Talking Architectural Photography with Professional Photographer Gabe Border

Gabe Border is an architectural photographer based right here in Boise, Idaho specializing in architecture, interiors, commercial spaces and custom residential photography.

Gabe specializes in creating Architectural and Interiors images that meet exactly what clients require. When not working with Architects, Interior Designers, and Builders Gabe enjoys cooking and adventuring with his Wife Emily and their English Pointers Fred and Snow.

Q: Why/how did you get into architectural photography?

Architectural photography isn’t such an obvious niche to get into, right? I somewhat meandered into it.
Growing up in Colorado and later Idaho, I was a real geek for the outdoors. In 8th grade I read more about tent construction then I did algebra. And as I spent more and more time in outdoor environments I picked up a camera to capture the obvious beauties, like mountains and wildlife, but I also became increasingly attached to the structures we used (tents, yurts, huts, cabins). I thought more and more about the beauty of simplicity and efficiency. Then my landscape photography began to include more structures that I was drawn too.
It took a while, but eventually I steered myself towards architectural photography as my full-time endeavor.

Q: What else do you like to shoot?

Well if you didn’t know, I’m a falconer. I love the energy and strength in a good chase, so often if I’m not flying my Peregrine, I’m taking my camera in the field to capture others’ hawks and birds. In fact, my wife and I are working on a personal project right now. We’re creating a book puts a modern twist on such an ancient sport. It’s still in the storyboarding phase, but will incorporate a lot of portraits, and landscape images.
Aside from that, active lifestyle (skiing, climbing and biking) is exciting to shoot. It requires a lot of patience, repetition and control.

Q: What do you like about being a photographer?

I like working in highly productive pulses. The creative process never fits in the 9-5 mold, but I like the ability to channel my energy for a 14-hour day editing or shooting on location. For me, it’s the best feeling to look back and a library of finished images; It makes me smile especially to think great how the final images will look when printed and others get to experience my work in a tactile way.

Q: What is your favorite type of project to shoot?

My best shoots have been with clients who match form with function. Shooting a residential living space, where the home is designed around it’s environment, but offers something clever or surprising. That’s the best. I also think the Passiv Haus is really exciting, and want to do more projects where homes are still beautiful with clean modern lines, but are being energy efficient. Those architects are the ones doing something really special.

Q: What is your favorite project you’ve photographed?

A house in the desert that is waiting to be published; designed by Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig architects. That space changed the way I think about design. In such a harsh climate, I think it takes real vision to pull off an amazing and smartly designed home that isn’t a drain on the surroundings.

Q: A lot of your work is from referrals and repeat clients. Why do architects keep coming back to you?

I deliver consistency in a timely manner. I really embrace collaboration. Its often overlooked, but it takes a team of talented individuals to make a really great image come together. When architects and interior designers collaborate, the finished project will have a livability factor that can tell a story. The best images of spaces should tell a story.

I’m also very detailed in the preparation for every shoot, so there are no ugly surprises. That peace of mind and low maintenance is something my clients have really valued.

Q: A lot of architects, contractors, engineers etc. don’t understand the value of having really great images of their work. Why is it important an architect works with a skilled photographer?

Yeah, I think it’s important to acknowledge the reality that architects and designers need to sell a 3-dimensional work of art in a 2-dimensional format. The right photographer will be able to capture the art in architecture and appeal to the majority of people that will never see a completed project in person.
Accurate images that captivate the viewer and inspire curiosity are the best way to show your audience what you are capable of. I like how Julius Shulman put it, “Architects live and die by the images taken of their work; as these images alone are what people see. For every one person who visits a private house, there may be ten thousand who only view it as a photo.”

Q: What is the difference/benefit of having a professional shoot a project versus just taking some snapshots with an iPhone?

Although digital cameras have made it easier for architects, interior designers and agencies to record their work, there often comes a point when you need something a little better than what your iPhone can produce.You need someone with an understanding of how light interacts with a space, how to compose a room and create the right perspective without distortion. In fact, Architects themselves draw up project plans based solely on available light through windows, like an aperture to the interior. I approach a shoot the same way. Assessing the way light reflects off the surfaces, using natural light to my advantage and introducing artificial light when needed.

Q: How are you different from other architectural photographers?

I’ll describe it this way, when you’re in an amazing space, you memorize the experience, and rarely does your memory match an image. I’ve developed a talent for creating images that reflect the artistry and character of a space, naturally. I also think too many photographers make the mistake of creating a photo that goes beyond reality. Their images are too sterile, the tend to look like renderings. While renderings are extremely useful…no one wants to see renderings of the Grand Canyon. They want the real deal, so I approach architecture shoots in a journalistic way. I’m telling the story of the space with my images.

Q: How would you characterize your photographic style?

Clean, polished, captivatingm add your own adjective here. No, I’m kidding, but in all seriousness I think my photographs have a subtle depth, balance, contrast that is very natural and inviting.

Q: Anything else you would like current or potential clients to know?

I think its best to start thinking about images created of your projects as a whole marketing campaign. Publications like Dwell have requirements if you are looking to be featured. Having worked with these media sources, I know that just putting images on your website is not enough. Think about planning out a marketing strategy with your team. How do you want potential clients to see your project? Images you see in magazines take sometimes months of creative planning. The more thought put in, the better results you will get.

Interested In Working With Gabe?

Gabe Border
Boise, Idaho