Of all of the categories for the 2021 Architectural Photography Awards, the Early Career and Emerging Talent award was hands down the most popular. Not only were we blown away by the sheer quantity of new architectural and interiors photographs on the scene, but also by the high quality of the submissions. You all are talented and fast learners! The judges would agree, as indicated by the 2021 Emerging Talent Longlist.
The longlist resulted in a lot of hubbub about what qualifies as “emerging talent.” We ask you to remember that our overarching qualification for the emerging talent award was that entrants had to be practicing architecture photography for five years or less at the time of their submission. Each submission had to contain three images that were the best representations of their work, and who they are as photographers. It didn’t matter who their clients are, what their past career was, or how often they’d been published (or not), so long as they had been shooting architecture and interiors for 5 years or less.
Each finalist has been vetted in-depth to ensure that they are abiding by our (relatively straightforward) rules. We also asked them to tell us a little about their career so far, how they got started, and where they hope to be in the future.
Up for grabs were the 2021 Early Career and Emerging Talent trophy, along with $1,500 USD for the winner of the award. The second-place prize took home $500 USD and a smaller, but still architect-designed Early Career and Emerging Talent runner-up trophy. Our shortlist is comprised of the 10 highest scoring entries from the contest – a winner, a runner-up, and 8 honorable mention submissions.
We are excited to share the judges’ choices for the 10 emerging talent superstars in the architectural photography field!
Ethan Gordon is an architectural photographer in Northern California.
He shares “I started photography when I was 13. In the past, my main interests were landscape, surf, and street photography, but I’ve always loved architecture and design. For the last year, I’ve worked as an assistant to noted California architectural photographer Matthew Millman, so I owe almost everything I know about photographing architecture and interiors to him — he’s a true master. But all in all, I’m a complete novice and nobody in this industry; no one has yet hired me to photograph a building, and I only started sending my work out to architects a few weeks ago.
My approach to shooting architecture is pretty simple — I try to use natural light exclusively, and wait for the right time of day to capture the moment. I like to look for moments that feel ‘cinematic’ — I want to be able to convey a strong sense of mood in my photos. I think the good thing about photographing non-architectural subjects for so many years is that I have developed a strong visual identity in terms of my post-processing style, so I have a good sense of how the colors should look and feel even before I start editing. My main inspirations in photography are Chris Burkard, Morgan Maassen, Terrence Malick, Steve McCurry, Alex Webb, Peggy Sirota, Matthew Millman, and Joe Fletcher.
In five years, I hope to have established myself as a full-time architectural and editorial photographer, telling stories about how good design can make our lives better.”
Judge Ryan Gobuty describes Ethan’s work as “serene, peaceful, articulate.” We completely agree. Congratulations Ethan!
Piotr Hraptovich is a photographer in Basel, Switzerland whose emphasis is on architecture and infrastructure. Piotr works exclusively with film – a passion that started when he was just a teenager with a second-hand 35mm camera. He now shoots with a large-format analog camera. Piotr has professional experience as an architect – collaborating on projects at Herzog & de Meuron. Piotr picked up architectural photography as a way to re-discover and study the built environment. His knowledge from his studies and career as an architect informs his photographic work.
Piotr shares “In film photography, many things depend on a projection of the image in one’s mind, with a great level of intuition involved, before obtaining any tangible result—just like a painter beginning to paint. This aspect brings an artistic layer and quality to the final image. With film, the inevitable moments of the unexpected give a photograph its own life.”
Piotr is currently at the beginning of his career as a professional architectural photographer, and would like to work globally on projects ranging in scale for architectural offices in different stages of their practices, providing a unique perspective on their work. At the same time, he would like to continue to pursue independent, conceptual artistic work.
Judge Aidan Imanova admired this entry for its overall strong framing, depth, and perspective.
Kevin Moravec is the photographer for Hufft, working out of Kansas City, MO., and Bentonville, AR.
