Mike Butler – Architectural Photographer

Organically Exploring Familiar Shoot Locations For The Perfect Shot

Architectural photography assignments are a bit like presents, each holds unknown surprises until opened. They come with challenges and perks, and with some skill and good luck, they can result in amazing images; diamonds on the top of the proverbial assignment cake. It is these “diamonds” that I as an image creator live for, a prize which I can hold, or more accurately see, that expresses my vision and skill at that moment. Like most image creators, l love to launch out into the world looking for those new, hidden moments and places. Novel moments in time in which we can focus our artistic talent, free from past judgment.  

But what if those places are not novel but everyday occurrences that already have meaning and home in our minds? When Nichols Architecture called requesting an exterior photoshoot of three buildings here in Miami, expectations were automatically represented in my mind’s eye; a shoot in which I would be exploring for the first time three new avant-gaurde projects like Michael Jordans Grove XXIII I photographed for them just a few months before. 

As I read the shot list, I was confused, I needed to double-check on google earth, that in fact I did know all three of these buildings, and all too well, in one case I had already photographed it for the hotel! I had passed these buildings countless times, there was nothing here that was novel to me. The building list included the W Hotel, the Edition Hotel, and the Lowes Hotel, all on South Beach, a whose who of the hotelier business down here in South Florida! 

The challenging part of a shoot like this is seeing something you know as if you have never seen it.  Now I thrive on highly orchestrated shoots but this could not be one of those.  I needed to explore the spaces organically without the normal hard shot lists and shoot briefs.  I wanted to get there before dawn and let the chips fall where they may.  In this organic process, you allow yourself the creator, the space to explore new ideas and angles, to understand a building in a different way.  This process takes hours of exploring a space watching the light change and using a drone to look for patterns that might only be visible from a higher angle.  Also while using the drone to shoot the exterior we could notice various spots that might not be obvious from the ground.  One of those was an exterior facade that had perfect access from a courtyard.  We would have never found that angle had it not been for the drone as the courtyard access was basically hidden behind a bar.    

Edition Hotel “Hidden Facade” – Nichols Architects

Angles aside light plays a key role in the composition.  For that reason, we were at each of the buildings pre-dawn to get a sense of the overall zeitgeist of the exterior facades.  This would help in determining an angle or set of angles for the dusk shot which was a combination of ground-based shots and drone shots both at the same time.  

Spending a full 15 hours at each location shooting just the exterior elements provided us with a solid set of hero images for the client.  These were combined with video clips taken at the same time leading to a very happy client!  

If you’re in need of a top-quality architectural photography service, then look no further! I’ve been taking architectural photography and videography for over 25 years at this point and have worked with about every situation you can imagine! So give me a call and let’s see how I can bring your project to life through my expert eye!

Check out my drone portfolio, or get in touch with me today!

Need My Photography Skills?

I have decades of experience in photography and have been hired all over the world for a range of drone, hospitality, architectural and resort photography. If you want to give your marketing a new, fresh and eye-catching look, get in touch with me and let’s start working together!

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