Recently, an unsolicited observation caught me off guard when a design director referred to a photograph during one of our meetings as one of my “signature images.” This has happened before, and these impromptu comments often have a substantial impact on my understanding of the designer’s vision, which adds considerable value to the photographs I create.
I am so thankful for these spontaneous compliments because they have granted me deeper insight into my own work, creative vision, and artistic intent. When reflecting on my career, I see my “signature” style has been with me for quite some time. The following images illustrate its evolution from my humble beginnings to my current ability to fully embrace the dramatic nature of my interpretive vision.
25 Years Ago – Perspective on a New Day
When I created this image in 1990, I had been studying photography for only four years. I shot it as a line study and as my entry into the Colorado Camera Club’s monthly competition, which earned the Judge’s Choice Award.
I had already chosen architectural photography as my specialty and adopted the 4x5 view camera as my tool of choice for perspective correction and compositional control. You can see the first indication of my signature image style here. Strong lines and compelling visual motion are visible in this rather dramatic image – not bad for a parking garage shot with a 50-year-old camera and 65-year-old lens!
Just a Few Years Later – My Final Amateur Shot
This image of the Temple Hoyne Buell Theater is particularly meaningful for me because it is the final image I created as an amateur photographer. I shot this photograph of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts a month before “going pro” in 1992 for the purpose of having an impressive image of a large commercial project in my portfolio.
You can see my signature image style is quite well developed, missing only the element of one point perspective. The dramatic line leading in from off camera enhances the energy of the design and creates a visual flow into and through the image.
For 29 years, this photograph has featured prominently in all but a handful of my portfolio presentations. I'm very proud to say that even after all this time it still stands up against my other work.
1997 – A Fully Realized Signature Style
In this J.G. Johnson Architects Office image, you can see the sophistication and strength of my well-developed creative vision. This powerful composition employs the one point perspective, dramatic leading line, and asymmetrical configuration that is the core of all my signature images to great effect.
The strength of the asymmetry is enhanced by using the shift function of the view camera, which allows me to place the vanishing point off center while maintaining the one point perspective. As seen in this image, my signature style has evolved completely, and I was honored with the 1999 Merit Award from AIA Denver, as well as the ASID Gold Award for this photograph.
2013 – An Established Evolution
As with all things, maturity is inevitable if we continue to hone our skills. In this residential courtyard photograph, my signature style is mature and evident in the image created for Alex Mortazavi, Architect in the commanding line, strong asymmetrical composition, and powerful geometry. I’ve always loved creating images with these features because they draw viewers deep inside and engage their imagination.