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The importance of personal work for architectural photographers


Conne Zhou WTC_03

World Trade Center, West Concourse, by architect Santiago Calatrava. © Connie Zhou

Michael Ash is a photographer’s agent and consultant with many years in the industry. He’s repped some amazing talent, and continues to do so with his current roster. Among them is Connie Zhou, recent winner of an International Photography Award, 1st place in Architecture in the Industrial category, for her widely-loved Google Data Centers project. (See some of the images in Connie’s earlier Q&A with us.)

We had a quick chat with Michael about the importance of photographers shooting personal work. Successful architectural photographers seek out works by architects whom they admire, often shooting a building on spec for their portfolio and in the hope that presenting their images to the architect may endear them and get them hired. Architects often reference magazines when looking for photographers and being published editorially can be an important aspect of an architectural photographer’s business.

P&A: You rep Connie Zhou, a respected photographer of architecture. How important is it to your job of promoting a photographer that they spend time on personal work?
MA: This is one of the most important things any photographer should do. It keeps their portfolio fresh and gives me the opportunity to continue to promote them to the ad agencies and magazines.

P&A: Which magazines do you market Connie to?
MA: All of them. Her vision is very unique and you never know where an opportunity will come from.

P&A: Connie recently photographed World Trade Center’s West Concourse, designed by Santiago Calatrava. How did that come about?
MA: She just wanted to photograph the new structure. She probably just sweet-talked her way in. She got great images.

P&A: You are in the business of getting commercial and editorial work for Connie. With something like the World Trade Center images, how do you incorporate that work into promotions?
MA: By including the images in emails and presentations I do in person. The more she evolves the more I can go back to people that love her vision. The responses from the creatives out there are unanimous:
beautiful vision.

Conne Zhou WTC_02

Conne Zhou WTC_04

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All images © Connie Zhou, courtesy of Michael Ash Partners

The Return of Nature


The Return of Nature

Coming soon: “The Return of Nature” asks you to critique your conception of nature and your approach to architectural sustainability and green design. The book is divided into five parts giving you multiple viewpoints on the role of the relations between architecture, nature, technology, and culture.

Coedited by an architect and a historian, the book features new essays by Robert Levit, Catherine Ingraham, Sylvia Lavin, Barry Bergdoll, K. Michael Hays, Diane Lewis, Andrew Payne, Mark Jarzombek, Jean-Francois Chevrier, Elizabeth Diller, Antoine Picon, and Jorge Silvetti. Five case studies document the work of MOS Architects, Michael Bell Architecture, Steven Holl Architects, George L. Legendre, and Preston Scott Cohen.

Architectural Photographer Friday: J Collingridge


J Collingridge Royal Albert Hall

Royal Albert Hall, London © J Collingridge

J Collingridge is an architectural photographer based in London, England. He has been recognized with multiple international awards including the British Institute of Professional Photography’s Regional Architectural Photographer of the Year 2010 and 2011, and International Architectural Photographer of the Year 2010, 2011 and 2013. He kindly took some time to answer a few questions for you to enjoy this season-changing Friday.

J Collingridge. Location: ; .  Specialties: ; ; ; ; ; .

J Collingridge Broadcasting House

Broadcasting House, Leeds

J Collingridge Drents Museum

Drents Museum, The Netherlands

J Collingridge Empty Underground

Southwark Underground Station, London. All images © J Collingridge

P&A: What do you love about photographing buildings?
JC: Architecture has always fascinated me; there are so many different styles and concepts. I love capturing the essence of the architect’s vision whilst also including my own style of imagery.

P&A: What’s one of the most exciting architecture projects you’ve been involved in?
JC: That’s a tough question as I have worked on some amazing projects with some great clients all over Europe, and I’d have to narrow it down to two! My recent shoot at the Royal Albert Hall was very exciting. They cleared the entire auditorium to allow me to shoot there. The place runs like clockwork 365 days a year, and to have it empty for several hours is pretty much a one-off event. It was a privilege to be contacted by the Royal Albert Hall and asked to photograph such an iconic building.

Secondly, the Drents Museum in the Netherlands by Erick van Egeraat is another stand-out project, for a couple of reasons. Erick’s style is very unique to him so shooting any of his projects is exciting, but the Drents Museum has an amazing flow of texture, light and details. It was also a technical challenge to photograph the mostly white details in a white space.

P&A: How does working directly with architects differ from other types of clients?
JC: Working with an architect is a more personal experience because they’ve spent years in planning and designing how a building will look and feel so once they have completion of their project they want to present it in a specific way.

I also have regular clients who are contractors on the projects; whilst they also commission me because they like my style of imagery, it’s usually a much broader brief and specific to their particular input into the building.

P&A: How do you promote yourself to new clients?
JC: When I first started it was very difficult to find clients, as most architects will stay with one photographer for many years. My approach was to find buildings that I found interesting and then make contact with the architect or contractors who had designed or worked on it. I was then able to sell some of the images I had taken whilst not directly being commissioned to photograph it. Now I find that recommendations from clients get me most of my work.

P&A: Any advice for aspiring architecture photographers?
JC: The best advice I could give would be to find your own individual style but don’t be too rigid so that if a client contacted you with different ideas you wouldn’t be open to the idea of incorporating these ideas into your way of working.

Taking part in photography competitions is also important but don’t be too broad, enter images in categories that you want to work in. If you are lucky enough to get through to final judging or, better yet, winning, this is a good way to get your name out there and enable clients and other photographers to see who you are and what you do.

Winning architectural photography competitions has had a great impact on my career.

