Architectural Photography at the Cedar Rapids Amphitheater

Let me just start off by saying, I absolutely love Cedar Rapids!  This city was hit with a devastating flood in 2008 which I have blogged about several times.  Since the flood 5 years ago, Cedar Rapids has been going through a major downtown renewal period.  They have renovated many buildings, built a new library, convention center, education center, and the list goes on and on and on.  This is the newest addition to this booming city, The McGrath Amphitheater.   It is located right on the banks of the Cedar River with plans to extend the river walk from the amphitheater down to the festival grounds in the near future.  


The theater has the capacity to host 4,600 visitors at any given point.  They plan on holding concerts of all kinds as well as many different city events and activities at the amphitheater.   The project also serves as a new form of flood protection for the west side of the city which previously had none.  It's a beautiful place and a great example of combining the needs of the project with a creative solution.


Since this is ultimately a photography blog, I often like to mention the problems that arise while shooting specific projects and the solutions/decisions I had to make.  I decided to minimally light the image above because the existing lighting is such a major part of the project.  We only needed to bring in a little supplemental lighting on grass and the side of the stage.  This was a balancing act because I didn't want it to look like we lit the scene at all.  We wanted to show off how nice the lighting setup was designed in the first place so we didn't want to take away from that at all. 

Honestly the biggest issue during this shoot was keeping people off the stage!  I think people are really excited about the project, so all day and night there were people aimlessly wondering around in my shots!   Hahaha, can't blame them though. 

Columbus High School's Architectural Photography shoot


Here is a small preview of a recent shoot I did at Columbus High School in Columbus Junction, Iowa.  The above image is the new administration building as well as an off site outreach center for Muscatine Community College.   The project was designed by Shive Hattery Architects and Engineers who were recently named one of the top firms in the US by Architectural Record. 


To go along with the new admin building the school also added a new sports facility that includes a gym, locker rooms, and wrestling facility.    


Short blog post this time as I have a lot of work to catch up on after returning from my fishing vacation to Minnesota.  Talk to you soon!

Architectural Photography at the Cedar Rapids Convention Center / Volkan Alkanoglu


I was contacted last week by a brilliant architect/artist named Volkan Alkanoglu.  He was commissioned for an installation art piece that was to be placed in the main atrium of the brand new Cedar Rapids Convention Center that opened this week.  The artwork was designed as a contrast to the architecture of the building to introduce a visual focus point in the space.  I would have to say he succeeded in that vision as you can not help but crazy glue your eye to the piece as you spend time in the atrium.   There is some sort of magnetic field attracting your eye to the art Volkan named Distortion.    


The sculpture was constructed out of flat tessellated sheets of aluminum.  Distortion is a piece of endless variations as the day goes on from morning, afternoon and night.  As the sun scrapes across this art it becomes a living thing sending constantly changing colorful light refractions against the wall.  You really need to experience Distortion in person to fully understand its capabilities. 


Distortion was installed by a team of professional artwork installers called Demiurge.  Demiurge made a time-lapse of the installation process seen below. 


This type of project gets me super jazzed about what I do for a living!  

Interior Architectural Photography / Nichols Aluminum

Nichols Aluminum is an Iowa based company that produces high quality aluminum sheet from predominately recycled materials.  The majority of their products serve the building and construction, transportation, and machinery industries.  They recently hired one of my favorite commercial interior design companies, Paragon Commercial Interiors, to totally renew the interior of their office space.  


Nichols Aluminum actually collaborated with Paragon creating several of the features in the new space.  For example, they custom fabricated the legs of the long table in their new break room, seen in the image below on the left. 


One of the most interesting features of this office is the new conference room. It features a working garage door that splits the room into two smaller conference areas.


Commercial Photography at Refractory & Insulation Supply



Refractory & Insulation Supply is the Midwest's largest supplier of refractory service and supplies.  They supply the products that refineries use to produce their steel, iron and aluminum.  AJ Brown Imaging and TAG Communications collaborated on a project to create marketing materials for this Eldrige, Iowa based company. 

It was an interesting shoot to say the least.  They were looking for shots of their products and shots of the manufacturing process.  I photographed the products on the warehouse floor.  Then TAG Communications took the images, dropped out the backgrounds and placed them on the promotional pieces you can see below.   Most of the images of the warehouse and manufacturing process will be used for their website and other marketing materials. 


Real Estate Photography


We spent a few days last month shooting this gorgeous home.  A great deal of planning goes into shoots like these because of the amount of rooms that need to be photographed all at very specific times throughout the day.  Weeks before the shoot we spent a day scouting the location, paying close attention to the timing of when the position of the sun is perfect in order to get the desired effect in each room of the house. 


