Don F. Wong is a leading photographer of architecture and interior spaces, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He has won AIA Honor and Merit Awards in Photography, has over 20 years of professional experience in his specialty with work published nationally and internationally, and has contributed to exhibits at the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, the Weisman Art Museum, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Millennium Court Arts Centre in Northern Ireland, and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark. His clients have won numerous AIA Honor Awards at both the state and national levels.
BRINGING ARCHITECTURE TO LIGHT
Architecture is one of the oldest of the arts and one of the most enduring. Since mankind began to create shelters or remake his surroundings, the quest for great architecture has influenced his work. Beyond meeting purely utilitarian needs, there has always been the desire to give meaning to the work, to make it a noble effort, to instill beauty in the resultant forms. The history of architecture is filled with many traditions in the use of form and material. For many years these traditions were slow to change, sometimes taking many lifetimes to evolve significant variations. This is no longer true in our modern society as design sensibilities, building materials and user needs all change at an accelerating pace.
Architecture, along with its sibling disciplines landscape design and interior design, creates art forms that we inhabit. These forms can encompass our total environment, and our day-to-day contact with it may lull us into complacency and we begin to take it all for granted. The sheer scale of the work can be the forest that obscures the trees, or vice versa. Beauty can become invisible, hidden in plain sight. Like the bustling commuters who ignore a world-class violinist masquerading as a street musician, we are overwhelmed by the context, ignoring the unexpected, and missing out.
At its heart, photography is a way of seeing. A photographer strives to see the world in a certain way and bring that vision to others. When compared to architecture, photography is a very young art form. Not 200 years old, photography is already undergoing a digital makeover that promises to take the discipline onto a new frontier. But as photographers grapple with the new tools they've been handed and explore new means of expression, the basic core of the art remains the same: to see the world in a personal way and express what is seen.
The goal of the architectural photographer today is to understand the concepts behind modern architecture, to see the resultant beauty, and through the new means and methods of the photographic medium, express that individual vision. It's an exciting time to be practicing this discipline. The subject matter has never been more diverse nor as sophisticated, and the new digital tools allow ever more powerful means of expression and publication. The ability to share images has increased tremendously with the advent of the internet. And this can only accelerate the exchange of ideas within the design community.
All designers should take great care in how their work is photographed. A design may be in the public spotlight only briefly, usually when it is new. It is the images seen during this time that can become fixed in the public's mind as these images pass among the various media outlets. It is important that the designer have the right images in hand when the media come calling, as there is seldom a second chance to make a first impression.
Having professional photographs taken can be daunting, even for those familiar with the process. There is no substitute for having the designer take a direct role in it, ensuring that the photographer has been tutored in the concepts behind the design. Good communication is paramount. But it is also important that the photographer be allowed latitude to investigate the design on his own, to think visually and interpret design concepts in his own way. Ultimately, it is the photographer's personal translation of abstract ideas in the creation of these images that is his most important contribution. Choosing the right photographer is the surest road to a rewarding outcome.
Don sees good design. He understands architecture and is well versed in translating design into visual images that are striking, memorable, and rewarding. He brings architecture to light. Contact him for your next project.