Photographers, Designers on How to Make a Picture

Event: Photographing Architectural Interiors
Location: Center for Architecture, 02.08.10
Speakers: Thomas H. Kieren — Photographer, Custom Corporate Photography; Charles Linn, FAIA — Senior Managing Editor, Architectural Record; Michael Moran — Photographer, Moran Studios; Edward J. Wood, IIDA — Principal, Gensler
Moderator: Erica Stoller — Director, Esto Photographics, Inc.
Organizers: AIANY Interiors Committee; AIANY Marketing & PR Committees
Sponsor: Humanscale


Southampton House. Architect: Alexander Gorlin, FAIA; Interior Designer: David Scott.

Photograph by Michael Moran

For both designers and photographers, the art of documenting an architectural interior involves many people, many hours, and many compositions. According to photographer Michael Moran, of Moran Studios, his role is that of a movie director with the help of the architect as producer. Architects and interior designers assemble an interior with a specific aesthetic vision. However, it is the job of the photographer to assure designers that any necessary relocation of the furniture and accessories of a space will ultimately be beneficial to the final photo shoot. It is crucial that all parties be flexible and open to re-thinking the interior.

Erica Stoller, of Esto Photographics, encourages designers to trust photographers to create a series of successful images. Stoller espouses the premise that photographers “make” an image rather than “take” an image. By layering individual moments, a photograph becomes a narrative. Given the abilities to edit out distracting details or craft accents in an image, photographers can layer on their own aesthetic to a room’s natural state.

Some question whether the advent of digital photography has negatively compromised the boundaries of realistically portraying an environment. However, Charles Linn, FAIA, senior managing editor at Architectural Record, who looks for saturated color and a sense of scale when reviewing photography for his publication, said, “We all like to be seduced by an idealized space.”

Photography intrinsically involves multiple challenges — including weather, natural lighting, and the inclusion or exclusion of people. Edward Wood, IIDA, a principal at Gensler, has found scheduling photo shoots on weekends or in the evening can be beneficial when staging people in a space. Thomas Kieren, a photographer at Custom Corporate Photography, advises that the reconciliation of multiple client concerns — such as those of the architect, flooring manufacturer, and acoustic engineer — can be achieved in a single photograph. Stoller agreed that, if achievable, addressing the needs of multiple team members on a project can facilitate the shared cost of a photo shoot. All panelists emphasized that developing a trusting relationship with a photographer will beget a mutual understanding of need and intent, resulting in a photography portfolio that lends itself to a designer’s legacy.