Where I Stand
Ansel Adams once said that photography is knowing where to stand. There is a lot of truth to that, since the right perspective can make the difference between a compelling photo and a mediocre one, but so can the lighting, composition, and photographic processing.
When architects design projects, they painstakingly consider how people will experience the aesthetic qualities their work: the best vantage points for viewing their design, the quality of light at different times day and year, as well as the quality of light under different weather conditions. Doing justice to this endeavor with photos cannot simply be a matter of showing up with a camera for an hour or two at any given time of day, and regardless of the weather conditions. Best results require preparation and an understanding of what the architect's vision is for presenting his or her work to the public through photography. Photographing different parts of a particular project may require considerable time waiting for the right lighting, adjusting parts of the scene, and deploying equipment to supplement or modify the ambient lighting. It is not unusual for a photography session to take a full day if a variety of views of a project are needed, and multiple days of photography are sometimes needed for larger projects. Some of the same considerations can apply to the photography of interior-design and building products.
Sometimes the available lighting will not be ideal for photography, due to access limitations or design compromises that were required because of practical considerations. Sometimes a photographer can compensate for this in the digital processing of the photos. Other times photographers may deploy supplementary lighting to compensate for limitations of the ambient lighting, especially for interiors. Most people know Ansel Adams from his fine-art landscape work, for which he used only available daylight. However, for a substantial portion of his career he was a commercial photographer dealing with a wide variety of assignments and subject matter, including portraits, products and architecture. For his commercial work Adams often used supplemental lighting.
Adams was well known for his mastery of the process of developing and printing black and white photos, a process that often required hours of work per photo. Many people believe that digital technology has made the process of photography easier, and it has to some extent, at least with respect to some of the basics. However, digital also offers vastly more potential for creative control and compensating for limitations of the photographic medium than analog technology. Exploiting this potential can be very time consuming, in terms of learning advanced digital processing techniques that are necessary and using these techniques to create the final images. Furthermore, many photographers now do their own retouching, which specialist retouchers usually did before the advent of digital. Architectural and interiors subject matter can often require specialized retouching. All of this means that it is not unusual for photographers specializing in architectural and interior-design subject matter to spend hours creating each photo, between the photography, processing, and retouching work.
For the above reasons, architectural and interiors photography can be one of the most technically challenging genres of photography, if the goal is compelling photos that will meet the need for long-term marketing and documentary usage. Where I stand when making photos is just one step in the process.