Architectural Photography

Exploring Base Camp

Produced for Architecture Minnesota Magazine, Exploring Base Camp is a series of 1-2 minute videos of the recently completed Historic Restoration by LHB for use by the Boy Scouts of America as an Urban Camp to connect young people to the outdoors and interactive experiences.

Click to explore Base Camp

The twelve 1-2 minute videos explore various elements of the building's history, restoration, and Base Camp's uses of the building today and the populations it serves.

This also represents an experiment in User Interface Design. Because of the multitude of video segments, the decision was reached to create an interactive map of Base Camp for viewers to explore on their own terms. Each of the buttons placed on the map correlate to subject of the film.

A Tour Filled Weekend

I've produced 8 videos for the 2011 Homes By Architects Tour.

This year's videos give you a taste of what you'll find on the tour, as well as provide insight into the design process and relationships built between architects, builders, and clients. All of which are viewable on the HBA Youtube Channel.

Here are a few of my favorites.

This weekend, Sept. 17th and 18th from 10am-5pm you can visit 14 spectacular homes designed by Minnesota Registered Architects. I'll be there to meet visitors and get their impression of the tour, the homes, and tidbits from the Architects who will be at the homes they designed all weekend long.

If you're looking for me, this is my Route:

View HBA 2011 Tour in a larger map

D1 10:00-10:45 Home #2:
Habitat Architecture, Hamid Kashani10303 Bittersweet St NW, Coon Rapids, MN 55433
D1 11:30-12:15 Home #3
Landschute Architects 20260 Lakeview Ave., Deephaven, MN 55331
D1 12:30-1:15 Home #4
ALTUS Architecture + Design, Tim Alt 4016 Baker Rd., Minnetonka, MN 55305
D1 1:30-2:15 Home #9
Peterssen Keller Architects, Lars Peterssen20 Park Lane, Minneapolis, MN 55416
D1 2:30-3:15 Home #7
CityDeskStudio4108 Grimes Ave S., Edina, MN 55416
D1 3:30-4:15 Home #5
Quigley Architects, Tim Quigley5000 Arden Ave., Edina, MN 55424
D2 10-10:45 Home #14
SALA Architects, David O'Brien Wagner N1516 Pepin View Lane South, Pepin, WI 54759
D2 11:35-12:15 Home #13
SALA Architects, Eric Odor 6368 Oak Meadow Ln NW,  Rochester, MN 55901
D2 1:45-2:30 Home #10
David Heide Design Studio, Mark Nelson 977 Summit Ave., St Paul, MN 55105
D2 3:15-4:00 Home #11
Acacia Architects, Jeremiah Battles9533 Keswick Ave N.,  Grant, MN 55082
D2 4:15-5:00 Home #12
SALA Architects, Michaela Mahady 11775 102nd St N., Stillwater, MN 55082

I'm going to be hitting up pretty much every home that we didn't film as part of this years promo. videos. It's going to be a pretty jam packed weekend and I look forward to a day of rest with the family. I hope to see you out there.

Beyond the Still Image: Maple Grove Library

Maple Grove Library, designed by MS&R, is one of the first projects selected to engage readers and the general public with subject matter that goes beyond the print edition of Architecture MN Magazine.

Architecture MN successfully dived headfirst into the online world with their short film competition "Videotect" which is where I caught the eye of editor, Chris Hudson (and about 1,000 others).

I've wanted to explore this side of architecture since I first saw My Architect in 2003. About the life of an architect and his work, this film showed me that the experience of Architecture is more powerful when motion is made within a space or through it by others. Motion provides a sense of depth, character and and texture to a place that still images rarely achieve. Not only that, film can give context to the place and time from which a project is created.

Maple Grove Library, is part or my journey to grow in the ability to tell the story of architecture.

The material I produced is intended to be split into 4 bite sized pieces that in whole tell the story of Maple Grove Library. Below are those four parts. While we have titled them "Part 1-4", the order in which you watch them, like all things online, isn't critical to enjoying or understanding a single segment.

