In 2021, Architizer voted Ema Peter one of the top 5 architectural photography studios in the world. It is easy to see why. She makes stunning image after image and portrays projects in a way that shows the cleverness of the architecture, as well as its use and relation to humanity. One such project that I particularly love is BlackCliff house by Mcleod Bovell.
“BlackCliff house is one of those homes that take your breath away,” says Ema. “Everything about it feels surreal – the way it is positioned in its setting on top of the cliff, the feeling that you are floating above the water when you sit on the terrace, the way the sunset hits perfectly the horizon exactly where you want it to be for the shot. You feel in touch with nature somehow no matter where you are in the house.”
Ema emphasizes and accentuates BlackCliff’s geometric qualities. Her thoughtful compositions are abundant with leading lines and bold shapes. Expertly timed lighting conditions chisel out the depth and layers of each scene, creating a heightened sense of dimensionality.
A quiet scene in the kitchen helps us understand the materials and colors at play throughout this house. Ema leaves just a little sliver of the other rooms visible in the image, leaving us curious about the other areas in the home, and the way they connect to this central space.
Ema continues, “Because of the home’s size, the architects had to cut into the center which created a number of beautiful outdoor spaces. Light streams in from the bamboo garden, from the skylights and terraces. You feel peaceful, you feel like the rest of the world really does not exist. The only challenge I have with projects like this is how much I want to make sure the world will look at my images and see what I saw. I felt like I was in a mad rush to catch every moment!”
Here we get a good look at what Ema mentioned above. Light streams through the bamboo garden and creates a perfect pool of illumination on the piano and seating area. We feel that sense of tranquility that she wanted to relay!
Mcleod Bovell explains “Organizationally, the upper floor supports intimacy for a small family sleeping within a tight core while still being able to accommodate larger family units in outer lying ‘wings’. These two areas of the building are separated but connected externally by a shared outdoor terrace.”
Ema showcases one of the bedrooms bathed in beautiful light. The strong lines draw our eyes through the image, noting the complexity of the structures and the materials present. Our attention settles on the outstanding view – what a place to wake up!
I love how we see the house changing throughout the day, reactive to the light and weather. As warm golden light washes through the house, more strong yet playful shadows and shapes appear. There is a feeling of warmth and calmness. We feel as if we walked into the room ourselves and are drinking in that incredible view.
The longer I look at this scene, the more things I find to love. First off, the simple bold geometric shapes anchor us in the scene. We are able to note how the house appears to float over the sea. I love the boat cruising through – it adds to the scale and grandeur of the scene. Speaking of scale, another perfectly poised person adds life to the image and helps us gauge the size and depth in this photograph. The sunlight, the lens flare, it is all just wonderful.
Ema shares “What I would suggest to other photographers shooting this type of space is to follow the light!
Buildings like this have so many incredible, decisive, architectural moments to offer. It truly is more about becoming one with the atmosphere. I overshoot when photographing projects like this. The days are not long enough to capture all I can imagine.”
“I have one shot that really felt special for me from this shoot! It is a photograph of the owner in her tea house at dusk. There was such an incredible feeling of zen and stillness. It really felt like time has stopped. I saw that shot during the daytime and the shape of the building was creating the most beautiful angular shadows in the pool. At dusk, I saw how the same shapes created the most interesting angles cutting the sky.
I do a lot of research on what people really gravitate to nowadays when they look at images. I feel this image became special for many because we all somehow need a visual escape from our busy over-scheduled lives, and moments like this give us a sense of peace – a moment to reflect. It truly did for me,” she tells.
Many, many thank you’s to Ema for sharing this project and all of its wonderful moments with us! Each photograph is as moving as the next.
If you have a project you’d like to be considered for Project of the Week, you can submit it here.