Standing alone atop the Sonoran desert hills, we watch the efficiency of the Gila woodpeckers piercing cacti. We begin to hear thousands of pierced giant Saguaro cacti hissing in the wind. It becomes a passionate symphony. The whole of the desert wails in sympathy. We become witnesses to nature’s primordial call. The cacti’s skin begins to heal their wounds. They entrap their air and entrap their water. My heart is entrapped.
Suddenly it stops. Your ears pop as you have been sucked into a vortex of space with such force, that all of nature’s discordances vanish. Your passion has been elevated and enslaved by the quietude. You recognize the intimacy of the moment. You have fallen in love with that intimacy.
The history of photography has always fed my passions. From the 1840’s until early 1900’s thousands of photographers embarked on journeys to “Lost Horizons”. They traveled alone and with caravans. The brought chemicals and large cameras over oceans, deserts, mountains and across continents. The photographers wanted to return to their native lands with pictures and stories of the world’s history. Everywhere they went their eyes saw life in a fresh light.
Everyday my mind and camera tries to mirror those first photographers. The moment of discovery to this day spirits me away to our past in my present. I have become a constant Lewis Carroll climbing through the mirror to discover what is beyond.
The above is how I feel one can come face to face with architecture. Architecture can reveal itself as a living force of nature. One just needs to listen.
When I photograph architecture I most often find that I have been drawn into a spatial vector in warp drive. Nothing can compete with a passion that elevates your desire to be at once, living mindfully inside and outside of an intended footprint.
It might be photographed as an object of a documentary or a practical piece of commerce. But it is meant to be seen from an angle of a wide repose. It is meant to be seen with a telephoto presence.
Yes of course the above may sound a wee bit sacrosanct. But with millions of cameras roaming the earth how else might someone differentiate a passing snap (as some are too willing to do) from a purposeful engagement.
The most important architectural voices working today have spent years intending to make a house on a lake, a skyscraper through the atmosphere or a community clutch of homes live with us for 100 years. When I hear about some photographers shooting snippety snap snap snap, I am always surprised. It seems a few hours, a few days is not much to ask a photographer to see what is needed to see.
My life as a photographer of architecture is essentially a compilation of a thousand architectural voices. For years Architects have shared their views on architecture and architects. Stories abound: Zaha whispering in my ear how 20 samurai might lop of the heads of six famous architects. Bernard Tschumi directing me by phone what I might see of one of his buildings. Kengo Kuma sharing some ideas of what to look for in his new projects. Oscar Niemeyer said this, Thom Mayne said that...It has truly been a rewarding experience.
I have become an advocate of how one needs to consider the principles of rubik’s cube to adequately make the most of understanding how to shoot a buildings’ design.
Your camera needs to consider every shape, every shard of light every perspective. When an architect sees that I have discovered a successful perspective, I feel I have put in my due diligence.
One day I was on a train from Yale University to New York. I was sitting with Frank Gehry. Two and a half hours with Frank one on one can be quite an experience.
The last 3 or 4 times we have met he has asked me what have I been up to. I try not to flood him with this and that. I did take this particular occasion to share a pic of one of his buildings. The moments of sharing can be like the card game of “War”. One card can give you a big take away...or possibly a big loss. Most moments when you share your work can be emotionally problematic. On this day while Amtrak rolled along, I was scrolling through various folders on my ipad. Frank stopped me and said, “wow, I haven’t seen one like this before. How did you do this?”. Yes of course I didn’t tell him how or when or why I made this image in this way. All I told him was I knew in the moment it was right.
Those travelers from photography’s inception, are my mentors.