“Digital has made architectural photography very slick – sometimes you don’t know if it’s a photo, or if it’s a rendering, and that I find very disturbing. …If you’ve spent five years to ten years making a building, you want to make sure that the photos are like a building and not like a rendering.” – Hélène Binet
Her quote above makes me worry. Ikea recently switched to using CG for their interior “photography”. Architectural renders are getting very good these days. It won’t be much longer before they don’t need photographers to show a completed building. So what do we do? In my humble opion we try and produce photographs that a digital render couldn’t. That means you have to be there. You have to see the walls, the texture, the way the light plays at 8am on a winter morning. I have to believe that there is no real substitute for experiencing a place.
I photographed the Museum of Liverpool in two ways. I had a clear idea before I started and that was to photograph it like an Apple product. Lots of white space. Minimalist. I accidentally underexposed one frame and only the lights were visible. The result made the environment look like something from Tron. Now of course this was partly due to Tron: Legacy just coming out and me enjoying the soundtrack. If I hadn’t been there with my experiences, memories and thought process then that image would never have been taken. I doubt I would have created it if I was using a CG rendering package.
A few weeks ago I bought a tilt shift lens. It’s fantastic. However after buying it I had massive anxiety issues. Had I made the right decision? It wasn’t cheap. Should I have sold all my Nikon gear and gone to Canon for the 17mm tilt shift? I was freaking out. It’s what I do. At least it’s what I allow my brain to do to me. I spent a week stressing until I saw a movie about the photographer Brian Griffin at Format Festival.
“I’ve got to take different pictures to other photographers.” – Brian Griffin
Very true. It’s what I have to do. I have to be me in my work or why would someone hire me? Because I’m cheap? Oh hell no. They want my eye. At least I hope they do. This made me think about my recent panic attack after buying a tilt shift lens and being unable to reproduce a photograph by another photographer. Why am I trying to do that? If a client wants that photo they call him not me. I need to make my photo so when they want that they call me.
So to the photo featured at the top of the article. Is it unique? Probably not. What it is is me striving to be better. I absolutely have to find a way of producing better photos. I feel like I’m trying to turn a ferry in a river with my bare hands. Maybe I can. Maybe I can’t. At least I can try and right now it feels like I’m doing something.