Architectural Photographer Lara Swimmer Makes the Best of Ever-Changing Weather at a Home in Winthrop

Architectural Photographer Lara Swimmer Makes the Best of Ever-Changing Weather at a Home in Winthrop

Project of the Week veteran Lara Swimmer is back on the site today with another puppy-filled, sweeping vista, atmospheric, house in Washington. I am particularly fond of this project of Lara’s because this past September I spent some time out in Winthrop and the Methow Valley and just adored it. Lara does an excellent job of portraying the house’s relationship to the foothills of the North Cascades, the scrubby, western landscape, and really just the overall feeling of being there.

Lara shared that the Winthrop House was “a 4 or 5 hour drive from Seattle through the gorgeous North Cascades Highway, which is only open during summer and [autumn] before the snow falls.” She photographed this project for Brooklyn-based architect Phil Ryan of Studio Modh, who made the trip out for this shoot.

She continues “Upon arrival for an evening site tour and scouting, the late summer skies were blue and glorious… we took a few shots, but spent a good deal of time orienting, then having a cookout with the client and homeowner under the stars.

Throughout this shoot, you’ll find that Lara has done a stellar job of including life and figures in almost every scene. A playing dog, a resting homeowner – each addition gives scale and purpose to the house. We see the spaces in use.

I love the perspective of this next shot, with the roofline following the hillside. The large clerestory pops up over the crests and offers its own bit of topography to the landscape.

This next view beautifully communicates how Winthrop House is designed to maximize the view of the surrounding Cascades.

For the main shoot day, we awoke to a thick overcast sky and dark rain clouds high above. Not ideal weather to capture the landscape from within” Lara says, “But if I’ve learned anything, the weather is beyond your control, no matter where you are and what month of the year it is.

You get what you get and you make the best of it!

The next four shots show off a hidden gem – an outdoor murphy bed that cleverly folds out onto the covered patio.

From my time in Washington this past autumn, I know that the light and the weather change fast. Banks of clouds (or wildfire smoke in the instance of my trip) can come and go quickly. It looks like Lara jumped on the opportunity to capture the strong directional sunlight when she could, like here in these kitchen shots.

Through our screens, its almost as if we can feel those warm pockets of light on our skin while we take in the beautiful view from the extensive amount of glazing here.

As the light changes again, we are met with a more moody scene. I think it speaks well to this project though, and it’s lovely to see Winthrop House in all sorts of lighting conditions.

While reading a bit about the structure, Modh mentioned “The design of this space is central to the sensation of being in the landscape. By capping the space with a clerestory that insures light throughout the day, the light quality within the living room feels in harmony with the landscape.” This infusion of natural light permeates into the house no matter what the weather.

Next is a more encompassing view of the living area. I love the well-poised figure which helps draw our eye through the frame, and once again, puts emphasis on how the home is designed to immerse you in the landscape and the views of the valley and beyond.

Lara speaks on the moody light, saying “The results of the conditions were that the bulk of the images were taken with very low, sultry light, which were sometimes brightened by the presence of the architect’s wife, who gladly appeared in many of the shots.

The landscape appears more dramatic, and overall the mood is one of an interior environment, cozy and sheltering, with the sky and hills beyond,” she shares. There is a quietness about these interior photos that I just adore.

As dusk falls we are met with the same familiar view of Winthrop House, but now the house glows amongst the hillside. There is a great, cool, misty feel in Lara’s twilight photos that helps us place ourselves in the landscape while offering plenty of visual interest to the scene.

A huge thanks to Lara for sharing this project with us and telling us about the shoot. What a gorgeous home, perched in a gorgeous environment!

See more of Lara’s emotive work on her website as well as on Instagram @laraswimmer.

If you have a project you’d like to be considered for Project of the Week, you can submit it here.

Howdy! I'm Lexi. I write and make photographs. I love being outside and listening to '00s indie rock.
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