MindFire Communications / Architectural Photography / AJ Brown Imaging

I always say that photography is a problem solving profession.  The biggest problem I had last week while shooting at MindFire Communications' new office was deciding what not to shoot.  Every time I turned around I saw another angle that I would have loved to photograph but sadly I had a limited amount of time so I had to be very selective where I spend my energy.

Here are a couple of angles I did decide to shoot in the eye popping space designed by Conceptual Designs Inc.

Senior Transitions / Commercial Photography

   About a month ago I was asked to make some marketing images for a local business start up called Senior Transitions.   They wanted to create a combination of images that portrayed what it is like working with them and the services they offer.  

This is Lola.  She was a great model, always smiling and joking around.  Lola is quite the firecracker.  This image originally was planned to be shot in a living room setting with Lola on a recliner.  Unfortunately the recliner dwarfed Lola so we were rushed to find a new shot.  To our pleasant surprise, the sun was setting when we decided on a location and we were able to create this nice shot of her in front of these windows.

Here are a couple more samples of the final images.

If you know anyone that could benefit from marketing photos let us know.  We work with businesses of all sizes and kinds.

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! 

Architectural Photography / AJ Brown Goes to Jail

   When I tell people I am an architectural photographer usually they conjure up images of me at exotic locations photographing outstandingly beautiful buildings and interiors.  Sure, sometimes that is true but what they don't realize is that a huge part of what I do is not that glamourous.  Don't get me wrong, I love what I do, and it is ALWAYS interesting!

   I would have to say the most interesting assignment of 2012 was what I referred to as "The Jail Tour".   AJ Brown Imaging traveled to three different county jails in the state of Illinois to photograph the exteriors and interiors.  I had a police escort with me the entire time while they moved inmates around to clear out the space for me to photograph.  The above image is cell block C at the Muscatine County Jail.   

   This image is the holding cells at the Mercer county Jail.  This is where people are taken when they first arrive at the station.   After they process your paperwork and find space for you they move you to an actual cell (seen below).

   Often, if I am able to, I like to go back and visit projects that I have shot and check in with the people I have met.  This project was a little different.  Although I did meet some great people, I was very clear with them that I hoped to never come back to see them!

   One thing I pride myself in is always meeting my clients needs.  A lot of photographers will only shoot the best looking or most prominent parts of a building or space.  Because of my unique style of shooting I am able to shoot a project much faster and less disruptive than many photographers in my field.  This gives me plenty of time to shoot the less desirable but still very useful parts of a space.  For example, in 2012 alone I photographed several power plants, utility closets, server rooms, empty garages, bus stops, bus washing buildings, sidewalks, interstates, and even an underground retaining wall!  But the Jail Tour was by far the most interesting.  

Here's to a fun and interesting 2013!

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!  

Architectural Photography / Western Illinois University

   I wanted to share some images with you that I shot at the new Western Illinois University River Front Campus in Moline, Illinois.   This is phase I of the project with a budget of $18.4 million and it is only the tip of the iceburg.  The opening of this building in January came with an announcement that phase II has been approved and will begin construction later this year with a budget of $38 million.  

   It has been a pleasure to play a small part in this project and I am really looking forward to watching the progress of phase II in anticipation of shooting the completed project next year.  For more information take a look at this news release from WIU

Interior Architectural Photography / The Ultimate Man Cave

This space is bursting at the seams with masculinity.  It is very obvious that there are no girls allowed behind these doors. Sorry Ladies!

I can't tell you who owns it, where it is, or what it's called. 
But i can show you the:

 Amazing views and fully stock bar
the state of the art entertainment center
 The very manly lion, ram, and goat heads
 and of course, what is a man cave without leather furniture specifically selected for cigar smoking and scotch drinking purposes

Another amazing environment created by the extremely talented folks at Paragon Interiors