This week on the Prodibi Pixel Magazine, we go to Paris to interview Pierre Châtel-Innocenti and to discuss architecture photography.
Known for his minimalistic and colorful photography style, Pierre is a master at photographing both exteriors and interiors.
Let's discover his work and the artistic touch he gives to buildings, all powered by Prodibi!
A few words about you. How did you start photography?
So my name is Pierre Châtel-Innocenti, I’m a professional photographer from France. I work across all Europe doing architectural photography for various types of clients. As a matter of fact, I started taking pictures professionally only a few months ago, after working many years as a computer engineer in the public and private sectors.
Photography really began for me 2 years ago, as a hobby. It was a really difficult time for me, at a personal level: I knew I was not fully happy as an engineer and I was looking for a creative outlet outside of work. This is how it really began. All my time outside of work was devoted to roaming the Paris region, finding good spots and then editing. At the time, of course, I couldn't have guessed that this will lead to me quitting my job and switching careers! Which I did this year :D
Did you try other photography styles? Or architecture has always been your favorite one?
I was probably always drawn to urban settings, so street photography in general also remains a big subject for me. In my pure architectural shots, buildings come to the center stage… and keystoning becomes a religion ;)
I’m not an architect by trade but have been fascinated with modern and contemporary architecture for many years now. I come from the small French archipelago of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, and the main city there is mostly composed of small wood houses. So, when I moved to Europe 18 years ago, I became quite obsessed with this particular big-city atmosphere, in which buildings play such big part.
Part of the fascination for me is about how architecture is so embedded in our lives and yet almost no-one is really paying day-to-day attention to it, outside of experts of course. In my photography work, I then try to focus on the interaction of these buildings with their environment, with light, rain, clouds… and with people.
Can you briefly explain your creative process for a great architecture shot?
There are many things to take into account and focus will be put on different aspects depending on the context: on pure visual creativity if I’m shooting for myself, and on technical rigor if I’m shooting for a client such as an architect. On a weekend, if clouds are cooperative I will just roam around and shot, using just visual pleasure as my creative compass. Whereas an order is more about planning and finding common creative ground with the client.
In both cases, the building - interior or exterior - is your main subject, so you have to find great angles and be very aware of light and how it plays with surfaces. In the end, the “shooting” itself is just a small part of the equation. In fact, when shooting for a client, I probably take more time planning and visiting than actually shooting.
Another tip would be to mix the more common wide-angle shots with detail shots of specific textures and design touches that really bring the building to life.
Is there a particular building in the world you dream to photograph or a particular goal you wish to reach?
There are so many, it’s difficult to pinpoint one in particular. Lately, I’ve been drawn to the impressive buildings from Rotterdam but I’m missing the opportunity to go visit. I’m thinking for instance about this gigantic tower named “De Rotterdam” by Rem Koolhaas. If you know how to make that possible…. ;)
Also, I’m quite fond of minimalist aesthetics and as such was really happy to realize a huge documenting work for Henning Larsen Architects in Denmark a few months ago. I hope to be able to go back to Denmark, as I become quite fond of the country, its people, and its architecture!
bout your photography gears, what are your favorite tools?
I do think a lot about photography gear. It’s a common condition in the profession! My favorite and most versatile tool is my Sony Alpha 7III which I use daily. Combined with wide-angle Sony lenses (Zeiss SEL-1635Z and SEL-2470Z) most of my needs are covered. I also own a beloved middle format Mamiya 645 film camera that I’m planning to use for some architectural shots. But I may need to take on some muscle before that!
Do you have projects for the future like workshops or travels?
As I was saying at the beginning of this interview, I switched careers only a few months ago. So let just say that my main project for the coming months is about securing this new freelancing position, building relationships with new clients, and taking as many pictures professionally as possible … while enjoying every minute of it. If you’re an architect reading this interview and would like to work with me, feel free to contact me!
To see more from Pierre:
All photographs copyright Pierre Châtel-Innocenti and used with his permission.
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