People in Architectural Photographs

I almost never include people in my photographs of architecture and interiors. Usually, the reason is simply because there is no one around to put in the photo and most of my clients currently prefer that images are people-free.

This past week I have been photographing some small kitchen remodels for Rex Hohlbein Architects and we thought we'd try a few shots with people included.

After much negotiation and sweet-talking we were able to get the homeowner on our first kitchen shoot to pose for us. We were not so lucky with the next one ;-). On our third kitchen the owners politely declined but offered up their two boys as models. They sat around the kitchen island and challenged one another to increasingly difficult math problems while I snapped away.

I have mixed feelings concerning people in architectural and interior photographs. I do think that when placed and posed properly, people add to a photograph's ability to convey the spatial relationships, scale and "feel" of a structure. They are a universal "yardstick" by which to measure a space.

However, things get tricky when you start to look at what types of people are in the photograph, what they are wearing, what they are doing etc. Architectural and interior photography definitely walks the fine line between documentation and advertising. And while the addition of people in a photograph might help to better convey the structure, it can also create subtle (or not so subtle) nods to certain lifestyles and values. The website "Unhappy Hipsters" has been making the rounds in the blogosphere lately and uses hilariously clever satire to reveal how people can be used to convey certain lifestyles and ideals.

Here's a interesting article that better articulates the issue.