A Unique Look at New York Architecture

somewhere_in_the_west_30s-Marc Yankus
 ”Somewhere in the West Thirties” © Marc Yankus

Marc Yankus is a photographer and graphic artist balancing prolific commercial and fine art careers simultaneously. In his latest body of work, “The Space Between,” he presents New York’s architecture in an imaginary, yet hyper-real way.

Marc sees things differently; we talked about him having almost synesthesic moments as he walks around New York. His photographs are a result of his vision and precise post-production, and invoke a nostalgia that on the whole, New York has no time for (though I believe the new mayor is being lobbied to create a listed buildings register for those over 75 years old.) He adds more depth by layering images over antique textured paper.

“I’m drawn to the majestic details and materials of classical historical buildings, many of which are hidden from view, tucked behind new architecture. In these instances, a mere sliver of old, of history, is there to be photographed, leaving me to recreate the rest of the building to make it whole again.”

There are 21 photographs in Marc’s upcoming solo exhibition at ClampArt in Chelsea, New York, which opens April 3, 2014.

flatiron_area-Marc Yankus

“Flatiron Area”

charles_and_seventh-Marc Yankus

“Charles and Seventh”

stairs_building-Marc Yankus

“Stairs Building”

l_shape-Marc Yankus

“L Shape”

northern_dispensary-Marc Yankus

“Northern Dispensary”

goldman_sachs-Marc Yankus

“Goldman Sachs” All images © Marc Yankus

Marc’s photographs are also showing in a group exhibition at George Eastman House, in Rochester, NY. “‘Of Time and Buildings’ presents the work of several artists who explore the relationship between photographic images of the built environment and our experience of place.” Now through June 8, 2014.

Rem Koolhaas and OMA Get Vulgar


02_Gstar vs OMA_big

The new HQ for Dutch jeans company G Star Raw, purveyors of “modern metropolitan denim,” was designed by OMA.

In an article in The Guardian G-Star’s global brand director, Shubhankar Ray, describes the relationship as “two brands having unprotected sex.”

“We’ve never been this vulgar,” says the practice’s founding partner Rem Koolhaas. Read all about it.

Architecture + Photography at the Carnegie Museum



The Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, PA, has announced this upcoming exhibition “Architecture + Photography” featuring works from the Heinz Architectural Center and Carnegie Museum of Art’s photography collection, and including prints from a newly acquired portfolio of iconic Modernist buildings by Ezra Stoller. Opens April 12th, 2014.

“This exhibition, featuring an array of works from the Heinz Architectural Center and Carnegie Museum of Art’s photography collection, demonstrates the wonderfully rich symbiosis between architecture and photography.”

Bauhaus Architecture in Tel Aviv


Tel Aviv Bauhaus

Inspired by graphic designer José Guízar’s project ‘Windows of New York,’ Avner Gicelter is making beautiful renderings of some of her hometown of Tel Aviv’s more than 4,000 Bauhaus buildings. Known accordingly as “The White City” the high volume of buildings in this style came about in the 1930s, developed by German Jewish immigrant architects escaping persecution in Europe. With a new one each week it’s worth keeping an eye on the TLV Buildings website.

Architectural Photographer Friday: Aurélien Aumond


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List member Aurélien Aumond is based in the beautiful city of Lyon, in France. He is also a real estate agent, and offers photographic services to that industry. Loving the cross-over, we asked him some simple Qs in celebration of Friday / Vendredi.

Aurélien Aumond. Location: ; ; Specialties: ; ;

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P&A: What do you love about photographing buildings?
AA: I have loved architecture for a long time so it feels natural for me to photograph form, shapes, lights, materials…

P&A: What aspect of photographing a building, interior or exterior, do you personally find the most challenging?
AA: I don’t make a difference between interior/exterior. Each building has its singularity so it depends on each project. I try to keep my compositions balanced, playing with the building and the light, I think that’s for me the most challenging part, finding the way to create striking images.

P&A: Regarding the real estate photography, how does working with real estate agents differ from architects?
AA: There’s some huge differences between RE work and architecture work. The first one is the time you can spend on projects. For RE work, you’ve to be quick, for architecture you can take your time and wait for the good hour of the day to take THE picture. Also, the goals are different, for RE work you’ve to focus on spaces, for architecture work, your goal is to showcase what the view of the architect is. You have to be just.

P&A: How do you promote yourself to new clients?
AA: I don’t promote myself as I’m just a part time photographer, my main activity is real estate agent so I work mainly for myself. And when I’ve some time and some projects to shoot, I put my photographer’s hat on.

P&A: Any advice for aspiring architecture photographers?
AA: I’m not sure that I’m the good person to give advice as I’m a pure autodidact. But maybe the most important advice I can give to specialize in this field is, be passionate, read a lot about architecture and take the time to analyze the pictures you like, what are the reasons you like them (composition ? lighting ? etc…)

Aurelien Aumond 01

all images © Aurélien Aumond

Cool Spaces: The Best New Architecture


Cool Spaces! The Best New Architecture” is a new series that will begin broadcasting on PBS in the United States next month. In it, architect host Stephen Chung travels the country exploring public spaces, taking viewers behind the scenes of buildings “created by daring architects and others who push the boundaries of design, materials, and process.” The eight hour-long episodes are sponsored by the American Institute of Architects.

Check your local listings!

Bill Cunningham: Fashion and Architecture


Bill Cunningham 02

An exhibition of prints by the inimitable Bill Cunningham are on view at the New York Historical Society, now through June 15th, 2014, in an exhibition titled “Facades”. The images are from an eight-year project that Cunningham began in 1968, photographing New York City architecture and featuring fashion models – mostly the utterly fabulous Editta Sherman – in period costumes.

If for some bizarre reason you have never seen the documentary “Bill Cunningham: New York” you should make it a priority to do so.

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