Richard Bryant / Arcaid Images

by | 18. May 2015

The Camera

Richard Bryant (1).jpgRothschild Archive, Aylesbury England, Stephen Marshall Architects © Richard Bryant

By Pygmalion Karatzas

Richard Bryant studied architecture before pursuing a career as a photographer. It was a modest start of site progress shots for colleagues and friends and building studies for the Architects’ Journal. Photographing the Soane Museum for an edition of World of Interiors brought him to the attention of a wider and international press and the architect James Stirling. Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, Gwathmey Siegal, Richard Meier, Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid followed.

Bryant’s interest in historic architecture was fed by two New York-based magazines (House and Garden and Magazine Antiques), both of which sent him around the world to interpret such projects as the Frick Collection in New York and Scholss Charlottenburg in Berlin.

In 1991 Bryant was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Institute of British Architects. In 1996 he was the subject of a television programme and invited to exhibit his own work at the Venice Biennalle. In 1998 Bryant was given an Honorary Fellowship in Design from Kingston University.

After the millennium Bryant looked to widen his client base, embarked upon the London project for Rizzoli, and moved from film to digital. Luxury brands, Armani, Bulgari ,Gucci and Netjets and design agency Pentagram became clients, while he still enjoyed architectural and cultural projects. In parallel Bryant has continued to pursue personal projects which include Carlo Scarpa’s Museo Canoviano in Possagno and more recently Scarpa’s Castelvecchio in Verona and various Constructivist projects in Moscow.

Early in his career, with Lynne Bryant, he formed Arcaid Images Agency. Arcaid is one of the world’s most comprehensive, privately run, commercial collections of images from all aspects of the built world, ancient to contemporary, iconic to ordinary. With over 130,000 images in their library, they represent nearly 200 photographers in over 30 countries. In 2012, they launched the annual Arcaid Architectural Photography Awards aiming to highlight the skills and creativity of architectural photographers and celebrate the genre.

In this feature we are pleased to present Richard Bryant’s photography (part 1), a sample of Arcaid Images contributors (part 2) and the winning images of the 2014 competition (part 3).


Richard Bryant (2).jpgWalt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, Frank Gehry Partners © Richard Bryant

Richard Bryant (3).jpgMAXXI Museum, Rome, Zaha Zadid Architects © Richard Bryant

Richard Bryant (4).jpgSmithsonian Washington Foster + Partners © Richard Bryant

Richard Bryant (5).jpgHam House, the National Trust, Ham London © Richard Bryant

Richard Bryant (6).jpgHotel Romeo ,Naples Italy © Richard Bryant

Richard Bryant (7).jpgThe Savoy Hotel London © Richard Bryant

Part 1 – Richard Bryant Photography

Pygmalion Karatzas: Mr. Bryant thank you for accepting the invitation to discuss and show some of your work with us here at arcspace. Could you tell us about your background and how did you start being involved with architectural photography?

Richard Bryant: My interest in photograph dates all the way back to my childhood when I received a passed-on camera from my father who was a keen amateur photographer. I became inspired by the medium and spent too much of my school days and college days experimenting with photography to the detriment of my studies.

When studying architecture at Kingston University I discovered the irresistible and perfect combination for me of Photography and Architecture. After gaining my degree in Architecture my initial photographic clients were architectural colleagues and friends. I was quickly picked up by the Architectural press and soon had Foster, Rogers and Stirling as my main clients. At that time magazines were generous with commissioning and I was sent all over the world by Architectural Review, USA House & Garden, Domus in Italy and Ambiente/AD in Germany as well as a number of international Architects.

Richard Bryant (8).jpgThe Storer House, Los Angeles USA Frank Lloyd Wright © Richard Bryant

Richard Bryant (9).jpgJubilee Church, Rome, Richard Meier & Partners © Richard Bryant

Richard Bryant (10).jpgMathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art, Education City Doha, Jean-Francois Bodin © Richard Bryant

Richard Bryant (11).jpgFirstsite Contemporary Visual Arts Gallery, Colchester Essex, Rafael Vinoly Architects © Richard Bryant

PK: Could you describe your overall photographic vision and approach? Your career spans more than three decades. Which aspects of your work have remained consistent and which have evolved and changed over the years?

