The bread and butter of architectural photographers, and I’m sure architects and builders, as well, are the structures that are basic to how we live and get through the day. I photographed some of these projects in the St. George area for architects CRSA just a day before the rains came rolling in (much to the joy of all I spoke to.)

Photographing projects like this new RV Park in Washington puts me in touch with people and what’s going on in the world. It also reminds me of people’s goodness and kindness. As an example, a friendly stranger walked up next to me while I was making photos of the RV park and said, “I bet that photo would be better if I move my truck.” He did, and the photo was better. I met people at the park who were exploring the red rock desert for the first time, some who were waiting for their St. George home to complete construction, and others who spend all their time on the road, making up for lost time adventuring after years of meeting their obligations and making a living. 

At the travel stop, people elevated their stiff limbs from the car and slowly walked to the pump, weary from a long day of travel, but still they had time to wave and say hello. 

Watching me make photos, a few looked up at the station and said, “It’s nice, isn’t it?” It reinforced to me the difference an architect can make in someone’s daily experience by doing a little extra so that people notice a building and find it pleasing. 

I can’t imagine a more beautiful setting in the world for a water treatment plant than this one, located in one of the City of Springdale’s canyons with views to Zion National Park. And talking about back to basics, what can be more basic than turning on the taps and being confident in the taste and quality of water?

My trusty photo assistant, who has a background in public works and water treatment, was simply in heaven looking at the equipment and talking to the operator. 

What we learned is that the operator can monitor operations remotely any time of day from a tablet or smart phone. Soon, homeowners in Springdale can log in and check on their own water consumption in real time, a great tool for improving conservation. 

While these projects are technically similar to other photo jobs, there is a difference in approach. With homes or offices, I have an appointment scheduled and can take my time selecting, composing and styling shots. With projects like these, speed and efficiency make the difference. It’s important I don’t interfere with operations. I have to be planned, carry all the equipment I need in easily accessible body packs, get the photos, and get out. 

There’s a satisfaction in pulling it off, and also, I find it fulfilling to go to places like this and interact with places and people out of my usual realm. Real world stuff. Who needs reality TV?