Practicing Architectural Photography At Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West
I recently took a break from the insanity that is Los Angeles and headed to Scottsdale, Arizona, to visit some friends and family. One of the big attractions in Scottsdale is Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West, which was Frank’s winter home and one of his sandboxes, so to say. Not only did Frank teach many of his students here, but he used it as a playground to build and experiment with new ideas without having the pressure of a client hanging over his head.
I made it a point to take one of the three-hour tours (insert Gilligan’s Island reference here) so that I could understand a little bit more of what Wright was after and what made him tick. My goal here was to learn a little bit more about one of the most influential figures in modern architecture so that I could apply those learnings to my own architectural photography. Hopefully, my learnings here can be applied to my own thoughts on architecture so that I can better serve my clients, as I’ll have more insight into their thought process and vision. That’s the goal, at least!
Of course, since I’m never caught without a camera, I took it upon myself to take some time to wander around the grounds and do some photography of my own. It’s really amazing how much attention Frank paid to integrating the architecture with the landscape. I tried to convey some of this in my photographs, but it’s really an altogether different experience if you can see it in real life. Of course, Michael Kelley being Michael Kelley, I wasn’t satisfied with just Xeroxing a few frames of the place – I had a go with some new processing techniques that I’m working on as well. Experimenting in Frank’s own lab, if you will.
If you’re ever in the Phoenix area and have any interest in architecture or architectural photography, I highly recommend taking one of the tours. I was also able to pick the brain of some of the staff, who are well versed with Frank Lloyd Wright’s photographers: many of which lived with him for many years. They have some interesting stories about their theories, practices, and approaches to architectural photography.