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From Ordinary to Eye-Catching



Jason Hunter’s architectural photos with his Tamron 18-300mm VC all-in-one zoom lens uncover the hidden appeal in everyday scenes.


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By Jenn Gidman
Images by Jason Hunter


When you first glance at a Jason Hunter image, you might wonder why something so seemingly simple is still so visually appealing. After all, the Virginia photographer’s fascination with local structures and buildings—he loves to spend time in nondescript parking lots and strip malls—doesn’t showcase the typical action shot, portrait, or sunset-colored landscape that many other photographers chase after. But Jason’s final product offers a big payoff for the viewer via a style of architectural photography he calls a mixture of minimalism and new topographics—seeking beauty in the banality of everyday scenes that others might overlook.

“I like minimalism, but I don't want my photos to be completely minimalist,” he says. “I want there to be some context for the viewer in addition to the mailbox or building corner I’m shooting, whether that’s through shadows, shapes, patterns, or even the building’s texture. I don’t like people in my photos, and I tend to shoot the same four or five types of photos everywhere I go. I look for scenes that have lines and eye-catching colors, then use lighting and shadows to make the mundane seem prettier.”

Take building corners, for instance. “I line them all up the same way, shoot them all the same way, then crop them the same way, so that I have a cohesive series of images that differ in the details, not necessarily the composition,” he says. “If you put all of these images side by side, they look unique but still joined. That way, I have a body of work, not just random pictures of corners and mailboxes.”

Jason used to gravitate strictly to prime lenses, but then he discovered the Tamron 18-300mm Di III-A VC VXD all-in-one zoom lens. “Having the 18-300 has been fantastic,” he says. “Being able to just carry one lens instead of three primes has lightened my gear bag and made it possible to always be ready to take pictures. I drive everywhere in my truck, and not having to bring so much with me has been a lifesaver. The lens is also incredibly sharp throughout the entire focal-length range, which isn’t what you usually expect from a zoom lens.”

What Jason especially loves about his style of photography is that he can whip out his camera anywhere, at any time, even when he’s just running errands around town. “I'm a firm believer that it doesn't matter where you live—there's always something interesting to take pictures of,” he says. “You don’t have to go to San Francisco or Iceland to take beautiful photos. Even on a more local level, I could head to Virginia Beach to shoot the sunsets, or to Norfolk for some street photography, but I mainly just hang around my little section in Chesapeake. If I can make that warehouse down the street look attractive, then I’ve done my job.”

Read on to see how Jason used his 18-300 to capture the nooks and crannies of his little corner of the Old Dominion.

© Jason Hunter
18-300mm (23mm), F/5.6, 1/1600 sec., ISO 320
Click image to view larger

I enjoy searching for mailboxes to photograph. They’re a routine part of our lives that many people don’t think about, let alone take pictures of. What I liked about this particular mailbox is how the one pole in effect turns into two poles with its shadow, which lines up straight with the mailbox. I also like how that colorful “P” offsets the window on the other side. It’s not a complete mirror image, but I was drawn enough to its symmetry to want to photograph it.

© Jason Hunter
18-300mm (34mm), F/5.6, 1/1000 sec., ISO 160
Click image to view larger

This is the same building as the one with the mailbox, about two stores down. I liked the color contrast here—the blue sky against the reddish-brown of the roof and bright red of the “Donations Needed” sign. Even though I generally tried to follow the rule of thirds for this photo, I also wanted to incorporate the two poles in a way that makes the photo seem just a little “off.” At a quick first glance, the poles look symmetrical, but the one on the left is actually the shadow of one of the poles, not the pole itself. Same with the parking-space lines in the lot leading up to the sidewalk. All of those slightly out-of-sync elements make your mind work just a little harder and wonder, “What’s going on here?”

© Jason Hunter
18-300mm (42mm), F/5.6, 1/750 sec., ISO 320
Click image to view larger

© Jason Hunter
18-300mm (32mm), F/5.6, 1/950 sec., ISO 160
Click image to view larger

Not many people know this, but Dollar Tree is headquartered here in Chesapeake. This is the awning of the building, and, as usual, I was drawn in by one of the building’s corners. Even though I tend to shoot building corners in a similar way, I also try to look for what makes each one unique. Here, I liked the way the image has that second supplementary corner in the lower left-hand side of the frame, for kind of a double corner effect. I had to walk back and forth and experiment with different focal-length ranges until I was able to capture the look I wanted. The second photo drew me in due to the two different textures, as well as the color contrast.

© Jason Hunter
18-300mm (59mm), F/5.6, 1/400 sec., ISO 320
Click image to view larger

This Cadillac is kind of an ugly brown, but it’s still a classic car that looks so cool. I wanted to zoom in a bit and photograph just a section of it, to make it more flat-looking. I liked how “Cadillac” is stamped onto the mirror like that, amid the shiny chrome touches. I also liked how, from this angle, the untinted windows reflected the clouds just a little to add an extra visual element to the photo.

© Jason Hunter
18-300mm (32mm), F/5.6, 1/900 sec., ISO 160
Click image to view larger

This was taken at an old Kmart in town. I’m adopted, and my parents used to joke with me when I was younger that they bought me there on a blue-light special. This image was part of a series of similar photos featuring a building pole and its shadow, which in tandem create a whole new shape. I also like to use these photos to call attention to different textures in buildings and structures. Here you have the horizontal painted white brick of the pole, contrasted with the vertical lines of the building. You can tell it’s an older building, just by looking at the texture of that wall. It speaks subtly to the history of the place.

© Jason Hunter
18-300mm (55mm), F/5.6, 1/950 sec., ISO 160
Click image to view larger

This photo was taken at a local shopping mall that’s, sadly, been abandoned. I was coming around the corner, noticed the light poles in the parking lot all lined up, and thought it would make for an interesting image. I didn’t want them to be lined up perfectly straight in the photo, however, so I rode around slowly until I found the perspective I wanted. I liked how the pole in the background is turned just a little, like it’s facing the pole in the foreground. I wanted this image to look as minimalist as possible, with all of the viewer’s concentration set solely on the two poles.

To see more of Jason Hunter’s work, check out his Instagram.






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