Maybe you know Maine-based architectural photographer Trent Bell from his awesome AD&P Podcast, or his expansive client list, AIA awards, or his endless quiver of beautiful work. As I pour through his portfolio, each project is just off-the-rails gorgeous. It makes sense, as Trent is an architect turned photographer, so he brings a solid understanding of each piece of architecture that he is photographing. Trent’s compositions are powerful, he knows exactly what to include and what to reduce. He shows us the form and the function of each important element that needs to be seen.
House on a Wharf by Elliott Architects is one of these particularly outstanding projects. The context that Trent gives us does so much to flesh out the story of this structure, its design, and the why behind it all.
Trent introduces us to House on a Wharf by sharing “To be at this shoot was a difficult experience.
To be in a location like this and resist the pull to just relax, sit there and take it in, is very difficult. The location is one of if not the most impressive combinations of architecture and location I have ever experienced. I just loved the simple form and material reference to its surroundings. It stands out while fitting in.
My goal was to transfer the peaks of the feeling of the experience of being in that place. I usually just walk a space or location and wait for that moment where you feel an emotion from what you’re seeing and then start to analyze and capture it with the camera.”
Trent’s next composition is a bit tighter and cuts some of the extraneous information out. We can understand the general shape of the house, the shingle siding and the metal roof. There is a powerful linear repetition going on here that contrasts beautifully with the organic shapes of the stone retaining wall. Our eyes settle on the dinghy floating at the bottom of the frame, which adds to the story even more.
“[Elliott Architects] is always very prepared, proactive and helpful at all shoots, so that’s always a nice thing to depend on” Trent tells. “It was a small space so we weren’t overly rushed and the compositions kind of seemed to frame themselves in a magical place like that. Towards the end of the day we went for a ride around the island out front in the owners’ boat. It was amazing.”
This photograph is one of my favorites. Trent’s perspective from the wooden boat make it feel as if we just tied off to the dock and are about to head up to the house. There’s a palpable sense of place here. The lighting on the house is perfect. It highlights the shape and texture nicely.
Inside, Trent’s images sport a quietness and sense of tranquility. The soft light and roomy compositions contribute to this.
A powerful one-point perspective draws our eyes through the open living space and right out the massive bank of doors. This house is all about that view, and Trent communicates it perfectly here.
Another perspective shows us the functionality of the doors while allowing us to note that House on a Wharf sits perched above the surrounded by water. Trent’s careful balance in exposure between the outdoors and inside the room is lovely and looks as it should.
This detail of the stairs is steeped in line, repetition, and rhythm. It adds an element of movement to this project while also showing the cohesiveness and craftsmanship that the architect employed throughout this house.
Up in the bedrooms, Trent lets the images fall a bit darker and moodier. There is the same tranquil gentleness about them though. We are able to note each space’s simplicity, and how every room – including the bathroom – has a beautiful view out over the cove.
So what’s Trent’s advice to other architectural photographers? “Don’t rush the process, find what gives you an emotion when you see it and then apply your technical/compositional and philosophical skills to it,” he says.
“Once you get it as close to the truth of what you think is perfection, break it a little bit towards what is real. Then you will have something beautiful and relatable.”
Many thanks to Trent Bell and his studio manager/retoucher Tim Holt for sharing this lovely project with us. Each image is outrageously beautiful and makes us feel like we are actually at House on a Wharf!
If you have a project you’d like to be considered for Project of the Week, you can submit it here.