02 Nov For Whom Do You Work – Part Three – Building Lines
I’ve met photographers who have changed their entire systems when a competitor came out with a camera that had a higher shutter speed. However this was achieved – mechanically or electronically – it was the primary factor in their photography. For some, it was because the subjects they photographed were in constant rapid motion with peaks of an even more frantic pace. None of these shooters was shooting architecture or real estate.
Buildings don’t move.
Jolly well everything else does, however, from the traffic to the clouds to the sun to the wind – and not to mention the people who inhabit the buildings. And the building photographer – inside or outside – has to take this into account.
a. The professional architectural photographer. They are paid by the builders, architects, owners, and tenants to record what a building looks like as it is being constructed, finished, occupied, and changed. They have a strong streak of landscape shooter in them as their subjects are large and occupy large spaces.
Their equipment can be expensive and the way they are required to employ it can be even more so – many buildings need to be seen from other buildings, and not from the cheap seats either. cranes, helicopters, light planes, scaffolding, ladders, etc. Like the art illustrator but with more wind and rain.
They generally have sun and sky light to help their work and whatever artificial light is built into the scene. They also flash and flood sometimes, and can only have benefitted from the increased ISO capabilities of newer cameras. What they haven’t benefitted from is the decline in the provision of movements with digital lenses – the older monorail and field large format cameras were ideally suited for the capture of buildings.
b. The real estate photographer. They take pictures for the people who are trying to sell the real estate – agents, owners, corporations, etc. They are up at all hours to capture the light on a property – and all hours can be ALL hours – and they can sometimes be working very rapidly indeed to capitalise on the light. They may also supplement it with flash, flood, or other means to show an interior to good effect. While they are not necessarily decor stylists themselves, they are frequently doing just that to make something look salable.
I suspect it is a hard life – I’ve seen real estate shooters on their days off and they have a hunted look about them. Whether the actual market is burgeoning or fading, they are always in there providing the good images. But hunted…
c. The building enthusiast. Don’t laugh, there are such people, and they can be a very happy and artistic lot. Some buildings have captured the imagination of individuals and they have set out to document and praise them. Once this level of interest starts, they nearly always succeed in getting the best out of a building. Some work at it in all lights and over a number of years and their efforts become a valuable document for the history of the building – and for the history of the area. The starkest illustration of this was the people who loved to go to the old railway workshops at Yarloop before the tragic fire – their pictures are invaluable for historians now.
d. The art photographer. If a building has a real style and significance, there are some photographers who will make art and art books of it. These are treated as any other commercial art production but may find much more of a buying public than pure landscapes.
e. The historian. Here’s a photographer who is separate from the building enthusiast only in scope – the historian will generally do all the buildings of a style or period – all the structures of a town – as part of a general pattern. They may work for a council or a department or on a rarer basis, for themselves. Funnily enough, they can sometimes not get the best technical shots but as they get more images they can give a better picture of the wider area.