Hillshire Brands Corporate Office / Chicago / AJ Brown Imaging



Fortunately, I have been really busy lately and haven't taken the time to post on the blog as much as I would like.  I did want to get on really quick and post about a shoot I did a few months ago at the Hillshire Brands Corporate Headquarters in Chicago, IL.  The Hillshire Brands umbrella is huge, Jimmy Dean, Ballpark, Tyson Foods, Sara Lee, to name a few.


This office is huge at 230,000 square feet, so choosing 3 images to show you on my blog was quite difficult.  The office won the award for best corporate office over 10,000 square feet in 2013 from the The American Society of Interior Designers.  It was a lithography and printing plant before Hillshrire Brands and Perkins + Will got their hands on it.  The project took 11 1/2 months to design and construct.


The busyness of a large corporate office always creates a very exciting shoot with unique problems to solve.  To add to the challenge I didn't have an assistant for this shoot because it was on the end of a trip with shoots several days in a row.  In the end I think the images turned out nice.


Sorry for the short post.  I have a lot of things in the air right now but I wanted to get something up because it has been well over a month since my last blog post.

Moody Bible Institute / Chicago, IL / AJ Brown Imaging

A few weeks ago we had the opportunity to photograph at the Moody Bible Institute downtown Chicago.  They had just completed a remodel of their Culbertson Hall.   It is a beautiful space and we had a blast shooting it.


In todays architectural photography world if you are shooting a space with no people in it then you are doing it wrong.  It has been a trend in the industry for years and for good reason.  These spaces were designed specifically for people.  Showing off projects with no people make them seem a little bare and lifeless.  Adding people to the photographs also helps the viewer understand the scale of the space and imagine themselves in it.


Adding people to architectural photographs is a completely different animal.  Not only do you have to light the space well, you have to light the people in the space in a complementary way too!  This raises many challenges in the positioning and power of the lighting.

We were scheduled to shoot the week before students got there so finding people to include in the shots was rare.  We ended up using a couple students we bumped into,  a few young looking staffers, and my assistant Payton (who still looks 19.... his words not mine) in several of the shots.




Desperate times called for desperate measures, in the image above you will find the extremely rare appearance of yours truly!!!


Brookstone / Chicago O'hare / AJ Brown Imaging




Earlier this summer I was contacted to photograph 3 Brookstone stores in the Chicago O'hare airport. I have photographed my share of retail spaces over the years but this was a whole different animal being in the busiest airport in the world!  I have to admit it was a little intimidating at first.  Will the TSA think all my gear is fishy, will all the people walking by just stare into the camera ruining my shot, will they trip over my lighting equipment?


I am happy to report my equipment passed through TSA with flying colors and the people were too busy trying to connect than to worry about some random photographer taking pictures.  I after about 15 minutes I was at ease and actually enjoyed the amount of people I had to choose from to include in the shots. 

These 3 images are of the Brookstone popup store in terminal 1.  

Shive Hattery Iowa City Design Office / Architectural Photography / AJ Brown Imaging


I photograph Shive Hattery's projects all over the Midwest and beyond, but this opportunity was a rare one.  They recently asked me to shoot their own brand new office in Iowa City.  Of course, I am honored and consider myself lucky to continually work for such a great company.  Naturally, they designed it themselves and it is beautiful!


Over the years I have been able to visit countless architecture and design firms.  This time I was really thinking about how important it is for a design firm to have a great space to work from.  It really does shape who they are and it also impacts ideas they bring to their clients.  The spaces need to promote collaboration and inspire creative problem solving.  Designers do not want to bring their potential clients into an out of date space and then pitch them new and interesting ideas that their office is unwilling to try.


It was obvious to me that the employees in the Shive Hattery's Iowa City office are genuinely excited to be working in there new office.  I have to admit, I was excited too!  It almost makes me want to trade in my self employment status and go work for them in Iowa City just to be able to work from this space (and whoop them all at ping pong over lunch).


The Group Davenport, Iowa / Architectural Photography

Shooting local projects is always a treat for ABI for several reasons.  Of course one reason is I don't have to drive or fly for hours and hours, but the main reason is because I love documenting the renewal of the city I live in.  This building was designed by Marasco & Associates out of Denver, Co and it's the newest highlight on the ever expanding 53rd street in Davenport, Iowa.  


We battled the weather and cancelled the first shoot we had scheduled.  The weather was great most of the rescheduled day until it was time for the dusk shots.  A thunderstorm was in the forecast and we almost called it quits again but we decided to stick it out.  As you can see it really paid off.  The clouds really accent the building shape and added a dramatic effect that is rarely achieved.  


When shooting dusk shots there is a very small window when the interior lighting has the same values (brightness) as the sky and exterior lighting.  During an overcast dusk shoot the window of opportunity is dramatically shorter.  I made these two images seven minutes apart, after I shot the image above I moved too try to capture one more but the moment was over.    


The beautiful interiors were designed by Paragon Commercial Interiors and the project was built by Russell Construction