Part 1: Maple Grove Library - A visual tour through the completed project set to music.

Part 2: Site & Vision - Get to know more about the context of the library's location

Part 3: Defining "Library" - Understand more of the philosophy behind the design decisions.

Part 4: Integrating Sustainability - "Green" isn't just a word with this project. The goals of sustainable design have been fully integrated not only seamlessly throughout Maple Grove Library, they give form to function.

For those interested in the process behind this feature:


I conducted 4 interviews with members of the design team from MS&R Architects and Interior Designers, as well as Hennepin County officials and project staff. This couldn't of been done without the coordinating efforts of Traci Lesneski and Ligeia Cholensky from MS&R, Carla Biermaier and Kathryn Zimmerman from Hennepin County Staff, and Chris Hudson, Editor of Architecture MN.

Film Schedule

3 Days of filming was conducted over the course of 2 weeks to coordinate both interviews, weather, and location availability. Planning and coordination for those days took approximately 8-16 hours of time over the course of time previous to filming.

Over the course of that same 2 weeks, approximately 30-40 hours were spent editing and developing content.

This isn't too dissimilar to the timeline for a full production still photography schedule. Each project is unique however. The amount of content that is generated for the film can also be split by other parties within a production team or members within a design firm.


  • Filming, editing, and a steep learning curve effort of audio engineering was all produced by just myself.
  • This project couldn't of come together without the coordination efforts mentioned above.
  • Special credit also goes to Chris Hudson, Editor of Architecture MN for volunteering as my assistant for a day to gather model releases and ask for volunteers.
  • There were also additional Image Contributions from MS&R and Photographer Lara Swimmer. Her images are featured in the print edition of this article and used for portions of the interviews to give context to their words.


For those interested in the investment made to produce a film like this:

  • 2 Nikon D7000 DSLR Bodies
  • 2 Tripods
  • Manfroto Video head and Induro PHQ-3 Pan Head  
  • Tokina 11-16mm Wide angle Lens
  • Nikkor 24-70mm (However some prime lenses may be used)
  • 2 Audiotechnica Lavaliere Microphones
  • Promaster LED Studio Light
  • Light Stands
  • 50" Reflector for bounce light
  • 27" iMac, Final Cut, Lightroom, Quicktime 7pro, Drobo & LaCie External Storage.

Lessons learned

Every project has something to learn from, this is what I took away from this.

  • An assistant can make or break your production. 
    • #1 If my assistant wasn't there to collect signatures, it would have increased my production time by a few precious hours.
    • #2 Not having someone else to manage Audio and Lighting can create complications quickly for post production.)
  • Record Audio for interviews from at least two locations. A shotgun microphone on camera and lavaliere microphone on your subject, can save your bacon if one of them fails in mid interview.
    • Audacity is amazing tool for repairing audio if all else fails, but there is a steep learning curve.
  • Filming interviews from two locations provides versatility for editing that is less noticable than condensing clips from a single source.
  • Stormy days, make for fantastic clouds.
  • Studio LED lights need a fresh change of batteries more often than my children.

Oklahoma City Federal Building

I am pleased to share one of my latest projects for Jockimo Advanced Architectural Products at Oklahoma City Federal Building. 

To view the full gallery, click on any of the images below.

Designed by Ross Barney+Jankowski Architects

This powerful landmark balances both security, access, and a local language of materiality incredibly well. This important landmark was built to replace the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building after the 1995 bombing where 168 people perished.

I was honored to be given access to document it through the lens of two quality products from Jockimo.

1) Jockimo Laminated Cast Glass Hand Rail

These Luminous panels punctuate the paths on the north and south of the building that lead to central public entrance. Providing moment's of pause along one's journey and an opportunity to reflect on both a past and a present.

2) Jockimo UL Ultimate Privacy™ Glass Flooring 

32 Glass Flooring Panels were used to create this bridge unites the halves of this building at the central atrium. They project an image of fragility while simultaneously expressing resilience in their utility. There is also a steadfastness in the simple metal framing that elegantly piece these panels of translucent panels together.

