What makes an image powerful? Is it the technical expertise with which it was made, its subject, the quality produced by the equipment used or something else, something beyond that speaks from and combines all those elements? There is a challenge today for professionals in architecture, design and photography to go further from the basic knowledge of their fields and have a multidisciplinary approach to their craft, combining skills from all these different subjects. The fast pace of change in today’s world and the evolving technologies might pose a challenge, but they also provide the tools those professionals need to overcome it and evolve. The podcast Architecture, Design & Photography discusses these questions monthly to expand these discussions and develop new ways of dealing with the creative process.

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The power of an architecture image_©Vladimir Gladkov

Podcast for Architects: Architecture, Design & Photography

The Architecture, Design & Photography podcast hosted by the Architectural photographer Trent Bell discusses the creative process and design in both the art of architecture and photography, with guests ranging from Architects to students and Photographers. In the second episode of the series, Bell sat down with Patrick Costin, principal at Canal 5 Studio, an architectural firm based in Portland, USA, founded in 2011. In a mindful discussion, they talk about their experiences with architecture and, being both fond of photography, how to capture architecture on film and portray its essence to convey a story. The power of an image is a recurring topic that permeates their discussions, and they both offer different perspectives based on their relationship with Architecture, Design, and Photography.

Being drawn to images

During this episode of the podcast, it is noticeable how, during their conversation, the images of architecture and life draw both architects. Images are not just in the sense of a photographic by-product, but also those moments in everyday life where one finds themselves struck by its surroundings. The space that pulls them in, the atmosphere that creates an emotional impact at that exact moment, and the other viewers who have that same attraction, all these elements act to create a visual story through mesmerising images. 

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A father playing with his niece and daughter in the only remaining part of the house, Gaza_©Emad Nassar.

Part of the responsibility of Architecture, Design and Photography is to think of ways to articulate these different perspectives and weave them into a powerful image, be it a photograph or the experience of the physical space. The subjective meaning of an image relies on a profound resonance between the viewers – that is, those who experience the places- and the space that welcomes and overwhelms them. This resonance with a wide range of people speaks of a successful design. 

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Grace_Farms by SANAA_©Dean_Kaufman

Capturing a feeling

How can the design process aim to achieve that kind of outcome? This question guides most of the episode’s discussion. Capturing a feeling in design is a difficult task, as is in photography. The method to achieve it is similar. At this moment, Bell talks about his process of creation and composition when photographing architecture. Mostly, it surrounds the relationship between the viewer and the space. That’s precisely the core of architecture, design and photography: the connections a person establishes with the built environment.

When architects first design space, it is empty. It lacks human presence and emotion, but does it lack livability? The answer is no. Even when a place is vacant, there are still lingering signs of society. That is the elementary function of the built environment: to be inhabited by people and to be a stage for people. Humanity is inherent to the spaces it creates. Therefore, the absence of people in a photograph – or even in the physical place itself- is not telling of a nonexistent human perspective. It is, in fact, a different angle of that perspective, one that tells a different story. The core relationship between people and space is still present, and there lies the wonder.

The role of technology

The growth and arrival of new, high-end technology have profoundly affected the relationship between architecture, design and photography. The nature of the creative process is radically shifting because of it. Costin discusses how technology changes the frame of human consciousness and thus affects the relationship between people and space. Architects and designers now have to consider and ponder the purpose of space and place if people relate to one another mainly through digital devices, essentially obliterating time and distance. It is an element that alters the entire dynamic of all sorts of places. Technology tears down old barriers and builds new ones, from the workplace to the home. What used to be two separate places have merged into one: the home office, so professionals now have to navigate how to design according to these new rules and settings.

Meanwhile, there are new tools and strategies to design that enhance the creative process and the relationship with clients instead of drastically changing it. At this point in the episode, they’re both discussing how to approach clients, affirming there needs to be a language between the client and the architect. Helping clients understand their needs and visualise what they want in space has always been a complex, at times abstract, task. The architect’s role at this point is to balance the client’s demand and the technicalities of planning and building. To breach the gap and objectively communicate an image in a language the client understands. The latest technologies in virtual reality, such as VR goggles, are revolutionising how architects present spaces to clients.   

The new reality of experiencing architecture_©Julia Cameron

Understanding the dynamics

At last, the discussion culminates in the topic of healing through design. The impact of design in creating healthier spaces is the main object of analysis here, primarily how design can provide a healthy workplace environment. The building industry must take responsibility for increasing the well-being of the people frequenting their spaces. The relationship between the client and the architect must build trust where mutual understanding occurs, and the space will respond suitably to the user’s needs. Architecture, Design & Photography is a mutualistic relationships, and more conversations must surround these topics.


Trent Bell. (2019). Architecture, Design & Photography: Technology, VR and Healing Through Design. [Podcast] Transmitted January 2019. Available at: https://open.spotify.com/episode/6RUQbJh574McCHUflZzOAW?si=371186f82c1a40c4. [Accessed date: 07/03/2023].


Sofia Rezende is an Architect and Urban Planner from Brazil. She graduated in the class of 2015 from the Federal University of Viçosa, Brazil, and later pursued a Master’s (MSc) degree in the same subject with a focus on studying social housing and family demography, topics she’s very passionate about.