When exploring the architectural photographers in our catalogue at Rise Art, we suggest starting with Nick Miners – an urban photographer with a penchant for depicting the patterns found in modern architecture. He takes what many critics deem ‘ugly’ architecture and uses it to produce beautiful imagery, which he shoots exclusively in black and white. The extreme levels of contrast which he applies to his images render them almost hypnotic in their representation of geometric patterns.
Another artist who produces phenomenal architectural photographs is Gina Soden. Abandoned buildings form the subject of Soden’s work – buildings which she rarely has permission to shoot. Her pieces therefore offer the viewer a unique glimpse into the beauty in the decay of such desolate settings as well as capturing the passage of time.
Architecture has formed one of the primary subjects in photography since its conception. This is largely because, owing to their lack of movement, buildings were the ideal subject for the technology which, in its early stages, required long exposure times – thus architectural photography became one of the first photographic specialisms.
Initially, architectural photographs served primarily as record images with little creative purpose. It was not until the beginning of the 20th century that photographers such as Frederick Evans began to consider more complex and stylised images which captured the unique character of their architectural subjects.
Across the 1900s, the architectural photography movement gradually became more creative and began to appear in art, architecture and lifestyle magazines as well as photographic and architectural books. It became a key means of communicating the latest ideas in style, design and technology and often featured dramatic images which depicted desirable buildings, often shot from unusual angles.
Today, architectural photography is used for a wider range of purposes. From huge images printed on vinyl and used to enclose construction sites to small digital thumbnails that are shared on social media. This has driven the medium towards simple, graphic images that are flexible and can remain clear and easy to understand in a wide variety of different sizes and formats. In addition to these functional forms of architectural photography, buildings also serve as a subject for photographs which serve purely aesthetic and artistic purposes.
One of the primary techniques employed in architectural photography is the use of perspective control, with emphasis placed upon vertical lines that are parallel to one another – a result which is achieved with the use of view cameras, tilt/shift lenses and post-processing. View cameras have been traditionally used in architectural photography since they allow for the lens to be tilted or shifted relative to the film plane, allowing for control over the perspective as well as a range of creative possibilities. A deep depth of field in order to render both the foreground and background clear and in sharp focus is also usually employed, much like in landscape photography. More recently, DSLR cameras have also been used in the field, which allow for lenses of various focal lengths to be used according to the photographer’s preference.
Roger Fenton, Francis Frith, Samuel Bourne and Albert Levy are amongst the photographers who pioneered the architectural photography movement. Later artists of the genre included Ezra Stoller and Julius Shulman. Stoller worked primarily on the east coast of America after graduating with a degree in architecture in the 1930s, while Shulman became an architectural photographer after some images that he had captured of one of Richard Neutra’s houses in California found themselves on the architect’s desk.