The architecture we choose to photograph, and how we photograph it says what we think, feel and believe. My photography is the world of architecture made visible through my unique experience and vision as an architect and photographer: for me architecture and its photography are inextricably connected. – Brian Lewis
Architects and their clients, consultants and contractors invest a great deal of time and energy in creating architecture. It therefore follows that architecture be promoted with the appropriate level of care and skill. Architectural photography has evolved as an effective means of communicating the value of building designs and their contribution to the built environment, culture and society. The impact of stunning architectural photography is a most effective means of promoting the value of architecture. Sensitive architectural photography can also help to explain the design intent and features of a building and so help the public better understand the value of good design.
The public has access to centuries of vernacular, traditional and colonial architecture. In order for contemporary architecture to become better accepted the public needs to be educated of its benefits and become more familiar with excellent examples. Architects in general, but particularly those in the Caribbean, need to promote their work in the public domain. Contemporary architecture, in particular, needs to be marketed so that the public can see what is available and what can be done.
In order to achieve these objectives the architectural photographer must develop the skill and artistic interpretation of the architect’s design intent and to express the emotional impression intended by the author of the design. The architectural photographer may seek to transcend the mere recording of the building to become a source or instrument to evoke an empathy with the design and thus create an image that achieves a level of art in itself. The artistic and freedon of expression allow the architectural photographer that unique challenge to discover the genius loci [the spirit of the place] of a work of architecture and then to express that in such a way that inspires the emotions of the viewer and helps in the understanding of and appreciation of the work of architecture and the author’s intent. Although there never seems to be enough time to rest and meditate the essence of the building at different times of the day and from various angles the architectural photography needs to contemplate and search for hidden meaning and less predictable features. High quality architectural photography demanded by international publications requires high-resolution images, perspective control cameras and special lighting equipment.
There are various means of marketing contemporary architecture; among them are the more traditional means such as brochures, publications in the news media, book and magazine publications, exhibitions, public lectures and presentations. Today there are a number of new opportunities for promotion in the electronic media such as web sites, Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and a whole range of evolving social media applications. Having access to international magazines and publications is an excellent vehicle for Caribbean architects to promote their worth in seeking recognition, but at present such opportunities are limited.
In conclusion a thorough understanding of design along with a comprehensive technical and artistic ability to capture the design intent and emotional contribution of architecture are essential requirement for making a choice of an architectural photographer.
- What Is LUMIS?LUMIS derives from the word lumen: a unit of luminous flux
LUMIS is strongly associated with ‘light’ – which is at the essence of both photography and architecture
LUMIS gives a feel of: warm, inviting, welcoming, inspiring, uplifting, and expressiveness
Brian Lewis has practiced as an architect continuously for over forty years and is currently Practice Manager of the firm ACLA:WORKS an architectural and interiors practice. The firm was founded in 1944 by Anthony C. Lewis in Barbados but the name ACLA:WORKS was introduced in 2001 when three architectural practices merged. ACLA:WORKS provides a full range of architectural, planning and interior services. The firm is a member of the Trinidad and Tobago Institute of Architects [TTIA] and through our team, have affiliations with the Barbados Institute of Architects [BIA], the Jamaican Institute of Architects [JIA], American Institute of Architects [AIA] and the Royal Institute of British Architects [RIBA].Brian Lewis is trading as LUMIS Photography, a registered business as of 06 August 2012. LUMIS offers exclusively architectural photography services to present architecture within the Caribbean to:
- architects and other members of the design team
- developers, project owners and realtors
- contractors, sub-contractors, suppliers
- architectural enthusiasts
- publishers of architectural books, architectural magazines and trade journals
Before he pursued a career in architecture, Brian was a keen photographer. Architecture and its expression in terms of Architectural Photography are his passions. As an architect he prefers to photograph contemporary architecture.
- When and how did you get into architectural photography?In the early sixty’s I met Sir Norman Parkinson, photographer to the Royal Family and renowned fashion photographer for Vogue and other fashion magazines. I was only 12 years old and already interested in photography when I first met him at the Parkinson House, Tobago. ‘Parks’ gave me a huge enlargement of a photograph I had taken and I have never looked back. Throughout my secondary education in the UK I continued taking an interest in photography and with the skills I developed it became another outlet of expression as an architect. Later, Noel Norton a well-known local photographer and friend of Norman Parkinson, took some architectural photography for ACLA:WORKS and it was about that time [+/-1980] that I decided to take a more serious interest. Since then I continued to photograph our firm’s work. Now in the twilight of my architectural career I am transitioning to architectural photography as I really enjoy the freedom to express my vision of architecture which it allows.
- Why do you like to photograph architecture?Architecture in its best form contributes to the built environment and can raise the human spirit. Architecture first needs to be comprehensible in order to be appreciated and photography is a powerful media to help achieve this. Stunning architectural images can even inspire. Caribbean architects need to promote their work internationally and good quality architectural images are essential to lifting the standard of appreciation of architecture. The architecture we choose to photograph, and how we photograph it is a reflection of what we think, feel and believe. My photography is the world of architecture made visible through my unique experience and vision as an architect and photographer: for me architecture and its photography are inextricably connected. I believe that creating architecture is one way to make a contribution and for me another way is via the medium of architectural photography. I really enjoy photographing contemporary architecture, searching for and capturing the design intent. I believe that by presenting the design intent of a building I can enhance the appreciation of architecture and its architects.
