I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my photography. It’s probably due to the time of year (and there will probably be more posts like this). But, it’s thinking more about the work over the years to build my architectural photography business. I’ve noticed something about it all and I am quite amazed by it. It’s not been about chasing styles, trends, or gimmicks. I have been trying to develop my own style and I’ve been doing that within the confines of London and the odd trip out to Toronto. It’s been a long climb and it continues.
I’ve been working on my grind and trying to highlight the architecture work done by my clients or trying to just highlight the Creative and Modern Architecture in London, Ontario. In work for clients, I can’t slam the photography with filters or rely on some kind of cool VSCO filter. I can’t apply the orange and teal look to their work just to try and get more likes and follows on Instagram. It’s completely different from treating the photo as fine art. The times that I’ve done crazy edits, the images have grabbed more likes and it’s tempting to play the game. It takes a lot of me to grind showing my work instead of trying to please hashtags and the odd feature account.
I don’t have a huge support system or huge following to help me out and this is my full-time career.
The grind for everything over the years has been nothing but real.
I don’t take any support or growth for granted, though.
STARTING FROM THE BOTTOM
Next, I’ve been on such a grind coming up from being rock bottom that I can’t travel to places with the most beautiful architecture in the world. You know the kind? The kind that you can’t even take a bad picture of it. In fact, I was chosen for a project because of how I am able to shoot challenging buildings and overcome challenging scenarios. Showing architecture photos like those of the Marylin Monroe Towers was pointless as the client mentioned how anyone can take pictures of a building like it. This comment really opened my eyes and I couldn’t help but completely understand. That’s not to say the architecture here in London isn’t awesome.
Instead of traveling around to try and capture photos for my architectural photography portfolio, I decided to focus on local buildings and try to show them in the light of the best architecture in the world. Doing this, I realized many buildings haven’t been photographed because they are very difficult due to elements like other buildings, surrounding context, hydro poles, hydro cables, and undesired activity. Man, some are probably not photographed because no one knows about them existing outside of the downtown core. Hey, as much as I love One London Place, there is more to London’s architecture.
As well, I’m shooting with pure intent with all of these photos I share, not gimmicks for likes. The main intention is to show the architecture in a way that is larger than life. What I mean is that I want the building to look amazing so that people look at it with fresh eyes and become intrigued. I want this reaction on social media, my site, my client’s website, and by judges if submitted to an awards contest by the client. There is a purpose for everything happening in the photo and there is a good chance I stood there for an hour or more just to get that one image. In my twilight shots, I love to include life and motion for a more dynamic shot and a more realistic way for someone to experience the architecture at that moment. When shooting these twilights, you shoot a long exposure that creates light trails from passing cars. Light trails are exciting and I see far too many photos that use them as a gimmick because they look cool. I say as a gimmick because there is nothing else about the image other than the light trails. The rest of the scene is saying nothing or has no intent and looks like a random photo vs the act of making a photograph. There is no other story to the photo. I feel my work has matured due to shooting with intent and slowing down.
The other intent of my work is to sell London and treat myself as a London evangelist. It’s hard to imagine I hated London at one point. The architecture and design firms in London are really raising the bar and making London a place to come work and live. Sure, London is attractive to some people because it’s cheaper than Toronto, but I believe showing the work being created and done by local architecture firms is hopefully doing some of the work too.
There are some unreal projects being developed right now too. Cannot wait to see them completed in 2018 and beyond.
In growing over the years, I haven’t been one to keep learnings to myself. I enjoy sharing how, where, and what goes into my photography. My intent is in sharing more of what goes into the art of making a photograph than pressing the shutter button. It helps me retain information by sharing and I might help photographers trying to improve their architecture photography work too. I might even be able to help architects slowly improve their own photos. Without holding back, I’ve been able to grow over the years.
The big thing I want to do with some images is getting elevation. I want to shoot some images from off the ground. This is why I’ve gotten a drone, but within the core, I want to elevate myself upon potential rooftops. It’s seemingly tough to get location info from some people about accessible rooftops, but I’ll figure it out. This isn’t for just creating “cool” pictures but making amazing photographs for clients. I mean, why bother going up on the City Hall Promenade only to create the same photos that everyone else has already? That’s no fun. I’m totally past the need to see if I can shoot something like someone else. Trying to shoot what everyone does is the reason I shot all kinds or other photography for years but it leads to nothing. Chasing every shiny object did nothing but help me realize I wanted to focus on architecture photography. I guess it helped in some strange way. Now I’ve got visions of the images I want to create and a need to shoot them. And, when I do shoot them, I’ll share details on location, gear, settings.
The big thing I want to do with some future images is elevation. This is why I’ve gotten a drone, but within the core, I want to elevate myself upon potential rooftops. Some assignments could truly benefit. This isn’t for just creating “cool” pictures but making amazing photographs for clients. I mean, why bother going up on the City Hall Promenade only to create the same photos that everyone else has already? That’s no fun. I’m totally past the need to see if I can shoot something like someone else and prove that I can shoot all kinds of photography. Remember, I fired myself as a generalist photographer last year.
In 2018, I also hope to start providing some prints to be available to purchase. Stay tuned for the idea I’ve got cooking.
Over the years of building my architectural photography business, I’ve been grinding everything out. I’ve never been one to rely on traveling to major cities to photograph architecture that everyone else does too. I’ve gone after the buildings that are extra challenging and rarely found through online searches. Doing this, I’ve prepared myself for shooting increasingly difficult buildings to shoot for clients and adopted a mindset to treat every building as world-renowned. In shooting, I’ve not relied on gimmicks, VSCO filters or other influencer lightroom presets, or kept any secrets. And, I could never rely on anyone else to help me. With my approach, I’ve gotten busier than ever before. Busy to the point of requiring to book projects in 2018 these last few months. For this, I’m so grateful and plan to continue to hustle, grind, and be transparent. Hopefully, there will be a vacation that includes an architecture photography treasure hunt sooner than later though.
If you’re reading this as a photographer and feel like you’re getting nowhere, just keep grinding. If it was easy, everyone would do it. I believe architectural photography is one of the toughest genres of photography. After 9 years, I learn new things every day and every shoot. This is what makes it my favorite form of photography too. There are so many aspects to consider for each shoot and when you can get them to come together, the results can be truly amazing. I think it helps that I love the journey/climb.
Lastly, something that helps keep me going is something I once saw Steven Furtick say:
Just because you’re not visible doesn’t mean you’re not valuable. You can be left out by others but set apart by God for His special purpose.