When Nicephore Niepce created the first ever photograph of the world in 1826, he chose to point his camera at a building. Architecture has been an iconic subject of photography from the very beginning, and Phaidon’s new book, Shooting Space, surveys how artists new and established are looking at man-made structures.
For me, a book like Shooting Space comes not a moment too soon, when the internet is abound with a brand of architecture photography that reduces the genre to sharp angled views of shadowed skyscrapers and lush shots showing off the latest hot architect’s modern creation. Documenting structures and spaces can and should be much more than that.
Opening up Shooting Space will put you face to face with not only buildings, but cityscapes, digital manipulations, and collages.
Architecture of Density #39, Hong Kong, Michael Wolf, 2005 Courtesy Michael Wolf and Flowers London
Untitled #3 (Chicago), Illinois, American Cities, Catherine Opie, 2004 Regen Projects and Stephen Friedman
Liepaja, Latvia, Geert Goiris, 2004 Courtesy Geert Goiris and Art:Concept Paris
As is typical with Phaidon books, there are plenty of the canonical names of art-photography packed in. As much as it’s understandable to want some star-power inside, it’s definitely a bit of an exercise in redundancy. Do we really need to see that one Gursky picture for the thousandth time? You’ll also have to labour past the uninspired descriptive blurbs for each photographer. Luckily, none of this takes away from the power of the images. Shooting Space will make you think past the conventional representation of architecture, and suck you in to our man-made world in ways you never expected.
Shooting Space: Architecture in Contemporary Photography by Elias Redstone, $US79.95 / £49.95 / €65.00, Phaidon 2014, www.phaidon.com
Chongging XI, Chongging Municipality, Nadav Kander, 2007
Courtesy Nadav Kander and Flowers London