RB: For me the Architectural training accentuated my feeling for space and form. This in turn gave rise to the photographic challenge to interpret three dimensional architectural space in the two dimensional medium of photography. I think the golden tenets of my working method are to respect intuition when applied to photography. To always be aware of the often indefinable feelings of space and always, always rely on careful composition and an awareness of what to include and what to exclude in a photograph.

Richard Bryant (12).jpgJubilee church, Rome, Richard Meier & Partners © Richard Bryant

Richard Bryant (13).jpgTeatro Armani Milan Italy Tadoa Ando © Richard Bryant

Richard Bryant (14).jpgParco della Musica, Rome, Italy Renzo Piano © Richard Bryant

Richard Bryant (15).jpgLong Beach Mauritius Stauch Vorster © Richard Bryant

Richard Bryant (16).jpgStorer House Los Angeles Frank Lloyd Wright © Richard Bryant

PK: What is your experience about the relationship between architects and the photographer?

RB: Well relationships vary as to the number of different personalities. Some clients are control freaks, some are genuinely interested and some just let you get on with it. I prefer a collaborative effort where the architect is forth coming about the design objectives and the features which are important to them but respects my expertise to attempt to fulfill those desires. Of course a lot of my ongoing clients are a mixture of architects and other companies or luxury brands but who have a clear interest in Architecture.

Richard Bryant (17).jpgTwo Lines Size and Matter David Chipperfield © Richard Bryant

Richard Bryant (18).jpgMaggie’s Centre, London, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners © Richard Bryant

Richard Bryant (19).jpgThe Leadenhall Building, London, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners © Richard Bryant

Richard Bryant (20).jpgImperial War Museum London Foster + Partners © Richard Bryant

PK: You have worked on numerous publications from thematic collections to personal projects. One of the subtle tasks of photographers is the editing. What are your thoughts about this aspect of photographic presentations?

RB: When I am working on a project I do not shoot unless the image is useful to the aims of the shoot and pleasing to me, so nearly every shot is important. Of course they have to be edited and sometimes I have strong feelings about this but at other times I feel a third person is useful to give a different take on the resulting images. I have had clients who list whether they like an image or not, sort of a grading of the images which sounds a nightmare but, while an unusual strategy, it is not disastrous. Once I was in such disagreement that the downgraded image was one of my favourites that I suggested it should be reconsidered and moved from the bottom grading to the top and the client took another look and concurred. Later insisting that it should be both a cover image and a postcard for the location.

Richard Bryant (21).jpgCastelvecchio Carlo Scarpa © Richard Bryant

Richard Bryant (22).jpgCastelvecchio Carlo Scarpa © Richard Bryant

PK: Your personal work includes photographic essays from Veneto in Italy, a study of Carlo Scarpa’s buildings, and a Russian constructivist apartment block in Moscow. What are your thoughts about the role and importance of personal projects alongside work assignments?

RB: Personal projects are wonderful for recharging the batteries. Also I rarely get commissioned to photograph historic architecture which I love, and so the opportunities have to be self generated.  I am a pretty tough task master and drive myself hard to get the images I want. I still love travel and photography so why shouldn’t I indulge myself a little.

Richard Bryant (23).jpgPavilion of Uzbekistan All Russia Exhibition Moscow Russia © Richard Bryant

Richard Bryant (24).jpg1966 Space Pavilion All Russia Exhibition Moscow Russia © Richard Bryant

PK: The project ‘Building with History’ started with Foster’s Hearst Tower in New York and covered many other cultural buildings in Europe and the US. Could you share with us some of your experiences from studying and capturing these cultural icons?

RB: This project continued for quite a long time and was a source of great adventure and satisfaction. The joy of this sort of commission is that although the projects are by the same architect everyone is in a completely different situation. The challenge of recording some indefinable continuity through them all was interesting. I’m not sure if I succeeded but it was great fun trying. The resulting book will be launched later this year.

Richard Bryant (25).jpgMAXXI Museum, Rome, Zaha Zadid Architects © Richard Bryant

Richard Bryant (26).jpgAuditorium Parco della Musica, Rome, Renzo Piano Building Workshop © Richard Bryant

Richard Bryant (27).jpgGucci Museum Florence © Richard Bryant

Richard Bryant (28).jpgVitra Weil am Rhein Frank Gehry © Richard Bryant

PK: How did you approach the portrait of London for the commissioned book by Rizzoli? 

