Palomar College TLC / San Marcos, California


As a professional architectural photographer in California, I am often able to showcase structures that serve a worthy purpose to the community while serving the area with stunning architecture and interior design. Many of the locations I’ve been afforded the opportunity to shoot offer a wealth of meaningful art as well as meaningful missions. The Palomar College Teaching & Learning Center is yet another venue where I am able to illuminate a site that accomplishes the task of serving the public good while providing breathtaking elements of artistic design. The Palomar College Teaching & Learning Center is located in Escondido, CA and sits perfectly within the campus of Palomar College. The Teaching and Learning Center combines several essential functions of the college in delivering ample means for students and faculty to collaborate for an effective and innovative instructional strategy. Among the abilities afforded by the design of the campus include a vast centralized meeting space where students and instructors are able to gather for a litany of instructional purposes. The structural key to this space is the open style that invites an unobstructed landscape where information is easily and comfortably communicated in a warm and relaxing manner. You can see how this level of comfort is conducive to an environment where learning becomes easier and student and faculty goals are easily pursued.

Outside, the scene of the main facility rests beautifully within the natural landscape. California’s renowned sunny weather allows for natural light to accentuate the nuances of the architecture. The asymmetrical lines of the Teaching and Learning Center provides a unique and invigorating appeal that adds to this uncommon balance of form and function.

As with all of the projects I pursue as a professional architectural photographer, capturing the various facets of the building required that I first view the structure and its surroundings from all angles to really appreciate the overall vision. It is this preparation that allowed me to find the right angles, under the optimum lighting conditions to convey the very best images possible.

North City Campus / San Diego, California


San Diego architectural building photographer, Emil Kara recently photographed The North City Campus - a new, two-story, 42,000-square-foot facility located in San Diego, California. It is designated as the Campus of Excellence for Multimedia and Innovation for San Diego Continuing Education. The new facility includes general classroom space, computer labs, multipurpose space, and administrative offices to support the business technology curriculum. The building has been designated as “The Center for Technological Excellence” at SDCCD and is targeting LEED® Platinum. Sustainability is incorporated into the overall design with features such as an open air courtyard that provides day lighting and natural ventilation opportunities to the majority of interior spaces. Other areas of focus include energy and water use reduction, and storm water retention for landscape irrigation. The North City Campus manages to take the most cutting-edge ideas for efficiency and match it with forward-thinking design and construction. Most notably in the design choices for the builders and designers is the way the North City Campus is able to seamlessly blend the outside environment to the interior spaces of the structure.

You’ll notice in several areas of the building how the outside is brought inside. Some of the usable spaces are so mindful of the outdoors that it isn’t clear which parts of the building are considered indoors and which are decidedly outdoors – a benefit of the moderate and comfortable weather that only Southern California affords.

The building photography shows a brilliant eye for capturing the unique design both as a structure able to accommodate study but also as a way for architecture to serve as a means of community art on a grand scale. Kara’s style of photography specifically frames the building’s interior space as well as the ways in which The North City Campus brings a vibrant and modern scene to the region.


As any Sand Diego architectural photographer who has done college photography can tell you, the newer buildings in the area commonly include features for conservation and efficiency. The Mathematics & Business building at Miramar College consists of approximately 45,899 gross square feet and 32,100 assignable square feet of new metal building construction. Designed by Baker Nowicki Design Studio, includes new “smart” classrooms equipped with computers, audiovisual and multimedia equipment. A mathematics research center and related office space for faculty and support staff are also included in the space. The new classroom building was awarded a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification for sustainable and green design by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). Aside from the technical aspects of the Math and Business Building at Miramar College, the existing structure and the projects that are under construction are designed to combine the open layout that makes for comfortable learning and an artistic expression of architecture that made this subject a joy to photograph.

The few images seen here allow you to see the massive size of the structure on the exterior as well as the way the size of the building is used inside for the students and faculty staff. The picture of the computer lab includes a staple of Southern California architecture; the useful incorporation of windows to take full advantage of the ample supply of natural lighting.

A San Diego architectural photographer is not limited to taking photos of corporate sites, so when I have an opportunity to participate in a session where the subject is a public structure for education or research, I am always eager to showcase the blend of design genius and utility of the buildings. I can only imagine how the newest parts of the college will take this sort of design even further.

Riverside Community College Nursing and Sciences Complex

I just wrapped up another architectural photography shoot in Riverside, California. The riverside Community College’s new Nursing and Science Education Building, designed by GKK Works, includes approximately 135,000 square-feet of educational space for the nursing and science college programs. The four-story southeast wing of the structure was designed specifically for math and science programs and includes lecture halls and support offices such as experimental, computer and study laboratories. The exterior of the building was carefully designed to promote student activity in a calm, open, and refreshing environment. The arched walkways are designed to reflect the “Old Missionary” architectural style of the campus and include a small amphitheater, and an inviting courtyard leading out to a healing garden within a short distance from the building.

