Alnwick, Camera Club

Architectural art

Alnwick and District Camera Club welcomed Steve Mayes, from North Shields, to speak about working as an architectural photographer.

Steve grew up in the Midlands and moved to the North East in 2000, where he fell in love with the landscape and buildings of the area. He formed Steve Mayes Photography in 2002, largely selling monochrome prints and cards of architectural images taken in Newcastle. He became a full-time freelance photographer 10 years ago.

Architectural photography, as Steve sees it, embraces a wide range of subjects, including bridges, street furniture, statuary, interiors, parks, shopping parades, construction sites and much more, depending on his client’s requirements.

He enjoys projects requiring artistic input and likes to use unusual viewpoints or concentrate on interesting details and textures.

However, the more mundane subjects, such as straight record shots of public buildings, form an important part of his business. Some clients provide very detailed briefs, while others leave the choice to his own discretion.

Steve went on to talk about the equipment he uses and explained the importance of tilt and shift lenses for maintaining correct perspective and avoiding converging verticals where accurate records of buildings are required. However, these are expensive and he showed how wide angle lenses can sometimes achieve good results, providing the images are cropped appropriately.

As in many other photographic disciplines, planning is essential if good results are to be achieved. Lighting is extremely important, with buildings looking very different at different times of day and different seasons. When night images are required it is important to check for problem street lights and to make sure that windows are lit if required.

With cameras being so universally used today, professional pictures need to be of a very high quality to succeed. Steve regards attention to detail and simplicity of approach to be paramount.

He spoke about some of the problems he encounters and how he overcomes them, employing techniques such as use of high dynamic range, cloning out of extraneous details, replacing uninteresting skies, and adding or removing people or objects.

Finally, Steve demonstrated his artistic skills with a fascinating series of deconstructed abstract images of the Sage Gateshead and the Angel of the North. We will never look at architectural photography in quite the same way again.