This short promotional film was also a product I produced for Jockimo. If it were possible to film more here, I would take it. 

I want to personally thank those who provided their help with coordinating access and permission in order to make this project happen. Special care and attention was made throughout this project to respect the men and women who continue to serve at this facility.


Jockimo at the Streeter Apartments

Jockimo's Beautiful Cast Waterfall Texture Glass is located in the Rental Office of the Streeter Apartments in Chicago IL.

This texture has some great characteristics for both privacy and light transmission

To View all the images from this photoshoot, click here.


Architect: Solomon, Cordwell, & Buenz

Construction: Foxfield Construction LTD

Glass Installer: Midwest Architectural Glass, (815)727-3838


Selective Color Correction - A Before and After

Remember back in college, when your professor didn't care that you also had 3 other assignments due the same week as their 10pg paper and how they weren't thrilled to hear of your hard drive failing at the last minute. Well in Architectural Photography, your client doesn't always have the luxury of waiting for the best time of year to document their project and unless your a demi-god, it's not likely that you control the weather. So what do you do if say... it is the middle of a drought, in a southern state, that has dry grass?

Enter Selective Color Correction as part of the equation of post-production. This can be a lengthy or short process depending on the retouch artist and the complexity of the image. That's why a client's input on their final angles is critical to saving both time and money.

While this isn't a tutorial, it is a demonstration of three steps I used for a recent project.

Step 1: Initial Post production Develop the photo as far as possible before special retouching.

Not a bad image, but we don't want to distract our audience with dead grass.

Step 2: Color correct only the area you want to affect. This can be in Photoshop or other software, but it really depends on the complexity of the image.

Now that's better, but there's a little overgrowth that we can help

Step 3: Clean up and final retouch. This is where you take the areas that were affected by the selective color correction and you blend un even areas of blotchy color, eliminate unwanted elements, and generally make the image look like it was never retouched in the first place. (Unless your a pixel peeper, and if you're looking that hard, the I didn't do a great job of making a compelling image to begin with.)

We've blended the grass, eliminated the traffic cone by the doors, and weeded the path. You may notice some areas that can be cleaned up further, but this will be used as a draft for client review.

HDR and Tonemapping for reality: Pt 1

I'm still recovering from a serious hard drive fail this week, pushing many things back. But as I am finally back up and running, I've run across a perfect example of when to use HDR to re-create the reality of a place. Many have already experienced "HDR" as an option for creating unique highly artistic images of places, people, and things.

An Example of Artistic HDR-Tonemapping.

However in Architecture, authenticity is king. That's where a good eye and memory for a place becomes irreplaceable as you edit your work.

I'm presently working on a series of photos for my favorite Architectural Glass Manufacturer and Client, Jockimo. They have a beautiful installation of their product as a bridge inside the Oklahoma City Federal Building. The challenge however is that while daylighting was pretty balanced compared to other spaces, the interior lighting just can't match the same intensity of the exterior. Even on an overcast day, like the one I  worked with.

Why is this a problem? In a simplified explanation, the human eye, in concert with the brain, has a terrific ability to process a high dynamic range of light. However cameras have a much harder time mixing the range of light and color that we perceive. In many places you'll have a small range of light (or low contrast), either it's dark or it's bright. However for many interior spaces, the range differs greatly between interior lights and sunlight.

Essentially the camera has to choose to capture a set range of light. Say on a scale of 1-24 stops, the human eye can see about 14 stops of light. The BEST digital Cameras will be able to see about 11 of that 24 (depending on if it's film, digital, or the actual size of the medium it's capturing the image on). That's why when you photograph someone inside you don't want them to stand in front of a window. (if you're not using a flash). Click here For some great educational material that really goes in depth on both dynamic range and the perception of color.

