Framing space: agendas and content in the architectural photograph

Graeme Brooker, Eric Northey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The extensive use of photographic material from architectural magazines in teaching about architectural space, often goes unquestioned. This neglect raises important issues, since most buildings will now only be encountered by students in their mediatised re-presented form, rather than in real space and time. This paper outlines a critical, semiological strategy for analysing the value of such photographic material, categorising them under three broad headings of Naive Realism; Trophysim and Fetishism. Naive Realism concentrates on the informational value of such material. Trophysim investigates the consequences of public relations' inputs to these sources and Fetishism uses Freudian approaches to tease out secondary and unconscious meanings that may lie below the surface. It is these latter meanings, which give, rise to awe and form a key part of the aesthetic response to architectural photography. We argue that understanding these processes is crucially important in the training of young architects and designers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-131
Number of pages15
JournalThe Journal of Architecture
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2008


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