Content program, the painting is often seen on social media. Just search #irises on Instagram for a taste of the painting’s popularity. 

      3. Alone
        If you arrive right at 10 a.m. when the museum opens, the quiet gallery provides a perfect backdrop to really examine the painting. Solitude and seclusion gives the gallery a sense of intimacy. 

      4. Multiple Times
        Repeat visits can give rise to multiple interpretations. Is it a melancholy or joyous painting? Expressive or depressive? 

      5. Internationally
        Visitors from all across the world viewed this famous Van Gogh. In just one hour you can hear multiple languages—French, Italian, Chinese, Korean, German, and more. Irises seems to rise above cultural boundaries—a Dutch painting inspired by Japanese ukiyo-e prints—to strike an emotional resonance amongst all viewers. 

      What is your favorite lens to view Van Gogh’s work through? 

      07/29/15

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