Lines dance across a pristine scene as expertly framed elements of color lure your eye to every corner of the image. Gazing upon a Brad Feinknopf photograph, it's easy to forget you're looking at a building. These artful compositions are what happen when a passion for photography dovetails with an affinity for architecture.
There's a reason prestigious clients such as Karlsberger Companies, Turner Construction, Gilbane Construction, Rafael Vinoly, and Smoot Construction have turned to Ohio-based Feinknopf for their building documentation needs for many years. From modest to modern, Feinknopf captures each structure's exterior and interior spirit and essence without artifice or deception.
Karlsberger Companies has been a Feinknopf client for 15 years running. According to the firm's senior graphic designer, Matt Rumora, his artistic honesty is a hallmark of his work."Brad's work is always appropriate, from an architectural standpoint, and it's always flattering because he picks the right angles and the right perspectives."
Another Feinknopf trait, optimism, further enhances his brand. As he explains,"I always believe something magical is going to happen and most of the time it does." For example, if a storm broke out in the middle of shooting the outside of a building, most photographers would pack everything up and call it a night. But not Brad.
While shooting the Wilson Memorial Outpatient Clinic (right), a storm hit. He quickly moved his equipment beneath a canopy and waited patiently. When the storm broke, he ran out, set up, and continued shooting. Recalls Feinknopf,"Not only did we get our dusk shot, we got our dusk shot with these incredible passing storm clouds."
Serendipity aside, Feinknopf credits a lifetime of architectural exposure with helping him locate the best shots almost instantly. After years of visiting his architect father's and grandfather's job sites and pursuing a career in architecture himself for a while, he can quickly evaluate a building's interior and exterior and hone in on the images that tell the building's story.
According to his assistant, Andrew Frasz,"Brad's very decisive. He sets his camera down and that's where he's taking the picture. It's almost second nature."
Building The Shot
Feinknopf will do just about anything to get the right shot. Among"the types of things my wife only wants to hear about after they happened," is the time he stood on an 18-inch-wide ledge to get a frontal view of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (p. 8, top) as traffic sped by 20 feet below him.
“That particular shot was important to the architects [Raphael Vinoly and HNTB] because they wanted to show the curve of the roof," says Feinknopf.
He's also been known to stand on the edges of 52-storey buildings to get a shot of an adjacent one.
Planning the shot may be less dangerous, but it's decidedly more rigorous."I spend a lot of time really understanding the building under different climactic conditions and at different times of day," says Feinknopf. Being in the space at the most opportune time assures him the building will be at its optimum photographic potential when he goes to shoot it.
To achieve the honest interpretation he's known for, Feinknopf uses minimal lighting during daylight hours, avoiding anything but a few Tungsten lights to fill in shadows or to slightly accent certain items.
“I want it to be very subtle and unintrusive," says Feinknopf."When lighting is done well, you can't even tell it's been done."
Putting a premium on being prepared for any eventuality, Feinknopf never travels light. In addition to his Sinar X 4x5 workhorse, he packs multiples of everything from lens hoods to power cords.