Kevin lets us get to know him a bit by telling “My interest in photography began with documenting my travels, and was purely a hobby. I started photographing architecture almost 4 years ago when I was hired at Hufft, a design and fabrication studio. While my education and previous career experience had been mostly in graphic design, I was given the opportunity to capture some of the firm’s smaller spaces. Fast forward a few years, photographing projects at every scale now makes up most of my role.
The process of capturing architecture is unlike any other photography, posing its own unique challenges. I’ve been fortunate to learn from many talented photographers in the industry while also taking cues from architects and designers in the studio. Before every photo shoot, I meet with the design team to learn more about the project and its key moments. While on-site, I take multiple frames of each scene with the goal of showcasing the space in the best possible light. For me, merging these exposures in post-production is the most exciting part of the process.
The combination of design and fabrication at Hufft makes for an interesting subject on any given day. Single-family residences are my favorite assignments because there is always a very clear integration of architecture and fabrication. Our team has many exciting projects currently in progress across the country, and I look forward to capturing them as they take shape in the coming years.“
Judge Holly LaDue says “To me these three photos are all about light and shadows.”
In the first image we see from Kevin, judge LaDue says “This is such a well-photographed image of this building, and its interaction with its surroundings. You have the building reflected in the water, and you get a sense of this building’s scale in relation to its environment.” In regards to the interior photo, she says “These kinds of interiors can be hard to shoot, especially these angles, but this photographer did an excellent job of capturing a kind of movement of this interior creates. I love the shadows of the beams reflected on the wall at the right, and that you’re really getting a sense of the levels here.” To round things out, she remarks on Kevin’s last photo “We get the sun just setting (or rising?) beyond the open courtyard. It’s a dramatic sweep of the tiles in the foreground juxtaposed with the blue cloudy sky above. It’s a beautiful view of this property, framed head-on to take advantage of the views beyond. I like the third / third / third framing of the photo with the flooring at the bottom, the house, then the sky.”
Adrian Ozimek is an architectural photographer based out of Toronto, Canada. Adrian shares “I began shooting for clients in 2016 and made Architectural Photography my full-time endeavour in 2018. My previous background studying and working in the fields of visual art and architecture helped guide me to my current position.
During my studies, I admired the work of architects such as Alvaro Siza, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Shigeru Ban and Tadao Ando. Over time I began to recognize the significant role a published set of images had to play in our understanding of a project’s design intent, materiality and connection to its context.
Great architecture excites me, and I am heavily motivated by process. As a photographer, being fully committed to a personal project that takes me to new and unexpected places is still one of the most rewarding experiences to pursue.
Collaborating with architectural and design firms that continue to innovate, challenge convention, and create spaces where people live, work, and play, while respecting the environment is something that I continue to strive towards and hope to build upon over the next several years.“
Judge Noah Walker says “The lighting, composition, and tone all feels assured and confident. The photos are]minimal without being boring.”
Alexander Bogorodskiy is an architectural photographer based out of Portugal who has been photographing architecture since 2017.
Alex says “The way I got into professional photography was everything but conventional. I have a degree from a Swiss hospitality school. Nevertheless, my first job was at a real estate agency. I owe a lot to this job. I learned everything from door-knocking to closing deals on some very expensive properties that were selling in our area.
I also learned to like and appreciate architecture. At one point I came to the realization that I could help the agency by combining two of my burning passions – beautiful homes and photography. I was learning on the go – we had lots of properties with very poor images, so there was a huge field for practicing. A few months into this new venture I realized I could try and live off these skills.”
Alex is inspired by minimalist spaces with texture-rich materials like wood or concrete. He shares “Since the beginning I have been fascinated by those photographers who show the space in a realistic manner and bring that calming effect by masterfully capturing natural light, without resorting to artificial lighting or heavy post production.
Nowadays besides projects in Portugal, I am slowly starting to receive invitations for working abroad, so potentially in 5 years, I could be traveling overseas on regular basis. Nevertheless, my goal is not promoting my name just to have an overwhelming amount of work. At the moment I am focused on polishing my craft and working with a handful of clients who understand and value my approach. If I have a few more of these ‘high quality’ clients scattered around the globe, that would be a dream!”
