Photographer Quinn Ballard: ‘the best photographs are the ones that feel touchable, inviting and real’

Quinn Ballard is a photographer from Nashville, Tennessee, with over 10 years of experience in architectural and interior photography. In this interview, he provides some valuable insights into his work and reveals what it takes to make it (and excel) as a professional photographer.

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

The older I get the more I feel like a little kid—I’d rather cook a great meal with friends than go out to dinner. One of my heroes is Jim Henson (you know, the guy who created the Muppets), and I’m convinced that the underlying purpose of everything is to love and serve others well and boldly and humbly and joyfully and genuinely and truthfully.

How did you get into photography?

I had a job (not photo-related) travelling back and forth from Tennessee to Asia for a few years, and when I was in Japan I was blown away by the architecture and buildings. The buildings I saw seemed like they were from an alien planet or the movie Minority Report: sleek and minimal while still being earthy, organic, and never sterile. There were concrete walls with hard angles and hidden doors alongside curvy windows that looked like water next to unexpected gardens and 100-year-old trees.

That was the first time I experienced how the look and shape and design of a building or room could actually have an affect on how it made me feel, and I was hooked. Meals tasted better because the restaurant ‘felt right’, and conversations were deeper and more full of life when the rooftop deck helped you feel like you’ve escaped to a tropical jungle a thousand years in the future.

Only I didn’t have to go halfway around the world to experience that. It turns out I just wasn’t paying attention to what was already around me in Tennessee.

When I finally got back to the US, I wanted to phase out my job and figure out a way to do something in the architecture and interior design world. I didn’t want to actually be an architect and I didn’t want to look at upholstery or drapery all day, but I noticed that a lot of the architects and interior designers around the southeast US didn’t really have images that showed their work at its best. There were incredible boutique hotels and homes and restaurants that looked amazing in person, but the pictures of them that were online or in ads definitely did not do those spaces justice.

I wanted to solve that problem, so I bought a camera, and a friend who worked at an interior design company hired me to take pictures of their showroom. I think that design company had pretty low expectations of what the images would look like, but they needed some new pictures for their website and a few decent pictures were better than the outdated ones they were using. That was my first paid photoshoot, and it’s been an adventure since then, that’s for sure.

Describe your approach to architectural photography.

I approach every shoot by letting the architect’s style and the building itself shape the look and feel of the images. Even though every photographer has a ‘style’, I never try to inappropriately force my personal preferences (I love both earthy, natural, and touchable

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