These photographers enable us; they have saved us (amateurs) the countless hours of traveling, searching, and waiting for ideal weather and perfect light. The work of these keen eyes abstracts, animates, and valorizes everyday structures grandeur and benign alike. Some of the photographers imbue their images with the massive weight of the concrete and industrial metal of their subjects. Others capture a delicate play of light and shadow or the caustic relationship between man, nature, and the building. They privilege us by pointing to beauty in banality, oddity, reality, and sometimes the imaginary, and remind us to meditate on a good building next time we see one.
25. Randy Scott Slavin
Location: New York
New York-based photographer Randy Scott Slavin’s work takes on a form that strays from traditional photography of city skylines. Instead of going for the typical view of the landscape format following the horizon line, Slavin opts to decenter the viewer all together by joining hundreds of photographs together to create distorted views of familiar American cityscapes. The series is appropriately named Alternative Perspectives and provides an unprecedented point of view of places like New York City; his photographs evoke a sensation somewhere between myopia, kaleidoscopic psychedelics, and being sucked into a wormhole. Slavin comes as an alternative from the straightforwardness of most other architectural photographers, and reminds us that photography does not always depict things as they actually are.
24. Janie Airey
The Olympics are host to many exciting things, and for the architecturally-inclined, newly constructed stadiums and swimming complexes sometimes rank above the international medal race. Janie Airey (who may in fact be a sports fan) seemed to take to the architecture in a way that apparently no one else had. Airey did not have an ostentatious bubbly-building or an oversized nest, but nevertheless found a way to capture the strong lines and bold and playful color palette of the 2012 London Olympics.
23. Victor Enrich
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Spanish photographer Victor Enrich has a fantastical approach to architectural photography; Enrich manipulates his own photographs of buildings to forge new theoretical structures full of whimsy and impracticality. However, the charm of Enrich’s work lies in its openness to an alternate reality, instead of standing as a reminder of man’s corrosive and trying relationship with nature, architecture, and time. Enrich’s practice allows room to infuse individual buildings with personalities that make them more like living plants and animals than inanimate buildings. Some of our favorites include the 2010 Tel Aviv Opera House, Medusa Tel Aviv, and Shalom 1 and 2 Tel Aviv.
22. Nick Guttridge
This list is definitely not the first time British photographer Nick Guttridge’s work has been noticed. Even Guttridge’s commercial work has a certain fine art tinge to it. His photographs are not extreme plays on geometry or angle or about social use and interaction, but a delicate balance of the two. His photographs never feel sterile or overproduced, and his frequent inclusion of people in his architectural photographs remind us that beautiful architecture can be meant to be lived in.
21. Dennis Gilbert
Internationally recognized British photographer Dennis Gilbert specializes in capturing architecture at its best and has been doing so since the 1980s. His career has taken him from South Africa to London, Japan, Hong Kong, and Iceland. His 2010 photographs of architect Thomas Heatherwick’s UK Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo conveys the breathtaking topography that Heatherwick’s structure creates. Gilbert also seems to have a keen eye for playing with the transparency and reflective quality of glass in his photographs. Contemporary architecture is kind to Gilbert in this way—his tactful images of glass interiors capture the disparate channels of movement that would otherwise be hidden by opaque walls. And as much as the glass reveals, Gilbert also uses glass as a clever layering device for his views from the interior to the exterior and vice versa. Gilbert’s sensitivity to these ostensibly invisible elements exposes his extensive experience and expertise.
20. Eddy Joaquim
Location: San Francisco
His images are dreamy and lose focus in a way that is reminiscent of the beginnings of photography, or artful use of bellows. Joaquim received acclaim in 2010 when he was made a finalist for Photo Focus’ Emerging Photographer of the Year competition. His black and white photographs capture the materiality of his subjects, whether it is the concrete underbelly of a building or the iconic metal waves of the Walt Disney Concert Hall. His color photographs expose us to Joaquim’s heightened perception to the peculiarity of some structures and the grandeur of others. And perhaps most importantly, his eye for angles and skewed depth of field brings an element of play into his photographs and a balance between the fine line of being too dreamy and cleverly artistic.