Interior ExposureIntermediate ExposureExterior Exposure





Traditionally a photographer has to "compromise" to photograph for the darker range (let the outdoors be blown out), or the lighter range (things inside get uncharacteristically muddy and dark). With the advent of brilliant software like Photomatix and HDR EFEX Pro you can bring the light back into range.

Final Processed HDR-Tonemapped Image

Many artistic images can create stunning and beautiful image by going to extremes. However, when telling the story of Architecture and Commercial Products, it doesn’t help your client sell their product when you can't tell how a final product actually looks and feels. Your image still deserves the attention it deserves to make it beautiful, things like, punch color or contrast a tad, but you don’t want to give a false sense of the product.

By the way, I have to say that working with the kind folks there was a particular treat. I know they've been through a lot and I appreciate their kindness and trust in allowing me to document such a fantastic place.

Three videos from Ohio.

The last of the videos has been crafted from my trip in Ohio for Jockimo Advanced Architectural Products. 

Each of these is viewable at Youtube or Vimeo.

NBBJ requested a custom texture utilizing Jockimo's Escapade Texture as the canvas and then creating a segmented brick like pattern within the panels.

This developed into a texture called Moonglow Escapade. Jockimo then painted a custom Pantone match color in transparent paint.

Holes were drilled into the glass and then stand offs were attached to mount the darker colored laminated glass panels.

Client: Blanchard Valley Hospital - Findlay, OH

Glass: Jockimo custom "Moonglow Escapade" texture
Scope: 1/2" Clear glass - back painted
Designer: NBBJ
Installer: Celina Glass
Description from



Jockimo's Privacy™ Frost glass flooring is utilized in this state of the art Gold's Gym in Cleveland OH.

All glass includes Jockimo's anti-slip GlassGrit™ walking surface and the treads have our Monolithically polished edges.

All glass is tempered and laminated and the project was engineered by Jockimo's engineers specifically for the project.

Client: Gold's Gym - Cleveland, OH
Glass: Jockimo Ultimate Privacy™ Frost glass flooring

-Description from


A Catholic college preparatory high school community that promotes the academic, spiritual, social and physical development of their students, came to Jockimo to provide them with Cast glass for this new school.

Jockimo's Tigres texture was chosen for this project.

Holes were provided to accommodate mounting hardware.

Client: St. Francis de Sales High School - Toledo, OH
Glass: Jockimo Tigres texture
Scope: 15 panels of 3/8" clear Tempered glass
Glazier: Toledo Mirror and Glass Co.

Description from




Now Recruiting!

A new opportunity has been announced by the AIA and Architecture Minnesota Magazine

Videotect: Trailer from Architecture Minnesota on Vimeo.


Do you have a story or perspective on the skyway system of The Twin Cities. A thesis that expresses your view.

I want to collaborate with those who want to share their perspective.

The Deadline: Final Submissions by Feb 25th 2011.

If you are interested in participating this is a short 1 month commitment but I need to put together a team by this Feb 2nd in order for this to stand a realistic opportunity.

The Reward

This isn't about prize money. It's a chance to be heard. It's a chance to share your talent and skill with a community that appreciates it and may have use for it. It's a chance to impact our society's dreamers, thinkers, policy makers and builders.

The Team

The timeline is short, the team must meet the challenge.

The Urban Theologian

One who is passionate about the history and effects of the skyways of Minneapolis, St. Paul, and hopefully familiar with skyways of other cities. 

The Illustrator.

The one who can convey complex ideas and Clearly tell represent them in diagrams, drawings, and illustrations (analogue and digital).

The Director

The one who sees the big picture, and keeps everyone involved focused on their roles.

The Principal Photographer (Filled)

The one who can see and share the world as the story requires.

The Editor

The one who knows the story and fits all the pieces together and is able to be merciless about what gets left on the cutting room floor.

The Colorist

A post production guru who can will put the polish the final product.

What do I bring to the team?

I have the equipment to capture the story and the vision to see with your perspective.

I am an architectural designer by training and an architectural photographer by passion. Due to the timeline I can help with developing the storyboard, and principal photography.


