Remember Photography is Writing with Light

Nikon D3s, 14-24mm, ISO 200, ƒ/8, 1/500

I shoot a lot of exteriors of restaurants. I cover these locations because they are often in a new market. My job is to capture that they are in a unique need.

Chick-fil-A opened a new restaurant in downtown Chicago by Loyola University. I wanted to capture they were in a significant downtown location. So I shot up to show the skyscrapers.

Nikon D3, 14-24mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/5, 1/60

Later in the day, I would shoot a similar photograph. I think the best time most of time for architectural shoots is at dusk or dawn. I prefer dusk rather than getting up early. However, I shoot both most of the time. It had been overcast and raining earlier that evening, close to midnight in downtown Chicago.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 160, ƒ/7.1, 1/100

Later I was to return to Chicago and capture a new Chick-fil-A at an iconic location at the corner of State and Lake. I went up on the train tracks above to get this photo. I was doing everything I could to show that the most photographed location in Chicago–was due to the Chicago Theater sign being next door to our new restaurant.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 125, ƒ/11, 1/100

I was shooting this from every place I could on the street. The problem with daylight when doing these photos is that everything is equally lighted. Therefore the lighting doesn’t help you emphasize anything. So you are limited to the composition graphics to make the photo work.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 12800, ƒ/8, 1/100

Notice how shooting at dusk now, the Chick-fil-A signage and the Chicago Theater signage pop.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 12800, ƒ/8, 1/80

However vast the composition, due to the red in the Chick-fil-A sign, your eye draws to it. Compare that to this one below; even tho they are from different angles, you can see how the daylight overpowers the Chick-fil-A sign.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 100, ƒ/7.1, 1/200

My eye goes to the Chicago Theater, but I must work to notice the Chick-fil-A. For a reason, Chick-fil-A sent me to Chicago, and this photo failed.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 12800, ƒ/6.3, 1/80

One of my favorite images from my time in Chicago was capturing this image here. I like the nighttime because the Chick-fil-A sign shows up, but now I can see inside the restaurant. I can see the customer chilling and just enjoying being inside the restaurant.

My tip is to plan your coverage to be at a location at dusk or dawn to get these photos that pop due to the lighting values changing from artificial light to sunlight. Remember that the word “Photography” means to write with light–so do it.