Location: Los Angeles
Yes, that Moby—the Moby with no last name, the musician who is now an architectural photographer capturing a favorable side of Los Angeles. The musician-cum-photographer has established a blog, which has received a nod of approval from the likes of the Los Angeles Times, along with a large base of readers. Moby keeps us all engaged with snapshots of architectural delights he encounters on his travels, like the airport in Washington, D.C. designed by Eero Saarinan. Moby’s blog not only fulfills a number of celebrity-oriented guilty pleasure quotas, but with frequent visitation becomes a daily lesson in appreciating architecture in and around Los Angeles.
18. Simona Panzironi
Location: Roma, Italy
The work of Italian photographer Simona Panzironi has a sort of nonchalance about it. The images have a genuine and civilian quality about them, and at the same time seem to capture the essence of the buildings she chooses as her subjects. Most projects carried out by professional architectural photographers have a clinical air about them—often they feel like mug shots of an imposing façade or glory shots of an inviting interior. Panzironi manages to make the photographs of the exterior and interior spaces cohesive, and strings them together like a free-form tour of the building as a whole. She has a no-nonsense perspective when it comes to photographing architecture; her images make you wonder how others had to bend and twist themselves into obscure positions, when really the beauty was there, head on, the whole time.
17. Daniel Hewitt
Daniel Hewitt’s architectural work is exciting because it is more than just photographs of buildings. Hewitt’s project Geometry + Geology uses his photographs to draw out commonalities between the urban cityscape of contemporary England with the primal rock formations of the natural landscape. However, Geometry + Geology seems to be an anomaly amongst Hewitt’s work. His other projects seem to be more focused on urban construction rather than primeval reminders. Hewitt was commissioned in February 2012 by the McGee Group to document the concrete work for the Tate Modern Tanks. The subsequent collection of photographs glorifies the construction process, and finds beauty in moving I-beams and positioning of concrete pillars.
16. Simon Kennedy
This London-based architectural photographer manages to catch a lot of light for a place that has a notorious reputation for being gray. His photographs of buildings at twilight are particularly beautiful. Kennedy manages to capture the faint reflections of dusk in the glass facade of the Broadgate Tower and the garish blue neon hue of the BBC News Broadcasting House in London. His latest achievement is being named the first place winner of the 2012 Architect’s Eye Photography Competition, with his dually serene and unsettling photograph of the Heygate housing estate in South London.
15. Roland Halbe
Location: Stuttgart, Germany
German photographer Roland Halbe has a knack for photographing minimal spaces in full color. Halbe’s eye for light and shadow are only backed up by his skill when photographing sites like the stadium in Barakaldo, Spain and historic icons like Calatrava’s Telecom Tower in Barcelona. His photographs have a certain verticality about them and his cropping makes the building feel as if it was growing out of the bounds of the photograph into the space of the viewer. His images capture a quiet, peaceful quality in the repetition of line and geometry, and make browsing through his images a tour of light, shadow, line, and shape rather than a harsh depiction of Modernist architecture.
14. Marten Elder
Location: Los Angeles
Marten Elder captures banality at its best. Since moving to Los Angeles to get his MFA at UCLA, Elder has framed L.A. in a quasi-suburban way punctuated with sometimes paradoxically charming and repelling oddities. His latest body of work seems infatuated with a similar benign quality to his earlier work, dismantling the architecture in his photos and reconstructing them in a physical and visual sense. These latest works manufacture an unfulfilled cityscape that plays optical games through Elder’s reconsideration and re-assemblage of Los Angeles’ understated architecture.
