I’ve recently undertaken some part time lecturing at the University of Northampton. The University approached me and asked me if I could put together some lectures on Architectural and Interior photography for 1st year BSC(Hons) Architectural Technology and Interior Design Students. I was pleased to be invited to do this as I think photography is a particularly useful skill within the design and construction industry. Even a basic knowledge can allow the effective capture and documentation of your own work while improving your ability to convey ideas and narrative to others.
Over the past few weeks we have covered narrative, composition, verticality depth of field and started to look at the tricky subject of lighting models all through a series of lectures and practical sessions. It’s interesting to see how quickly people can start to develop a set of skills when subject to concentrated learning.
Here is a selection of images from a recently completed interior fit out in Queens Gate, London. The shoot was commissioned by Landmark Interiors following the successful refurbishment of the location for Frasers Hospitality. The building contains 105 luxury serviced apartments and is located in Kensington.
The refurbishment makes good use of the original Victorian structure with gallery bedrooms in many of the suites which retain their original high ceiling levels. The suites look particularly good and like the way the catering facilities and gallery bedrooms have been integrated to create something that feels much more stylish than the average hotel suite.
I have recently rationalised all my kit for this kind of interior work allowing me to get all of my speedlights, stands, light modifiers, tripod etc into one albeit huge roller bag. After months of looking I settled on a Bowens lighting bag which has made getting around on the tube much more practical, I am hoping the small wheels can take the mileage.
Here's a few images from a recent trip to the Lasalle Investment Management Head Quarters situated in Mayfair, London. The recent remodelling and refit designed by Consarc allowed the consolidation of 165 staff onto one floor through the use of flexible variable density work spaces, with a nice central break out area.
From a photographic point of view it was nice to be working in an evenly lit space with consistent colour temperature across the office. With a space this size it would be really disruptive and expensive to import lighting and so it was good to be able to concentrate on subject and composition without having to work around patchy lighting with inconsistent colour temperature.
I’ve always been interested in photography’s ability to distort the passage of time within a single frame. Time-lapse photography allows these distortions to be used to even greater effect as layer upon layer of is built up. Current technology now allows us to take Time-Lapse photograph to another level by introducing movement into what were always static shots. I have been experimenting with new kit and techniques for the past couple of months and am now happy with the results.
Here is a short clip shot at the open evening of the new Milton Keynes Super Casino.
The Lowry Hotel in Salford, Manchester was built about 12 years ago for Rocco Forte Hotels and for a long time was the only 5 star Hotel in Manchester.
Consarc were the project architects and they wanted the development re-photographing to show how well the design was wearing and how it had stimulated the urban regeneration of this former industrial Chapel Warf area.
This was the first real outing for my Nikon D800 and the 14 stop dynamic range was a real help when photographing the white painted Calatrava designed Trinity bridge in the bright sunshine.
The Hotel and bridge still look great and this more than made up for the 20 hour working day.
For the past couple of months I have been working on the photography for the new Natural Elements Flooring website. The initial enquiry came from Greg at Natural Elements requesting price for a couple of interior shots for their new website banners. This then developed into a project to photograph their whole product range and a location shoot at the Davison Highley bespoke furniture showroom in London. The photography of the samples was particularly difficult and I had to develop a new lighting set up to capture the texture and colour of the samples consistently across the entire range.
I have recently been to Cumbria to photograph the Dalton Nuclear Institute in Cumbria. The Institute is located on the Westlakes Science and Technology park in Moor Row, Cumbria. The project was commissioned in 2009 and is the result of a joint venture between Manchester University and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. It was designed by Wilson Mason Architects and completed in 2011 with a project value of £5.4m. The building comprises two linked units, the main two storey building with the black metal finish houses labs and research facilities and the single storey building houses the Ion Accelerator.
This commission was the first real job for the Nikon D800. This has been my back up camera for the last 6 months but was pressed in to service when the D700 had to go for repair. The extra couple of stops of dynamic range that the D800 produces at ISO 100 were really useful when capturing black metal cladding against a sky with the occasional bright white cloud.
I was recently at this new Obstetric unit in Kent to photograph the interior following the complete remodelling and refurbishment of the wing. I was working for Cofton Design of London the consulting M&E Engineers on the project and access was only available prior to the deep clean and installation of the majority of theatre equipment. Unfortunately for me this meant that I only had empty rooms to work with, making the composition of interesting photographs a bit of a problem, everybody was pleased with the results though.
