This is the original (rough) text of an interview that was later published in Portuguese in iDeia Magazine (Brazil, 2018). The interview was done by journalist Pâmilla Vilas Boas.
– When and why did your interest in architectural photography begin?
I got my first camera at age 18, when I started studying at the Art Academy. I instantly discovered my fascination for rhythm, lines and geometry. This is why I found ideal subject matter in architectural elements like gates, windows, arches and wall surfaces – even at an early age already.
– In your work you highlight aspects that surprise the audience. How do you perceive this impact on the audience?
Actually during the creative process the single person I am trying to surprise is myself. After having shot a lot of photos I try to take a step back and view my material as if I see it all for the first time. Sometimes it can be even more refreshing to look back at photos I took months ago, because by then I can judge the work in a more objective way. I always try to find images that intuitively draw my attention in some way. It can be the light, colour combinations or a certain pattern that I like. After that I start looking for the right edit settings to get as close to the essence as possible. I remove or cut off disturbing elements, sometimes I repeat elements and find the right light and colour balance. The best way to judge the impact a finalised image makes on other people is when I post it on social media channels like Instagram, my Facebook page or Flickr.com.
Occasionally I create new building impressions by recombining photographic details.
– How does your work bring new perspectives and meanings to architecture?
Because I am very particular which buildings to highlight and in which way to photograph it, it becomes part of my personal visual story that I am telling through my work. This perspective always needs to have that special touch that makes it part of my universe of geometry, rhythm and colour.
Another aspect of my work is that occasionally I create new building impressions by recombining photographic details. It would be wonderful if such new compositions would inspire architects in return.
– What are your main inspirations?
My main inspiration I find in architecture. I love the abstract aspects of it: the interplay of lines, geometry, colour and space. I also find a lot of creative inspiration from seeing work of other artists. I love to watch paintings by Paul Klee, Mondrian, David Hockney or Mark Tobey. Another great source of inspiration to me are decorative arts (Islamic metal work, pottery and book illustrations) and ancient writings such as found on Assyrian clay tablets.
– What is the influence of painting and design in the conception of your work? How do you see the importance of uniting different languages in an artwork?
The influence of painting, design or any other art form is always present in my way of looking at the world. I love recognising graphic design elements in buildings: some facades can even remind me of some abstract hieroglyphs. In another case a building’s colour scheme with the right details can even evoque a jazzy piece of music to me. That is what makes being alive and looking at the world so fascinating.
Therefore to me there is no strong limit in between the different art disciplines. I also have worked predominantly as a paiter for many years and I still work as a graphic designer next to my art. In any discipline one works with colour, contrast, rhythm and saturation to get the right mood: you can do it with a brush on canvas, by working on a photo or by choosing the right paper and using a particular type font and spacing when designing a page of a book.
– Lines, rhythm, and layers are very important in your work. What is your method for breaking away from the realism of architectural photography?
First of all it is essential to get the right point of view. I prefer my work to have a strong graphical feel: often I do this by keeping the depth of the image as shallow as possible. You can see that in my Urban Tapestry series: facades that fill the entire image so the photo of the building is completely aligned with the surface of a print (or screen) and no context of the surroundings (the sky, the street), or maybe just a tiny bit.
Another series of work does actually the opposite but with a similar result: in my perspective series I position the camera in such way that the symmetry and the lines of depth start working also in a graphic / abstract way.
– What is the difference between the realism of the architectural image and the composition of an artistic image?
These two are two aspects that I find interesting when using photography as a medium. You can look at architecture and only concentrate on the forms and the abstract shapes. You can compose an image as if you are setting up a canvas in a way Mondrian could have done. What I like about photography is that along with the abstract way of looking you can still recognise the details of the real world that we live in. Those tiny rectangles of the abstract composition may become more interesting when a closer look shows they have curtains, or when one of them is opened for letting in fresh air.
Enrich people’s lifes like listening to chamber music.
– In your opinion, how does design create meanings for the objects?
That is a very complex question but I will try to answer. According to me good design brings along a certain mood to the person that is looking at it or uses it. By the formal choice of material, surface, colour it sets the stage for a feeling (comfort, luxury, nostalgia, etc.). In a good work of art the mood is even the main subject (as opposed to the design of used objects). In my work I try to spread pure rhythmic joy and colourful happiness that comes along with watching buildings. That in itself is the meaning that matters to me. Seeing my work should enrich people’s lifes in a similar way as listening to a beautiful piece of chamber music does.
– What is the importance of digital resources in your work?
Digital applications such as Photoshop (or Lightroom) are the tools to any photographer, just like in the analogue era we used the darkroom for optimising and image and getting the right dose of contrast.
Being also a graphic designer I am very much used to work with Photoshop. When I started using digital cameras (somewhere after the year 2000), I soon discovered its great help to discover images I have in my mind and extend the creative scope of my photo equipment.
– What about Instagram? How do you evaluate the impact of social media on photography today?
I really love Instagram! From starting to use the app I got much more clarity as to what I want to do with photography. I mean from seeing my work together in an expanding collection, I gradually learned to make choices. It brought me more focus and made me rediscover a similar abstract-geometrical style I also had as a painter. Instagram also got me in touch with many other creative people from around the world – including other photographers and artists. And it can be so inspiring to see what people are doing! Another plus from using Instagram is that you get feedback on what you share with the world and it also helps to spread one’s work all over the world. When I was exhibiting my work in Tokyo, I was so pleasantly surprised to get in touch with people who knew my work for several years already from Instagram.
The amount of people that share pictures is unbelievable these days. There are cameras, phones and drones all around us. And of course there are also downsides to this development. In the old days you could discover a beautiful spot and surprise the world with it. I have seen many locations being transformed into touristic highlights, just because they are being photographed and successfully shared through Instagram. In Hong Kong there are even cues for being allowed to stand in certain hotspots where so many have stood before. But when I decide to go out and take some new photos I forget about all that. I just grab my camera bag, jump on my bicycle, eager to see what surprise catches my eye around the next corner.