The thing that impresses me most about good architectural photography is its ability to imbue inanimate subjects - buildings and other manmade structures - with a life and soul of their own.
Five professional photographers who specialize in architectural photography kindly agreed to give me interviews (I continue to interview architectural photographers on our blog on a regular basis)
- Alan Blakely
- Chip Allen
- Kirk Gittings
- Scott Hargis
- Treve Johnson
Each interview contains:
- Samples of their best work (in my opinion)
- Their achievements and failures, as well as several interesting and surprising facts and stories
- A number of professional marketing secrets and tips on architectural photography for beginners
- A few tricky questions
Mr. Blakely has also been the recipient of many professional awards for his commercial images. Blakely is the author of several photography publications and is a regular contributor to photography and architectural magazines and educational websites.
I particularly like the photos in your portfolio that were taken in the late evening. I guess some of them provide some pretty solid lead-conversion, as they say in marketing speak. Could you tell me a little about your post-processing workflow? Do you ever use HDR?
Thank you. The dusk shot has long been the signature shot of the architectural photographer. It requires a keen awareness of optimum timing and composition to be successful. Being able to create great dusk shots usually establishes a photographer as a legitimate architectural shooter. These shots also are crucial in a architectural photographer’s portfolio and marketing materials.
I use HDR as a tool in nearly every job I shoot. However, I would never want the tool, HDR or otherwise, to be the reason for a shot. I use HDR sparingly and always try to achieve a completely natural look in the image. I believe that an obviously HDR photograph is a failure.
Chip's passion for photography is reflected in the varied subject matter he shoots; specializing primarily in Commercial Architectural Photography & Fine Art Photography.
He gained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing.
His business background gives him the knowledge and expertise to work efficiently with his corporate clients; applying his skills to listening, problem solving, and generating creative insight to best market their specific products and services.
What special skills and equipment would you consider essential when photographing architecture? What would your advice be to anyone thinking about taking up architectural photography?
Do ANYTHING you can to make your photos say “WOW!”. Take a medium that is 2D (photography) and give the viewer depth queues that draw the viewer into the story-understand in composing, what to exclude just as much as what to include in an image. As far as essential gear goes, the neatest thing since sliced bread is a tilt/shift lens. You really don’t know what you’re missing until you spend time with these things. If you’re
serious about architecture this is quintessential.
If someone wants to start up one’s own Architectural Photography practice get out and start pounding the pavement. Not just cyber pavement but making real connections, “handshakes” in their own physical business community. Just because you make pretty images does not mean business will just flow in. If you love what you do you have to work at it everyday. The alternative is working for someone else- NO THANK YOU.
Many amateur photographers would love to ask your advice. If you saw an aspiring photographer looking at your photographs in an exhibition, what advice would you give him or her? And, in general, when it comes to art, is it really possible to advise anyone? Or is it simply divine inspiration?
I actually think creativity is inate, commonplace and ideosincratic. As a teacher I can help encourage, focus, re?ne etc. someones vision, but I can’t make them see. That is in them or not.
If you want to be successful in this business you need to be incredibly hard working, have a thick skin, learn from the masters, be incredibly hard working, budget your ?nances, don’t be a prima donna (you are just a damn photographer!), be incredibly hard working and learn about architecture!
Learn the language of your clients. Learn what turns them on. Be knowledgeable about architectural trends and names. Get involved in historic preservation. Be a vital part of the architecture community.
Is it often necessary to make changes to an interior in order to archive the desired result? For example, to swap the sofa or the commode, to select and hang a few pictures or arrange a delicious meal in the kitchen?
All the time. Someone is always responsible for styling, whether it’s just having fresh flowers or fruit available, or whether it’s more intense like steaming the curtains and replacing the entire contents of a bookshelf.
And we move furniture on almost every shoot. There are a few reasons for this. First, sometimes the “normal” furniture arrangement just doesn’t “read” properly from the camera’s perspective. It might be just a matter of adjusting the angle of a chair, or it might be as extreme as moving sofas and desks. We’re trying to render a three-dimensional space into a two dimensional medium, and that often requires some “re-mapping” of the landscape, if you will. The furniture frequently ends up in positions that make no sense to the eye, but again, from the camera’s specific perspective, it looks natural and pleasing.
The other reason for moving furniture is to get the place back to what the original designer intended. If the place has been occupied, it’s a good bet that the original décor has been altered, and furniture placements have been changed.
Treve, your photographs look amazing. Some of them are really mind-altering. I always love beautiful outdoor and landscape design projects. Your photo of the house by the landscape architect David Thorne and the builder James Rogers is one of my favorite photos from your portfolio
Would you tell us a little bit about this project? What time do you prefer to shoot your evening photos? Did you use HDR?
This project was for a landscape architect and a builder. The two parties participated in a joint photo shoot. Our plan was to shoot at dusk to show off the lighting features in the landscape as well as the landscape.
