The value of architectural photography


What are architects really paying for when they commission architectural photography? What makes an architectural photograph valuable?

Both the photographer and his client have to be vey aware of the effects in the selection of points of view that will interpret the architectural project before making the exposure of the camera according to the number of ideas that the images have to communicate: a negligent choice of points of view can never be corrected after the exposure of the camera.

It is according to the weight and emphasis that the different plastic and visual elements of the frame -arranged and selected by the photographer according to their appearance and simplified as pure forms, lines, colors and textures- represented in perspective confer to a particular point of view, that these plastic elements will affect favorably or unfavorably to the interpretation of the project.

A weakly elaborated selection of the elementes of the frame and a poor simplification of their meanings as forms, lines, colors and textures in the composition do determine that the viewer can be initially attracted by the photograph and then for what the image actually represents.

In some worst and possible cases, the careless appearance of the composition of the elements of the image will make very difficult to establish a fluid dialogue between the viewer and the image and it will negatively affect the reading and interpretation of the project and the architecture that is represented in the photograph.

MACBA Museum  |  Richard Meier  |  Barcelona

It is creating a rigorous and proactive interaction with the image that an architectural photograph has to throw and propose new interpretations of the project to the viewer that have to go far beyond the simple and sterile documentary representation of a space or a building.

In the words of the American photographer and father of contemporary photography Ansel Adams: "I use many photographic controls to create an image that represents what I saw and felt. If I succeed, the audience will accept the image for itself and will respond to it emotionally and aesthetically."

This is what actually makes architectural photographs valuable, this idea of using them as consciously elaborated baits for that the photographs of a project and its corresponding viewers do establish an infinite dialogue and create an hypnotic communication between the image and the observer.

It is establishing a dialogue between the photographic representation of the project and its viewers from the simplification and abstraction of the elements of the frame how we generate the communicative discourse attaching to the image its permanence and granting our photographs sense and meaning regardless of the time and the specific geographical area in which the photographs of the architectural project are interpreted.

This way of posing the architectural photography assignment is very subtle but also very effective because it always appeals to the curiosity of the observer and his desire to know more about the photographs that he is looking to.

And it always works.


David Cardelús