RB: The London project was indeed daunting at the start. How do you begin such a huge project? I spent a lot of time agonising over choices of subject matter and a reasonable structure for the book. In this case simplicity won and I decided to make the structure a journey along the River Thames, from the bucolic and verdant West, following the river downstream with a few excursions above and below towards the post industrial East. This worked pretty well until I ran into the disappointing problems of bureaucracy and access to various sites and buildings. It became such a problem that I had to employ someone for a couple of years to help sort out the permissions required to get what I wanted. Despite our best efforts some wonderful locations are still missing.

Richard Bryant (29).jpgLondon: The River Thames from Citibank Tower © Richard Bryant

Richard Bryant (30).jpgLondon: Cecil Court, Charing Cross Road WC2 © Richard Bryant

Richard Bryant (31).jpgLondon: towards The Shard © Richard Bryant

Richard Bryant (32).jpgLondon: Mural by Banksy Camden NW1 © Richard Bryant

PK: You approach commercial projects (like your work for Armani, Bulgari, Netjets, and luxury hotels) from an architectural perspective. How does that differ in your opinion from other types of photographic approaches?

RB: I always worked in a similar fashion with the same attention to detail and awareness of composition. Some of these projects require a more collaborative approach with clients and stylists and I have always enjoyed this. I have been lucky enough to work with charming and talented people. It’s difficult to say why these projects work but perhaps the potential clients know the sort of work I do and would not invite me to create the images if my work didn’t fit their vision.

Richard Bryant (33).jpgArmani Chater House Hong Kong Claudio Silvestrin © Richard Bryant

Richard Bryant (34).jpgBulgari Milan Antonio Citterio © Richard Bryant

Richard Bryant (35).jpgNetjets, Foster + Partners © Richard Bryant

Richard Bryant (36).jpgBulgari Bali © Richard Bryant

Richard Bryant (37).jpgBulgari Bali © Richard Bryant


Part 2 – Arcaid Images Agency

Richard Bryant-Arcaid (1).jpgNational Aquatics Center, Beijing China, PTW architects © Tim Griffith

Richard Bryant-Arcaid (2).jpgSmithsonian, Washington DC, USA Foster + Partners photo Nigel Young/Foster + Partners

Richard Bryant-Arcaid (3).jpgBolte Bridge Melbourne Australia Denton Corker Marshall photo John Gollings

Richard Bryant-Arcaid (4).jpgChicago © Craig Dugan / Hedrich Blessing

PK: How did Arcaid Images get started and how does it work?

RB: This is Lynne’s project – it started as her attempt to get me organized and you could say it got out of hand! I am proud to be the founding photographer of Arcaid but I am very much a silent partner in the project. I will hand you over to Lynne to answer the Arcaid questions.

Richard Bryant-Arcaid (5).jpgMeditation Pavilion, Barnes, Paul Archer Design © Will Pryce

Richard Bryant-Arcaid (6).jpgStorehouses at Lindisfarne, Holy Island England, restored by Sir Edwin Lutyens © Colin Dixo

Richard Bryant-Arcaid (7).jpgThames Town Shanghai China photo Ryan Koopmans

Richard Bryant-Arcaid (8).jpgMausoleum, near Sultaniya © Will Pryce / Thames & Hudson

Richard Bryant-Arcaid (9).jpgRoseisle Distillery, Elgin, Austin-Smith: Lord Architects © Keith Hunter

PK: What is the relationship between the agency and the contributors?

Lynne Bryant: When the agency started we knew all our contributors and they were mostly London based. Now we may know their work but we know very few of them as personalities. It is always a pleasure when we can meet our overseas contributors, it really helps because you feel closer to their work. Adam Mørk is a good example, we at Arcaid had always admired his work and it was a pleasure when we met. The image that made him a finalist in the 2013 Arcaid Images Architectural photographer is one that Arcaid often uses in the agencies promotion. To me it reflects well the use of the building, it is Blue Planet by architects 3XN and the image taken at dusk, makes me think of a bioluminescent deep-sea fish. 

