Architectural Photography Award Shortlist

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by Sandy Vongries, Nov 4, 2017.

  1. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Moderator Staff Member

  2. Some good images, though a bit too clean and straightforward in approach. One of my favorite architecture photographers is Hélène Binet whose work has this certain abstract ethereal yet grounded quality often found in great architecture but so difficult to translate in photographs of architecture.
  3. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Moderator Staff Member

    Thanks for commenting. I think the difference is that the Architecture is supposed to be the art portrayed in this kind of photography. The photography should focus attention on the architecture, not on itself. We have at least one Architect / Photographer in David Triplett - I don't see him on line, but will be interested in his reaction to your comment and mine.
  4. I don't entirely agree with that. Yes, the photographer has to stay true to the architecture in the same way the musician has to stay true to the score. But within those limits there's still the possibility to explore - the photograph is not a literal translation after all unless it's simply seen and made as a record, and even then... - beyond what's being given.
  5. It's about feeling and being able to tap into a feeling. To simply record a building would be more of an insult to the architect compared to feeling the building as an experience and communicating that feeling effectively in a photograph.
  6. To date, my favorite architectural photo is this one by Werner Mantz, taken in 1928. It's the Kölnische Zeitung, a newspaper exhibition building built for an international press fair in Cologne, Germany.

    The architects are Wilhelm Riphahn and Caspar Maria Grod.


    I think it portrays the building respectfully and artfully. It feels true to the building itself while simultaneously feeling very personal and intimate. It makes its own statement as a photo, which I think most artists/architects would appreciate as an artistic homage and a kind of building upon their work with an individual voice. The only "rule" I try to follow with architectural photography or when I display photos of someone else's sculpture or artwork is that, if available, I give the original artist credit. I consider these types of photos in particular collaborations (to varying degrees) and enjoying sharing ownership with the artist whose work I'm representing or building upon.
  7. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Moderator Staff Member

    Basically, it is product photography, a great deal of the work commissioned by Architects or owners for marketing purposes. As such, the customer comes first. If it is for fun or ART, by all means interpret away.
  8. The product of Architecture (compared to strictly utilitarian architecture, which is most architecture, still such architecture can also be rendered artistically in a photograph) is also art, which means that it is dependent and very much counts on interpretation. The difficulty of the architecture photographer is in being able to both record and interpret that what's being recorded.
  9. I don't agree. It's a very different type of photography from photographing tee-shirts for Macy's or even jewelry for Tiffany's.
  10. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Moderator Staff Member

    I'll wait for the Architect to weigh in! Till then,;)
  11. I'm sorry to say, the architect, in this case David, who I like and respect, will not determine the answers to these questions for me. I can make up my own mind, thanks. Not that I won't value his input, of course, but I don't need to wait for it to have this discussion.

    What you're talking about, product photography, would be what I'd expect to find in my local real estate listing catalogue. What I expect to find in an award-winning architectural photography exhibit would be something other than that.
  12. Ok! I'm late, but I'm finally here... (The architecture business is booming, and distracting from my real avocation.)
    As an architect I like to photograph architecture because doing so allows me to explore, interpret, and integrate the work of my peers. This is not so much about what the architect of any given structure intended, but what I discover and experience. My photographs of my own and other's designs serve, to some degree, to take me out of my role as architect and open an alternative creative door (or window) through which to see and experience architecture. On a recent trip to Laramie, WY, we toured a museum at the University. I was so impressed with the interiors, the quality of the light and textures, that I asked if I could bring my camera equipment inside to take photos. To my surprise, the answer was "yes". Since it was summer break there was almost nobody in the building, so I had a unique opportunity. Here are a couple of examples of how an architect sees architecture as a photographer:
    Blue Chair-6374-sml.jpg
    Museum Interior-6392a-sml.jpg
  13. As I think about this some more it occurs to me that many of the characteristics I value and pursue in architectural designs are also integral to much good photography. These include light and shadow, color, texture, materiality, perspective, depth, layering, balance, rhythm, positive and negative space, etc. In contemplating these two images I realize the extraordinary degree to which these characteristics are evident in both the building being photographed and in my photographs of them. In fact, they are the very things that inspired me to make the images. I am very aware, suddenly, of how my professional perspective informs my photos of architecture.

    I would add that this realization, as obvious as it seems now, is one more example of how our individual perceptions and interpretations are, to a very large degree, dependent upon the knowledge and experience we bring to each issue. There is no such thing as purely objective when it comes to interpretation of art, including photography (and architecture). The photos contained in Sandy's Daily Mail link are interesting, but I find many of them to be less about architecture, and more about the vision of the photographer to create two dimensional composition. To a surprising degree, many are about two dimensional perceptions, even though their subjects are very three dimensional, volumetric in nature, whereas my own efforts most often seek to express exactly the three-dimensional, volumetric nature of buildings and spaces, along with all the other characteristics noted above. Perhaps, in a nutshell, that defines the difference in how an architect (me, at least) sees a building, and how others might approach the same subject.

    I want to make very clear that there are as many ways to see a building and photograph it as there are photographers. None is more or less valid than any other. As in the case of much photography of art objects, the photographer can engage the art anywhere on a continuum between a totally abstract representation, and a documentary effort to convey the specific impressions intended by the original artist. One might consider my photographs of architecture as analogous to paintings by one artist of sculpture by another. They are interpretive, but still very informed by the depth and breadth of my knowledge of the creative process, and intent, involved in architectural design.
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2017
  14. Fred, both yes, and no... It CAN be as simple as a product shoot for marketing purposes. Just as the photographer for Tiffany's will try to capture the artistry of the jewelry, so will the photographer of a building, if that's the need and purpose. However, that is clearly not the only approach. I sometimes laugh at, and at other times I'm enthralled with the efforts of photographers whose images are used in real estate sales materials. Mostly, they shoot for their customers/audience. Every once in a while, one captures the feel, the spirit of a space or place, and that is wonderful to see. I don't know if it sells more tract houses, though.;) I had a project for the Air Force that was explicitly utilitarian. Its forms and component materials were entirely driven by functional and life safety requirements. Yet, when captured and expressed artistically in photographs the aesthetic result was powerful, and the building won a design award. (Sorry, no photographs by me. They had to get special dispensation from base security to let a pro photographer in. If interested, you can see the project <HERE>.) As so often happens, the true artistic potential of the design was not realized until after it was well underway, and the forms and materials took on a life and aesthetic of their own.
  15. David, I hope you’ll consider my comment in the context I made it, which was in response to Sandy’s fairly broad statement that, basically, architectural photography is product photography. I was saying “no” to such a generalization especially in a thread about award-winning architectural photos. I was not saying an architectural photo could never be product-oriented or done only to please the customer.
  16. Fred, I always try to consider your comments in context.:)

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