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coming up...
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Architecture Sans People (01/31/21)

Recently a follower on Twitter asked why I never have any people in my photos. Good catch, and definitely true.

For those who have seen my architecture photography (www.skottdesign.com), there is consistently one thing missing - people. I have a strong belief that people do not belong in my architecture photos.

Now I understand that without people, architecture is sort of mute - a structure is just a piece art or just a mass of building materials until humans take occupancy and bring life into it. Technically there is no purpose for architecture without human use - I think that would be called sculpture.

But I also feel that architecture is the highest form of art, a form of sculpture, and in such, my photography is best suited documenting the ‘art’ of architecture, not its use by humans.

Most other architecture photographers take their photos with humans utilizing the structure, and some “blur’ out the forms of humans. I think this is done to give a sense of scale, otherwise why include the humans in the photo in the first place. But I'm thinking that blurring the photo a sort of passive-aggressive means of not including them in the first place!

Understand I have no problem with the photographing of humans, in fact I find them infinitely amusing, and intriguing. One of my favorite past-times is people watching - sitting in an airport, large venue, or on the street simply watching the people and wondering what their stories are.

Everybody, and I mean everybody, has a story - and they all are interesting in their own ways.

I once had a 6-hour layover in Heathrow (London), and wanted to literally stop everybody and ask where they were from, and what their story was. Though all airports are interesting, Heathrow presented with a vast amount of diversity in human traffic. I think this would have made a fantastic book - complete with photos!

Yet while I was in London photographing the astounding architecture of the city, darn it people, get out of my lens!

And yes, if I have to, I will spend hours in Photoshop removing a rogue human out of a good architecture shot!

With street photography, I understand people are obviously the “focus” of the photo, and the stories captured in the faces and circumstances of those on the street can be amazing. Each of those photos generally shares a moment in the life story of the people in the shot. Those shots are meant to emphasize the human though, generally not the architecture.

One of my favorite architecture photographers, Philipp Heer, (Twitter @lerichti) utilizes one human consistently as a sort of sculpture within a sculpture, art within art. Many of his photos include one solitary young lady, Virginia Duran (Twitter @_vduran). To me, this brings that sense of scale for the architecture to the photo, but also adds that beauty within beauty to the work. His work is consistently stunning.

I asked Philipp about his use of humans in his photos:

“Yes, indeed, it’s because of the sense of scale. At the same time, some pictures make absolutely no sense without a person. Take a look at these photos:
Also, I think a person always gives a certain dynamic.”

Another favorite photographer, Andreas Görß (Twitter @goerss_de), when asked about the humans in architecture photography question, said:

“Für mich kommt es immer auf die Situation an. Eine, aber nur eine Person wertet das Architektur Foto grundsätzlich auf und macht es lebendiger. Dadurch wird es für den nicht ArchiFan schöner. Grundsätzlich kommt es abwr wirklich auf die Location an.”

I’m also not a big fan of flora or nature in my shots. This I cannot exactly explain, other than architecture as sculpture in a photo, to me, doesn’t need a big tree or bush messing up the shot. I feel it is the difference between 'organic' and 'man-made.'

That being said, I’m not against nature photography, and am a big fan of photographers that specialize in nature photography, especially Peter James (Twitter @amientabbot) who captures nature in some of the most stunning shots you can find.

I’m also especially fanatic about macro photography, again a Peter James specialty.

Oddly enough though, many of my architecture shots include a bird in them. I’m thinking since birds are a dominant aspect of city life, that explains why they show up in the shots. And I don’t feel the need to remove them from the shot - it’s almost like they belong there. I was shocked as I was going through my archives to find as many birds in my shots as there are - never notice that when taking the shot.

Another element of my architecture photography is the distance - I shoot with a telephoto lens, in order to capture details that would normally not be viewable without the benefit of a close up shot. For example the upper reaches of buildings, and ‘layers’ of building groups that have to be shot from a distance.

In the end, my architecture photography shows my view of the sculpture and art of architecture - pure, clean, and in it's best light!

#spiders #overreact #noisesinthenight #phobias