After we decide exactly when the perfect time is to shoot a space in the home we develop supplemental lighting diagrams to bring artificial light into specific portions of the space.  There is a very fine balance between natural light and artificial light.  It is easy and often common to over light a space making it look extremely fake and unnatural.  The challenging goal for an architectural photographer in these situations is to light a room so well that to the untrained eye it looks entirely natural while in all actuality it looks much better than it can if left unlit by artificial light.  


A big thanks to my fantastic assistant Kurt!  He did an amazing job. His presence and hard work was my most valuable asset.  I mean look at this guy!  managing lights, picking up unwanted objects from the scene, and holding my coffee all at the same time!  Bravo Kurt, Bravo!



Interior Architectural Photography at the new Girl Scouts of America offices

I had the recent pleasure of shooting the newly remodeled Girl Scouts office in Bettendorf, Iowa.  As you can see this is a very vibrant space with an open floor plan.  Even on a dark and gloomy day this office is bright and cheerful.  


The designers at Paragon Commercial Interiors hit this one out of the park!  I had the pleasure of listening to the client praise the designer about the space.  Not only the colors and feel of the open office, but even the minor details that she wouldn't have ever thought of.  The employees were head over heals about the small lounge type meeting rooms, the large amounts of storage, even the little seating/waiting area which is perfect for making their guests feel welcome.  She went on and on about how happy they are.  This was a true testament to how a great design will boost moral, productivity, and the overall mood of a workplace and it's workers.  






Side note: I was given a box of Thin Mints, SCORE! 


AIA's Iowa Architect Magazine


AIA Iowa's magazine IA Architect has selected to feature a project that I had the honor to photograph in Iowa City for their Green Issue.  I just wanted to share with you a quick post of the images that were selected for publication.  To order a copy of the magazine go to the AIA Iowa chapters website.  A big thank you to AIA Iowa and Shive Hattery Architects and Engineers!


Architectural Photography / Utility Plant at the University of Chicago


AJ Brown Imaging was recently hired to contribute to an architecture film being produced about the Utility Plant at the University of Chicago, designed by Helmut Jahn at Murphy Jahn Architects.  It was an awesome experience to shoot for such a prestigious architecture firm and an amazing architecture film company.  It was also a great chance for me to shoot some video which I have been wanting to start doing more of in the future.  Of course I couldn't resist shooting a few stills while I was there.  I really think the images lend themselves to a black and white look.  


I will post the final video being produced by Spirit of Space here on my blog once it is completed and released.  

Architectural Photography at Illinois State University - Cardinal Court


Every project has its own unique hurdles to jump over. This is Illinois State University's Cardinal Court, their newest housing development for current students.  We had a short window of opportunity to shoot this project.  We had to shoot before the students moved because, well you can just imagine what the place would look like shortly after 894 college students took over.  We wanted to be there shooting right when all the construction was completed.  It came down to a one day window as the students were moving in the next day.  The landscape developers were still planting trees, shrubs, and watering the sod when I arrived to shoot the project,  it was obvious what my hurdle would be this time.  


At first this is a tiny bit frustrating, but no matter what the hurdle is it always results in exercising creativity muscles forcing me to look for new perspectives and ways to present a space or structure.  For example,  I really love the image at the top of the page.  The unique crop and height of the camera angle makes this image compelling.  I would have normally shown the ground and landscaping in an image like this, but the trees were freshly planted, the grass was dying from this years heat/drought, and the sprinklers were on in attempts to bring the grass back to life.  This resulted in me composing a unique perspective on the building. 

It looks like a great place to live!  The students should be very excited.


Project landscape designed by: Shive Hattery Architects and Engineers
Construction by: Weis Builders


Recent Interior Architectural Photography Shoots

  Over the past few weeks I have had several smaller projects I wanted to share with you.  The first one in the new Ryan Companies offices in Davenport, Iowa.  Ryan's corporate offices are in Minneapolis, MN.  They also have offices in IA, IL, FL, AZ, and CA. They are an amazing construction and design company and it was a pleasure working with them.  Congrats on the new office interior design! 

This is a new Trinity Express Medical Clinic in Bettendorf, Iowa.  They recently moved into an existing building and redesigned the entire interior with the help of the Quad Cities favorite interior design team, Paragon Commercial Interiors.  If you live in Bettendorf, now it is a pleasure to get sick and go to the doctor! 

This last shot is not really a desirealble place to be, although they do the best they can to make their patients comfortable.  This is an image of a newly updated cath lab.  The staff was great and very accomidating but I do not desire to ever go back.  Sorry guys!