All photographs © 2010 Michael Beggs. I put these online for the enjoyment of friends, family, and the occasional stranger because there are surprisingly few good photographs of the Robie House. Please do not use them without my permission, and I mean this!
I think part of the reason there are so few good photographs of the house is that many of the spaces are difficult to photograph well, if at all. As you can see, I used a wide-angle lens to capture much of this. If I had an SLR with a removable lens, I might have chosen a tighter lens for less distortion, but really one needs a view camera to do good architectural photography anyways, so I doubt it would have helped much. The most unfortunate thing about lens distortion is that the house is built on the use of the right angle (I’m sure someone could come up with a halfway-decent pun on right-Wright), and so the elements that look so straight in the house are a bit curvy in my photographs. As I’m learning at the Art Institute, Chicago has a great history of Architectural Photographers that includes C. D. Arnold, John Szarkowsky, Aaron Siskind, Richard Nickel, and Bob Thall. It’s a shame that this house hasn’t gotten a going-over from a particularly talented Architectural Photographer. Maybe they’re waiting to finish the restoration before setting someone loose. In any case, it deserves a good photographer.