Showing the Functionality of Architecture

It seems like I am always photographing schools and churches. They are exactly the types of spaces that require an architect. As teaching methodology changes so do the classrooms and the architect brings a lot to the table. They know the trends and can design something that takes into account the needs of the institution on a case by case basis. Something I am starting to see more of, are classrooms that quickly change from one task to another. The class might look to one side of the room for the whiteboard to another for the projector. To facilitate all of the moving around the chairs and tables roll. I have watched during classes and it works perfectly. The students seem more engaged because there is no front or back of the classroom. At one moment the teacher can be making a point, a moment later a student giving a presentation. The teacher can design the shape the class can take in a few minutes before class, perhaps a lecture, or group work, a large circle or even one giant table.

In this example I was asked to rearrange the desks to show that the focal point of the room can change. There are countless ways that I could have arranged the desk. For these images we decided to keep things simple . When I got into the room I got a peek into how the space might be used on a daily basis. There were workstations against the wall, where a student might use a computer or work privately or take a quiz. The desks in the middle of the room faced forward , bracketed by side facing desks. It really becomes a creative tool that the teacher and students use together to shape their experience together.

Here is another example from a different school. You can see many of the same ideas at play here. In this design the desks are all independent and attached to a chair. In practice it means the students can follow the teacher around or form groups. I got to observe a class in this room and I was really impressed by how easily the class could turn and regroup.

The students could work on the white boards(pictured to the right of the image) and share their work with the class. The flow of the class was fascinating. The teacher could have an idea and move freely between different types of learning in a natural and intuitive way that kept the students engaged. This certainly feels like the way things are moving and is a perfect example of how good design can impact lives.

As the architectural photographer my job is simplify and let the design shine. I end up doing a little bit of clean-up. I get rid of distracting elements, like cords, boxes, bins, papers, strange things on the walls, ink on the whiteboard, pretty much anything that doesn't help show the space and it's functionality. Then I go through and make sure everything is straight and not crowded. In this case using the floor tiles to align the desks and chairs as perfectly as I can. Lighting plays a role too, depending on the angle I am shooting from the light can flatten the image and make it difficult to distinguish where one thing begins and another ends. On rooms of this scale I always use lighting to shape the room and give volume where it is needed. I combine images that are artificially lit with ambient light images in photoshop. I may use very little of the lit image or a lot depending what looks best. Lighting insures for me that I don't finish the shoot, get back to my studio and realize I didn't get the shot. I always have options and can hopefully turn any shot into something to be proud of. I am well aware that I am documenting something that may have taken years from start to finish so I want to get it perfect. Once back in the studio, I can look over the files and determine how to process the images to best tell the story of the space. There is a fine art of perfecting and retouching architectural photography that takes years to refine, but if you will take my word for it, it is also seriously fun.

Thanks so much for reading and if you have any questions or comments let me know. If you are an architect, builder, developer or designer and you need great photos to promote your business, contact me here and I would be glad to provide a free quote for you project.