Architecture

Watters Architecture - Pass Christian Ms - Architectural Photography by Tommy Daspit

 It had been raining all the way from Birmingham to Pass Christian and we wanted to get the twilight done that evening so we could drive straight back the next day. Things were looking bleak until about 20 minutes before we go there. Then the rain stopped and we got some great light! 

It had been raining all the way from Birmingham to Pass Christian and we wanted to get the twilight done that evening so we could drive straight back the next day. Things were looking bleak until about 20 minutes before we go there. Then the rain stopped and we got some great light! 

This comes as a bit of a surprise to many, but I actually do a lot of travel. I’m perfectly happy to go wherever I’m needed. I can go by plane, train, or even automobile (I actually put about 30,000 miles on my car a year). I often do shoots in Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, and throughout Alabama. So when I was contacted by Leah Watters of Watters Architecture in Pass Christian Mississippi about photographing one of her amazing projects, I was all too happy to help out!

I grew up in New Orleans but my grandparents had a home in nearby Waveland Mississippi. So I spent many a summer day on beaches very much like the ones right in front of this house. The instant I opened the car door it was almost like I’d been transported 30 years into the past. Much had changed over that time but much was still the same. Katrina and commerce had done much to change the landscape but the smells and feel of the ocean air were just as they’d always been. I knew this was going to be a special shoot.

The home was originally built by architect James Lamantia in 1940 and was heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Leah was hired by the new owners to renovate and add on to the home in 2016. I was honored to photograph her work, which did so much to enhance and modernize the original design, while staying true to its spirit. It had actually been photographed once before by another photographer. Leah felt that the images she had really didn’t represent the project well. She wanted higher quality images that reflected the quality of her work. I was happy to accept the challenge of course!

We shot over the course of two days but I could have easily shot for two more. Every room held potential for great images. Narrowing it down was quite a challenge. In the end I took more images than I normally would. This caused a bit of a larger than normal workload in post but I was happy to put in the extra time for such a great project. I think the results speak for themselves!

 

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Alexander Modern Homes - Muscle Shoals AL Architectural Photography by Tommy Daspit

 Twilight exterior of the front. From the huge windows, amazing exterior lighting, to the landscaping, everything about this home made for a tremendous twilight opportunity (I especially loved the translucent garage doors)!

Twilight exterior of the front. From the huge windows, amazing exterior lighting, to the landscaping, everything about this home made for a tremendous twilight opportunity (I especially loved the translucent garage doors)!

A couple of years ago I was looking to expand the diversity of my portfolio. I wanted to have some more modern luxury homes in my book. Surprisingly there aren’t a large number of those in Birmingham! So I searched far and wide and came upon Rusty Alexander and Alexander Modern Homes in Muscle Shoals. I reached out to him about photographing some of his projects and thankfully he decided to give me a shot! Now two years later I’ve photographed all of his projects and we continue to work together. Each one of his builds takes a considerable amount of time to complete but the finished product is nothing short of phenomenal. Everything about them is of the very highest quality and style. They work with architect Phil Kean and have their own interior design firm, Riverworks Design Studio, run by Rusty’s wife, Lisa.

This month the Alabama Home Builders Association did a profile of Alexander Modern Home’s unique business model for their quarterly magazine. They featured many of the images I’ve created of Rusty’s projects. This home got the most attention and it even got the cover! I will say that it was a good choice. This home is one of my all time favorites. There was so many incredible image possibilities. We spent two full days there and I could have shot for a week. It was hard narrowing down the shots we were going to do. Every room was unique and full of possibilities. With the help of Lisa, Kayleigh, Rusty, my assistant Crys, and the rest of the Riverworks team, we narrowed down the shot list. We then worked to style, compose, and prop each shot. On some images we spent as much as an hour working out the styling, lighting, and composition.

I think the end results of all that time and attention to detail speak for themselves!

 The Home Builders Association of Alabama did a story on Rusty and the Alexander Modern Homes team. They used a lot of images from this shoot including the cover! I'm very proud to showcase their amazing work!

The Home Builders Association of Alabama did a story on Rusty and the Alexander Modern Homes team. They used a lot of images from this shoot including the cover! I'm very proud to showcase their amazing work!

