As an architect, contractor or other building industry professional, the renderings of your projects should always be perfect. They are computer-generated, completely within your control, and relatively easy to edit. However, when your project is built and completed, it may not be as easy to obtain photos that perfectly illustrate your hard work. Professional architectural photography can make a significant difference in the quality of your images. An architectural photographer should be an expert at highlighting the aesthetics of the structure and work to convey the architect’s or designer’s vision.
When I shoot a hotel, resort, office building or other structure, I take the time to scout the space at various times throughout the day. Natural lighting and shooting with various degrees of sunlight, shadows or at dusk can create a range of dramatic images infused with mood and ambiance. Lighting design in photography is my passion and I work to use natural light as much as possible, incorporating necessary artificial lighting in a way that is unnoticed by the untrained eye.
The image below had virtually no lighting. Without my lighting this would have been an uninteresting, flat and colorless project that would have only been photographed during the day. I planned this shoot at dusk to exploit the color of the sky in the background and added extensive lighting to highlight the angles and lines of the structure, creating a much more dramatic and illustrative image than a bright day shot. I take the time to discuss the creative process with my clients in order to create a symbiotic creative relationship between my vision and the architect’s.
In this image below, lighting is key to the shot as well. The shadows illustrate the depth of the space and also highlight the carefully chosen furniture design. Architects and designers carefully consider how light will play in their spaces. It is imperative for a photographer to understand that as well.
The Angle of My Eye
Another technique I use to create distinctive images is differing angles; I rarely shoot a photo straight on. It can be difficult to capture the expanse of a space or the intimacy of a cozy corner. Camera placement can make a significant difference and take a seemingly plain space and make it compelling.
For this shot, my client was the tile manufacturer. I angled the camera to capture much more than the floor. Each image is a story and although it is about the tile, it is also about getting people to look at the image. The lighting and shadows also play into the appeal of the shot, which ultimately showcases the tile as an integral part of the overall design of the space.
The following shots were taken for architect LEO A DALY and the award-winning SAC Federal Credit Union Headquarters. Capturing the enormity of this four-story atrium was a welcome challenge. By using different angles and times of day, I was able to provide an array of images showcasing the design and drama of the space.
Creating Intimacy in a Photo
While lines and design are paramount, often the ultimate objective of a hotel or other structure is to create inviting spaces for employees, client and guests. This can be challenging to convey in a two-dimensional image. By lowering the angle of my camera, I am able to put the viewer into the space where they can imagine, or even feel, being there. Whether shooting a large space or an intimate corner, the angle can make all the difference.
These shots demonstrate the lower focal point as well as the incorporation of shadows and lighting to create a warm feeling in these conversation corners. The first is from the LinkedIn Headquarters in Omaha and the second is a nook in the lobby area of a Holiday Inn Express in Colorado Springs.
Post Production Editing
Even with elaborate professional lighting, some shots still need post production editing to ensure the integrity of the true colors or to mitigate an unavoidable blemish or distraction in the photo. At the Cromwell Las Vegas, the owners take pride in the grand chandeliers in the casino, which were painstakingly restored to their original brilliance. However, in the dim light of the casino, their true colors just didn’t translate. It is almost useless to shoot this space if the photographer cannot recreate the grandeur of the decor. The first shot is what most photographers would produce.
In the second shot above, I spent extensive post-production hours with intricate digital retouching to reproduce the true red of the light coverings and the subtle contrast in the brass. The second photos is a much more effective representation of the vibrancy of the chandeliers, with accurate color representation, while maintaining the dim ambience of the surrounding space.
Find the Best of the Project
A skilled architectural photographer can find intrigue in any project, big or small, expensive or budget-conscious. I’ve worked with enormous structures, construction worksites, and a range of hotels and resorts and my goal is to always highlight the best or most unique aspect of the project in an interesting way.
In this shot from Hampton Inn & Suites Phoenix/Tempe ASU, I carefully placed my camera to capture the lobby and dining area, and also the height of the ceiling and ample natural light to showcase bright, open feeling at this budget-friendly property.
This shot was for the company that makes the flooring material. I scoped the lighting and angles to create a truly artistic image. Who would have expected that mirror image?
Similarly, the reflections of the lighting in this commercial kitchen, photographed for Leo A. Daly Architects, create an almost hypnotic image. Whether the client manufactures the stainless steel or built the kitchen, the intriguing nature of the photography draws any viewer in.
To create the most impactful portfolio of your architectural or structural projects, trust a professional who specializes in architectural photography. Find an architectural photographer who understands your vision and the aesthetics of your design. I invite you to peruse my portfolios (hotels and resort photography, commercial photography, institutional photography and more) and testimonials to understand my passion for this work. Please contact me directly at Architectural Photography, Inc.: 888-688-5510 or visit ArchitecturalPhotographyInc.com.