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Architecture v Photography Tom Manley – Hypostyle Talk Shop – September 1st

‘Photography as an artistic means to kindle a greater awareness of significance of architecture‘ ‘Our everyday world is in greater measure defined by the architecture that surrounds us day in – day out’ (Andreas Gursky - photographer) • • • •

What and how important is photography in communicating a design / building? How has Photography impacted on architecture – similarities between mediums? Has photography helped to establish new styles in architecture? How can an understanding of photography help an architect realize architecture, informing the aesthetics of a building?

Photography has developed extremely rapidly as technical advances have moved forward – compared to the use of pens and pencils for representing architecture, it is a comparatively modern technique. The break through of print, and combining text with images from around 1880 led to the production of architectural magazines – enabling architecture to reach wide audiences. Photographs let architects experience buildings they could not directly interact with. In some ways this medium took off as a way of documenting everything – enabling designs to be copied / plagiarism – informing designs and helping with the processes of globalisation and industrialisation / mass production. Today’s digital world gives even more importance to photographic images. The use of internet / advertising, blogging sites and photomontage visualisations has perhaps made it less valuable as now photographic images are everywhere, and the price of software / equipment has fallen. Computers enable photographic images of buildings to be made before buildings have been constructed and it is hard to tell whether a photograph is a genuine portrayal or has been modified. However photography can often have a powerful impact both in its journalistic and documenting abilities and as an art-form. Photography is the most accurate way of telling a story or capturing a moment in time. Iconic images go down in history and are imprinted in our memories. Architecturally, iconic buildings are captured and communicated via photography and this is a process used more and more with the design and styling of current iconic & ‘status symbol buildings’ ie Guggenheim in Bilbao – where it is photography that sells the bulding.


‘Light is the photographic medium par excellence; it is to the photographer what words are to the writer; color and paint to the painter; wood, metal, stone, or clay to the sculptor‘. (Andreas Feininger – photographer)

‘Even the most uninteresting ugly or boring places can for an instant become magical to me’ (William Eggleston – photographer) Modernism was well suited to photography its angles and abstractions enabled new images to be made. Simple plain surfaces and forms enabled elements of both architecture and photography to be highlighted in an emerging architectural style. Photography had a major role to play in establishing a new form of architecture. Architects were creating many similar buildings and the use of photography provided a means to bring together ideas from many different buildings helping develop modernism and explore new styles of architecture. What are the main similarities and how does photography reproduce architecture? Architecture has been described as “frozen music” and photography is all about light – could be described as “frozen light”. How light works is fundamental to both photography and architecture – yet is often overlooked. Digital sensors have replaced film in capturing the levels of light to record an exposure. Black and white images can powerfully communicate the use of light in buildings. Can Photography and other artforms help us understand architecture? How does Photography influence the way we see things? By looking around at everyday buildings, cameras can capture interesting architecture in buildings that often are not noticed or overlooked. Ways of seeing things are controlled by the camera – through focus, composition, repetition and exposure to present the photographer’s or architects idea of a building and to highlight features. Similar Principles to architecture…… Photography encourages us to look closer at architecture and helps us to appreciate details of a building. Can photographs be more intense / accurate and graphic representations of reality than what the eye alone sees? How does photography help in the process of forming new styles of architecture? – Like painting and digital art / lighting today, it can have an impact on movements and fashions in architecture. Process of how architects look at 2 dimensional images and use them to inspire formation of 3 dimensional space. Digital photography is closely linked to architecture today. Photo Realistic images & renderings are used more than physical models to represent buildings and spaces before they are constructed. Architects strive to create virtual buildings and planning applications have started to use online virtual cities for buildings to be inserted in. New digital methods of presenting work & use of internet mean we have access to millions of images at the click of a mouse. How is this impacting on architecture and can certain styles be attributable to the amount of digital imagery and advertising that is part of everyday life?


Photography & Architecture  

Notes to talk on architecture and photography

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