Judge Eric Reinholdt says “I appreciated the handling of natural light in this set…This is a simple project that I know wasn’t simple to pull off (architecturally) and the photographs nicely complement it.”
Grant Davis is an architectural photographer from Marlborough, Aotearoa New Zealand.
“Anyone who has ever taken the risk to turn a passion into a business knows it’s a wild ride at the best of times. Now imagine jumping off the proverbial cliff in February 2020, one month prior to the entire world shutting down due to a pandemic. Speaking from experience, the best you can do is embrace the freefall,” Grant says.
“Becoming an architectural photographer has been a culmination of multiple passions throughout my life. In my professional life, I hold a Master’s Degree in Architecture and seven years of professional practice in residential architecture. In my personal life, I hold a camera, capturing candid photos of various bikepacking adventures, worldly travels or day-to-day interests. Naturally, I decided to take the plunge and
naïvely combine two of my passions, Architecture and Photography.
Being so new to this profession I struggle to say if I have found my style yet. If I was to take a snapshot of what excites me the most, I would say capturing people enjoying beautiful spaces, as well as discovering images that represent how these buildings are designed and drawn. This juxtaposition of crafting a set of elevations, and a set of perspectives creates a beautiful story of the building told through photography. I love what I am doing and the plan is to keep growing a client base big enough to do this full time.”
Eric Reinholdt tells us what he loves about this set, noting “These photographs make me want to learn more about (+ inhabit) these spaces. Strong compositions, balanced rich color tones, vivid material rendering, natural exposures, and use of daylight are deliberate, well-conceived, and appealing.”
Wellu Hämäläinen is Finnish architectural photographer with a background in commercial furniture and decor. During a year-long sabbatical, Wellu spent time pursuing his hobby of photography.
He shares “I am a creative person and I realized that I want to do something more creative work in the future, one that could somehow be associated with my hobby. During sabbatical, I bought a better camera and found interesting photography guides online related to architectural photography. Pretty soon I realized I had found myself a new interesting and challenging job. I started my new career in architectural photography in late 2017.”
Wellu goes on to tell “I am passionate about my work and I like challenges. I’m also very competitive and that drives me to produce the highest possible quality images for my customers through careful shooting and high-quality post-processing. The best and most motivating thing about my job is when I get good feedback from customers and I am able to exceed their expectations. I enjoy photographing large public buildings and to find the perfect conditions which emphasize the architecture. In my future business, I want to develop as a photographer, a producer of a better customer experience and also increase the awareness of my brand.”
Ryan says what we are all thinking here; “This is the best set of stair porn I’ve seen in a long time!” Holly expands on that, noting “I really liked how much movement and drama is contained in these three photographs. Interiors in general, can be harder to photograph well than exteriors. You’re relying almost entirely on the architecture rather than, say, a gorgeous sunset or surroundings.”
Joe Thomas is a New York-based photographer who has been practicing architectural photography professionally since 2020.
Joe gives us a look into his career and process, sharing “My interest in photography started when I moved to Boston to attend university. I grew up in Utah so living in the city was a big change for me and I loved to explore the beautiful streets and capture the historic architecture on my phone.
This hobby turned into a passion and I slowly gained more experience by working various photography internships throughout college. Once I graduated I moved to New York to pursue photography full time. Since moving here I’ve been lucky enough to work with some amazing clients in architecture, interiors, and hospitality.
My goal when creating photographs is to translate the feeling of being in the space to the viewer, so my process involves me soaking in the space before I pick up a camera. My favorite jobs are when I’m able to work closely with the architect or designer to learn and have a deeper understanding of the space. In the future, I just hope to continue to improve my skills to work with more clients whose projects I’m truly passionate about, as well as grow my team so I can put more of my effort into photography. If in five years I’m still doing what I am now I would be happy.”
