Photography by design

Find a photographic style is something which usually takes time, but for Linda Wride it has developed from her love of art, shape and form; something which was present from a very young age and is now coming through in her images.

An eye for the elements

It should come as no surprise that many with a passion for design and architecture also love photography as an expressive art form, especially as the elements of design – shape, line, colour and texture – are very much integral to both. For British-born urban planner, Linda Wride, her love of art, architecture and these design elements all come together in her photography. 

Light on red, Newcastle, UK

From a very young age, art was part of Linda’s life. However she was advised not to seek a career in it, but rather to consider a future in the built environment and to study as a town planner, one of the few professions where women had the same career opportunities as men at that time. Enjoying art and design as a personal interest, rather than a career, allows her more flexibility in deciding what and where to photograph, plus the freedom to combine this with her other passion – travel.

Rail journeys to some of Europe’s finest cities and architectural jewels during her school days were key in setting Linda’s course. Moscow, St Petersburg, Copenhagen, Riga imprinted their elegant and impressive architecture, shapes, form and colours, on her memory and imagination so the direction her career took should be no surprise. 

Discovering design

In photography she has found the perfect companion. It gives her the freedom to express herself, both artistically, but also less rigidly and conventionally without the constraints which might be felt by those who come to it through formal training in architecture and design. It’s an interesting reversal. Throughout her career, Linda has interpreted architect’s two-dimensional drawings and imagined them as three dimensional structures. In contrast, photography takes the three-dimensional and tries to make it work in two.

Clockwise from top left: Steps and sun loungers, Santorini, Greece; Dutch gables #11, Zandaam, Netherlands; Electrifying Greenwich Design District, London, UK; Mural Rosa #53, Calpe, Spain.

If would be fair to say that Linda’s photography is composition-lead. She has a great instinctive eye for shape, pattern, colour and texture and combines this very effectively with use of light and shadow to create strong, impactful imagery. What she creates now is very much the result of her photographic development to date and the journey, which she’s still on, is now taking her in other directions too.

Blending genres

She is discovering and experimenting every time she goes out with a camera and, working often in urban environments, street photography is on her radar – portraiture or rather informal portraiture rather than studio. It is, of course, a very different genre to get to grips with and she freely admits that while her first attempts left something to be desired, getting out of her architectural comfort zone has opened up new creative ideas. 

The contrast between photographing a fixed structure, which doesn’t fight back, and an often fast-moving environment, where the image can be there and gone within a fraction of a second, could not be more stark. To come at this from a compositionally strong viewpoint, though, can be very rewarding. Of course, if you can shoot both architecture and street, then the landscape outside of the urban environment is also at your mercy and with the natural world so full of shapes, colours, forms and textures – many of which inspired the architectural elements which Linda is so familiar with – it is a somewhat natural progression and evolution of her imagery.

Clockwise from top left: L’Ombre de la chaise, Santorini, Greece; Mural Rosa #11, Calpe, Spain; View from Down Under, Frankfurt, Germany; Mural Rosa #3, Calpe, Spain; Choose Me, Tate Modern, London; Beyond the Barrier, Amsterdam, Netherlands; Colourways #19, Eastbourne, UK; Diagonal Facade, Rotterdam, Netherlands; Prismatic Caixa Forum, Madrid, Spain

Refining a vision

There was a time when photographers could focus on picture making; a time when the film went off to the lab for processing and printing while the photographer focused on creating more images. That time has, of course, passed so both are now skills which photographers have to develop too. For many photographers that starts and ends on a computer screen, but for those of us who learned basic darkroom skills, that experience is something which helps us, both in picture making and in processing. And the excitement of seeing your image emerge from a plain sheet of paper under gentle red light is something which never leaves us. For Linda, she was lucky enough to have had the darkroom experience when she was younger so, despite no formal training, she is picking up the digital version quickly and with enthusiasm.

Stars & Stripes Reflected, New York City, USA

Certainly with her architectural shots, Linda’s style is evident and distinctive, at least to the viewer if not so much to her. Developing a style is something which many photographers worry about, but it evolves naturally over time without most of us even realising. You can’t force it. The seeds were sown with Linda in her youth and it has evolved very much from her love of art and professional background working with urban environments. So it will be very interesting to see if this carries through into her street photography and her environmental landscapes, or whether these different genres evolve in different directions.

Redhead, Oxfordshire, UK; Cool Driving, Havana, Cuba

Who is Linda Wride and where is she going?

How would you sum up Linda’s photography? Graphic, intriguing, eye-catching, unconventional? All of these, but looking at her work you can’t help feeling that there is more to come and a highly engaging collection starting to emerge. We started talking about space… so watch this one and see how Linda’s creativity fills it.

Look At This, London, UK; Tail Ends, Camargue, France; Siesta in the Shade, Cuba

If you’d like to see more of Linda Wride’s photography then check her out at:  

Shot By Women 

@lindawride on Instagram, Vero and Threads

Linda is also a member of SheClicks, a friendly, informative community for female photographers


By Chris Coe

Chris is a professional photographer, and the founder of Travel Photographer of the Year. He has been working as a professional photographer since 1992, shooting both editorial and advertising photography, and has published over 50 books. He lectures on and teaches photography, mentors and is a competition judge.