There will always be high quality books and magazines that will pay for reproducing images but these are decreasing as are the fees they pay. As a consequence we are always expanding our client base in areas other than building and construction. We are building new relationships all the time. For example we work with a company that specialises in covers for novels, where  elements are extracted from our images, as is frequently the case  in advertising projects. A good example of extraction is for the luxury phone brand Vertu. Their advertising agency made a composite of many images – see the attached, the only part of the picture that came from Arcaid photographer Beppe Raso  was the grey door in on the left and in the final advertisement they covered most of the picture with a keyhole, as if the viewer was peeping into an exclusive club. 

Arcaid’s role is to sell existing images and not to find commissions for our contributors, that would be a completely different business. On a few occasions when I know all the parties well I will, if asked, make a suggestion. Recently a client of many years needed a photographer for the official press images for the new Philharmonie in Paris by Jean Nouvel. As usual for an architectural press shoot the building  wasn’t finished, the weather was bad and no-one had considered the need for permissions from neighbouring sites, tension was high on site – oh yes, and they needed the pictures immediately and the wi-fi in the building wasn’t working. If I suggested someone I had to know them well, to know they would not only find good images amongst the chaos, to make it look finished, but also be incredibly patient. This is the sort of situation that it is sometimes best to say, ‘sorry I can’t help  you’. However I suggested Guy Montagu-Pollock, he is a photographer who has worked with Arcaid and still, from time to time,  assists Richard. I had handed Guy a poisoned chalice. He did it – with the exception of a crane on the exterior the viewer would never know the chaos that was around him. The Philharmonie has asked him to return on commission for them in the summer. I think that is an excellent result.

Arcaid is much more than contemporary architecture and two successful areas of the built world that we represent are homes,​ sites of historic interest and destinations​. In each area we have some wonderful contributors for example for homes and interiors we work with News UK which is the Saturday and Sunday Times and included in our representation for historic locations are English Heritage and the Chicago Historical Society.

Richard Bryant-Arcaid (10).jpgThe Blue Planet, Kastrup Denmark, 3XN architects © Adam Mørk / 3XN

Richard Bryant-Arcaid (11).jpgPhilharmonie de Paris, Jean Nouvel Architect © Guy Montagu-Pollock

Richard Bryant-Arcaid (12).jpgDoor by Beppe Raso part of composite by M & C Saatchi for Vertu

Richard Bryant-Arcaid (13).jpgPortrait of Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin East, 1937 © Hedrich Blessing / Chicago Historical Society

PK: Have online media change/affect the traditional dissemination of architectural works? How do you project the publication world will shift in the future?

LB: Arcaid started in the pre digital age, the time when transparencies had to be posted or couriered to publications. Arcaid does not do the job it did in the beginning. We started with global architectural press being our biggest clients.  If you were an architectural photographer signed with Arcaid you effectively gave your client, the architect, the added bonus of a free public relations service.
The digital age spawned on line publications with business plans that did not include paying for content. Even when these new on-line publication began to get considerable advertising the attitude for paying for content remained the same. Architects learned how to upload and share the digital images. Photographers rarely made an additional fee for extending the licence for the client/architect  to give their images to publications for free. Many photographers complain that while exposure is good it doesn’t pay the bills. 

How do I think the publication world will shift? Only the best will survive – especially online. Discoverability is the big problem. There is too much content, a lot of rubbish, a lot of repeat material.  It takes time to find what you really want and to collate it in a meaningful way. We don’t have the time.  Print will survive and eventually beautiful books will be appreciated again.

Richard Bryant-Arcaid (14).jpgBarcelona Apartment, Angel Gaspar Photo Eugeni Pons

Richard Bryant-Arcaid (15).jpgDog at Home. Photo Richard Powers

Richard Bryant-Arcaid (16).jpgNotting Hill Townhouse, Crawford & Gray architects © Andrew Beasley

Richard Bryant-Arcaid (17).jpgKomyo-ji, Buddhist temple, Kyoto Japan © Ben Simmons

Richard Bryant-Arcaid (18).jpgLooking down on the Highline Park and Meat-parking district, New York © Tim Mitchell

PK: From your experience which are some key points about the business aspects of photography?

LB: Photographers MUST send clients estimates for the proposed work. As well as giving costs the estimate must give the licence that the client is buying. For example: Press release of three images, in house use, exhibitions, lectures, web site and professional awards by ABC architects only. 

