Exterior Detail, Sunrise
Millennium Building
Williams + Paddon Architects + Planners
Roseville, CA
Today's architectural photograph is the Millennium Building shot for Williams + Paddon Architects + Planners. The architect told me this project won a 2002 AIA award because my photographs communicated the design concept perfectly.

Today I share how I do this without going into the mechanical process of taking photographs. That's a talk for another day.

Quite often my clients tell me my photographs make their work look better than it does in reality. I do this by showing not just what the project looks like but how the project feels, the effect of the abstract design concept.

We must remember that architecture is designed for people, this is even more important to remember when photographing interior design. People have emotional reactions to everything, every time we turn a corner or open a door we respond to what our senses perceive. Capturing the essence of a project in a photograph will evoke reactions in a viewer the same as experiencing the space or structure first hand. So, we need to understand what these reactions are and why we have them and once we know this we can create photographs that share these reactions.

I always do a preliminary walk through of the projects I shoot, whether on the day of the shoot or several days before. This gives me an opportunity to experience project and form my impressions of what is special and unique about each space and the project as a whole.

I will walk through the project twice, once to simply experience it and form first impressions of result with no preconceptions or concerns other than to appreciate the beauty and wonder of the completed design. I will then go through each space a second time to figure out how to communicate my impressions and capture the critical elements of the design in an artistically composed but functionally descriptive manner.

At this point we know what we want each shot to communicate, and a good idea of the composition, now we plan the schedule for the shoot. We decide what time of day creates the conditions that not only makes the space or structure look it's best, but has the right feeling - this is the emotional element that is so critical to the successful communication of the design concept.

This preproduction phase is important because to create really good photographs we need to go beyond seeing the project as a collection of spaces or assembled features, instead understanding it as an artistic flowing composition, whole and complete with life, energy and a personality of it's own. To communicate the design concept we need to capture the artistry and energy of the space and present it in a manner that others will appreciate, and this requires time, planning and forethought.