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Capturing Architecture

Wait. Did I let this week past and not post anything for National Architecture Week? Well, let me slip this post in. Despite what most of my readers’ impressions may be from the majority of my posts, I really don’t live a life of just eating out at fancy restaurants and photographing things. Architecture is in fact my full time job.

With building projects spanning years from idea to reality, it’s an indescribable feeling when a project you’ve invested so much time in finally gets to be a star in its own photo shoot. This past January, the new Memphis Driver’s License station, which I’ve blogged about in its early construction stages with intentionally ambiguous cropped shots, was finally photographed in its full form. It’s a project I helped lead through the design phases under the local architecture firm Looney Ricks Kiss as the biggest driver services center in the state of Tennessee. After five years, it is finally open for use.

Architecture is best understood through inhabiting the space, so finding the right photographer to successfully translate three-dimensional space two dimensionally is critical in communicating the design vision. In the end, the right architectural photographer captures images that help architects sell their talent and obtain further work. That’s where photographer Chad Mellon steps in with his trusty tripod, step ladder, Canon 5D and most importantly a tilt-shift lens, essential for documenting spatial forms such as architecture.

The building was photographed throughout the day, with and without people, but my favorite shots were beautifully captured at dusk. So I’m dying to ask. Does it make you the least bit eager to get your license renewed?

See Chad’s narrative on architecture and architectural photography below. See more of his architectural photography here. Read more on National Architecture Week here.

"I got interested in architectural photography because I am so in love with lines, the movement of space and the manipulation of location."
~Chad Mellon on his start in architectural photography.

I think that good architecture should essentially shoot itself. What I mean is, when you walk up to a project, and it’s right. It’s inspired and full of purpose and vision. It basically speaks to you, "shoot here… what about there… this is a killer angle.

I am not much for defining things. I like life to be a bit undefined but if I were to try and define great Architecture. I would say that when it's great you know it, you feel it, and you can't stop looking at it and you’re dying to go inside. It's sort of like a great song… you hear it, it speaks to something inside you and then it's stuck.

If you look at the great architectural photographers, you look at what they were/are shooting… it's great and inspired. Julius Schulman was at the right place at the right time and on the cusp of innovation… he shot what was fresh and perfectly designed. It spoke to him, it inspired him and he translated that visually.

Great Architecture is dying to be experienced visually in photographs. As a photographer your able to capture the perfect angles the perfect light in a way that is not always possible in real time and space… this is what makes shooting architecture so fascinating and fun… capturing the passion of the architect visually. I am in love with the medium of photography and completely sold out to the challenge of capturing the feeling and the passion of the space.


The driver services center is located at 3200 East Shelby Drive. Photos courtesy of Chad Mellon. Black & white photos by Sophorn. Special Thanks to the LRK design team: Rob Norcross, Juan Sanford,  Rebecca Courtney, Annette Barrett, Joe Bucher, and Bill Morley. Structural/Civil by Burr and Cole. MEP by OGCB. Landscape Architecture by ETI.

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