Finding the Good Side of Buildings
For photographer Alex Mesquita, great architecture is his muse. He finds his frames in their focal points, textures, tones and shapes.
“I am always looking for places with perfect symmetry, especially spiral staircases, modern architecture”
We often hear the term “In photography, there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality”, but what does it take to achieve the perfect picture? The perfect picture communicates a building’s relationship with space and time or rather “freezes the moment”. It also allows people to obtain a visual understanding of spaces and buildings they may never have the opportunity to visit.
Alex Mesquita, an architectural photographer from Brazil based in the Netherlands, captures the stunning elements of buildings-interesting focal points, textures, tones, shapes — creating a valuable resource that allows us to expand our architectural vocabulary. The 31-year-old believes that “that through photography you can let other people see your imagination and inspire them through your photos”.
“I have always been interested in photography, but I never had any time for it while I was living and working in Brazil. Everything changed when I moved to the Netherlands in 2015,” he says. “When I arrived, I had more free time and I had to put my energy in something that I liked. From then I really developed my passion for traveling and, of course, photography.”
But he didn’t find his muse right away. “At the beginning, I literally took photos of everything, but after a while, I discovered my eye always went to nice clean lines and unusual buildings and so started my passion for photographing architecture,” he says.
The work began before the actual travel, with Alex googling architecture sites. “I am always looking for places with perfect symmetry, especially spiral staircases, modern architecture etc. I also find out if it is a public building or a commercial building you cannot always visit. At times, you need to ask authorization before you can enter.” Then when he arrives at the location, he just needs to take the picture.
But it’s not as simple as that. “When photographing architecture, you of course need the right equipment. For example, it is almost impossible to take photos of the interior of buildings without a wide-angle lens. You need to study the light, the lines of the object you want to photograph.”A few trial shots are needed to discover the perfect angle for the picture, he says. Sometimes retouching comes to the rescue. “While editing I can put back the light I was not able to get on the original photo. I do always try as close to reality as possible, with architecture I usually use a big angle lens. They can cause distortions in the photos and with re-editing I can make that right,” he adds.
Alex has photographed some iconic structures in Europe but he speaks fondly of some lesser-known ones, like the library in Stuttgart, where he achieved the right symmetry of the stairs and the lines. “One of my favorite photos of all time is a bridge in Belgium, I loved the lines of the bridge, and the composition it makes resembles a “largemouth” with a nice combination of light outside and dark inside. But something was missing. So, I put the timer on my camera using my tripod and put myself in the photo. Just this one thing made can make the picture totally different as before this the picture looked empty. Details do count!” he says.
It’s the details that allow people to see your imagination and be inspired, he says. “While travelling, I discover new places, new cities, and new destinations and it provides me immense happiness to see other people get inspired by the places I visited and photographed. I try to contribute to the community and show all of the beauty we have in this world through the pictures I take.”
Drones, he says, are the next frontier in architecture photography. “I think drones are an amazing addition to the arsenal. Not only to take that one angle you could never reach with a normal camera while clicking photos of a certain building but also when you want to photograph landscape architecture. There are some amazing examples of landscape architecture here in the Netherlands but also everywhere in the world. It could be a building in the shape of a tulip-like the university in Enschede or the beautiful marine park in Lemmer. This is an amazing development and gives you a lot more options while travelling,” he says.
(Interviewed by PriyalSood, Edited by Ayswarya Murthy)