It should say that to proceed with the assignment the client accepts the estimate and the proposed license.  If it is only written on the invoice it is too late. Too many times I have heard photographers complain that a client has sold their photographs to contractors and in one case even sold an image for advertising. Don’t get me wrong – the client isn’t deliberately trying to undermine the photographer – but why should they know any better. The photographer has to be clear about what they are offering and the client has to be clear about what they are getting.

Richard Bryant-Arcaid (19).jpgCentre Pompidou, Paris 1977 Escalators at the modern art museum with piazza below, Renzo Piano & Richard Rogers © Richard Einzig

Richard Bryant-Arcaid (20).jpgRocking chair on verandah with folk cushion, USA © Nadia MacKenzie

Richard Bryant-Arcaid (21).jpgBirthplace of Mark Twain, rebuilt inside a museum © Lucinda Lambton

Richard Bryant-Arcaid (22).jpgPompeii, Italy, Day couches in the House of Menander © Werner Forman

Richard Bryant-Arcaid (23).jpgBank of China, Hong Kong © Ben McMillan

PK: From the large archive of the agency which are your observations about the matter of personal vision/style in relation to the broader movements in architectural photography?  

LB: The Arcaid Images collection is diverse. We pride ourselves on representing images of the built world of which modern architecture is only a part.  It is within the photography of contemporary architecture that we see styles emerging.  These styles utilise digital technology to achieve, for example, a ‘high key’ image, or  considerable photo stitching, manipulating positions of people and objects. There was a lot of talk about a style that showed a building in context and not in isolation, this is less about a style and all about the use of drones.

Richard Bryant-Arcaid (24).jpgGirona, Catalonia, Shadow on cobbled street © Marcel Malherbe

Richard Bryant-Arcaid (25).jpgCity of Leon Auditorium, Leon, Mansilla + Tunon architects © Nicholas Kane

Richard Bryant-Arcaid (26).jpgOne South Dearborn, Destefano + Partners © Nick Merrick / Hedrich Blessing

Richard Bryant-Arcaid (27).jpgMuseu de Arte Contemporanea de Niteroi, Rio de Janeiro, Oscar Niemeyer © Alan Weintraub


Part 3 – Arcaid Architectural Photography Awards 2014 & Exhibition ‘Building Images’

Richard Bryant-Awards (1).jpgHeydar Aliyev Cultural Centre, Baku Azerbaijan, Zaha Hadid Architects © Hufton + Crow, overall winner

Richard Bryant-Awards (2).jpgHeydar Aliyev Cultural Centre, Baku Azerbaijan, Zaha Hadid Architects © Hufton + Crow, category: exterior, Runner up

Richard Bryant-Awards (3).jpgCayan Tower, Dubai UAE, SOM architects © Victor Romeo, category: exteriors, Runner up

Richard Bryant-Awards (4).jpgEncants Flea Market, Barcelona Spain, B720 architects © Inigo Bujedo Aguirre, category: buildings in use, Runner up

Richard Bryant-Awards (5).jpgOutdoor Swimming Pool, Leca de Palmeira Portugal, Alvaro Siza Vieira architect © Joao Morgado, category: sense of place, Runner up

PK: How did the Arcaid architectural photography competition idea started and what is its purpose?

LB: A brain storm in the office. We wanted to  bring attention to the creatives in the background that deliver the images of architecture that give the architect their international exposure. We wanted to celebrate the art of the architectural photographer.

Richard Bryant-Awards (6).jpgSmall House, Seoul Korea, AnL Studio architect © Inigo Bujedo Aguirre, category: sense of place, Shortlisted

Richard Bryant-Awards (7).jpgÅlesund Aquarium, Ålesund Norway, Torstein Lervik architects © David Borland, category: sense of place, Shortlisted

Richard Bryant-Awards (8).jpgBattelle Darby Creek Metro Park, Galloway USA, Design Group architects © Brad Feinknopf, category: sense of place, Shortlisted

Richard Bryant-Awards (9).jpgBjerget (Mountain Dwellings), Copenhagen Denmark, Bjarke Ingels and JDS architects © Pawel Paniczko, category: sense of place, Shortlisted

PK: The jury consists of architects, publishing directors, artists & curators, and photographers. Could you share with us some of their impressions, comments and critic from this year’s entries and finalists?