My goal for this session was to capture the mood of the facility as a building. Previous projects have shown the combination of structure and staff. This shoot was intended to deliver the idea that the facility itself could be used as a motivating and comfortable environment for the nurses and other healthcare practitioners who work here every day.

As you peruse the images, notice the clean and modern feel of the railings and tile work. This theme is accented by the warmth of the wood grain seen on the walls and beams that stretch high into the ceilings. I think this combination is a perfect way to represent the nature of work for the staff. They are professional and highly-trained and also warm, compassionate, and dedicated practitioners.

The use of natural lighting works to conserve energy and deliver the healing rays from the sun. Students and nurses can feel the warmth of the southern California sun while they learn – all while protecting the environment through energy conservation. Architectural photography often allows us to see what is important to the designers and builders. In the case of the Riverside Community College – Nursing & Science/Math Complex, it’s apparent that what is most important is the ability of the complex to enable the staff and students to achieve their best work.


One thing common when shooting high school photography is the many structures that use natural light. In southern California, the sun is an unavoidable perk of living and working in the region. The sun is also an ever-present source of heart and light. Many structures, like the Del Norte High School campus, make full use of the sun light as an effective way to heat and light the students and faculty staff.

The high school was designed by NTD Architecture, is located in 4S Ranch, a community of San Diego, California. The campus covers 210,093 square feet of land and has state-of-the-art facilities. The modern campus boasts some truly efficient and inviting features including five art labs, two music classrooms, and a drama classroom. Also included in the gorgeous campus are 11 career-technical education classrooms and a Performing Arts Center with a Fine Arts Village designed to blend traditional mediums of visual arts, drama and music.

One thing that struck me as remarkable about the Del Norte High School campus was the way the facilities looked more like those you would find on a small college campus. The auditorium is vast and has seating that brings to mind some of the professional performance halls in the area and beyond. The gymnasium, again utilizing the abundance of natural light that San Diego provides, could be well-placed on the campus of some of the nearby universities.

A San Diego architectural photographer can get used to seeing the array of structural artistry around the county, but when you come to a school like Del Norte, you are instantly reminded that there is nothing common or standard about the type of construction at work. Inside of the building and outside make up a creative use of space and environment and a place where students and staff can learn and perform at their very best.

UC Riverside School of Medicine / Riverside, California


As a professional architectural photographer involved with university photography, the real joy is found in discovering new ways to capture works of design art. There were ample opportunities for appreciation at the UC Riverside School of Medicine. The subject of this shoot was the three-story School of Medicine Research Building located in Riverside, California. Designed by SRG Partnership, the structure spans approximately 58,000 square feet designed to meet the LEED Silver sustainability standards of the U.S. Green Building Council. Among the many facets of the building that caught my eye, the fascinating parts of learning about the complex were found in the details of the school’s commitment to efficiency and conservation. The research building utilizes natural day lighting and a “night flushing” cooling system to take advantage of cool nighttime air, thereby reducing energy usage for air conditioning. A portion of the building materials have recycled content and the landscaping is water-efficient.

You will notice from the images that the building embodies a forward-thinking design concept. Inside, the interior design shows a modern and clean look. You can almost feel the technology in the images – a sense of the technical genius that is applied to the research conducted at the school.

A professional architectural photographer is at his or her best when the subject of the shoot is able to stand as it is rather than be used to project a predetermined mood. I had no intentions to make anything new out of the building but rather to find and capture the ways in which the structure shines on its own.

The most important part of the facility is the staff of students and other researchers who utilize the building for their important work. These images show a building that is able to accommodate the professionals who work tirelessly to further the study of medicine. You can imagine that this stunning structure will continue to be the setting for groundbreaking research for years to come.

San Dieguito Performing Arts Center

Of the many benefits of being involved with performing arts center photography are the countless opportunities to photograph stunning buildings that utilize the normally gorgeous climate. This brand new arts center is now part of the San Dieguito Academy campus located in Encinitas, California. The facility, design by JSFA, includes a 225-seat theater, an outdoor stage, and a 3,700-square-foot music room. Technically, the structure uses soundproof practice rooms and a recording studio to accommodate the artists who call the performing arts center their home away from home. For this project, the client had an urgent need for the photos which left me little time to shoot the center. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate. The exterior photography of the building had to be completed under overcast skies and fog. This presented me with the challenge of making adjustments in post-processing.

Overall, through crafty photography and expert post-processing fixes, the images turned out brilliant.

As you can imagine, the goal in constructing a performance art facility is to create a space that allows the performers to practice their craft in comfort. The wide-open venue gives a feel of freedom for the students while maintaining all of the technical acoustic attributes that makes the center capable of top-notch function. You will note that the music room pictured is spacious enough to allow the director the ability to arrange the players in a variety of ways. There is plenty of room for the percussion section to move closer or farther away from the other instrumentalists to match the balance that the orchestra can expect when performing before an audience.

All in all, this was a stand-out project in my career as a San Diego architectural photographer. From the challenge of the weather to the stunning and useful structure itself, there is plenty about this session that will remain with me going forward.