Bruno Belli Crafts an Awesome Personal Project at the Art Gallery of Ontario

Bruno Belli Crafts an Awesome Personal Project at the Art Gallery of Ontario

Project of the Week

Today we’re taking a little trip to Ontario with architectural photographer Bruno Belli! Bruno has sublimely photographed Frank Gehry’s expansion of the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). “I shot these over the course of three days there, trying to get the right light and mood for each of the angles. Some of the interesting challenges were incorporating the vibrant life outside the gallery and having to shoot all of the interiors handheld,” Bruno starts off. Let’s jump on in and see his (very cool) images!

We’re kicking off with the most technically challenging photograph of the series. Bruno breaks down his process by telling us “The wider photograph of the northern facade was definitely the most logistically and technically challenging.

With this shot, I wanted to show the building in its urban environment, capturing a bit of the relationship between the museum visitors and general passersby with the building. Rather than cloning out the potentially unsightly distractions, I wanted to incorporate them all as part of the story. As you can probably tell, the street I’m shooting from is quite narrow and busy and the streetcar wires can be very challenging to frame around.

I found a spot on the corner of the sidewalk where I wasn’t too much in anyone’s way and shot something like 100 frames over half an hour to make sure I got all the elements I wanted. For the final image, I used 6 of those frames to composite in the streetcar, cars, bicycle, scooter, and pedestrians in a harmonious way.

The most fortuitous moment of the shoot for me was when I saw the two women stopping in the middle of the crossing to take pictures of the building; that was exactly the type of interaction with the architecture I was hoping to capture!”

He tells a bit about the project and its back story, saying “I moved to Canada in 2017 to pursue an MA in Art History and the AGO was one of my favourite places to visit during this time. While I have gone back to photographing architecture and design full-time since then, I still visit the gallery often and both the collections and the architecture are very special to me. You really feel like you are entering a special world when you step into the building, where so many details are awe-inspiring and time flows differently. I love to just sit in the main atrium and watch people photograph and interact with the Gehry staircase.” 

He continues, “This shoot was done as part of a personal project. Since moving to Toronto a few months ago, I have been taking about a day a week to visit a different location and photograph my favourite pieces of architecture around the city. While this started as a bit of an excuse to get out and explore the new-to-me city a bit more, I have been starting to amass a large body of work on the city’s architecture and am beginning to look at some ways to frame this project and get it out into the world.

For this particular location, I shot the images over three different days: one afternoon for the north exteriors, one for the south exteriors, and a third day for the interiors. Photographing the interiors was the most challenging and unusual, as the gallery doesn’t allow tripods inside. I had some shots where I knew I wanted to shift the lens quite significantly, and trying to keep things level and having a limited ability to composite made things quite tricky!”

I told Bruno that I just love this next photograph of the woman walking her dog in front of the building. The massive shadow and the texture of the building amongst the sky and the traditional buildings are just SO good. I asked him to give us some insight into making this photograph, and he shared “Thank you! In a way, this image was the result of good fortune rather than planning.

I knew I wanted to get a 1-point-perspective wide shot of the south facade, but my original idea was to do it at dusk with fresh snow on the ground. I went to the location that day because the forecast was calling for snow, but it turned out we only got a few flurries and these beautiful stormy clouds with the sun peeking out every now and then.

I set the camera up on the tripod and waited for the light to be just right and for something interesting to happen in the foreground. I was very happy to see the woman walking the dog come into the frame, as I knew they would be perfect for the scale and mood.”

I’m a huge proponent of personal projects, and Bruno’s work here is just another prime example of why you should get out there and make them!

A massive thanks to Bruno for regaling the tale of this shoot with us! You can (and should) see more of his work at brunobelli.com, as well as on Instagram @brunobellisinder.

As always, If you have a project you’d like to be considered for Project of the Week, you can submit it here.

Howdy! I'm Lexi. I write and make photographs. I love being outside and listening to '00s indie rock.
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