Selection of my photos with a summoned interview is published in the article about abstract architecture from nr.8 issue of the Ukraine’s ‘Photographer’ magazine (p. 44-45, 46-47 and 48-49).
1. How do you symbolize architecture according to your inner vision and your philosophy ?
– Architecture is the art of creating a space that acts like a shelter for various human activities, if it’s designed perfectly it looks like an inhibited sculpture. I like to associate architecture with music: an architect “composes” with building materials the material space, while a composer “constructs” the audio space by using sound vibrations – they both use rhythm as the base for their creations. Pythagoras said: “There is geometry in the humming of the strings, there is music in the spacing of the spheres.”
2. Why do you think people like these kind of geometric abstractions? Is it coming from men’s original subconscious images of achievable perfection ?
– I suppose people like to create images with perfected geometric order because the man’s mind is always striving to organize naturally chaotic reality. However, this so called ‘perfection’ needs to be spiced up with a little bit of imperfection to look attractive.
3. An architect must be a very logical person, mathematically calculating each of his pencil strokes when making a draft, thinking about functionality, practicality and the rest of all those features which would tag a person with a materialist’s label. Here comes the photographer, a modern artist, mystic by his nature and starts “humanizing” that building. With this in mind can we name architectural photographers sort of our spiritual savors with narrow specialization? What do you think about this?
– To fully understand and experience the building we must get in direct contact with it and feel it from various points of view, in the same way like somebody is viewing a sculpture. Architectural photographer is essentially expressing only his feelings about the building. His impression helps the viewer to get an idea about the structure, but it is not showing it in the same faithfull and accurate way as the plan. Photography portrays and communicates an atmospheric quality for the architecture. It promotes a feeling rather than the factual formal reality, it makes an artistic impression. The atmosphere or feel of a building is very much a sensory reality and it has a perception from the man’s perspective.
4. To what visual goal should the architectural photographer aspire: to express the physical extent of the construction or to concentrate on the harmony of geometry ? Are there any secrets of combining all of these key factors in the final image?
– Photography might not be quite as constructurally truthful as architectural drawings because of the bias view of the photographer and how he wishes to portray the space, yet the portrayal of how a space makes one feel is very important. The ‘abstract’ architectural photographer rather creates an image by ‘playing’ with perspective deformations to re-constructs reality into his artistic vision, while the ‘realistic’ photographer concentrates on the building as it is usually viewed, he is ‘documenting’ the architecture. How we see a building depends purely on where we stand and what we want to see.
5. How should an architectural image look to be an example of fine-art photography?
– An architectural image has to be well composed, but it also must have a character, style, something that makes it unique. A good photo is never just an aesthetic experience, it has to provoke a certain feeling and thought, to be a visual story that entertains eyes and mind.
6. When you frame your abstractions composed of lines, bends, corners etc. how often are you being oriented by compositions prepared beforehand (if at all) and how often do you act spontaneously?
– Sometimes I make try-outs before I do the final photo session, but mostly I like to work spontaneously by simply following my instinct and the ‘third eye’. I am always interested in structural repetition, minimal urban geometry, scenes with intriguing details, linear forms, shaded surfaces or multilayered reflection on the windows, to find something interesting is often the matter of visual exploring of urban environment.
7. When you view your pictures on a computer monitor or at a print, does it happen quite often that you discover anything you didn’t put there initially, wondering maybe a piece of architecture really has its soul?
– Architecture (for me) has a soul, it’s that special feeling that we get when we find ourselves in some building. I think it is important that the architectural photographer knows how to capture that feeling.
8. How important is digital photography for the modern architectural photographer ? How did it help you personally except the thing of immediate evaluation of the result ?
– Digital photography is a wonderful invention, I would never think about replacing it with analog. Thanks to easy to use cameras of the type ‘point&shoot’, even the people who are not formally trained in photography are given the opportunity to make splendid images, because they don’t have to bother about technical details and they can fully focus their attention on composition. Besides immediate evaluation of the result, the other great advantage of digital photography is that it very successfully captures the scenes with reduced light conditions. For me a good photo is not just about the latest cameras and lenses, the idea and style are a lot more important than just a technical side. It’s about what you feel for something when you look at it and then to express that feeling with a camera.
9. When you show your favorite architectural images to friends and other viewers what is their reaction when they see these non-typical geometric abstractions ?
– My friends are very supportive towards my architectural photography, but I know that this style, in general speaking, is not something that would easily fit to anybody’s liking. I often get compliments for my work from graphic designers and architects, they appreciate my daring geometric compositions and images of the buildings as seen from an unusual point of view.
10. Let’s assume you have noticed a very interesting building and got an idea to make an extraordinary shot. Could you please describe briefly how are you going to turn your dream of that image into reality in case of real problems such as too many people near it all the day (and night), bad weather conditions, the prohibition to shot that place without special license or agreement, etc. Have there been occasions in your practice when you had many obstacles but anyway did the shot you dreamed of for a long time ?
– Sometimes I plan to visits a certain building on specific time of the day in order to photograph it in the best light, but when I’m on a city trip and I have only a day or two to visit a long list of buildings, I must get the best out of it when I find myself on the location. The presence of the people is reasonable easy to avoid if one decides to shoot office buildings after working hours or on Sunday. I often point my camera up or I focus on special structural details to avoid the presence of human figures.
The security guards and recent paranoid attitude towards photographers as potential terrorists or spies is one of the most common obstacles for architectural photographers. A few times in the past I was stopped by security guards, who insisted that taking photos of the building in question was prohibited due to the fact that the photo might be used to reveal important structural details of the building for a potential terrorist attack. If you take in consideration that the most of the beautiful modern buildings are commissioned by rich banks and very powerful international companies, it is easy to imagine how often the architectural photographer gets problems with prohibited photo activity. The other problems are museums and art galleries. It is difficult to understand why is the security not better trained to make a difference between taking a photo of the art-work and architectural design of the building. Museums and galleries are afraid they the paintings could get damaged with a use of flash, but why is it prohibited to photograph the building as a sign of admiration of the architecture? More than once I had to act very fast to take a shot to avoid getting in tiresome discussions with security guards.
11. Are there any special external conditions that are helpful for an architectural photographer and increase his chances to make perfect shots ?
– Clear blue sky and a diffused, ‘white cloud’ light are both great for the background, because they let the form and colors of the building come out clean. Sharp shadows are often adding a very special touch to architectural images, and so are the multi-layered reflections on the windows.
12. What photography sources are necessary for studying for young architectural photographers ? Where samples of “strong architectural photography” could be found ?
– I think the architectural photography does not need a training that differs a lot from any standard photographic training, but it is important that the photographer has a very good feeling for geometry and composition, and that he understands the architecture. Social image-networks like Flickr and Ipernity have great groups that are specialized in architecture and online publisher ISSUU has a good online publications that are available for browsing. Most of the architectural magazines are connected to Flickr or Face book, where they have their groups and they regularly offer a chance to semi-professional photographers to feature the works in printed or online publications. Published books on architectural photography and specialized magazines are also a great source, and so are the blogs related to the architecture, like Arch daily, Archide, Designboom or Archidose.