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The Decisive Moment
Henri Cartier-Bresson wrote “the decisive moment ... is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as the precise organisation of forms which gives that event proper expression”. I have applied this thinking to architectural photography and developed an approach which incorporates it into my work. This is outlined below.

My focus is 99.9% planning, surveying and waiting and 0.1% shooting. I concentrate on:

• the history and design of my subject, in depth, before visiting it
• the effect of weather, longitude/latitude and direction of facing on light, colour, contrast and shadow

That "decisive moment" occurred when:

• the weather was sunny and the sky was blue
• the time of day was supported representational use of light and colour
• the light supported the themes of my Final Project
• the vehicles, people and other extraneous elements were no longer in the way
• I had found the right vantage point to show the majesty of the architecture’s lines and curves as well as its environment (including the bushes in the foreground)

In shooting the Curry Building I intended to support its colours with similar from its local environment.

The two unfurled flags demonstrate this because:

• the Tricolour and the Union Jack are red, white and blue. These are core colours to this project;
• the flags represent the national ingredients of my subject matter. Art Deco originated in France; the architects of my chosen subject matter are British;
• the current occupier, JC Decaux, is an Anglo-French company. The flags therefore represent its heritage.

The "decisive moment" came after much waiting and many shots, at a time when the two flags were unfurled by the wind. What of the third flag on the left? That is of the EU and is blue with a circle of yellow stars. Yellow did not fit my colour scheme so I needed that flag to hang at the same time as the others were unfurled.

London Art Deco
My latest project comprises images of Art Deco factories in West London. They are included in the Art Deco folder of my portfolio of London artchitecture.

The architectural style of Art Deco reigned between 1925-40, following Art Nouveau and preceding Modernism. Art Deco became popular following the International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts held in Paris between April and October 1925. In summary, it stood for elegance, glamour, functionality and modernity. These elements make up Art Deco’s majestic presence and it is this I am seeking to convey in my work.

All buildings are representative of the same architectural style and historic period. They are supported by the use of a documentary style of photography which depicts and conveys the majestic presence intended by the Art Deco architects of the time. Documentary style requires realism. Shooting architecture of this scale is only possible with natural light. Consistency was achieved through shooting with the sun at no more than a 45 degree angle to the subject. Depending on the longitude and latitude of the subject, shooting took place in the morning or afternoon, to achieve the best and most harmonious depiction of the subject matter. This provided consistency of brightness and hardness of light and resultant levels of contrast.

Colour was also tightly defined to ensure the most realistic and documentary presentation of subject matter. The Art Deco factories of West London are predominantly white in hue, meaning that they reflect rather than absorb light. Their whiteness is largely combined and contrasted with red, green and blue details, especially where they draw on Egyptian heritage. Where possible, I reinforced this palette with the same hues from the sky and surrounding natural environment. As a result, the overall range of hues was both consistent and narrow.

The value of the hues and overall brightness reflected that provided by sunlight in shooting. The same largely applied to the degree of saturation, with a focus on the natural. The contrast between hue, value and saturation was, therefore, kept as close to that shot at the time, with minimal adjustment in post processing.
The Disappeared - Modern Korean Architecture
Introduction

The term “The Disappeared” traditionally refers to the forced and unacknowledged disappearance of people. Here I am referring to the forced and unacknowledged disappearance of architectural photography. Modern culture’s obsession with other photographic genres prevents a recognition that it is through architecture that human beings define their place in time and change the environment in which they live.

Architecture’s effect is 3D and multi sensual. I am going to demonstrate this by conveying the emotions and sensuality intended by architects themselves. This project focuses on contemporary Korean architecture as it too, is often overlooked and adversely compared to Korean architecture of past ages.

Values

“The Disappeared” is underpinned by a series of values. Architectural photography, itself, is 3D. The 3 dimensions are those of the architect, the photographer and the viewer. The role of the architect and the viewer are the most important. That of the photographer is to convey and connect the intention and emotion of the architect to the viewer.

Architectural photography is a science. “The Disappeared” shows the scientific application of photographic learning to the subject of modern Korean architecture to give it shape, life and a strengthened sense of materiality.

I am inspired by the motivations and values listed above. They empowered me to take on the challenge of this project. In doing so, I am seeking to follow in the footsteps of Adrian Schulz in making architectural photography accessible, understandable and most of all, exciting.

Summary

In photographing modern Korean architecture I am focusing on the use of perspective in making 3D images using a 2D medium. My emphasis is on abstract form and communicates architectural space, presence and sensuality. I have applied narrative to the images by leaving them untitled. This represents the lack of identity afforded to them in today’s society.

The final image is of a new building under construction. I have included it to pose the question “will it be treated like all the others or afforded a real identity and expression of its own”?
Hong Kong - Archtecture without people
Background

The project consists of:

- A polyptych of all 9 project images
- Each of the 9 individual images

I would also like to share some of the thinking behind it, to enable viewers to better understand the intent behind the work.

- The images are arranged in the shape of a skyscraper to best reflect the overriding presence of those buildings on the Hong Kong skyline

- The arrangement reflects the fact that the Chinese read “top to bottom” rather than “left to right”

- There are 9 images but there is no 4th image, or 4th floor in the skyscraper, because the number 4 is homophonous with the Chinese word for “death”. This is why there are no 4th floors in Chinese buildings

- There are 8 floors to the skyscraper and a flag on top of it. There are 8 floors because the number 8 is associated with luck and prosperity in China

Foreground

The images themselves:

0 Hong Kong harbour seafront

Taken at an angle to reflect the lines of the Bank of China Tower and showing the Chinese hibiscus for further context.

1 Langham Place Hotel, Mongkok, Kowloon

Again the angle reflects the lines of the Bank of China Tower and showing the Chinese flag for further context. In the background are the red cabs with white roofs. They are as ubiquitous as the yellow cabs of New York and black cabs of London.

2 Shopping Mall, Mongkok, Kowloon

Shot from high up inside the mall looking out on Mongkok itself.

3 Housing, Kowloon

The image shows housing in Kowloon for the majority of Chinese people. It contrasts with the luxury hotels nearby. The right hand side of the image is square. The centre and left are at an angle. These differences reflect the real contours of the houses straight on.

5 Office, Mongkok, Kowloon

As with the other images this is shot on a level with the tower block itself. This minimises distortion and maximises impact of the architectural details.

6 Bamboo scaffolding, Kowloon

Bamboo is omnipresent in Hong Kong. It represents revitalisation and hope. It is not only the predominant material for scaffolding but also underpins the design of the Bank of China Tower where the sectioned trunk is inspired by the growth patterns of bamboo.

7 Bank of China Tower, Hong Kong Island

The shot is of the mid section of the Tower and displays the predominant diamond shape and the bamboo styling of the building’s facade. The hollowness of the Tower can only be appreciated from the inside.

8 Office, Hong Kong Island

The image shows 1 and 2 Exchange Square and the power and growth of Hong Kong. Such architecture demonstrates the huge development of the Hong Kong Island skyline since the building of the Bank of China Tower in 1990. It has been “outgrown” by a number of its fellow residents which are now the focus of the international business community.

9 Chinese flag with Bank of China Tower, Hong Kong Island

The flag is shot from the ground outside an office on Hong Kong Island. The background adds context as it of a typical, “flat”, hazy, Hong Kong sky. The image shows the growing strength of China as a world power. In particular, the Bank of China and its peers have bought into Western economies, very significantly, in recent years.