A Tribute to the Many Photographers that Make SDAF Look so Good!

You cannot be in the design industry, or outside of it for that matter, and not be captivated by some form of photography. Like many people, I want to be a better photographer than I actually am, but that doesn’t stop me from taking photos of almost anything with all kinds of filters, angles & settings. With the ability to share them instantly on Instagram, I can fake it until I make it one day.

Regardless of my abilities, I have been lucky to know many amazing architectural photographers over the years that have supported SDAF. To say thank you, I want to introduce you to a few of the people behind the lens of our programs and social media content. Before I get started, I apologize, but I will not get to everyone and that I may miss some people (it’s been a few years!).

First, I want to mention Darren Bradley of Darren Bradley Architecture. When I first saw Darren’s work, he was merely doing it for a bit of fun. Fast forward a decade later, he is a multi-award-winning, international man of mystery and a celebrity known in the Instagram world as @modarchitecture.

Darren began his involvement with SDAF through the Orchids & Onions program. Growing up, he wanted to be an Architect. Still, for various reasons, it wasn’t to be. Volunteering with the Orchids & Onions program gave Darren the ability to connect with some of the region’s most dynamic designers from across the industry. He used his passion for photography to elevate SDAF’s photography game. Darren took a leadership role coordinating a team of photographers from across the county to capture all of the award winners, a position he embraced for several years running. As impressive as Darren’s leadership and photography of the awards were, the intimate moments along the Jury Tour’s that he captured still make me smile today. Darren joined us and captured the candid moments as the jury and volunteers ventured out for day tours of the county.

The experience he gained and the support of his work gave Darren the confidence to become a commercial photographer of architecture. He continues to this day all over the world. To see more of his work, check out

In 2016, after four years behind the Orchids & Onions lens, Darren was invited to sit on the jury, which left a gap in our volunteer team. Still, it wasn’t long before Ian Patzke, a recent graduate of the NewSchool of Architecture & Design, put his hand up to lead the Orchids & Onions photography team. Ian brought youthful enthusiasm and jumped into the challenge like a seasoned veteran. Nothing phases Ian; he has a heart of gold and a solid eye for his photography. Like Darren, it was more than just the photos he captured for SDAF – his leadership, coupled with his laughter, kept us all in good spirits during the many volunteer sessions and program planning. Ian, too, came along on the jury tours and found his way to capture the little moments that made the tour memorable.

One year, we were stopping for an afternoon cocktail (I mean, a tour stop to see a project) at Cutwater Spirits. Ian stops me and says, “Pauly, hold up that drink!” and caught the photo below. Now granted, that is a ridiculously sized cocktail, but in my defense, I was not driving the tour bus, and in general, what happens on jury tours should stay on jury tours!

You can check out Ian’s work at, and be sure to check out his Instagram @ian.patzke. Even better, connect with Ian – he is one of those guys you want to grab a beer and swap stories with.

The last photographer highlighted in this post is Jim Brady. Jim played a vital role in the recent success of 2021 OH! San Diego program. Invited by SDAF Director Kathy Breedlove, Jim became involved because he believes in our mission to inspire San Diegans to get out and explore our region. He took his camera out and captured places like the City Heights Skate Park, followed by MLK Jr Way in Broadway Heights, a residential neighborhood in Southeast San Diego. It recognizes Dr. King and civil rights progress in a community where that progress directly affects most residents.

In National City, Jim encountered historic structures and in San Marcos visited a couple of colleges, one very new and the other with a midcentury core. There are under-appreciated or at least less well-known but worthy examples of the built environment all over the county.

You can find Jim’s work at and connect with his Instagram @bradyarchitecturalphotography.

The great thing about all SDAF’s volunteers is our relationships while working together to plan the fantastic programs we do. Our volunteers become family; we share laughs, push through the stressful moments, and somehow make it all work, all while enriching each other. Every one of our photographers has contributed so generously with their time and talents. While I know I have not been able to get to everyone yet, I will hopefully connect with others and share their work.

In the meantime, I want to be sure to mention a few more of the amazing photographers that have contributed to SDAF over the years.

Mike Torrey – @miketorreyphoto

Maha Bazzari – @linetecture

Jerry Shonkwiler –

Michael Auda – @auda_auda_photography

Ian Cummings –

Jackie Kowalik – @kowalibear

Milan Kovacevic – @milankphoto

Photo of the La Jolla Life Guard Station by the collaboration of Hector Perez & RNT Architects, by Darren Bradley

Photo of You Are Here in Golden Hill by the guys at FoundationForForm, by Darren Bradley

Photo of our 2014 Orchids & Onions Jury, by Darren Bradley

Photo of Grand Orchid Winner St. Thomas More Catholic Church, by Ian Patzke

Photo of yours truly enjoying that over-sized cocktail, by Ian Patzke

Photo of 2017 Jury member Doug Austin of AVRP Studios sketching the Japanese Gardens in Balboa Park, by Ian Patzke

Photo of the City Heights Skate Park, by Jim Brady

“The entire vocabulary for this building comes together in this small section.” – Jim Brady

Chula Vista Library, by Jim Brady

Photo of 2013 Orchids & Onions Jury Member Frank Wolden sketching, by Jerry Shonkwiler

And there will be lots more to come when I focus a future blog on some of the other photographers that I mentioned.

Contact Us

San Diego Architectural Foundation



P.O. Box 122228
San Diego, CA 92112-2228
Federal Tax ID: 95-3513927

Sign Up

Stay on top of your Architectural news

San Diego Architectural Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to education and promotion of outstanding architecture, planning and urban design throughout the San Diego region.

Get in the Mix