13. Nicolas Grospierre
Location: Warsaw, Poland
French born and Warsaw-based artist Nicolas Grospierre’s work has been described as “on one hand documentary…and on the other conceptual.” His collegiate studies in Political Science and Sociology in Paris and London only help to inform his conceptual proposals. His photographic works explore collective memories of modernist architectures and the faded utopias they represent. His images of Lithuanian bus stops take on a rhythm of angles that Grospierre returns to again and again, like standardized reference points (i.e. orthogonal) akin to the ones for architectural plans. Although Grospierre may relate to some in architectural practice, his work seems geared mainly towards the lives lived in between and around the architecture he photographs.
12. Cameron R. Neilson
Location: New York
Photographer Cameron R. Neilson has made a name for himself with his latest photographic project, aptly named Straight Up. According to Neilson, the concept was, “born in New York City,” and at first glance, any pedestrian visitor of Manhattan can relate to the perspective of Mr. Neilson’s camera. His black and white images capture iconic skylines from the interior of the city rather than in their more common incarnations. Neilson’s perspective help skyscrapers live up to their title and injects a new kaleidoscopic perspective and fascination with a genre of street-bound architectural photography.
11. Rut Blees Luxemburg
German born and London-based photographer Rut Blees Luxemburg’s large-scale photographic works explore the construction of public spaces of the city. Her work takes on a nocturnal tone, and with it a sort of strangeness. Luxemburg makes use of long exposures to capture the eerie light of the urban evening. Her investigations of structures we take for granted (highways, streets, street signs, street lamps etc.) become all the more memorable and contemporary in the strange green and orange wash of city flood lights. Luxemburg’s work has been exhibited internationally (including showing her short film London Dust 2012 at the Venice Architecture Biennale) and has been acquired in a number of collections. In addition to work as a photographer, she also teaches in the photography program at the Royal College of Art in London.
10. Cyprien Gaillard
Gaillard’s work is not about architecture in the traditional sense. The breadth of his work spans a number of different forms and is anything but straight photography. Many of the actual images Gaillard captures are un-sensational in a sense. His work avoids equating architecture to monuments of mankind; instead Gaillard’s work is more focused on contemporary architecture on the verge of decay. Buildings are either fractured and collapsed or fragmented through cropping and reframed through Gaillard’s own vocabulary. All the while, the photographs beg the viewer to question their own parameters of architecture—built, demolished, and worth photographing.
9. Fabrice Fouillet
Location: Paris Fouillet
is both talented and lucky; the images she captures are both wholly familiar and totally uncanny. Her photographs in Hong Kong capture an unexpected serenity. The buildings seem to stand between people; by organizing them, the building generalizes them. The atmosphere of such dense architectural complexes like Residence Oasis is not unique only to Hong Kong. Her photographs remind us not only of the phenomena of population growth in Asia, but globally, and the implications on us as individuals. In her later series of work entitled Corpus Christi, Fouillet traveled to the namesake of the series to photograph a number of unique churches built in the 1950s and 1960s. The churches reveal what he calls “a new conception of the sacred.” The interiors convey exactly that, and Fouillet captures them in their eclectic, mid-century modern glory.
8. Josef Schulz
Location: Düsseldorf, Germany
Düsseldorf-based artist Josef Schulz’s work shows a clear interest in places in the midst of transition and transformation. Schulz’s work brings an air of mystique and history to everyday structures and draws out the personality of each of his architectural subjects. He captures moments of benign buildings and breathes life into them. Only with Schulz do abandoned gas stations beam with confidence above a sea of neglected concrete and tollbooths stand guard as mystical gatekeepers.
7. Bas Princen
Location: Rotterdam, Holland
The work of Rotterdam-based Dutch photographer Bas Princen has an air of quiet to it. His cityscapes are emptied of individuals, and the buildings themselves reflect the same quality of loneliness or longing. Princen somehow captures these buildings as one with the landscape—like centurian trees and prehistoric landscapes. His photograph of a glass building in Houston creates the illusion of a seamless horizon line, although the majority of the horizon we see is one in the “reflection” of the building. His photographs blur the delineation between man-made and natural structures and beg the viewer to question their own perceptions when reading the visual information of a photograph.
