Good interiors and architecture photographers perceive their subject non-objectively

Once, early in my career I was photographing the atrium of a commercial building. I noticed a man was watching me from across the room. I thought little of it because my 4x5 camera tended to attract attention, usually of the guys (boys and their toys, y’know.) As I progressed through setting up the shot I noticed he was moving around the room and peering “over my shoulder.”

He eventually approached me and asked what I was photographing. My response was to turn and with an expansive sweep of my arm I said “I’m photographing the space.” The look of his face told me he was completely bewilder by this response. I realized that he was expecting me to say “the bench”, “the plants” or “the stairs” and that he was not able to grasp the concept of photographing the space.

This event made me realize that in order to be a good interiors and architecture photographer, you need to be able to identify your subject and build compositions using a non-objective viewpoint.

I’ve been on Instagram since March of this year. In these past two months I’ve been exposed to more images of interiors and architecture created by other photographers than in the previous ten years.

Residential Atrium - Robert Miller, Miller Design Company

I can usually see distinct difference between interiors photographed by interiors and architecture specialist from those shot by specialists from other disciplines in the field, such as wedding, commercial, or editorial photographers. What makes photographs by specialists in other disciplines stand out to me is that I can see they are object oriented photographs. These photographers often display technical mastery and/or remarkable artistic talent, but I can tell they are only seeing and photographing the design elements, not the design.

I feel that because their training and experience is object oriented they are not conceptually equipped to grasp and communicate the design which is an emergent property of the design elements, while interiors and architecture specialist, by nature of their worldview do.