Keeping the background recognizable but just slightly out of focus makes the subject pop.    Amy Cha of Bohlin Cywinski Powell

Keeping the background recognizable but just slightly out of focus makes the subject pop.  Amy Cha of Bohlin Cywinski Powell

As an architectural photographer, I’m always looking for ways to bring out the human qualities of everything I’m assigned to shoot, be it an office tower, sports arena, campus center, residential space, commercial concern or what have you.

This is particularly true when it comes to photographing actual humans, which happens more often in my area of focus than one might assume. As I do love to take portraits, I consider the chance to photograph architects–many of whom design the buildings I shoot–to be an extra special assignment and opportunity.

  A workplace portrait should say, “this is where you’ll find me.” Brandon Collins of Bohlin Cywinski Powell.

A workplace portrait should say, “this is where you’ll find me.” Brandon Collins of Bohlin Cywinski Powell.

In an age of selfies and otherwise disposable snapshots, I’m thankful for clients who recognize and appreciate the context, texture and import a professional portrait can convey.

Over the past year, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, Cicada Architects, and landscape architects Ground Reconsidered have all had me photograph their architects. I prefer to take these portraits in their subjects’ natural habitats – their workspace environments. In that regard, I have a lot in common with nature photographers.

  Reviewing test shots with subjects gives them feedback on how they’re expressing themselves. Karen Skafte of Cicada Architects.

Reviewing test shots with subjects gives them feedback on how they’re expressing themselves. Karen Skafte of Cicada Architects.

  Lighting at architecture firms is better than most, but may still need to be filled in. Ryan Simpson of Bohlin Cywinski Powell

Lighting at architecture firms is better than most, but may still need to be filled in. Ryan Simpson of Bohlin Cywinski Powell

Like any good nature photographer, I try to spend time where my subjects spend time. I walk around to get the lay of the land, examining it from all angles. Without being too obtrusive, I watch my subjects at work, aiming to find backgrounds that connect with them and quickly telegraph these relationships.

  Scouting elements that reflect subject and occupation is time well spent. Landscape architect, Brittany Adams of Ground Reconsidered.

Scouting elements that reflect subject and occupation is time well spent. Landscape architect, Brittany Adams of Ground Reconsidered.

These portraits rely on a combination of natural and supplemental lighting. In summary, my portrait process goes beyond face value.

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