Building a Photograph

architectural and industrial photography

Every metropolis and town is built from the ground up from I-beam structures in bridges spanning bays, lakes and rivers or urban skyscrapers soaring into the sky; to roads and highways and railroads stretching across the landscape; and mills, factories and industrial facilities.  How does a photographer turn metal, glass, brick and stone structures into dramatic and eye-catching images?  It’s not easy.

Architectural and industrial photographers view bridges, buildings, and industries from the right angle.  They use light and knowledge of the subject and structure to produce photographic work that is timeless, textural and elegant.  An earlier post of mine, Architectural Photography, featured information and images on modern architectural photography and the work of Brad Feinknopf and Julius Shulman.

In this post, I go back further in time featuring the images of earlier American architectural and industrial photographers.  I narrowed it down to feature these photographers and their amazing skills in light, tones, depth, dimension and angles to turn building and structures into art.  Click on the links for each photographer, on their names, for in-depth information about their lives or photography.

Bourke White

Bourke White

dam by Bourke White

dam by Bourke White

Margaret Bourke-White

Bourke-White was known for her documentary and foreign work, but was also a noted industrial photographer.

Collier Jr.

Collier Jr.

southwestern church by Collier

southwestern church by Collier

John Collier Jr.

Collier was a visual anthropologist and photographer that used his camera to document architecture, industry and American culture.

Ebbets

Ebbets

lunchtime atop a skyscraper by Ebbets

lunchtime atop a skyscraper

Charles Clyde Ebbets

Ebetts was unafraid of heights that proved to be a beneficial trait during his photographing the iconic image of Lunchtime atop a Skyscraper.

sphire by Lincoln

sphire by Lincoln

Eiffel Tower by Lincoln

Eiffel Tower by Lincoln

Fay S. Lincoln

Lincoln was a skilled architectural and street photography that traveled the world and shared it through his photography.

de Salignac

de Salignac

de Salignac photograph

de Salignac photograph

Eugene de Salignac

de Salignac worked for New York City’s Department of Bridges, Plants and Structures from 1906 to 1934 documenting the creation of the metropolis through his photography.

Sheeler

Sheeler

factory by Scheeler

factory by Scheeler

Charles Sheeler

Sheeler was an artist, photographer noted for his precision producing photographs that almost looked like paintings.

Here are my photographs, while practicing, inspired by the skillful artistry of the talented photographers listed above.  No, I didn’t climb any steel girders or perch atop bridges to take the photographs.

tram structure

tram structure

Starved Rock Dam

Starved Rock Dam

monorail

monorail

glass and steel hall surrounded by skyscrapers

glass and steel hall surrounded by skyscrapers

bridges

bridges

What buildings or structures do you like to photograph?  What type of photography or photographer is your favorite?

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13 responses to “Building a Photograph

  1. I like all of the photographers that you featured in this post, including your work. One of my all-time favorite photographers is Peter Stackpole. He worked for Moulin Studios back in the 30s when the SF-Oakland Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge were being built. He later went on to Life Magazine and then to Hollywood to do Glamor shots of the stars.

    My favorite contemporary photographer is Robert David. Bob is a trained architect who worked for the Golden Gate Bridge District for over 35 years documenting various projects, conditions and work over/under/around the District. His knowledge of the structure and talent as a photographer combine for some stunning images.

  2. Thanks for sharing both the work of those before you, as well as your own excellent work! Thanks also for checking/liking my blog. I have one inquiry – do you, personally, feel that black & white is the better medium for architectural photography?

    • Good question. I like to shoot steel and glass skyscrapers, and stormy or snowy architecture scenes in b&w; and neon signs, brightly-colored buildings, barns and semi-abstract city views in color. Thanks for visiting, stop by again.

  3. Excellent post. My favorite photo subjects are -of course- antiquities. I love shooting the detail no one notices or a lonely column against the sky, but I also have a thing about modern architecture. I’ve got some good ones of the New Acropolis Museum soon – striking building – perhaps I ought to publish a few soon.

  4. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge – Geometry in Nature | Canoe Communications·

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