Visit An Epic Bouldering Gym With Architectural Photographer Adam Reynolds

Visit An Epic Bouldering Gym With Architectural Photographer Adam Reynolds

Adam Reynolds is a wonderful photojournalist-turned-architectural-photographer based out of Indianapolis. Adam’s background in documentary photography is evident in his photographs of the built environment. When viewing his work, we feel as if we are actually there, soaking the moment in.

This project – a massive (pun intended) award-winning bouldering gym North Mass Boulder – by Blackline Studio has been masterfully documented by Adam. Bringing that photojournalistic vibe to the series, Adam often had to set up his camera among all of the climbers and patrons in the public space and patiently wait for the moments he was after to unfold in front of him.

“At 45,770 sq. ft. this was certainly the largest project I’ve photographed to date. But more special personally was that this was the project where I really felt like things began to click for me as an architectural photographer, both behind the camera and during post-production editing,” Adam explains.

Adam goes on, “Craig McCormick, one of Blackline’s principals, was introduced to me through a mutual friend at an art exhibition back in 2018 when I first moved to Indianapolis and was in the process of transitioning to architecture and design photography. Craig and I became friends ourselves, and I’ve been fortunate enough to work as Blackline’s go-to project photographer ever since.”

“The shoot itself went very smoothly. We planned on one full-day shoot from morning to night, and then a shorter follow-up day to capture any of the remaining scenes that we had missed or couldn’t get to on the main shoot day. The folks at North Mass Boulder were all very accommodating with any shoot request I had on site.

But for the most part, since I was photographing in a situation where the space was live and in-use by the public, a lot of it came down to setting up the camera long enough for people to forget that I was even there, and then make enough frames of dynamic human activity in the space that could then be composited together later in post for the final image,” he explains.

The human element Adam includes in these photographs are partially what makes them feel so right! They give life and purpose to this space while communicating scale.

Adam says, “My initial background is in photojournalism and documentary photography and had worked in that realm since 2007. I began to transition to architectural photography following grad school in 2015, and made it my primary pursuit beginning in 2018 when I moved to Indianapolis.

This shoot happened in the autumn of 2019. It was a transition that came with a steep learning curve. Both the compositional aesthetic and post-production expectations are so different from journalistic/editorial photography that I was kind of flying by the seat of my pants early on, learning on the job and devouring any and all YouTube tutorials I could find.

But this was the shoot where it really felt like it all came together for me, both behind the camera and in front of the computer during post-production editing. After this project, moving forward I felt like I had come into a visual aesthetic of my own and could confidently pre-visualize the compositions and also know how to successfully pull everything together in post.”

I love that Adam left the chalk on the mats in these photographs. While it might have been tempting to retouch and remove elements like that for the sake of keeping things tidy, little “imperfections” like that keep things real!

“One of the more fortuitous moments happened when I photographed the large staircase. The transition from the ground-level gym area to the café above is an important part of the design story. Being able to capture that scene with the sun burst shining through the window really helped to highlight that grand staircase,” shares Adam.

I love the light in this next frame. The sun streaming in from the windows adds warmth and dimension.

Adam speaks on his favorite shot of the series, saying “My overall favorite photos from the shoot is of the reception area. I think it does a great job highlighting the custom mural by artist Shogo Ota and depicting how large it is when seen against the human element in the foreground. Plus I really like how the colors of the one person’s shorts doing self-check-in on the far left and the other person’s tie-dyed t-shirt walking through the middle of the frame match the color scheme of the mural itself. It really helps to tie the whole image together in a subtle way.

For the shoot itself I relied entirely on available light and didn’t too much exposure blending at all. Most of the post-production work came from blending different human elements (most of whom aren’t models, but patrons of the gym) into a single, artificial ‘decisive moment.’ With this reception area image, I had constructed the final image from three separate shots of the scene.”

Adam shares, “While the highlight of the space is the wide-open bouldering gym, North Mass Boulder includes cardio and weight gym spaces, separate fitness and yoga studios, along with its own café and bar, Top Out Café. North Mass Boulder brings a Seattle mindset to Indianapolis’s already eclectic Midwest vibe.”

Blackline has been and continues to be a really great client to work with. I’m forever grateful that they took a chance on me early on in my career and were incredibly patient and supportive while I learned the ropes of architecture and design photography on the job, which in most cases at the time were their own projects that they had trusted me with photographing. Even today I still feel like I have a lot to learn, it’s a never-ending educational opportunity,” he says.

Adam also shared a couple of great “before” photographs of the space. What a change!

Catch more of Adam’s work by popping into his Instagram @apreynol13 and giving his website a gander. Thanks so much for sharing Adam!

As always, 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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