A year after transitioning from architecture to architectural photography full-time, I wanted to share some initial thoughts comparing and contrasting the two professions. Hopefully, this will resonate with others who have, or are considering, making a similar sort of career transition.
Let’s face it, 2020 was rough. And while the new year will by no means see a complete return to anything resembling normal – there are certainly reasons to be hopeful. Vaccines are already beginning to be distributed in many countries and, more specific to our line of work, the construction industry seems to be picking back up.
What do you get when you bring together a hotel brand known for producing design excellence to traditionally less-traveled locales, a gorgeous, geographically-unique location, and an architecture firm known for designing some of the most extraordinary cultural buildings in the world’s most populous country?
As I continue to mature as a photographer, I am finding that I learn most from fellow peers who share a more in-depth analysis about a single image – taking us through their thought process in how they constructed the image and why they chose a certain composition or a particular way to light the scene.
Qi Xi is a Shanghai-based landscape architectural photographer. He and I met earlier this year at a mutual friend’s art salon where we both presented some of our respective work. Qi has been capturing some of the most significant landscape architectural designs all across China and I absolutely love his work.
German photographer, Hans Georg (HG) Esch is one of the world’s most acclaimed architectural photographers. HG Esch lives and works in Hennef / Stadt Blankenberg, Germany, but his work spans the globe, with a particular emphasis on some of the most significant projects in China. So when I saw that he had photographed the recently completed supertall CITIC Tower in Beijing, I knew I wanted to interview him to gain some insight into his process as well as share the gorgeous imagery with our audience.
Israeli-Canadian architect, Moshe Safdie, first visited China in 1973. Little did he know then, that nearly five decades later, he would realize one of the largest, most audacious architectural projects not only in China but on the entire planet.
Raffles City Chongqing is the latest city-defining mega-project designed by Safdie, one that has been beautifully captured by Chinese-American filmmaker Jia Li.
German architect Ole Scheeren’s TED talk from a few years ago has inspired me both as an architect and a photographer. Founder and principal of the architecture firm that bears his name, Büro Ole Scheeren, Scheeren’s talk underscores his belief that ‘form follows fiction’ and that buildings must do much more than simply provide form to accommodate functional needs.
Do I need a tilt-shift lens to photograph tall buildings? It’s a question I get a lot. The quick answer is pretty straightforward. Do you want to do it professionally? If so, yes, you need one (actually you need two). Do you want to do it as a hobby? Then no, you absolutely do not need one.
I am absolutely infatuated with tall buildings. Mike Kelley has his airplanes, I’ve got my skyscrapers. Or so I thought. For more than two decades, China (where I am based) has experienced unprecedented growth in the number of constructed high-rise buildings, but alas we may be seeing the end of an era for skyscrapers in the Middle Kingdom.
When it comes to public architecture, photographers are typically tasked with capturing a building prior to it becoming fully operational or occupied. This makes sense in many ways. Larger scale architecture can take years of effort to realize, and architecture firms rightfully want to start integrating photos of the building into their marketing efforts as quickly as possible.
As the pandemic brought on by COVID-19 rages on, traveling beyond our city limits (or perhaps even our living rooms) remains an unlikely reality, at least in the short term. Given that many of us are stuck at home, with more free time on our hands than we’re used to, I wanted to share a couple of photographers’ personal projects dedicated to showcasing the role architecture can play in crafting our sense of ‘home.’
Nancy Da Campo is an Italian photographer specialized in architecture, interiors, and the built environment. Educated as an architect, Nancy combines that experience with her passion for travel to chart a unique course within the architectural photography industry. Previously based in London and Paris, and now location independent (more on that below), she has worked internationally with architects, interior designers, cultural institutions, tourism boards, as well as numerous brands.
In his recently published book, Beautified China: The Architectural Revolution, Belgian photographer Kris Provoost carefully curates dozens of the nation’s most spectacular architectural wonders. Focused on showcasing iconic projects dating back to the lead-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the book is a photo essay providing an abstracted, stylized glimpse into some of the China’s boldest, most dynamic buildings that collectively make up what Provoost dubs ‘the architectural revolution.’