The Museum Shop offers an exclusive 300-piece Alan Karchmer puzzle and a postcard pack, as well as several books that feature the photographer’s work. Find it all on the Museum Shop website!
April 9, 2021–August 14, 2023
Any prominent work of architecture is likely to be seen more widely through photographs than in person. These images have a profound influence on how a given building is perceived. A professional architectural photographer plays an important role in interpreting the designer’s work, making critical decisions about which aspects of the building to emphasize and which to suppress—or even exclude.
When widely disseminated, professional photographs help to shape public impressions of the building’s architectural character. An extraordinary image of an iconic building may assume iconic status in its own right.
Photographer Alan Karchmer has risen to prominence in his field thanks to his skill in conveying architects’ ideas and intentions. Having earned a Master of Architecture himself, Karchmer uses his knowledge of the design process, coupled with his own artistic vision, to express the essence of a building. He is, quintessentially, “The Architects’ Photographer.”
This exhibition presents a cross-section of Karchmer’s professional photographs, coupled with personal photos and artifacts that shed light on his work. While the exhibition features numerous large-format images of remarkable beauty, it also includes didactic displays examining the technical and creative processes underlying such images. It thus illuminates why certain images are so successful in expressing both the physical and emotional aspects of architecture.
By displaying multiple images of specific buildings, the exhibition also examines how a series of photographs can be used to create a visual narrative conveying a cohesive sense of design, place, and experience. The exhibition sheds light on the important but sometimes elusive role of artistic interpretation, tracing how the photographer’s own vision complements that of the architect, yielding final images that ultimately reflect a blend of the two. It also explores how changing technologies—especially the transition from analog to digital cameras—have influenced architectural photography.
The exhibition celebrates Karchmer’s recent bequest of his professional archive to the collection of the National Building Museum.
- August 2021 / Washington City Paper: Alan Karchmer on Photographing Architecture
- July 2021 / Professional Photographer: Alan Karchmer Makes Structures Come Alive
- February 2021 / American Way: Edifice Complex
Watch a 12-part video series in which Alan Karchmer talks about various aspects of his work as an architectural photographer.
Château La Coste: Art and Architecture in Provence / April 7, 2021
Take a tour of Château La Coste, a unique property in Provence, France, that combines sculptural artworks by leading contemporary artists alongside pavilions and buildings by some of the world’s best-known architects, all within the grounds of a working vineyard. A privately owned winery, Château La Coste makes its grounds, artwork, and architecture available to the general public for a small fee (and, often, freely to visiting school groups). Architectural photographer Alan Karchmer and Robert Ivy, FAIA, CEO of the American Institute of Architects, talk about their book Chateau La Coste: Art and Architecture in Provence, which Ivy co-authored and for which Karchmer was the commissioned photographer. Beth Broome, managing editor of Architectural Record, moderates a discussion about this unusual combination of landscape, architecture, and art, of private industry and public benefit.
Get updates about The Architects’ Photographer
This exhibition is generously supported by the Anne and Ronald Abramson Family Foundation, The American Institute of Architects, David Crane and Jeffrey Wells, Edward J. Lenkin and Roselin Atzwanger, VMDO Architects, Chris Morrison FAIA and Dr. Michael Olding, SmithGroup, Jessica and Henry Townsend, Barbara and Herb Franklin, and Leers Weinzapfel Associates.