LB: Here is the comment from  Zack McKown, partner with Calvin TsaO of TsaO and McKown Architects New York:

Thank you for inviting Calvin and me to participate as judges.  As we expected the images were nearly all were of an extremely high caliber. Choosing the top two in each category was not, however, as difficult as I expected. The main reason for that is that in each category there were usually only a couple that really succeeded in the broader purposes that you had stipulated as essential for a single photo’s efficacy in representing a building, interior, sense of place, or the use of a building. Too many of the rest tended to be more about the graphic quality of the image than about the image successfully communicating a narrative of the subject.

Richard Bryant-Awards (10).jpgElectricity Transformation Station, Antwerp Belgium © Tim Van de Velde, category: exteriors, Shortlisted

Richard Bryant-Awards (11).jpgIvar Aasen Centre, Hovdebygda Norway, Sverre Fehn architect © David Borland, category: exteriors, Shortlisted

Richard Bryant-Awards (12).jpgThe Interlace Condominium, Singapore, Ole Sheeren / OMA architects © Darren Soth, category: exteriors, Shortlisted

PK: Tell us about the accompanying ‘Building Images’ exhibition, the reception it has received and your plans for traveling it to locations outside London.

LB: Arcaid has two wonderful key supporters that give a platform to the Awards, the World Architecture Festival in Singapore and Sto AG at their Werkstadtt in London .

Here is a nice link to info on the London event. We are in conversation with locations around the world to host the exhibition, we want it to travel. The first place we have secured is in Limasoll Cyprus at the 6X6 Centre for Photography and will open at the end of February.

Richard Bryant-Awards (13).jpgMichal Albert’s house, Berlin Germany, Hans Duttmann architect © Mads Mogensen, category: interior, Shortlisted

Richard Bryant-Awards (14).jpgJochen Haidacher’s inspirational place, South Tyrol Italy, Jochen Haidacher architect © Mads Mogensen, category: interiors, Shortlisted
Richard Bryant-Awards (15).jpgLong Gallery Strawberry Hill House, Twickenham UK, Horace Walpole restored by Peter Inskip & Stephen Gee architects © Killiam O’Sullivan, category: interiors, Shortlisted

Richard Bryant-Awards (16).jpgDanish Maritime Museum, Elsinore Denmark, Bjarke Ingels Group architects © David Borland, category: interiors, Shortlisted

PK: The competition has four categories: exterior, interior, sense of place, buildings in use. Considering the broader and more diverse scope of photography related to the built environment, do you see the competition expanding in the next years?

LB: We want  to keep a strong and simple format so for now we will keep only the four categories. I believe that they encompass the key tenets of architecture.  Anyone seeing the images that are submitted will see they are creative.

Richard Bryant-Awards (17).jpgVrijloopstal Hartman, Heibloem Netherlands, Architectenbureau K2 © Sonia Mangiapane, category: building in use, Shortlisted

Richard Bryant-Awards (18).jpgHavas Worldwide Offices, New York USA, TPG Architecture © James Leynse, category: building in use, Shortlisted

Richard Bryant-Awards (19).jpgRijksmuseum Renovation, Amsterdam Netherlands, Cruz & Ortiz architects © Duccio Malagamba, category: building in use, Shortlisted

Richard Bryant-Awards (20).jpgHeydar Aliyev Cultural Centre, Baku Azerbaijan, Zaha Hadid Architects © Hufton + Crow, category: buildings in use, Shortlisted

PK: Although fine art and commercial photography are defined and practiced differently, do you think there’s also a common ground and a trend to fuse their boundaries? How would you define fine art photography?

LB: Architectural photography is – to use the words of Zack McKown – “the image successfully communicating a narrative of the subject”. Fine art photography is an image that needs a narrative!

Richard Bryant-Awards (21).jpg‘Building Images’ Exhibition, Sto Werkstatt London © Guy Archard

Richard Bryant-Awards (22).jpg‘Building Images’ Exhibition, Sto Werkstatt London © Guy Archard

The exhibition ‘Building Images’ took place in London between January and February 2015 and will travel to other countries.



Richard Bryant’s website
Arcaid Images Agency
Arcaid Architectural Photography Awards