 Lisa said that they actually designed the rest of the house around the stone sink in the powder room. The antiqued mirror made for quite a challenge for this shot (notice that you don't see the camera).

Lisa said that they actually designed the rest of the house around the stone sink in the powder room. The antiqued mirror made for quite a challenge for this shot (notice that you don't see the camera).

 There's really no one else in the state building them like Rusty!

There's really no one else in the state building them like Rusty!

Behind the scenes of the panoramic view of the living room and main kitchen. I used a Canon 24mm TS-E (Tilt Shift) lens.This allowed me to take a series of images from left to right and "stitch" them as a panorama. Tilt shift lenses are a must for architectural photography. They allow control of horizontal and vertical lines.

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Willow Homes Craftsman - Birmingham AL Architectural Photographer by Tommy Daspit

As with most of my images, this one is a blend of strobe and ambient light. I really liked the quality of light and shadow being created by those fantastic plantation shutters. My assistant Crys is actually outside with a large strobe on a light stand shooting light into the window. This allowed me to embellish the natural light and give it more contrast.

Another great house by Willow Homes and Willow Design but this one was a little bit of a departure for them. Until this home in Crestwood area of Birmingham, I’d never photographed a home of theirs outside of Homewood. It’s great to see them expanding beyond their niche market and into Birmingham, Mountain Brook, and beyond! Wherever it is, I’m always thrilled to work with Jason, Katherine, Allison, Lizzy, and the entire Willow team. Every project has great portfolio opportunities for me and I love seeing them grow as a company! This Craftsman inspired home was no exception. I loved every aspect of this project but I must say that the master bathroom and kitchen were some of my all time favorites. I am super jealous of the matte finished appliances. They just look amazing and are much easier to maintain than stainless steel. Then there’s the contrast of black and white for the master bath. I’ve never seen a tub like that and how it all came together with simplicity and class is so impressive!

Silde back and forth to see the straight out of camera image and final edited image

Each final image is a composite of multiple images. I blend ambient images with ones lit by my strobes. In this case I have a strobe outside the left window to add contrast to the natural light. There's another one behind the camera filling in the foreground. In Photoshop I remove anything that distracts from the finished design and balance the colors with a calibrated reference target.

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Alexander Modern Homes - Florence AL by Tommy Daspit

Twilight exterior of the front of the home. There's a lot of dramatic exterior lighting on this home and I wanted to make sure I captured it in a way that really conveyed how it looked in person. This is a composite of 13 total exposures. The sky was not replaces but I did green the lawn and added trees where the leaves had fallen off. 

I love working with Alexander Modern Homes and Riverworks Design Studio in Muscle Shoals. By far they build some of the most unique homes in Alabama!  This home in Florence that I photographed in October is no exception. The Frank Lloyd Wright (the only FLW home in Alabama is also in Florence) influence is unmistakable. 

These homes pose unique challenges from a photography standpoint. The materials, angles, shadows, and light are like nothing else I photograph. It’s my job to capture the vision of the architect, workmanship of the builder, styling of the designer, and details by individual artisans in a way that move a potential client.

It all begins with a conversation with my client. What do they want to showcase? What are the aspects of the project that are unique? What are they going to be doing with the images? Based on the answers to those questions, and taking into account the clients other marketing materials, I start to formulate a shoot plan. Whenever possible I like to scout the location ahead of time. This way I know where the sun will be, what areas need to be photographed at what time? Given this was about 2.5 hours away I relied on scout images the builder (Rusty Alexander) sent me and an app called Sun Surveyor. This allows me to see where the sun will be virtually and is a huge help in planning. Once I’m on location I walk through with the client to talk about what and how we’re going to shoot (my amazing assistant Crystal is hard at work setting up the gear). Then as were shooting I work with the client to refine each image. They can actually follow along with an iPad in real time. The end goal is to provide my client with images that they can use to promote their business. Images that will convey their professionalism and quality. I take this responsibility seriously and I hope that comes through in the quality of images I provide!

The doorbell played "The Jetsons" theme. I thought that was so awesome!

