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  • Catherine Holliss

Working with an Architectural Photographer

Whitney Sander has worked with photographer Sharon Risedorph for over two decades. At this point, there is definitely a short hand between photographer and architect. It’s interesting to watch Whitney move through a recently finished project with Sharon and shift his perspective to look at it through her eyes. This step back from the functional side of creating a building, with its myriad construction details, to the aesthetic moment when it is photographed, allows one kind of artistry to be translated into another.

Whitney Sander often says that his work is not complete until he has seen it through Sharon’s eyes.

As part of the working process, we take “scouting shots” on our phones to email in advance as this allows Sharon to get a sense of the building before she arrives but she is an extraordinary artist in her own right and it never fails that she finds her own way to view the work.

Three basic tips for making a shoot successful:

1. Prepare, prepare, prepare. A photograph is unforgiving. The project site needs to be cleaned to perfection with all evidence of construction removed—and don’t forget to wash windows: dust will show up and ruin your shot.

2. Take some time to consider the “staging” of the project. In the concert hall, we requested a grand piano and a pianist onstage, to give a sense of the space in use. A residence might need flowers, art, furniture or other details to make it “sing.”

3. Let the artist do his or her work: set them free to practice their profession in the manner that the ideal client lets you, the architect, practice your profession. If you provide guidance, do it with a light touch and suggestions rather than instructions.

If you are lucky, you will get the opportunity to see your own work come full circle from initial concept to the moment that the building is released into the broader world. Having professional photographs taken as part of that transition can also be important on a professional level.

We have had our work published extensively in magazines, books and blogs—and have received many awards—thanks to this final step of getting excellent images to document the work.

Sharon’s most recent shoot for us, at the William M Lowman Cocnert Hall, was published by prestigious architecture magazine, Architectural Record in an article written by Sarah Amelar in the magazine's January 2017 issue. You can see the results here.

Sharon’s work can also be seen throughout our website below.

Sharon Risedorph link:

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