Michael Moran is an architectural photographer in New York.
I was born in California but spent most of my childhood overseas, in Burma, Turkey, Colombia and Pakistan. My father was an engineering geologist who worked on hydroelectric dams. We eventually returned to California, where I studied biology and sculpture at the College of Creative Studies at UC Santa Barbara.
My first job out of college was working on the design and fabrication of a diorama at the Museum of Natural History in Santa Barbara, where I developed a fascination with the analysis and presentation of information. I decided to study exhibition design but applied to graduate programs in architecture as well, thinking that an architectural education would provide a strong design foundation. I received a MArch from UCLA in 1982.
While in graduate school I worked part time in the studio of Frank Gehry, and I continued working there full time after I graduated. While in Gehry’s studio I was asked, with no prior experience, to photograph the models I was making. I discovered an aptitude and a joy in this work and quickly taught myself photography. With Gehry’s encouragement, I began to photograph buildings in construction, then the completed buildings. I bought a large format camera and was soon taking photographs that were published in the architectural press worldwide, even as I continued (with diminishing enthusiasm) to work as an architect.
In 1985 I moved to New York City to begin a full-time practice in architectural photography. I’ve been fortunate to work with many talented architects, designers, and editors. My relationship with Toshio Nakamora of A+U began with his publication of my photographs of Gehry’s work. We collaborated on books on New York architecture of the 20th Century and Philip Johnson’s Glass House. I photographed the work of Roberto Burle Marx for an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, and have published books on the work of Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, John Johansen, and Rafael Moneo.
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