Art is all around us, we just need to look for it. That is a philosophy I have clung to for many years. It is what separates photographers from snap-shot takers. When it comes to the built environment, everything is also art in its own way. An architect designs a building not only to provide a functional space, but also as a statement: Art in the urban landscape. Architectural photography is therefore art from art. This week, I would like to share with you a photo by Mark Heath which features the art of a structure: Towards The Sky.
There are millions of buildings around the world, yet no two exactly alike (unless by design). In my opinion, architecture is the largest form or art or sculpture that is imaginable. Unless viewing from a large distance, you cannot fit the entire sculpture into your view.
This poses two challenges for the architectural photographer: Identifying the characteristics that makes this building unique and beautiful, and figuring out how to fit it into the frame so that the photo is, in and of itself, also art.
A talented photographer like Mark Heath has already become well versed in the first of architectural photography: There are no rules. Because of the size of the subject, it is expected that things will get cut off, distortion will occur, and your visual statement in your photograph will be very different from what the architect was trying to say. And that’s okay, because it isn’t the architect’s statement we’re concerned about, it’s yours. So in Towards The Sky, Mark has ignored the laws of physics and he has presented us with a composition that isn’t rooted in our world. Nothing is firmly planted on the ground and our perspective of the building is somewhat skewed. It’s as if the building is leaning a bit in some sort of surreal universe. He has embellished that concept through the use of dramatic processing. The colors are more vivid then they may be in real life, the shadows and bright spots are have more contrast than we would expect and the sky is certainly more looming than it could ever be in real life. When the sky is that deep in color, the clouds are not going to be that fluffy. His handling of the photograph does more than create surreal imagery, it pushes the viewer to explore the details more deeply. The building remains unique and beautiful when it’s rooted in the real world, of course, but Mark has created an entirely different work of art from this subject through his photography.
Mark Heath is a transplant from the United Kingdom, currently living and photographing in Shanghai, China. He is a street and architectural photographer whose work is available through Getty Images. Living in such a beautiful and cultural rich city provides him a limitless supply of subjects, and I believe he makes every opportunity to cover as much of it as he can. Towards The Sky is only an example of his architectural works – an area in which he excels. But I feel his strongest and most inspiring photography is actually is street captures, where the anthropology of the world is on display and is captured by Mark exceptionally. So please do link up with Mark over on Flickr and be prepared to be inspired often.