Brutalist Architecture – A creative project.

Brutalist Architecture – A creative project.

Celebrating Brutalist Architecture in London. A personal creative project.

As a professional photographer I need to develop my creative skills in order to progress my art. Setting myself personal projects helps me to achieve this aim. A great area of interest for me is architectural photography and a project centred around brutalist architecture fulfils that need. 

For me it is a very suitable project as many examples of this type of architecture can be found reasonably close to home. A trip along the South Bank and onwards though the City of London can be achieved in one session.

A black and white image of the Barbican development.

Brutalist Architecture – the answer in austere times?

The style known as brutalist originated during the 1940’s in France, although it did not make an appearance in the UK until the 1950’s. The first proposal for utilising the style was a house in Soho which was never built. The plan was put forward as a property with warehouse aesthetic of bare concrete and wood.

During the 1960’s the style developed with the predominant use of ‘Breton Brut’ or raw concrete. Patterns were created on the concrete giving the impression of wooden shuttering. Scale was important with the emphasis on mass. Large concrete slabs were employed with textured surfaces. Service ducts and ventilation towers were very much in evidence.

The style suited austere times as the materials were cheap, and blocks could be prefabricated. Construction time was minimised which was important as there was a great need for fast reconstruction after the war.

A black and white image featuring brutalist architecture in London

Notable examples in London.

The style was particularly popular in London where there are many fine examples such as the National Theatre and other buildings on the South Bank. These were built on or near the site of the 1951 Festival of Britain which showcased recovery of UK following WW2. The Royal Festival Hall is the only building to survive from the Festival of Britain.

Another fine example is the Barbican Centre built in the City of London. The centre was built in an area that was heavily bombed in WW2. The centre comprises around 2000 flats, a lake and garden. It also houses the Guildhall school of music and drama, a library, a girl’s school and the world-famous Barbican concert hall home to the London Symphony orchestra.

A black and white image featuring brutalist architecture in London

Logistics of the shoot

The beauty of working in a city such as London is that it is easily accessible and can be worked by foot in a relatively compact area.

A return trip into Waterloo and a brisk walk along the South Bank and through to the City of London across the millennium bridge opposite the Tate Modern covered the ground.

The shoot took place on a very sunny day which is very conducive for black and white photography although some of the shots were very contrasty and challenged the ability of a DSLR camera.

A black and white image featuring brutalist architecture in London

Post-Production

All the images were taken on a DSLR camera in raw mode and initially processed in Adobe Lightroom as black and white versions. The tonality was adjusted using the black and white mixer sliders.

The photos were then exported to Photoshop as colour versions and converted to black and white using the DXO Silver Effects Pro plug in. This is perhaps the best piece of software to produce excellent black and white images.

You have the option to mimic some of the classic black and white films of old. You can add texture to the image and use their excellent U point technology for local adjustments.

A black and white image of two contrasting spiral staircases.

Observation is part of the creative process.

Of course, thinking in black and white is quite different to thinking in colour. You need to think about shape, form and texture within the image.

Observation is a very important creative process and here I find the juxtaposition of the concrete stairwell and metal fire escape interesting. They complement each other by introducing a similar curve into the composition. There is also added interest as they are constructed of different materials.

How can you be creative.

My inspiration for this shoot came from knowing that some photographic tuition providers advertise this as a day’s training. I thought that I would just go out and do it.

The secret is that there is no secret, and you just need to find something that interests you and plan the shoot. Then just pencil in a day and carry it out. It can be very rewarding, and you can share the results on Instagram or other social media platforms.

https://www.architecture.com/explore-architecture/brutalism

If you feel that you need extra help however you could always contact me to arrange a personal 121 tuition session or refer to my tuition page to learn more

© Andrew Boschier Photography 2022

Commercial Interiors shoot for Falcon Construction.

Commercial Interiors shoot for Falcon Construction.

