Giving architectural photography a sense of place involves anchoring and relating the subject to its surroundings, or merging the subject with the space (or place) it occupies when composing the shot. It may mean working high, looking up, shooting through, or working low. Flexibility is key!
In the PRO shot at the right, the sense of place is clear. The full sweeping view of this media event installation for Bose placed in Grand Central Station’s Roosevelt Hall, New York City. In the pro shot, the frame is filled with the architecture of the physical space as the “container.” The image successfully captures the sweep of elements that work together for this custom-built construction project. The media “pod” units (cube-shaped kiosks) in the foreground, where guests tested new products being launched, the larger showcase “room” that fills the background, are highlighted collectively in a single view.
The left DIY shot is not only poorly lit and of poor quality (most likely taken on a Smartphone), it shows only one pod unit, failing to communicate the sense of how the duo of pods relate to each other and the entire event, that all the structures that belong together. What is the shot about? What do you do with/in that cube? What does the surrounding space look like where it’s placed? Little is visually communicated in the DIY shot.
The PRO shot not only gives you a sense of place in the station as commuters pass back and forth, but you also grasp the intentional placement of the overall exhibit in its historic, iconic urban setting. Additional details add interest and richness to the aesthetics of the PRO shot, such as the reflections coming back from the marble floor, the vintage pendant-style light fixtures above, and tall windows framing the room. All are grounding the installation. The people in the space give it a sense of activity and movement as they pass through the exhibit event in progress, truly telling a story.