Chicago has some of the country's most stunning architecture. If you are ever visiting the city and have a passion or even a passing interest in architecture, I recommend taking one of the city's architectural boat tours. The tour travels along the Chicago River and allows for a unique view of the city and its buildings. Here is a sampling from a recent trip.
The Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park is a four-acre memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt that celebrates the Four Freedoms he articulated in his 1941 State of the Union address. It is located on the south end of Roosevelt Island which sits in the middle of the East River between Midtown Manhattan and Long Island City Queens and is bisected by the Queensboro Bridge. The park is a beautiful, but its most striking feature is the Roosevelt Monument which was one of the last designs by Louis Kahn. He was carrying the plans with him when he died in 1974.
Architect Frank Gehry is famous for his unique brand of architecture, often comprised of flowing and twisting sheets of metal on a building's façade. The Peter B. Lewis Building at the Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland Ohio is a great example. It mixes Gehry's signature metal with more traditional brick and is eye catching from every angle.
The late and amazing architectural photographer Julius Shulman gave an interview about his most famous interior photograph and tells the story of how it was made.
Because we love photography we spend a lot of time looking at photography. Studying others peoples work can really be helpful tool. Now I'm going to say this up front, This doesn't mean you should look at who is successful and try and copy what their doing. You need to find the shooting style that works best for you. There are many things you can take away from studying other peoples work regardless of the genre. Studying architectural imagery is no exception. The obvious place to start is the lighting. Is it natural or strobe/hot lights. How is the lighting being used; is it filling the room with a soft glow or is it moody and sexy? The type of space can also determine the style of the lighting used. Is it a modern home with lots of large windows and natural lighting or is it an hold victorian home with dark wood and moody features?
From here we can move on to the composition of the photography. How wide is the photographer shooting or how much is the photographer trying to fit into the photo? Is the photographer trying to tell a story by what he or she has composed in the shot? How high is the camera mounted on the tripod? Also is the photographer shooting over the top of anything such as a table or the back of a couch?
Good styling and propping are important to the quality of you final shot. Many times there's not always going to be a budget to have a professional stylist on set so its up to you the photographer to make the room look good. Things to take away from looking at other peoples images are whether or not the room has a clean and tidy look or are they going for more of a lived in lifestyle feel. Are there keys and a mans hat sitting on a table next to a cup of coffee or a news paper or is the table perfectly set for a dinner party of six? Are the pillows on the couch karate chopped and is there use of a throw blanked? Are candles used to create ambiance? As a side note most hotels don't allow guest to burn candles in their rooms so oftentimes they don't like candles to appear in their photographs.
When it comes to the exterior picking the right angle and height are key. Often times your client will have certain features that are more important than others and this will determine how much of the structure you show and what side of it you are shooting. If your subject is a home, is the driveway clean of leaves and debris? Are all the lights on both indoors and out? Some times getting up hight can make a world of difference in cleaning up the composition of you shot from distractions. We will often times mount the tripod on a 12 foot ladder for some extra height. It's certainly possible to get to high on occasion and the results can be less that desirable. You would rarely want to put yourself above the roof line of the first floor of a home. So sit down with a cup of coffee and start studying.