Reference Point: 20 Ideas For Your Art

Reference Point: 20 Ideas For Your Art

Some ideas on finding inspiration for your next project.

Having trouble finding inspiration for your next project? References are all around us. So, let’s take Arcaid Images Architectural Photography Awards 2016 as an example. The event highlights the expertise of the best architectural photographers, who can translate the sophistication of architecture into a readable and understandable two dimensions, to explain and extol the character, detail and environment of the project. Seems like a good origin for you references, right? 

Experienced team of judges chose 20 images to present architectural photography at this year’s World Architecture Festival, which took place between 16 and 18 November in Berlin. Let’s look at the best shots. 

EMBARGOED UNTIL 2000HRS FRIDAY NOVEMBER 18 2016 Matt Emmett’s photo, Covered Reservoir, Finsbury Park, London which is part of the East London Water Works Company and was built in 1868, is the winner of this year’s Arcaid Images Architectural Photography Awards in association with Sto. The picture was entered into the Interiors category of the Awards. The announcement of Matt Emmett winning the Awards will made be at the World Architecture Festival in Berlin from 8pm this evening (Friday 18th November). Photo credit should read: Matt Emmett/Arcaid Images

Above is a Matt Emmett’s photo ‘Covered Reservoir’ that features Finsbury Park in London, a part of the East London Water Works Company that was built in 1868 and it is the winner of this year’s Arcaid Images Architectural Photography Awards. It is worth mentioning that Matt is the first one to receive an award for a photo of a historic location.

The work was chosen by jury members including Emily Booth (The Architectural Review), Amy Croft (curator Sto Werkstatt), Katy Harris, (the head of communications at Foster + Partners) Kai-Uwe Bergmann (BIG); and photography artists Fernando Guerra and Ulrich Müller.

Matt Emmett specializes in capturing scenes of ruined or derelict architecture. You can read more about his work here.

There were other amazing shots which you can find useful, of course. 

This year’s Awards accepted entries under four categories: Exteriors, Interiors, Sense of Place and Buildings in Use. 

Buildings in Use

Laurian Ghinitoiu’s shot of Sou Fujimoto’s Forest of Light installation, which was created for the clothing brand COS at this year’s Milan design week.

And image of Coop Himmelb(l)au’s angular Musee de Confluences in Lyon by Fabrice Fouillet.

The massive structure called Allianz Headquarters in Zurich designed by Wiel Arets Architects was captured by Adrien Barakat. The building features a fritted glass facade designed to mimic the pattern of onyx marble.

A woman sleeping below a canopy in Ghana’s Independence Square in Accra was chosen as an idea for a shot by Julien Lanoo.

Mumbai’s Dharavi slum brings the perfect understanding of the other side of life with a series of blurred figures wisely used by photographer Torsten Andreas Hoffmann.


Shrouded in mist Shanghai Tower (designed by Gensler and Marshall Strabala) is a shot by Nick Almasy.

Concrete sadness and blinding red paintwork of Lina Bo Bardi’s SESC Pompeia in São Paolo combined in a shot by Inigo Bujedo Aguirre.

A photo by Edmund Sumner mixes the suburb life of India with the clever design of Lattice House in Kashmir by sP+A Architects.

Another shot by Julien Lanoo captures the minimalistic style of Herzog & de Meuron’s Vitra Shaudepot in Weil am Rhein.

A glimpse at the observation tower of Helsinki’s Olympic Stadium by Sebastian Weiss. The structure was designed by Yrjo Lindegren and Toivo Jantti during the 190s and it is a 72.71-metre-tall observation tower.


The Jesus Church designed by Rafael Moneo for the Spanish town of San Sebastian comes as one of the entries for the Awards. The shot was taken by Fabrice Fouilliet.

SelgasCano’s 2015 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion and two blurred figures by James Newton.

A home designed by Bell Phillips and a lot of British flags in a shot by Kilian O’Sullivan.

The Winner

The making of a helical staircase designed by Finkernagel Ross Architects by Will Scott.

Sense of Place

Bright lights of Rossetti and Heerim Architects-designed Baku National Stadium captured by Victor Romero.

The neon green pavilion designed by Plain Projects, Pike Projects and Urbanink and a frozen couple bring a strange image of Paul Turang.

The concrete towers of a Serbian housing estate designed by Aleksandar Stjepanovic in an image by Inigo Bujedo Aguirre.

The seaside Haduwa Arts & Culture Institute in Ghana – designed by [a]FA [applied] Foreign Affairs – rests quietly in the background of this shot by Julien Lanoo.

Peter Zumthor’s Bruder Klaus Field Chapel in Mechernich-Wachendorf captured by Mark Wohlrab.



So, what should I do with these shots? How do I put them to good use? Some might say there is no inspiration inside these images. Let’s take a look at a piece of an essay by Neil Gaiman on where to get ideas. 

My daughter Holly, who is seven years of age, persuaded me to come in to give a talk to her class. 

They sat on the floor, I had a chair, fifty seven-year-old-eyes gazed up at me. ‘When I was your age, people told me not to make things up,’ I told them. ‘These days, they give me money for it.’ For twenty minutes I talked, then they asked questions.

And eventually one of them asked it.

‘Where do you get your ideas?’

This is what I told them:

You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it.

You get ideas when you ask yourself simple questions. The most important of the questions is just, What if…?

Neil Gaiman

The advice Neil Gaiman gave children can be used for your art too, not just writing. What if a part of East London Water Works Company built in 1868 was used as a scene for an adventure?

Above is a scene from Uncharted 3. Nathan Drake searches for truth in the forgotten halls of the London Underground, trying to survive the attack of Marlowe’s men. The Victorian architecture of old London structures brings the perfect atmosphere. 

There is always a way to use Matt Emmett’s ‘Covered Reservoir’. Just day-dream for a couple of moments and find your own story. And don’t forget to share your art with us. 

Author: Artyom Sergeev

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