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Dallas Architecture and Real Estate Insights

by Douglas Newby, Real Estate Broker

Dallas Architecture Blog discusses Modern Architecture and Mid Century Modern Homes, Dallas Neighborhoods, Dallas Real Estate and the Aesthetics of the City.

Architectural Photographer Charles Davis Smith Illuminates Architecture

Modern Home in Park Bridge Court on Turtle Creek by architects Frank Welch, FAIA, and Bentley Tibbs, AIA
Allen and Harriet Rubin retained Frank Welch, FAIA, and Bentley Tibbs, AIA, for the renovation design of their modern Park Bridge Court home.

The architectural photography of Charles Davis Smith brings regional, national and international attention to the architects whose work he has photographed.  Charles Smith’s photographs also make a great impact on my business as a realtor who identifies architecturally significant homes to those buyers who have a passion for architecture.  Strong images of architecture are appreciated and enjoyed by buyers and patrons, and are underutilized by most architects promoting their work and by realtors marketing homes for sale.

Over Last 14 Years Charles Smith Has Shot Most AIA Award Winning Projects

Beautiful Modern Home in Bent Tree Neighborhood by architect Max Levy, FAIA
Max Levy, FAIA, designed the Sunlit House to capture the material asset of this site.

American Institute of Architects juries review the photographic images of hundreds of architecture projects that are submitted by AIA architects.  It makes sense that photographer Charles Smith has photographed the largest number of architectural projects that have received awards from the Texas Society of Architects, the Dallas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and other AIA chapters across the country.  His images help illuminate and articulate the thoughts, program and architectural vision of the talented architects for whom he photographs.  Charles Smith makes it easy for the architectural juries to respond favorably when they are making their selections.  His photographs have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Dallas Morning News and appeared six times on the cover of the Texas Society of Architects publication, in addition to LUXE and several other home and design magazines.

Potential Clients Often Discover an Architect When They See Charles Smith Photographs on Architecturally Significant

Beautiful Modern Home in the prestigious estate neighborhood of Glen Abbey by Architect Graham Greene, AIA
Graham Greene, AIA, and Oglesby•Greene designed a very modern home in an estate neighborhood development.

It is an intimidating process to find an architect if one has never before worked with an architect.  Unlike builders who are very accessible because of their endless builder signs and open houses, architects as a rule are hard to find and learn about their work.  Architects use little signage, design a very limited number of homes and often possess only very casual shots of their projects.  Poor photography diminishes the difference between mass produced generic builder houses and the well-proportioned design and clear point of view of an architect designed home.

Good architectural photography educates and inspires.  Many people have told me that they found their architect from photographs of the architect’s work on my Web site,  These photographs accurately introduce the architectural grace and style of a specific architect.

Photographs and Internet Images are Valued Most by Buyers Searching for a Home

Dallas Modern Home in Turtle Creek Park by Architect O'Neil Ford, FAIA
O’Neil Ford, FAIA, with Arch Swank, FAIA, designed his first modern home in 1936. This architecture stands the test of time.

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) found that 90% of all home buyers search the Internet for a home before they ever call a real estate agent.  NAR also identifies photographs as the information on the Internet that buyers value most.

Realtors at one time held the key to all relevant real estate information/MLS books.  Realtors were not even allowed to loan an MLS book to a client.  Now there are no MLS books and buyers often know the current offerings of homes for sale, whether these are Highland Park homes for sale or Preston Hollow homes for sale or homes in other neighborhoods, better than the agent they eventually contact.  Buyers know the market so well by entering Internet searches and poring over the homes for sale and studying photographs.  Good photography adds value to a home and mediocre photography reduces the value of a home.  For 14 years I have retained Charles Smith to photograph the homes I offer for sale, which has contributed to very successful outcomes.

Photographing a House Helps Me Further Understand a House and Its Design

Preston Hollow Estate Home designed by Larry Boerder, AIA, in Preston Hollow Neighborhood
Larry Boerder, AIA, designed a classic Edwardian estate on the crest of five acres in Preston Hollow.

Whenever I agree to offer a home for sale, the first thing I do is call Charles Smith to arrange for him to photograph the home.  Even though I know the home, I am hesitant to write about it until Charles and I have photographed it.  Discussing the home with Charles, setting up the shots, looking through the camera to calibrate an angle or the emphasis of a shot makes me think about the home in a different way.  The genius of the architect begins to appear:  the continuity of the floor plan, and the consistent or deliberate contrasting of details become apparent.  On a daylong shoot I have time to see where and when the sunlight streaks across the floors, how rooms visually relate to each other, and how textures help define the space.  At the end of the day I will know the attributes that differentiate this significant home from other good houses. It is great to see a real professional at work.

It helps, of course, that Charles Smith is also a licensed architect who has worked under great architects like Frank Welch, has designed homes himself, and lives in a home designed by an international architect.  On a shoot his comments and technical explanations of the design and construction are very beneficial and interesting.  His note of architectural precedence or an architect’s tendencies brings added clarity to the house and its design.  When we are finished photographing, I feel ready to write about the house and discuss the home with a potential purchaser.

Architectural Photography Furthers My Mission to Promote and Preserve Good Architecture

Historic Modern Home in University Park Neighborhood
David Williams, FAIA, in 1932 had a goal to develop a style as modern as the European modernists and merge it with the indigenous qualities of Texas.

I believe the best way to preserve good architecture is by identifying outstanding architecture and bringing it to the attention of buyers who share my passion for aesthetic achievement, and by bringing good architecture to the public’s attention.  For me, I found the best way to do this is as a real estate broker.

This mission is now shared by thousands of others who join me in sharing links, discussing architecture and pointing out significant homes to their friends.  Great architectural photography is a help to all of us in our efforts to raise the architectural consciousness and improve our architectural landscape.

I am extremely grateful to photographer Charles Davis Smith as he has been instrumental in the positive results and incredible success stories over the years.

George Woo, FAIA, designed this post modern home
George Woo, FAIA, originally worked with I.M. Pei and continues to design significant buildings around the world. This photograph and others shown have been taken by Charles Smith.

3 Responses to “Architectural Photographer Charles Davis Smith Illuminates Architecture”

  1. Kris Says:

    Mr. Smith is a ninja. Gives a photographer something to strive for.

  2. Charles Smith Says:

    Thank you for the compliment. I do enjoy architecture as well as photography and have been fortunate to find a way to earn a living by doing both!

  3. Ken Chandler Says:

    Great photos Smith..

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