I have recently photographed the remodelled and refurbished Mercedes-Benz showroom in Chelsea, London, for Ayshford Sansome Architects. I've visited Mercedes Chelsea in the past and the work has made a fantastic difference, it now feels like a car showroom rather than the converted furniture shop that it once was. Photographing retail spaces and car showrooms in particular is always tricky because a good design is centred around the display of the vehicle and its interaction with the customer, but as a photographer I feel my job is to capture the design of the space rather than focusing on the product.
I've recently photographed the interior of this south London apartment on the day of handover by the main contractor Bolt & Heeks. The apartment in Benbow House is adjacent to and overlooks the Globe Theatre, Tate Modern and the Millennium bridge, with full 180 degree views of the river and north bank. The apartment was stripped back to the bare shell by Bolt and Heeks and then refitted to a very high specification including leather wall facings by Bill Amberg Studio, Travertine bathrooms and solid Oak floors.
Buildings tend to look best when photographed in sunlight. If my client wants a daylight shot then I always try and schedule the shoot on a day when the weather and direction of daylight shows the building off at its best. Often this will mean rescheduling and sometimes the right forecastable weather window may take a few weeks to arrive. The worst jobs are those that have to be photographed at a specific time on a specific day, usually due to client’s access and deadline issues. Harrow School roof was one such job, when the specified day in March came round the weather was terrible, very windy, very overcast and zero degrees centigrade the last kind of day you would normally pick to capture this location.
Without direct sunlight the roofs looked really dull and flat and the sky’s easy to overexpose. I thought the only way forward was to produce the final images in Monochrome and I would resort to HDR photographs in tricky conditions like this but the HDR process always seems to highlight imperfections in metal work particularly in Black and White and so these shots are made up of one exposure for the sky and one for the roof manually layered together and then processed in Black and White. While the weather was terrible it turned out to be an enjoyable day, the client was very happy with the results and the building surveyor in me really appreciated the fantastic workmanship and detailing of the roof.
I’ve recently photographed the new exhibition and auditorium space at Prospects College, Basildon. Visually it was an interesting space, but initially I thought it was going to be very difficult to photograph it effectively. Luckily I only had that job on the day and was really able to work on the composition, deciding what the key elements were, and slowly drawing them out. Once I’d worked out what I wanted to show it was then a case a refining the composition to highlight the key elements and exclude anything that didn’t contribute to the narrative or could distract the viewer. Selecting the view point in a large open space like this is often much more difficult than smaller spaces where you have little choice but to photograph from the corner of the room.
Once I had picked the basic viewpoints, which took me about an hour, it took another 10-20 minutes to optimise the composition, often moving the camera by only 50mm at a time. The lack of interruption and lack of mobile reception really allowed me to concentrate on the project, resulting in 5 finished images taken over about 3 hours. It always gives me a lot of satisfaction when I can work though a tricky problem like this and come up with a good result.
Last week I gave a talk to 2nd Year BA photography students at the University of Northampton. The presentation covered the transition from student to working freelance architectural photographer. The talk is based on my own journey and highlights what I did well and what I would do differently with the benefit of some hindsight. The second year is the point in a course when students should be planning and targeting their efforts to make the transition into the media industry. Students that leave these decisions until later in the course appear to struggle with the transition and appear to take much longer to maximise their potential. The talk also shows how I applied valuable lessons in professionalism, planning and resource management, learnt in the construction industry and equally useful during my time as a student. I think this talk would be of great benefit to other media students and would be happy to talk to students or course leaders about it.
Here are a couple of interior photographs of a shoot of a South Kensington apartment for Alexander Rakita of AR Architecture, a Russian Architect who practices in London, The Republic of Ireland and Russia. The scheme featured major structural alterations and a complete re-modelling of the interior, all to a very high standard. Due to the extensive use of white finishes and white furniture I had to pay particular attention to the White Balance to achieve a consistent set of images. Colour temperatures varied between rooms due to the use of different light sources and the affects of natural daylight. Photographs that show more than one room are a composite of 2 finished images with the white balance adjusted to suit each individual area the 2 images are then blended together in Adobe Photoshop.
I’ve recently been photographing the new £10 million extension to Prospects College in Basildon. The 3600 m2 project was designed and managed by Ayshford Sansome Architects and is part of a long running redevelopment of the Basildon site. It was nice to photograph a scheme that made so much use of natural daylight, which even extended into the corridors through the clever use of light wells. The use of the natural daylight, natural ventilation and the management of the buildings acoustics created a nice relaxed environment to work in. The shoot took the whole day and due to the poor overcast weather I chose to shoot the exterior of the building in the evening. Overall a very nice project to photograph although achieving a decent White Balance with the yellow and blue painted walls was a bit tricky at times.