Wrapped up a recent shoot of the Raleigh Depot for the North Carolina Railroad Company, while their Christmas decorations were still up in the parking lot. Photography required getting up in the air a bit so I shot from the platform of a 26-foot lift. Pretty cool, but doing so at 20 degrees Fahrenheit was a little bit too cool. Thanks to Nick for the reference and Reuben for the assistance!
Woohoo, my 101st blog post! When I began this blog I was purely an amateur fine art photographer who practiced architecture as my full-time job. Four years later I’m a professional photographer who does a bit of architecture on the side. The bittersweet part of becoming professional is that I rarely get to shoot all the things I purely shoot for fun. So on the occasion I have that chance, I certainly savor the moment. It’s been a busy summer with many jobs and a lot of travel on the behalf of my clients. These are a few photos I’ve managed to capture in between.
This morning scene with dissipating fog was captured a few hundred feet away from a commercial shoot I had about 30 minutes outside of Winston-Salem. As I waited for the sun to rise and light the east face of my building, I turned and saw this sight down the road. I realize the ‘tree in a field’ is cliche, but I still consider it beautiful to see in person. So I snatched up my other camera, swapped a lens, and jogged over to capture this scene – then jogged right back to start my architectural shoot.
Sunrise over East Bend (2012)
I had an evening architectural shoot that had to be cancelled, so since I was in a photography mood and had a full moon, used it as an excuse to go downtown. That night I took a different view of the former Progress Energy (now Redhat) building than I did last year.
Raleigh Lights (2012)
A few weeks later I traveled near downtown in the morning to take a tilted photo of an old auto sales building.
Dew Motors (2012)
In late July, I took a rare stab at portraiture at the request of one of my friends, Kestrel.
I had obligations for three different clients between Winston-Salem and west North Carolina. On my most recent work-related trip, I took an extra day or so to visit places I didn’t get to see during my last trip to the mountains. I stayed near downtown Asheville where I captured a long-exposure on Tunnel Road.
Okay, so let me tell you what happened AFTER taking this photograph. It’s near 11pm. It’s a dimly lit area and I’m heading back to my car which I left at the hospital complex. I’m dressed in a t-shirt, shorts, Yankees cap, and bulky backpack with tripod strapped to it, slightly sticking out. It’s dark, it’s late, and I have a lot of expensive equipment on my back so I’m especially cautious.
As I returned towards the hospital campus, a car sides along next to me, the window rolls allllll the way down, and a white man, seemingly in his 60s is trying to get my attention. The area is well-lit but totally empty on the weekend. Drawing on all of my previous experiences walking around urban areas at night, I’m thinking to myself, Oh crap maybe it’s a doctor and he’s wondering what I’m doing in the area, immediately proceeded by Holy cow, what’s he doing rolling his window down like that, is he nuts?!
In a guarded manner I asked, “Yes, can I help you?” which for my followers outside of the southern USA, roughly translates into, “What you looking at?”
That’s when I notice what I presume to be his wife in the passenger seat, with an unfurled paper map as he inquired, “Yeah, uh – do you know where Patton Avenue is?”
Chalk that up as something that’s never happened to me before. To put this in proper perspective – since the age of 18, my experiences walking to destinations at night have been radically different, treated with much suspicion, no matter how safe or unsafe the area may be. It’s happened with police in major metro areas, it’s even happened repeatedly on my own college campus walking back to my dorm room from the architecture building at 3 a.m – wondering what I’m doing. When I was an amateur photog city patrol drew weapons on me in broad daylight only to be relieved I was just holding a camera (good story, laughs had by all). As a photographer, particularly one who captures the isolated urban and rural settings I prefer to shoot, you’re accustomed to attracting suspicious eyes. However, as a black photographer often mistaken for younger than my age, I’ve come to expect being interrupted with double the frequency – with or without a camera in hand. So I’m accustomed to getting stopped by SOMEBODY in public or semi-public areas. The last thing I’m anticipating is being asked for directions.
Already taken aback (which is no easy feat) and having helped them out, the couple then went out of the way to offer me a ride – which by then must’ve made my jaw DROP. I politely declined, partially because I was almost at my destination but also I didn’t want this nice couple to begin thinking that offering strangers a ride at 11pm was a good idea – even if it was only Asheville. I’d hate for it to become habit forming and have to see their kind, unassuming faces plastered on the 10 o’clock news, you know? In the current American sociopolitical climate, it was a refreshing relief and certainly provided me a bit more faith in humanity, even if as a temporary respite.
