Photo Essay: Head Tilted Back

chicago 03Welcome to Modern In Denver’s photo essay series. In each issue, we give a talented photographer free reign to explore the modern world through his or her lens. The results offer insight into the way trained eyes see the things surrounding us. We hope you’re as inspired as we are by the possibilities and perspectives offered in these professional takes.


These images are rooted in my childhood. As a kid growing up in the rural Midwest, a trip to the city was rare. During that rare urban trip, I was amazed by the tall buildings and would stand in front of them, head tilted back, mouth open, and imagination soaring as high as the edifice in front of me. Then and still today, I am a building nerd; and like that child, I stand in front of buildings, head tilted back, but looking through my phone as I capture the shot. My phone is my camera, and Instagram is my gallery—and I revel in the constraints of my phone camera. The limitations of the camera give me parameters for which to compose shots: like never or rarely using the zoom due to its decrease in image quality, and the lack of any real camera adjustments for exposure and shutter speed. I compose shots always with the principles of composition, geometry, texture, and light, with composition being the most important of them. A key component of a shot for me is the relationship between buildings when there is more than one and the interesting composition they make as neighbors. My process is usually one of speed. I walk fast, usually only staying a few minutes at most stops. I am held captive by the weather and the sun’s position for lighting when I walk past a building. I do all editing on my phone and use two apps for it: Snapseed and PS Touch (PhotoShop Touch). My simple and fast edits involve adjustments to contrast, brightness, rotation, color saturation, and cropping to the Instagram square for most shots. As the grown version of that child, I simply am attempting to capture an image that makes the imagination soar.

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About the photographer

Keith Clark headshotKeith Clark was born and raised in southern Indiana and received bachelor’s degrees in architecture and environmental design from Ball State University. While studying architecture, he took photography courses, which taught him the basics of camera use and darkroom techniques. While practicing architecture for more than 15 years, he was involved with projects from museums, universities, corporations, and resorts to private residences. During that time, he developed the skills for architectural photography and photographed many projects for clients, artistically and skillfully documenting the space. As a result of this background, he is a self-proclaimed building nerd. 

As a commercial architectural photographer, Clark’s work has been published in various magazines, and he has photographed numerous projects across the U.S., with a focus on interiors. Though most of that work was not ideally staged or had the preferred time of day for shots, he worked within the given time and conditions, much like his Instagram photography. Outside of his Instagram work, he has numerous prints in private collections and hospitality settings. 

His inspirations are classic architectural photographers like Ezra Stoller and Julius Shulman and the many Instagram users that he follows. Unlike most photographers, his Instagram work lives in the digital world only, except on the very rare occasion that he prints one for himself or someone else.

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