Eric Reinholdt shares his favorite part of this entry, saying “This set of images have consistent contrast, rich, natural color tones, and they’re well-exposed”.
Announcing the 2021 APAlmanac Emerging Talent Runner-Up and Winner
Luke O’Donovan is an architectural photographer working in London.
Luke tells us a bit about himself, sharing “I’ve been fortunate to grow up in one of the world’s most eclectic cities in London, and my formative teenage years fell in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash — when the city was in a state of flux, and the creative renaissance of the internet era was arguably in its golden age. Photography was an excuse for me to explore the city, and that period sparked the curiosity for architecture that I still hold to this day.
After briefly flirting with the idea of becoming an architect (I lasted a whole three months at architecture school!), I remained on the fringes of that world working on several educational and public engagement projects, whilst developing my photography skills on the side. In 2018 I produced my first exhibition, on infrastructure around London, and things snowballed from there as I started to get my first commissioned projects.
I still have a million things to learn as a photographer, but what I’m most looking forward to in the next few years is continuing to develop my practice away from the camera. Some of the most memorable moments of my career so far have come in the last two years, from trying my hand at launching an online photography festival, co-curating a multi-city exhibition, and establishing a mentorship initiative to target diversity in the industry. I’m incredibly grateful for all the ups and downs of these early years in my career, and I can’t wait to see what comes next!”
Judge Aidan Imanova fills us in on why she scored Luke’s work highly, saying “Very interesting compositions. Original framing creates a skewed sense of scale which gives the images a creative appeal. There is careful editing, attention to detail, and consistency between the images in terms of perspective. Overall, great eye!” Noah Walker shared that he “loves the very interesting yet somewhat jarring contrasts.”
The Early Career and Emerging Talent Winner
Shoayb Khattab is an architect-turned-photographer photographer who is working in Dubai.
Shoayb shares “I started my photography journey just after my architectural journey, although I was trying different genres of photography at that time as a hobbyist. I was attracted to the architectural and interior genre quickly. I took the step of leaving my job as an architect and shifted to photography back in September 2017 to pursue my professional journey in this field.”
He continues, “While I have had the chance to work with architects, interior designers, hotels and real estate developers during my career, working with architects is definitely my favorite. I believe being an architect helped me a lot in understanding projects and looking at them through an architect’s eye. I always enjoy exploring buildings and structures whether I am going to photograph them or not, so for me, the whole process is truly enjoyable and I don’t see myself anywhere else except around architecture.
I had the honor to work with international architects and brands I never thought of working with during my first five-year journey including Foster + Partners, Herman Miller, Andreu Worlds and many others, so if someone asked me ‘where do I see myself in 5 years and who I would love to work with’ then I would definitely dream of working with star-architects not just in the Middle East, but to pursue the journey in other regions as well.”
Our judges appreciated Shoayb’s architect-trained eye and approach. Ryan Gobuty simply put it “Singular. Powerful. Forceful. Stringent.”
Noah Walker noted that he scored this entry highly for its strong compositions and framing.
Holly LaDue shares “Such promising work from this emerging talent. The three of these photos show such different works but they all really bring the architecture to life. Image 1 disorients the viewer in the best possible way, not sure what is ground, what is water. Where does the building end and begin? The saturation of those blues juxtaposed with the building and its light is just fascinating. Image 2, taken from underneath these curving bridge on a stormy day, is moody and brilliant. With the kayakers underneath, the undulations of the waves, and the bridge snaking above, it makes for a really dynamic composition. The last image is a fascinating study in context, or in this case, lack thereof. The photo acts as if this building is surrounded only by sky.”
A huge congratulations to Shoayb, Luke, and the rest of the shortlisted photographers for the Early Career and Emerging Talent Award! We’d like to thank everyone who entered our first ever Architectural Photography Awards contest, and in turn, supported APALMANAC. A massive round of applause goes out to you all, and we look forward to seeing the entries you share with us in our next competition.