The landscape architect wanted a photo that said “house on a hill surrounded by native landscaping.” In walking through the project on a previous date we talked about the best point of view, which we thought would be the front of the house. At the time of the photo shoot, I captured the images that we had discussed and then I walked around to the back of the house. What I saw nearly blew me away.
The house glowing but the landscaping was quite dark compared to the sky and the windows. I thought if I could could pull off the image using HDR to bring the landscaping out of the darkness the image might work. The wind was blowing like crazy and I knew the vegetation whipping around would be an issue. In the final image though, everything seems to work.
Dec 17, 2014
Dec 17, 2014
Dec 21, 2014
Dec 20, 2014
|Steamin' Mad by ahrensjt|
from Angered Subjects (Street Photography)
|Smile by Olymguy|
from Ultra Asian Indian Female Faces
|Space Shuttle Cockpit- by vbuhay|
from Aircraft Control Stick
If you're thinking of using Canon's sports glass on the Sony a9, think again. The ultra-fast camera slows way down when you attach off-brand glass.
The Polish town of Katowice is not known as an area of beauty, but as all photographers know, that doesn't mean that beauty can't be found if you know where to look. Mariusz Pietranek used a drone to look down on the colorful sedimentation tanks at an ironworks.
New York Times video journalist Ben Solomon spent a harrowing three weeks accompanying Iraqi Major Sajjad al-Hour as he and his men fought to retake Mosul from I.S. forces.
The 3D VR camera launched through a crowdfunding campaign in 2015 goes on sale beginning June 26.
Noctilucent clouds, a crescent moon and Venus were visible in the pre-dawn sky over Budapest yesterday. Photographer György Soponyai captured NASA's astronomy picture of the day.
Squirming pets won't sit still for photos? A Kickstarter campaign is looking to help.
Find out how Chris Burkard shifted from editorial photography to his true passions: landscapes, conservation and, of course, surfing.
The updated EyeEm app scans your camera roll and picks images that are composed particularly well, have the best quality, or highest chance of selling on EyeEm Market.
It's three years old but still a solid option for a Micro Four Thirds shooter looking for a high-quality, fast, wide-angle prime. Take a look at how we got along with it.
Tamron has announced the longest all-in-one zoom lens currently available, the 18-400mm F3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD. Designed for Canon and Nikon crop-sensor cameras, the lens will be available in July.
When you're ready to step-up to full-frame from an entry-level or midrange camera, the choices can be overwhelming. Find out which models came out on top in our $1200-2000 enthusiast ILC roundup.
Just a guy wearing a VR headset, smashing invisible Goombas in Central Park.
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this gorgeous aerial photo of the Martian landscape. And if you look really close, you can actually see the Mars Curiosity rover in the very middle.
The city of Laguna Beach, California has provided some clarification around the kinds of photography permits it offers.
Later this year, a VR180 camera will be Joining Yi's Halo and 360 VR cameras, which will offer stereo 3D capture, yet be as easy to use and compact as a 2D camera.
Caltech researchers have developed an 'optical phased array' chip that uses time delays instead of a lens to focus the incoming light.
Pricing and shipping have finally been revealed for two highly anticipated lenses from Sigma, announced in February.
These macro photos of clouds of paint billowing through clear water might look like high-quality CGI, but they're real photographs. And photographer Alberto Seveso told us how they were made.
Facebook is testing a feature that prevents people from saving, sharing, or even taking a screenshot of your profile picture.
We've reshot the Sony a9 in our studio. The short story: it's sharper! The long story... well you can read it all here.
The collection will be officially launched during the Europeana Transcribathon Campus Berlin 2017 crowdsourcing event which will be held on 22 and 23 June at the Berlin State Library.
Light gives us some insight into the preparations for the launch of the pre-order shipments of its much anticipated L16 multi-lens camera.
OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei has confirmed in a tweet that the second lens on the back of the OnePlus 5 uses a 1.6x optical zoom and that digital zoom is used to reach the claimed 2x zoom factor.
Fujifilm recently unveiled the second in its series of affordable cine lenses, the MK50-135mm T2.9. We got our hands on it for a couple days and took it for a spin.
Leica's first attempt at an M-series digital rangefinder was rough around the edges, but set a pattern for all of the cameras that came after it. In this week's Throwback Thursday article, Barney remembers the M8.
No stranger to extreme situations, legendary climber and filmmaker Jimmy Chin talks to Outside Magazine about his career, and the challenge of filming Alex Honnold's rope-free solo climb of El Capitain.
A company backed by Android co-founder Andy Rubin is attempting to make video conferencing less terrible.
Rangefinder magazine asked five professional portrait and wedding photographers about posting on Instagram; no surprise, they got five different answers.
This captivating stop motion film was created by stripping away one layer of wood at a time. It's hard to look away.
It will enable users to simulate the presence of the sun, moon and Milky Way and see how they interact with an area's topography.