Increasingly the emphasis of project photography, be it for lighting or architecture, is on people. Documenting people in the space, their activity, the visitor experience. People are the reason architecture and lighting are designed, they are both creators and end users. This means including (where possible) people in photographs and these are some of the considerations I take into account when doing this.
(a large amount of credit at this point must go to Speirs+Major for not so much suggesting as insisting that my photographs include people.)
Where are they?
As soon as a person enters the frame they become a, if not the strong element within the picture. Immediately the eye is drawn to the figure – so position them carefully within the frame and make sure that the eye is drawn to something revealing. The Serpentine Pavilion project has many good points, but one I particularly enjoy is the level of interaction it encourages between visitor and architecture, it is very direct and playful and leaves me thinking we should interact with architecture more often.
Where should they be?
If the image is of an empty space then the sole focus is on architecture – in this instance the specific focus is a lit wall at the rear of the space.
Once a person enters the frame there is immediately another focal point. In this example the figure brings a sense of movement to the scene as well as demonstrating the scale of the space. Perhaps more importantly they also provide a silhouette against the rear wall thereby enhancing the lit effect that is being illustrated.
Also drawing the eye will be the brightest elements in the frame, in this instance the red lobby in the background is very strong so perhaps the person should be dressed in red to balance that out? Where exactly within the frame should they appear in order to create that balance? Maybe they should be here, or here, or here…….
What are they doing?
As well as drawing the eye people can help to illustrate the use of space and explain what it is there for. Whether it is an exhibition stand set up in order to demonstrate lighting equipment or a workstation in a shoe shop, by showing people carrying out specific activities it is possible to add to the amount of information provided by an image.
How many are there?
What kind of space is it? What is its function? How many people would usually be there? Once full of people the atmosphere of the space is completely altered. It becomes full of life and energy, movement, interaction and of course sound – a subject I will look into more in another post.
Where are they going?
In the image below the suggestion of movement up the staircase serves to enhance the flowing lines and curves of the staircase design whilst at the same time providing a nice contrast with static nature of structure. I usually like to show people moving or blurred, – not only does it show that they are alive(!), but also it slightly reduces the focus on them, you are not wondering about who they are and whether you recognise them or not, it is more generic and keeps the focus on the architecture whilst enlivening the picture.
What are the wearing?
Is this just a coincidence? I find this happens a lot, people will be dressed to match their surroundings (no, really) especially at art exhibitions, it might be just my imagination, but I like to think it is some sort of subconscious decision, we are drawn to the things we like……..
Don’t look at the camera!
You have seen them, but have they seen you? Most people will ignore the camera, some will get out of the way and avoid being photographed, abut then there are always those that want to get involved…………….OK move along now please.