The next day I had the time to take two easy to moderate hikes that I didn’t get to take last fall, one to Linville Falls and the other to Crabtree Falls.
Linville Falls (2012)
Lastly, this was at an overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway or a highway close to it. Think it was Highway 221. All I remember is I got asked for directions here too.
Did some photography for the Downtown Raleigh Home Tour for the second year in a row. This is a sampling of the homes I got to check out. The first one featured here (first four photos) was definitely my favorite of the bunch, so bright and cheery:
Last image is a ballroom in the Sir Walter Raleigh Apartments. ‘Til next time!
Busy year so far! These are a few shots from a recent real-estate shoot for my friends over at RtownLiving. Definitely a fun kitchen to shoot. They’re having an open house this Friday, March 2 6-9pm at 315 S. Boylan, Raleigh, North Carolina.
Guess that’s my first professional-related blog of the year. Eventually more to come.
After heading downtown to shoot the new AIA building and Archdale buildings a few days earlier, Friday proved to be an overcast, windy day. I looked outside, had a bit of time and figured it would be a good chance to revisit those sites and walk a bit in downtown Raleigh.
Friday was an overcast, windy day which I figured would be a good chance to do a few more shots downtown. I’m looking forward to seeing what the NC AIA building will look like once it’s fully green. They’re still doing some road construction in the area so getting certain shots will have to wait for now.
Captured the Archdale building again, this time in elevation:
Took a few minutes to walk downtown a bit before heading home before the rain:
Finally, the first blog of the year! It’s been a very busy and productive start to 2012 so I’ll be blogging very intermittently. I’ve been traveling a bunch between Durham and downtown Raleigh, so during some down time the past couple of days for some quick evening long-exposures. Zoom zoom!
This is the Quintiles headquarters building in Durham off the interstate.
You’ll note the Archdale Building has all it’s office lights on and the new North Carolina AIA headquarters designed by Frank Harmon has nothing but an emergency light on. Dang green buildings.
Finally, the Archdale Building, which I’ve been meaning to decently photograph since I moved to Raleigh in 1999. Took me long enough!
These days in North Carolina it’s typically hot, hazy, and humid – no fun to shoot in, and certainly not the most pleasant looking either. Then it cools off by about 5-8 degrees (that’s about all it takes), there’s a light breeze and the clouds above get to moving a bit faster. While driving around running errands yesterday afternoon, I noticed it was going to be prime conditions for a good sunset. That afternoon we had a clear blue sky with quick-moving fluffy clouds. Despite being busy, I had seen this so rarely lately that I wasn’t about to pass it up.
Naturally I lost track of time. Around 7:30 pm, I took a dinner break from developing the photos I shot at the Adore Boutique in Raleigh,
stepped outside and saw I was going to miss the window pretty soon. So I hightailed it to the Boylan Bridge area in downtown Raleigh to photograph the silo.
Those who have been following me very closely know I’ve been toying with this silo off and on for the last year. Different views, different angles, different processing techniques. It started with this image in June 2010 near 7:45 pm.
I was showing this photo to a group of photographers when one of them astutely observed – “What are those lines?”
“Those vertical lines. See it? What are those?”
I had no CLUE what happened. I was really pissed off at myself. Where I think I messed up is running it through some third-party noise reducing software. When I got home that evening, I immediately got rid of of that software and bought Adobe Lightroom. Since then, I’ve been desperately seeking to capture a silo photo to replace the original image.
I went back earlier this year in March near 6:30 pm.
Though it had the low-contrast bleak look I enjoy using with much of my industrial depictions, it didn’t have the high-contrast pop I was looking to achieve at this specific location. Thankfully last night at 7:35 pm was more agreeable.
Then I turned around and was like…”Huh” Thirty minutes later, I made my first attempt to portray behind the Boylan Street Bridge in color.
Colors Over Boylan (2011)
Then I went home and got back to work.
Okay, that’s the quickest turnaround time you’re ever getting from me, trust me, this won’t be habit forming.
One of the interesting things about the digital medium of photography is that its increased accessibility and communicability. As a result, the market has been flooded with amateurs and aspiring professionals who have little to no formal training in photography. Naturally, this has been met with a mixed reception by many established professionals, and certainly not without merit. “Now anybody thinks they can buy a camera and be a photographer” is the common lament – which is equally true as it is untrue. On one hand many parts of the profession has been saturated and it’s more difficult to earn the same fees. How the public judges “good” photography has shifted (but hasn’t always happened?). On the other hand, you can’t stop technology or the free market. Further, I daresay photography as a medium has never been more prevalent, integrated, or important into all aspects of our culture as it is this very moment.