6. Fernando Guerra
Location: Lisbon, Portugal
Fernando Guerra has a firm following, numerous interviews, and international acclaim. Just last year, he was announced as the winner of the Exterior category at the Arcaid Images Architectural Photography Awards for his photograph of the House for Elderly People in Portugal, by architect Francisco Aires Mateus. His latest award is only the most recent on a growing list, and the awards are well-deserved. Guerra has an eye for these pristine white buildings and captures their expertly-crafted planes with such acuity, you’re compelled to see if the building has any flaws (specifically his images of the Aires Mateus’ House in Leiria).
5. David Leventi
Location: New York
David Leventi captures the opulence of opera houses and manages to harness the richness and perfomative aura of the spaces. These decadent images stand as an uncanny echo when held in comparison with Leventi’s series of prisons. Leventi’s photographs dissect the spaces of both expansive architectural structures (both luxurious and penal, respectively) and draw attention to their likeness. Images of the opera houses initially conjure emotions of leisure and decadence, but eventually the structural commonalities that Leventi draws between the two institutions become undeniable. The beauty of the opera houses descends into a twisted, subversive gesture that slowly becomes filled with the haunting emptiness of the prisons.
4. Adam Mørk
Location: København, Denmark
Danish native Adam Mork is not a stranger to the prestigious architectural photography scene. Mork has a keen eye for finding the right perspective to maximize respective elements of each building. Even his website portfolio is fully comprehensive—a laundry list of buildings and their locale under “Selected Works,” with each project revealing a comprehensive survey of each building from details of the exterior to the windows and complex stairwells in the architecture of Copenhagen, Stockholm, and beyond. Surprisingly, some of his photographs are complemented by images of the surrounding landscape and reveal an environmental awareness that is often overlooked in architectural photography.
3. Iwan Baan
Dutch photographer Iwan Baan’s name became somehwat of a household name after his photograph of a darkened Manhattan in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy made the cover of New York magazine. Despite his recent surge of fame, Baan has been receiving high acclaim for his work for a number of years. His photographs of architecture are swiveled towards windows, and the luminous windows of the buildings seem to emanate a light that transcends their photographic nature. Baan finds light that softens the harsh lines and industrial materials of modern architecture into a more amicable, welcoming space. In addition to international acclaim, Baan was also awarded the prestigious Julius Shulman Prize in 2010.
2. Helene Binet
Swiss-born photographer Hélène Binet studied photography at the Instituto Europeo di Design in Rome, where she grew up. She worked for two years as a photographer before turning to architectural photography. She has been cited several times as the “photographer to the starchitects,” with “images that crackle with light, shadow, and texture, always forming an intimate investigation of the building in question.” Such a statement would be bold if it was unfounded, but of course, Binet has had her fair share of notoriety. In fact, she has expanded her fan base since the release of a collection of her photographs entitled Composing Space. In an interview with Phaidon, the expert photographer admits that there are buildings she can’t photograph, “There’s a type of building, maybe a little bit more commercial glass and steel kind where I don’t know what to grasp…It’s all quite flat…and I don’t know how to structure my image anymore.”
1. Hufton + Crow
Photographic duo Hufton and Crow have had their international prestige affirmed by their 2012 win at the World Architectural Photography Awards with their images of MAXXI (Museum of XXI Century Arts). The image of Pierres Vives by Zaha Hadid Architects feels as massive and dense as the tons of concrete used to make it, despite it being the size of a postcard on one’s computer monitor. Their photographs of the Giants Causeway Visitor Center (in Bushmills, UK) make the façade feel like something between Stonehenge and Kubrick’s monolith. Their photographs give the viewer room to breathe; the depth of field is so deep, and the horizon line so long that the photographs actually feel like the monumental spaces themselves.