- How did you learn architectural photography?I am largely a self-taught photographer and own a comprehensive library on architectural photography. I am a international member of the American Society of Media Photographers [ASMP], American Photographic Artists and the International Association of Architectural Photographers [IAAP]. Over the years I have attended many courses:”Architectural Photography: Lighting Techniques and Workflow” with Jeffrey Jacobs [Kallispel, Montana”Equipment Bootcamp” with Capture Integration [Kallispel, Montana]”Digital Asset Management for Photographers” with Peter Krogh [Palm Springs, California]
“Photoshop CS6: Essential Masking & Retouching Techniques” with Ben Willmore [Palm Springs, California]
“Architectural Photography: Building Relationships” with Tim Griffith [Palm Springs, California]
“Architectural Photography in the Digital Realm” with Jeffrey Totaro [West Palm Beach, Florida]
“Hasselblad Panoramic Workshops” with Peter Lorber [Sedona, Arizona]”
“Hasselblad Panoramic Workshops” with Peter Lorber [Bar Harbor, Maine]
“Hasselblad Phocus and Photoshop Workflow” with Peter Lorber [Boca Raton, Florida]
“Architectural Photography in the Digital Realm” with Jeffrey Totaro [West Palm Beach, Florida]
“New York Institute of Photography” [New York]
“Color Collective” with Rob Griffith [Swindon, UK]
“Perfect Picture School of Photography Course on Architectural Photography” with Anthony Weller
“Hasselblad Tutoring by Hotwire-Digital” with John Williams
“Hasselblad Tutoring” with Nicky West and David Slater, Pro Centre [London UK]
“Architectural Photography and Composition” with Steven Brooke, Seaside, Florida
- Other workshops of interest for architectural photography are:
- What have you had published so far?The December 2014 inaugural magazine issue of ISSUU – ZOSA Lifestyle Design + Architecture features my article ‘Modern Architecture Meets Photography’. My most recent major work is of course the book published by ACLA:WORKS in 2009 “Manikin: the Art and Architecture of Anthony C. Lewis” edited by Geoffrey MacLean and Brian Lewis with text by Geoffrey MacLean, Gerry Lewis and Brian Lewis. Photography is by myself and graphic design by Melanie Archer. My photographs were also published on the cover of HH Crown Journal No. 226 in 1985 with photographs featured in the article on the Halls of Justice, Trinidad and Tobago. My photographs of two houses I designed are published in the book entitled ‘Tropical Houses‘ published by teNeues in 2003. I also ran a successful series of supplement articles on Architectural and Interior Design in the Trinidad Guardian newspapers and had the distinct honor of the largest double page spread photograph published in a newspaper in Trinidad and Tobago. I also prepared a major supplement ‘Profit By Design’ for the newspapers for the Trinidad and Tobago Institute of Architects. Over the years I have had many articles on architecture published in newspapers, magazines and journals on matters of architecture and architectural photography. My latest Limited Edition book Contemporary Caribbean Architecture was published on 19 November 2015 and was sold out within 3 weeks.
- How do you work?It begins by understanding the purpose of the photograph and the building to be photographed. When an assignment is commissioned then the customer’s expectations need to be addressed. When the circumstances allow it I prefer to visit the site before hand, preferably with the architect, to understand the design intent and the issues that I will face and determine the best times to photograph. It is also helpful to walk around the project with the architect so as to gain a better understanding of the design intent. Most of my photography is shot on tripod so as to reduce vibration and enhance the highest possible resolution. My aim as a photographer is to first show the building at its best and secondly to help the viewer better understand the key features and design intent. The most effective way to achieve this is by introducing an emotional interpretation: the key ingredients being composition, lighting and interpretation of design intent. Over the years I have developed a discerning photographic eye for and appreciation of contemporary architecture in particular and I am therefore well placed to share a unique personal vision of architecture.
- What kind of equipment and software do you use?Ideally architectural photography requires camera equipment that controls perspective and also capable of high -resolution images. In the eighties I used a large format Sinar 4×5 P view camera but more recently, with the development of digital sensors, I now use a medium format Hasselblad H4-D 50 MP camera with a range of lenses [24, 28, 100, 210, 50-110] including a HTS 1.5 Perspective Correction Converter that delivers exceptional resolution. I also use a Sinar arTec technical camera with Sinaron Digital HR Lenses [23, 32, 40, 50 mm] that work with the Hasselblad 50 MP digital back. In terms of lighting I use a Lowel Pro tungsten light system and also a ProFoto DI flash kit and Nikon SB-910 flash heads. In the darkroom I use a Mac Pro computer with an EIZO Color Edge CG275W screen and an Epson 4900 printer. Phocus is the main workhorse software for Hasselblad and images are fine tuned in Photoshop. With this high quality equipment I have no excuse for not producing excellent architectural photographic images.