Max Mackenzie: Behind the Lens
A look at the work of architectural photographer Max Mackenzie including his recent show at AIA Headquarters, "Helter Shelter." The show is defined as "an exploration into the organization of temporary communities." He captured the images at motorcycle races, frozen lakes, active riverfronts, Burning Man, and trailer parks.
This way to the gallery.
Architectural Photography in Black and White
Image and Words by Greg Tinius
In the fall of 2008, lead by the tireless efforts of Michael Franck, AIA (Franck & Lohsen Architects), and based on my ongoing work photographing classical architectural details, the board of the Chastleton Apartments on 16th Street, NW, commissioned me to create a series of photographs capturing the beautiful and ornate details of the historic Gothic-Revival Chastleton building.
While in the process of taking the photographs, I was given access to one of the north-facing, top-floor apartments, which had a stunning view of the adjacent House of the Temple, headquarters of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry in the Southern Jurisdiction. It was designed by John Russell Pope (his first major Washington DC commission) and completed in 1915.
According to the web site Scottishrite.org, "its architecture is an adaptation of the famous Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World." The clean, traditional Classical style of the temple provided an interesting complement to the elaborate, glazed terra-cotta ornamentation on the Chastleton, creating a scene that was both beautiful and dramatic.
Prints of the Chastleton Project are now displayed permanently throughout the lobby and corridors of the building. (The complete collection of photographs may be seen at
Image and Words by Boris Feldblyum
Sometimes we are lucky to be in the right spot at the right moment and come out with a great picture. Most often however, a photo shoot requires long and meticulous planning, especially in urban settings.
This simple and elegant H street building faces North, hence it gets the sun for a short time right after sunrise and just before the sunset, and only in the summer. Being concerned about missing the “magic moment”, I arrived too early and had plenty of time to study the building as it looked back at me.
Right after being finished and cleaned, with no tenants yet, it seemed transparent, its structure reveled. The grid lines of the framework–so functional in their purpose–created an ornament, without being purposely ornamental.
After awhile, the ornament resembled the grid of Washington streets in my mind, and then the American flag. Being squeezed by its heavy-set neighbors on the left and on the right, the building looks small and graceful, despite its nine floors.
I have not asked the architect, Eric Colbert, what drove this specific design approach and was now free to imagine it with two more floors on top - deliberately disproportionate and reminding us of other cities where skyscrapers are allowed. As the tenants move in, each floor will become a stage set for another little Washington, DC drama, or a comedy, with its actors proclaiming, “I am two blocks away from the White House! I am important!”
But for now, the building is the only character in this picture. As the grid lines become awash in sunlight and the glass plates change colors, it steps out of the shadows. The image is captured, and the day is ending...
Image and Words by Anne Gummerson
Every once in a while, I walk into a space that stops me in my tracks and demands my full attention. That’s what happened when I saw this space. I had been called to Georgetown University by contractors Whiting-Turner to take a few photos of the new Atrium of the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University this past March before the building was really opened.
The wooden structure in the middle, called “the football” by the denizens of the school, was glowing bright and warm in the sunshine and the complex, overhead structural glass cast lines and shadows that changed with the passing clouds. I just stared with admiration. Architects Goody Clancy Associates of Boston also designed the stairs on the right which seem to float in open space. Last week I went back to finish a few last shots and saw lots of very nice furniture in place. It looked most elegant, but to me the nearly empty area was more impressive.
Image and Words by Judy Davis
I have always been attracted to line, perspective, structure, form and function. Because of the approach in photographing this space on axis, the lines created by the architect’s design also convey repetition that draws your eye into and around the space. While we collaborate with our clients to communicate their creativity, we also try to produce visually interesting and compelling images.
Because digital photography has made it so much easier to retouch, this is a favorite image because of a little bit of digital darkroom magic! I worked with layers from the original digital capture to create highlight and shadow detail by blending different camera exposures. Combining our large format digital cameras with our Photoshop skills allows us to create superior imagery for the client and our own marketing.
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