The builder really focuses on the custom railings with custom wood from a local artisan. The bench is made by that same artisan. A central courtyard is one of the main features of the home. I looked for a way to tie in all three elements in a manner that accurately conveyed the feeling of the space. 

Another angle on the same space showing the benches, railing, wood, and stone work. I loved the abundant light and angles of this home. I could have spent several days there for sure!

Master bedroom. Note the under cabinet lighting!

Master bathroom. The lighting accents of this space just really ad some amazing touches.

Loved the kitchen so much. The strong contrast to the dark wood and white cabinets, the sleek lines, the natural light and the added light accents just made for an incredible space! The huge walk in pantry is in the large wood cabinet.

The large windows off the kitchen open to the large rear patio area with grill and pool. So perfect for entertaining!

The central courtyard. This angle shows part of the living room (the rest is behind me) and a guest bedroom. This was a very challenging image to create to say the least. There's a huge difference in brightness from the inside and exterior, not to mention all the strong horizontal and vertical lines. It took about 45 minutes to compose the shot, another 45 to shoot it, and about 6 hours in post production putting it all together. I think it was worth it!

View into the living room from the courtyard.

This is a three image composite. I wanted to show the connection of the bedroom with the courtyard without going too wide. To accomplish this I used a tilt/shift lens and shifted it from left to right in a series of images to create a panorama. I could have gone with an ultra wide angle lens but that would cause distortion and add a lot of empty space in the ceiling and foreground. I felt the shift and stitch method was the best option to more accurately represent the room.

Another key feature for Alexander Modern Homes is the remote controlled, retractable screens. Most of their homes are on a lake and the rear faces west. These screes allow home owners to enjoy their outdoor spaces in all sorts of conditions. We needed a shot that conveyed how they worked within the space. We decided on a shot with them halfway up to better show how they worked.

Alexander Modern Homes recently added these Manta outdoor umbrellas by Tuuci as part of their offerings. I've never seen a more impressive, and solidly constructed outdoor umbrella. They are expensive but you can really see a major difference in style and craftsmanship!

Builder - Alexander Modern Homes

Interior furnishings and design - Riverworks Design Studio

Architect - Phil Kean Design Group

Railings and Benches - Robin Wade Furniture

Umbrellas- Tuuci

See more of my residential photography portfolio.

Momentum - Commercial Architectural Photography Tuscaloosa AL by Tommy Daspit

Twilight exterior of the credit union headquarters. Twilight shots can be compelling attention grabbers. They're one of my favorite shots by far.

The marketing director at Momentum, a commercial builder based in Seattle, contacted me a little over a year ago about photographing a credit union they had built in Tuscaloosa. They liked my work but ultimately went with another photographer. Then something unusual and unexpected happened. A couple of months ago they contacted me again. They’d just finished building a headquarters for that same credit union, also in Tuscaloosa. This time they wanted me to shoot the project. Not that the other photographer was bad per se, the images just weren’t what they had in mind. Of course I was very happy to help out and appreciated the new opportunity.

I scouted the location inside and out when I was in town to photograph another project. I always prefer to see the space in advance of photographing it. This allows me to think through compositions, light, time, staging, and equipment needs ahead of time. Although not always possible, it does help things go more smoothly. In this case it was very valuable. The client and I were able to communicate at length to make sure we were on the same page. Given the distance and time zone issues between Alabama and Seattle, having that advance walkthrough was huge.

This was also a more rare case when we would incorporate people into more of the images. Momentum wanted to convey how the space was actually utilized and give it more of a “human” feel. We enlisted some of the credit union staff to serve as models. For some images we had them move and captured them as a blur to convey movement and energy. For others we had them interact to give a feeling of how the space was used. I was definitely tapping into my portrait and wedding photographer roots on this project!

The end result was one that the client was thrilled with! Here’s what they had to say:

Tommy was very accommodating to our client's schedule and was respectful of their work environment to make sure the he was not disturbing their work during the shoot. The finished images were fanatic!” - Jay-E Emmingham Marketing Director

Long corridors like this are especially tough to photograph. Getting the exposures and lighting balanced is no small order!

Dusting off my portrait photographer skills, we incorporated people into some of the images to give a feel for space usage and some human energy.