Twenty Pictures of the Robie House

2-January 2010.

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.


2 Responses to “Twenty Pictures of the Robie House”

  1. Susan Robie Says:

    Good evening, Michael, Your photos are splendid. And you are so right…there are few, if any, photos of the interior. You were most fortunate to gain access to the second floor. When I was there in 2006, there was no public allowed on the 2nd floor, but I was most fortunate to see it. The Foundation is doing a fantastic restoration. Frederick was my great-uncle and my grandfather was named after him. I have been collecting Robie House memorabilia for a number of years. As you mention, there are very few good photos of the house and I was wondering if you would be interested in the sale of some of your prints to be included in my collection? I appreciate your interest in this most remarkable home, and I hope you will share it with me. Have a great evening, Susan Robie

  2. Florian Weber Says:

    Dear Mr. Beggs,

    my name is Florian Weber, I come from Germany and I study in university of Bonn.
    I study art-history and I will have a presentation about Frank Lloyd Wright and his prairy-houses in my architecturegroup. I wantedt to ask you, to show your “robie-house-photos” in my powerpoint presentation. I would use them just for presentation, and just one time and of course without financel background. Your photos are great and I would be very happy to show them my fellow students.
    Please write me, if it is possible.

    Best regards,
    Florian Weber

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