Nine facts about conventions in architectural photography

Marc Goodwin


This study is one of the first to use content analysis of images as a means of interpreting architectural discourse. Nine facts were extracted from a detailed analysis of images that appeared in 3493 pages of the Finnish Architectural Review (ARK) between 1912 and 2012. Close attention was paid to the types of images used repeatedly in order to focus on key editorial and photographic decisions. Editorial decisions consisted of type, size, chromatic scale and number of images. Photographic decisions consisted of human presence, weather, depth-of-field and camera orientation for interior and exterior photographs. Data, which quantifies the frequency of each type of image, indicates that there is a strong reliance on visual conventions in ARK. When considering the limited range of images used in the publication, it becomes clear there is little correlation between the complexity of architectural language and environments and the simplicity of its depiction. That discrepancy suggests there is a need for research and development in the field of architectural photography in order to better inform readers about the diversity of architectural practices. This argument will be unfolded in this paper and supported both by data and practitioner insights.

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