Creative Intent and Inclusion of People in Architectural Photography

Formal conference with reception seating, reception desk and corridor recession, including people.

Project Divcowest in Santa Clara, CA
Photographed for Studio G Architects

I created this available light image of the Divcowest offices in Santa Clara, California for Kelly Simcox and Rick Yeh of Studio G Architects based in Campbell, California. This commercial office was a tenant improvement project that artfully straddled the line between new urbanist design and the more traditional modern design that has been so popular for the past three generations.

My intent was to communicate the scale of the formal conference room, and display its spatial and contextual relationship to the reception area and the remainder of the project. This angle shows the use of color to define the seating area as a separate psychological space. The mass and impressive nature of the design of the formal conference room is evident, and could be overpowering but is balanced by the energy of detail in the colorful seating area.

I used people in the reception area to communicate the function of the unique spaces as well as providing a reference for scale. Using a solitary figure in dark clothing in the corridor accentuates the strength of the design in the corridor while the group of people in the reception area realizes the intended use of the space.

Formal conference with reception seating, reception desk and corridor recession.

Project Divcowest in Santa Clara, CA
Photographed for Studio G Architects

You can see two versions of the image here. The image without human figures is the more traditional representation of architecture, but is lacking any emotional or psychological context the people who work and use the space. I included people in the image to help the describe the function and realize the purpose of the different spaces and the project as a whole.

When I include people in my images I think of them as compositional elements and use them to help construct my composition just as I would a chair, flowers or landscaping. However I feel it’s critical that the people in architectural photography are shown interacting with each other and with the space in normal and meaningful ways. This lends an air of authenticity to the images that is highly prized in the new urbanist movement.
Dean Birinyi is an architectural photographer with twenty-eight years professional experience. Based in Mountain View, CA, Dean regularly photographs projects throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, San Jose, Santa Cruz and Monterey and travels throughout the Western United States.

All images and content above is Copyright 2014 Dean J. Birinyi, ASMP