10 Things I Miss About Being an Architect

10 Things I Miss About Being an Architect

Architecture Commentary Opinion

Last year I wrote an article entitled, Architecture Versus Photography as a Profession: 5 Takeaways a Year After the Transition that summarized some of my initial observations between working as an architect and then a photographer.  Since then, several of my architect friends and former colleagues have told me that they felt the article leaned a bit towards photography as my preferred profession.  Well fair enough, at the time of writing it I was relatively new into the photography world and loving every minute of it (I still am by the way).

As (bad) luck would have it, I recently had the misfortune of dumping an entire drink on my computer, and the combination of that mishap along with an upcoming deadline had me working from my former firm’s office for a few days.  I have to admit, that nostalgia began to creep in and those couple of days did remind me of many aspects of the architecture profession that I do truly miss. 


In no particular order, here are my top 10:

Creating

This is not to say that we architectural photographers are not creators – but there’s something magical about making something out of nothing. Imagination and its endless possibilities. The trial-and-error, iterative design process. Pin-ups, design charrettes…the sussing out of ideas. I miss that.

The Comradery

Natalia Roberts’ recent article on community resonated with me. Photography, as we all know can be an isolating pursuit. I miss the banter between colleagues, office gossip, team lunches, happy hours – the good stuff.

A Regular Paycheck

No explanation needed here.

Not Having to Do It All

HR. IT. Admin. A supportive team. Gotta do it all nowadays.

Respect

I suppose respect is earned over time and not always found with every client, but I definitely feel like being a professional architect demanded a certain amount of respect from the get-go that I often find lacking as a photographer.

Mentorship

I miss both ends of the mentorship spectrum. Having more experienced colleagues to look up to and learn from was huge for my growth. And then paying all that knowledge forward and being able to coach younger staff, helping to guide their career path was another hugely satisfying part of the job.

Collaboration

Collaboration has been hard to come by so far in my photography career. As someone who always felt more comfortable working in solitude, it does come as a bit of a surprise to me that there are times when I do miss teamwork and the unexpected outcomes it can produce.

Having a Reason to Dress Well

You know what I’m talking about. Comfort is king when you’re on-site for 12+ hours a day. And let’s not get started on what we’re wearing during those editing days.

Leaning on Colleagues for Support

Any successful office culture has different support networks already in place. When you’re out on your own, it’s entirely up to you to build those systems of support.

That Indescribable Feeling of Satisfaction of Getting Something Built

The payoff from years of hard work is priceless.


There are also a lot of things that I certainly do not miss about being an architect full time, but that’s a different post for another day.  A lot of the things I miss about working as an architect can definitely still be found in the photography world, it may just take a little more effort to seek them out.

For those of you who transitioned into a photographer from design (or any other office-based job really), what do you miss about your previous profession?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

About Justin Szeremeta
I'm an architect turned photographer based in Shanghai with a penchant for tall buildings.
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