This is the way I see it; if you have a talent or skill set and combine it with a bit of business sense, you can develop a niche in any market. The biggest question posed by any aspiring professional is “Can I really do this?” After several years as an amateur photographer with a few paid gigs under my belt, I certainly asked that question before staring my own business. The answer was simple – “Well, I have to.”
See, that’s the thing – it’s the singular and most critical difference between an amateur and professional in anything, or even between working for an employer and working for yourself. An amateur photographer MAY take some good pictures; a professional photographer is REQUIRED to. There’s a level of expectation because the professional is getting paid for it. Of course, there’s a wide range from an entry-level professional learning the ropes and savvy veteran 20+ years established. Yet it’s the question any aspiring professional – classically trained in photography or not – has to face. No matter your training, if you’ve got what it takes – in creativity and technique, in business, in your work ethic, in your DESIRE, you’re going to bust your ass to figure out a way to make it work. So forget all the stigmas, judgments, the whining, all the fragile egos, all the everything you have to deal within any creative profession – it boils down to you and the commitment to your passion.
Architecture is a unique niche within the profession of photography. For one thing – there’s not many of us and there are fewer jobs to execute. Though the market is not saturated, it’s remains highly competitive. Secondly, within that niche, is a significant percentage of people classically trained in buildings – through architecture school and the profession. Architectural photography is one of those weird intersections where having an architecture background with some photography knowledge can put you just as much in the running with professional photographers with scant in-depth architectural perspective and appreciation. As someone who has spent a good part of their life designing buildings, I can tell the difference between a photographer with a good eye for getting the “gist” of a space and someone who clearly does not. You don’t need an architectural background to shoot architectural photos, but it does take a certain sensitivity for space.
That leads me to real-estate. I wasn’t quite sure if this was a market I wanted to attempt to break into; the standards are much different than typical architectural photography. After performing a regional market study in the Raleigh-Durham area and talking with various residential and commercial realtors, I decided to only work with certain segment of the real estate market – and to stick with it. Fortunately, this eventually led to a commission to take pictures for the Residences at the Quorum Center in downtown Raleigh. There were certain requirements on type of shots, but I was given free range – and access to three different condominiums – in determining what to shoot and how to shoot it. No time to “test” shots or spin wheels figure things out. Inclement January weather left about a 48 hour time slot to schedule shooting, so made a few snap decisions upon a brief walk through with the building owner, Ted Reynolds, and ran with it.
Downtown Raleigh has a lot of exposed power lines, which makes it challenging to shoot a 15 story building. This photo was shot in the middle of Jones St. and Harrington St. intersection and I still had to Photoshop some powerlines going part of the facade (You’ll notice no powerlines are emanating from the telephone pole in the image). Also removed the flagpole from the top of the building, which if anyone’s seen it – looks a bit stuck on.
The residential entry.
The entry lobby.
The above two photos are the social room that opens onto the roof terrace, partially pictured below.
The first condo I just liked the daylighting and bright colors of the kitchen.
The second condo had the most subtle color scheme – earth tones and deep browns. Shot the living/dining area, one of the bedrooms, and the master bath.
The third condo was the most custom of the units, with special situations that wasn’t in the other residences. The main hall was fully mirrored and, the dressing room had natural daylight, and the master bedroom has an overlook of downtown Raleigh that really lights up at night.
A few years ago I would’ve been very nervous accepting this assignment but today, feel confident in performing and executing the work. That’s the difference between then and now – thinking versus knowing. I’m a beginning professional learning the ropes and in the short term, am still unsure how this will play out. However, I feel confident in the long-term prognosis of my career. Make that careers. I’m resuming my professional boards this summer and plan to have my architectural license by early 2012. If I’m honest with myself, though…I’ve become better at photography in only a few years than I have in 18 years of architectural education and practice. The latter had a lot to do with the former, and I don’t think I’d have it any other way.
This is the least amount of “for fun” photography I’ve managed in about two years, so I fit it in whenever I get a chance! Took 30 minutes to head downtown Raleigh one evening and catch sunset at the BB&T building.
On Sunday, I took 30 minutes out of my work schedule to go to the annual Bikefest held in downtown Raleigh.
And while in business near Atlanta, Georgia, I took 15 minutes out of my work schedule to shoot this roadside country scene.
And that’s 75 minutes worth of photography in about three weeks!