Email me with:
1) Your name
2) Contact info
3) What role you want to fill.

Jockimo at Union Station

Part two of my series of projects in Ontario Canada:

A brief building description summarized from

Union Station had a long journey to its opening day in 1927. While construction started in 1914 it was

delayed both by WWI and the Grand Trunk Railway collapse of 1919. On top of that the station had completed construction in 1921 but remained closed due to legal disputes between the various stake holders that caused key infrastructure to also be delayed until 1924. More here

This was Designed in the traditions of the beaux-Arts style and was the most opulent station erected in Canada. The great hall is a four story barrel vaulted space with glass walls on the east and west ends.

Several architects collaborated on Union Station. Including the firm of G.A Ross and R.H, Hugh Jones, and John M. Lyle. More here.

Materials of the great hall (photographed)
Floors = Tennessee marble (Herringbone pattern)
Walls = Zumbro stone from Missouri
Ceiling = Gustavino tiles

(for more information visit or which is where this description is abridged from

Jockimo Flooring:

The glass walls on either end of the great hall hide the functioning corridors that connect various administrative areas. Jockimo's Glass Floor was the perfect solution to Keeping these hallways filled with as much natural daylight as possible.


The final Commercial Video for Jockimo

Can't see the video? Head on over to Youtube to see it there!

Lens Correction in Minneapolis

I just saw a friend post an image of downtown Minneapolis and it had me remembering this shot I did last fall during a beautiful day.

I was heading back from an AIA-MN convention and I ran into the site of one of my proposed projects for a highrise. It was a great day to play around with a little HDR and my wide angle lens. However it's not a Tilt-Shift lens leaving me with fiew options to deal with converging vertical lines, if I wanted the focus of my photo to be of the gap that still exists in this location of downtown.

These two images are a side by side comparison of a before and after of basic correcting for vertical distortion (called parallax) caused by a fixed lens.




Jockimo @ Waterloo Regional Museum

It's been a CRAZY month of work. I'm going to follow this up with alot more description within the next week, but I wanted to share this with you because of the Follow Friday Love I recieved from @zacuto_sue.

Essentially Jockimo was the Manufacturer of this Glass Flooring that encases an amazing feature of the "Crossroads" of history that the Waterloo Region Museum is all about. I have alot to share, but this video will wet your tastebuds.

Update 10/11/2010:

I'm pleased to announce that Jockimo has now released several final videos I've produced of their products over the last few months. They now have a youtube channel for disseminating these videos in just another outlet. I will be posting each of the projects on my blog as well. 

The video posted here is the final product for Jockimo Advanced Architectural Products along with their description:

Jockimo Inc. produced and provided our UL approved Crystal Clear™ glass flooring for the Waterloo Region Museum in Toronto, Canada. At the intersection of the alignment of Huron Road and Grand Trunk Railway train tracks, which are carried through the building, is our glass floor to accentuate the crossroads theme of the building. Due to the fact that our Crystal Clear™ glass is visually clear patrons can see the railroad tracks and rocks under our glass. The glass was cut to custom sizes to accommodate the design.

Die-Bar Chandelier at Tramonto's

I believe in pushing the limits of what I produce when I collaborate on a project. Jockimo was thrilled with my exploration of video for their project @ ING-Direct.

Here we are using a dolly rig to use motion around the Glass Chandelier to give detail to it's form and depth to it's setting at Tramonto's Steak and Seafood.

As with all things technical, the more experience built, the more innovation. In this case I have already identified a few additional methods to improve the quality of the motion for future projects.

No Flash Support?? Check it out here.

Let me know what you think. 

If any photographers are interested in learning more, please leave a comment or question.

Chicago Safari

So in my downtime, I try to find things that inspire my vision both architecturally and photographically. While at the University Oregon, I used to walk around downtown Portland for hours, just observing (I used to walk 2 miles to my Studio from the Pearl District routinely).

My most recent safari to hunt for inspiration took place in just a portion of downtown Chicago. Here are 11 Images from the walk that I'd like to share. I'm not familiar with these buildings so it will be an adventure to dig up the names. If you have insights on any of these, I'd love it if you left a comment or sent me an email.

