*Trends in Architecture and Photography

This post on architectural photographic trends is inspired by a presentation from a trend forecaster at the Royal Institute of British Architects, West Midlands branch. He addressed how a good selection of colours, textures and furniture in commercial buildings can affect staff morale and retention. I was very pleased to learn, white paint and grey carpet are not in trend. Understanding architectural and photographic trends particularly as the millennial generation move into decision making roles in business is increasingly important.

Trend forecasters plan interior design trends to last a decade. Therefore at the end of the current trend cycle, many decision makers in business will be millennials. The millennial generation feel less brand loyalty and are motivated by what makes them feel good. Thus an uninspiring work premises will struggle to keep them motivated and will lead to the better ones seeking employment elsewhere. In trend interiors have been heavily adopted by “tech” firms whose average employee age is lower than many other industries.

Architectural Photographic Trends – Links and Similarities

Both photography and architecture come under the arts in university study, although many would argue both contain much of the sciences. The biggest trend in photography is currently the digital revolution and in architecture 3D BIM (Building Information Modelling). Both professions can now present their work in ways that weren’t feasible just a few years ago. Architects would spend days on the drawing board perfecting designs and photographers hours in the darkroom, now both use computers. This benefits both professions by being able to experiment much more quickly and economically than with drawing boards and darkrooms.

The trend I’m seeing most in architectural photography is the proliferation of dusk images. Calculating exposure times in dusk conditions is somewhat hit or miss. The instant feedback on digital cameras have removed much of this uncertainty and encouraged photographers to experiment with twilight.

In the days of film, photographers controlled colour temperature by fitting blue and orange filters to the lens. The same is achieved via a dial on a digital camera. Further adjustments were possible when printing in the darkroom by placing filters in the enlarger. This is now done in the digital darkroom by moving a slider with the mouse. Architects can change the colour of building elements in much the same way on a computer model. No need to redraw anything from scratch if a client wants a visualisation in a different colour.

Observed Trends in Architectural Photography

As more of my competitors are opting to fix digital backs to their large format cameras, I’m seeing much more twilight photography. Twilight architectural photography is most appealing when buildings are well illuminated. Architects who provide external facade lighting or large expanses of glazed curtain walling are contributing to this trend. The one thing I do notice however from the photographers side, is cold blue colour tones. Without knowing the actual conditions my competitors have shot under I’ve no way of knowing how natural these tones are. The only thing I can comment on is how frequently I see cold blue twilight images.

As the sun sets, the colour of the daylight changes from a cool midday blue through shades of yellow, orange and red then back to blue before disappearing all together. This process is also affected by the altitude and thickness of any cloud present. Most photographers will set the camera up ahead of the ideal moment and wait for the light. The time to shoot is when there is a balance between external and internal illumination around the buildings.

Much of my own portfolio is shot on film and digitised with a scanner. The image below, compares the original warm purple tones, with bluer versions created by adjusting colour temperature on computer.

Conclusions

With millennials increasingly becoming business decision makers, consideration of their tastes is something commercial photographers can’t ignore. Understanding what makes these people tick will increase in importance as they will soon become our next generation clients. The biggest clues are in the offices of forward looking companies employing a high percentage of millennials. There aren’t a lot of social media giants with bare white office walls, grey carpet and rectangular furniture. This generation more than any other demand stimuli and creative workplace design.

Because of this, I believe architectural photography whether consumed via electronic media, brochures or wall art is an important medium. Employers who can’t show prospective staff pictures of inspiring work places will struggle to recruit the best. Customers will increasingly chose hotels, restaurants, resorts, fitness centres and spas Etc by looking at photographs.