If you have picked up a copy of Vogue, in the past thirty years there is a good chance that you have seen Albert Watson’s work. The legendary photographer has created some of the most iconic pictures of his generation. His sitters range from Alfred Hitchcock to Steve Jobs. With this in mind you may find it hardly credible that he has turned his hand to interiors photography working for a real estate agent, Corcoran in New York. OK while that is true let me put into context to give it the proper meaning. Mr Watson is selling his penthouse duplex apartment in New York for $21,500,00. Rather than get someone like the author of this blog round he decided to do it himself. The place looks fantastic with great lighting and interesting angles. There are small things that I would have done differently but the objective of this type of work is to generate interest in the property and I am definitely interested so job done-it is now the small matter of the $21,499.00 I need to finalize the deal!
Unless you are a Russian Oligarch houses in London are a touch on the small side. When greeted by a ‘compact and bijou’ bathroom I had to think quickly and creatively. Small rooms often dictate where they will be photographed from and in case you are wondering this pictures was taken while standing in the bath. Many houses utilize the space they have in the lofts but the eaves of the house limit head height and ultimately the shape of the room. One bonus are the skylights add a sense of theatrical lighting and a touch of drama.
The Battleship Building was built as a maintenance depot for British Rail in 1969 and occupies a very visible site near an elevated section of the Westway in London. Dilapidated for many years, the building was converted into offices in 2000 by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris Architects. A more recent fit-out of the ground floor makes the most of the double-height space and striking, Art Deco staircase.I felt it looked like part of a set for the ‘Minions’ and despite the tight crop the outline of the ship is quite clear. On closer inspection I wonder who placed the pink flamingo in the window and what was the purpose? The open window indicates the barmy winter we are enjoying in London Town…..
I made this picture during the middle of August in Kyoto. The current Mrs Brewer did well to stay out of my way as the heat and heavy camera equipment do not always bring out the best in this fair skinned redhead! I had planned the trip carefully and knew that I wanted to include Tadao Ando’s work. A largely self-taught architect known for his love of modernist design The Garden of Fine Arts is well worth a visit.
Often painting by hand artists known as ‘Wall Dogs’ would have created the advert that I photographed this morning. This dangerous work was most prevalent between the war years. Without the modern Health & Safety that we take for granted this was hazardous work using lead paint. Street lighting as we know it would not have existed so during the winter the working day would have been very short. It is easy to imagine the ‘Wall Dogs’ using lead paint with a fag in their mouth dangling precariously from ropes many feet above the ground. As the brick is porous it would have taken numerous coats of paint to ensure that the advert could been seen from the road. 134 Kingsland Road is now Sông Quê Café.
My last image for the CIOB competition ‘Art of Building.’ The closing date for entries is November 29th so just over a week to go. There is always a mixture of emotions when one is taking part in a competition. Excitement as there is the possibility of something important on the horizon, fear as there is the rejection and the feeling of not being good enough. The trick is to tap into the excitement and acknowledge the fear. Shake hands with both and remember they are both impostors, to paraphrase Rudyard Kipling’s “If.”
Notting Hill made famous by the Richard Curtis film is a charming part of London and the location of my latest picture. England has enjoyed an ‘Indian Summer’ with clear blue skies and the lovely Autumn smell that demotes a change in the seasons. Entering the property I could hear many voices some English and some Eastern European. Typically when shooting interiors the building work has finished and I am there to photograph the hard work of all those who have contributed, this was not a typical shoot as I was about to discover! With a highly sophisticated lighting system that was still being completed I had to contend with not being able to control the internal lighting. Photographers are problem solvers, it is part of the job, and while I could not fix the lighting I could adapt myself to the conditions. The daylight was clear and bright and I used this to my advantage. The builders were helpful, funny and prepared to move furniture around for me. I was asked to show how strong colours can work together in a modern home. The light on the chair provides a cinematic quality that I may not have achieved if the lighting had been completed. There is a touch of luck in every image that you make. The client was delighted with the end result and so was I.
Taken earlier in the summer during my trip to Japan. The museum was designed by Japanese architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of the architect office SANAA in 2004. It is also my second entry to Art of Building with only one more remaining. When I started my career as a portrait photographer I struggled with the idea that architectural photographers were ‘only’ recording the work of others. Of course it did not occur to me that fashion photographers, car photographers and food photographers (add any genre you like) normally do not make the subjects they photograph. It does not reduce their creativity but careful consideration about what, when and how to photograph enhance the whole creative endeavor.
The key dates are:
19 October 2015: Competition is open for entry
29 November 2015: Closed for entry
11 December 2015: Judging
18 December 2015: Public vote begins
23 January 2016: Public vote closes
8 February 2016: Winner announced
The Art of Building Competition is now taking entries for 2015 and is free but limited to three images. It has been the best year photographically for me ever! Being shortlisted for B&W Photographer of the Year is exciting and shows me competitions are worth pursuing. Often the exposure winning brings can have a positive impact on a photographers career. For me architecture is a new photographic genre started this year. It is not only the photography but the fascinating nature of buildings which I love learning about that makes it particularly rewarding. Shoot from the heart!
The above image is 2014 winner. If you enjoy architecture take a few minutes to browse the entries it is time invested wisely. Good luck to those entering and I will post my entries soon.