#1 Old Faithful

The bridge near Calumet Photo looks like it could use a little Rust-Oleum

#2 Old/New Chicago

Part of the struggle of fitting into the fabric of a city with so much diversity in styles, this new building is trying to capture both the scale of the old while using some very contemporary elements. Hence why I rendered this image into something that feels like it has a little more history.

#3 Wall Street

A 180 degree turn from the last shot. This streetscape was wonderfully scaled for the size of the buildings on these two blocks. This is combined with a street that seemed over sized for it's traffic load provided for a great vantage point of this very flat facade leading to the intersection.

#4 Lady on the Corner

Photo walk Tip #1 Look for Parking Ramps. They provide great vantage points. It may not have the versatility of renting a cherry-picker, but it can still provide some surprising shots.

#5 K.I.S.S.

This cylendrical portion of seemed stylistically disconnected from the rest of the building it was connected to. Perhaps an addition trying to distinguish a change from past ideology?

#6 Subtle Curves

This row home caught my eye for two reasons. #1 It was the best looking car on the street. #2 The balcony and facade give the impression of barrel distortion in the camera, but they are actually bowed out to the street. I'm sure if I caught this house earlier, some morning, there'd be some great tonality cast by subtle shadows to accent the curve.

#7 Tower of the Times

A residential tower just completing construction, just off a park on the Chicago Canal. One can only hope their prices match this economy.

#7 Standing Apart

This spire just jumps out at you. It's just far enough away from many of the other towers, that it must provide some great views from all sides.

#8 Simple and Subtle

The same tower as #7. The form of this tower is actually very simple, but it's subtly detailed in a way that reveals much more as you focus.

#9 British Invasion

Have you ever been to Vancouver B.C.? Change the glass to green, shift the concrete to grey, and your there. I love how the balconies break up the mass of the north side.

#10 Above the past.

I am fascinated by the way the old and the new intersect, overlap, and weave together. The challenge is how much do you acknowledge the past or do you simply give it new definition by separating yourself from it.

#11 The Commute.

Which do you prefer: 20 minutes in the car, or 20 minutes in the train?

6 Elements of Architectural Photography

While there are many technical aspects to producing high quality Architectural Photos, there are a few soft skills that are important to develop in conjunction.

Understanding Architecture is the first key to approaching Architectural Photography and what an Architect looks for in capturing their design intent. Here are 6 Elements I look for on every Architectural project. 

1 - Form

Massing and materiality of archtiecture identifies unique opportunities to capture the various qualities that give meaning to how it’s built. How a project reacts to various environmental conditions, and how a user defines approach


Finding meaning in moments that define your space or place with users engaged in the environment generates a personal relationship to scale and usability that is otherwise less tangible. 


Sometimes what tells the whole story extends beyond the 1 block radius of the site. Other times, it may be defined solely by the form of the land it sits on. Identifying how the project either complements, challenges, or blends with context tells the broader story of how you approach the whole of a project.


The combination of all the elements above provide relative relationships to scale. In addition, understanding that sometimes even the most intimate details like hardware and handrails create a complete user experience.

5 - TIME

Architecture is something that is dynamically affected by time of day, season, & weather. Just knowing how light approaching from one side of your project will dramatically change its character from another is just one example.


To capture a place or space, one must be able to experience it beyond a single 2 dimensional image. Movement through a space provides a deeper sense of the relationships between form, function, context, and scale.

Pella Promotional Piece

My work is being featured by Pella in new ad campaign for promoting their 2010 Archtiect Events. They are featuring 28 of the images I produced from covering their ABC days in the Fall of 2009. This image is the front half of the print piece and has been altered for publicaiton on the web.

Oakdale Nature Center

I've recently completed some initial processing for two photo shoots.

This is Oakdale Nature Center, in Oakdale, MN. These will eventually be reduced to the final selections. Which would you choose?