Many of you are aware that I specialise in residential interior photography however, you may not know that I also cover commercial interiors too.

Introduction

Recently I have undertaken a commercial interiors shoot for a construction company tasked with re-furbishing serviced offices for Regus. The purpose of this shoot was to complete a case study and other marketing material.

Follow the brief

It is of the utmost importance to work to the clients brief when undertaking this sort of work. You need to know what is important to them and how they want the finished set of shots to look.

Of course, the brief for this shoot was particularly exacting with annotated building plans supplied. Care needed to be taken as some of the rooms had been refurbished previously.

A view of the whole glass atrium of an office development showing the reception area and bright blue seating

The challenges

One challenging area was to capture the foyer as it was a large space that occupied the full height of the building.

A specialist tilt shift lens came to the fore here. I could utilise the movement available to take a number of images covering each area of the space. The images were then stitched and blended later in post-production.

A view of the entrance of a refurbished office premises showing the revolving doors.

Of course you need to think outside the box on occasion as you are not in complete control of the situation.

On this shoot I had to rely on the office manager to gain access to certain areas. He was of course very busy, so a degree of patience was required.

A view of the HVAC plant at an office development.

You are also reliant on the British weather while working outside. In this particular case it was pouring with rain all morning and there was a requirement to capture the front of the building as well as the HVAC on the roof.

Of course, I had some appropriate clothing, and the camera is well waterproofed. The problem is ensuring rain does not get on the lens as this can cause problems.

A bright kitchen area in an office development. There are some comfortable seats as well as tables and chairs

I would love to hear from you

If your company has a need for some commercial interiors’ photography, I would love to hear from you.

© Andrew Boschier Photography 2020

https://www.falconuk.co.uk/

https://www.regus.co.uk/

Architectural photography in the City of London

Architectural photography in the City of London

Background

Although I specialise in interior design photography, I am always looking to increase my skills base. Part of this process is to challenge myself. This time I have focussed on architectural photography

I like to carry out creative shoots,  designed to stretch my capabilities. One such shoot was carried out recently in the City of London. My intention was to capture some atmospheric architectural images in black and white.

London is a fantastic location for architectural photography shoots. This is because it is filled with some of the most iconic buildings in the world. Examples include the Gherkin, the Walkie Talkie, Lloyds and Batman building.

A black and white architectural photography of a building with curved glass in London

Issues relating to London

A major problem with carrying out architectural photography in London is that, due to the current terrorist threat, you are viewed with suspicion. Most buildings are regarded as private property and some are even deemed to be copyrighted.

Photography can draw unwelcome attention, especially if you have a large camera and – worse still – a tripod. I have witnessed a Japanese tourist being harassed by security at the London Eye. He only had a small compact camera on top of the flimsiest tripods you could imagine. The security guard kept insisting that he was professional because of this.

So, I chose to carry out the shoot on a Sunday because it would be quiet. I would probably not get disturbed by prying security personnel. They are generally rather lazy when there are no suits in the buildings.

A modern building from an unusual viewpoint with the camera pointing towards the blue sky.

The shoot

The shoot was started close to City Hall, where I had noticed a particularly interesting shaped building. The building was mostly glass with sweeping curves included as part of the design.

I then crossed the river and meandered around the city itself. I just following my nose and taking photos when I found something interesting. I was tending towards buildings with interesting shapes. I was also picking out contrasts between the old and the new.

An overhead view of the concrete staircase in the Blavatnik Building in the Tate Modern. A young woman is halfway up the stairs

Once I had exhausted the City, I crossed the millennium bridge and visited the Tate Modern. I had a very good idea what I was going to photograph and the style in which it was to be presented. I headed straight to the new extension previously known as the Switch House. This is now named the Blavatnik Building after the Russian billionaire who funded the project. The building was designed by the Swiss architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron.

A sepia toned image of the stairwell in the Blavatnik Building. Tate Modern

© Andrew Boschier Photography 2017