Posted by: nallen123 | April 18, 2013

In a Good Light

A few weeks ago I joined an architectural photographer as he shot a recently completed community college building designed by my firm. We spent nine hours on-site for a shoot that yielded 24 photos–roughly two and a half photos per hour. Given just one hour, anyone with a point-and-shoot camera could have captured over 100 photos of the building, but they would likely depict a very different building than the professional photos do. Our photographer took so much time to set up his shots because he was framing each photo to tell a very specific story about the architecture. By waiting for just the right lighting, cropping the “EXIT” sign out of view, or catching a city bus as it passed to craft an elegant, “urban” smear across the image, the photographer created images of a structure that in many ways appear more impressive than the real thing. By contrast, careless snapshots of the same building don’t do it justice–the light may be flat, the lens too narrow, or the carefully planned proportions not entirely visible yielding awkward looking volumes.

In the same way that a photographer frames his shots, researchers, the media, and even we in our everyday communication as friends, spouses, co-workers or parents frame messaging. The context around a message – other words, tonal inflection, inclusions, and omissions – influence the way the message is received. Given the events of the past few days, I’m taking this as a reminder to wear a smile more often.

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