A Narrative in Shades of Gray
I am an architectural photographer in Los Angeles. My job is to tell stories through photos. That’s what I do. It’s a dream! I’d rather not talk about it, but instead shoot it. Then it will be infinitely clear. The narrative, the moment caught, the tone, the various shades of gray and color, all come together to create the story I want to tell. But as a photographer, I encounter the challenge of light and dark every day. You see it’s not only the lines or the architectural subject in the photo that so much defines a great picture. No, instead it’s the meticulous patience to create the perfect light and dark shadows that truly make a picture exquisite.
For instance, it might be capturing the moment when the light hits the Spanish tiled roof creating a brilliant gold silhouette exactly where it meets the trees. Or how I light the inside of the home so that it spills out and brightens the yellow light through the picture windows just as the sun sets behind the home. For me, there is no better way to tell a story than through light and dark shades. It’s always a delicate dance though. You straddle the fine line between realism and imagination with every photo. The great 20th century architect, Louis Khan once said as reported recently in an Arch Daily article titled Light Matters: Louis Kahn and the Power of Shadow
A plan of a building should be read like a harmony of spaces in light. Even a space intended to be dark should have just enough light from some mysterious opening to tell us how dark it really is. Each space must be defined by its structure and the character of its natural light.
The best architectural photography in my opinion, is that which reveals the beauty of the structure through realism—exposing the lines and form — while still creating an aesthetic fantasy that captures imagination. When it works, it’s pure joy.
“The Truth is a Snare…”
Light and dark – it’s what defines all that we see with the naked eye. It’s the basis of every story we tell. That includes the ones we tell through pictures. A recent article in National Geographic said it best:
By wresting a precious particle of the world from time and space and holding it absolutely still, a great photograph can explode the totality of our world, such that we never see it quite the same again. After all, as Kierkegaard also wrote, ‘the truth is a snare: you cannot have it, without being caught.’
That pretty much sums it up well – the art of creating a great photographic story. And, I’m the lucky guy who gets to bring you a new story each week by illuminating the most stunningly modern and sometimes historic architectural spaces in all of Southern California.
Have I told you lately how much I love my job? Oh right, I just did.
For more architectural photography or for business inquiries, contact photographer Paul Jonason for a consultation today.