A blog that focuses on the photography of Dean J. Birinyi, an interior and architectural photographer based in San Francisco, CA.

My working theories

I’ve spoken to several people who have been asking me about my working theories. I realized that although I have them well defined and understandable within my own mind I’ve never committed them to paper. So here is my effort to express the basic theories upon which my work is based in a clear and unambiguous manner.

Opening Doors
Production: I believe an architect or designer needs good photographs of their work to show how their ideas that look so great on paper are even better in real life. I add value to my clients' services by offering objective proof of their achievements, reinforcing the validity of their creative vision by showcasing the consistently successful realization of their ideas and their accomplishments as project managers as well as creative artists.

Conceptual: I apply the theory of sprezzatura (studied nonchalance; the art of concealing art) to all I do when creating photographs. My efforts should be absolutely transparent. I work to capture the character and emotional context of the spaces and structures I photograph. I strive to communicate the designer's intent by sharing how a space feels. I share my experience of the design, and in doing so I communicate my client's design concepts remarkably well.

Creative: My real talent is in communicating my impressions and reactions to architecture and design using photography as my medium. Quite often I am unable to communicate my ideas and concepts using verbal or written language. When I can see an image in my mind’s eye but cannot describe my ideas using language, that is when I know we’ve got a great image. (Although I have gotten better at communicating these ideas over the years, there are still times when I can’t explain what I’m thinking. The photograph seen here “Opening Doors” created in April 2013 is an example of this phenomena.)

Snowflake Ceiling
Lighting: I believe architecture and design should be photographed with the bare minimum supplemental lighting possible, if any. And when supplemental lighting is used it should mimic the natural or available light and only serve to open the
shadows far enough to overcome the technical limitations of the photographic process to show critical detail, in context of the design.

Styling: I feel styling should enhance the viewer's comprehension of the space, contribute to the visual flow of the photograph and help create a balanced composition. And that’s where it should stop. The purpose of styling elements (flowers, books, table setting, or human figures) is to help realize the essential nature of the space, perfect the composition and in some cases communicate scale. Styling elements should not be the focus of attention in the photograph.

Dean J. Birinyi, ASMP

A downloadable and printable PDF of these theories is posted to my LinkedIn profile page: