Capturing a Landscape

Julien Kambor

What do you look for when taking a photograph?

I’m taking pictures of visually interesting buildings or scenes in the urban landscape which I experience. I was always interested in the built environment, and what effect it has on the people who experience it. The scenes I capture evoked some kind of emotion in me when I saw them. In a sense I’m documenting and sharing my personal journeys, be it a walk in the neighbourhood or a city trip. Primarily, it’s a satisfying occupation in my free time, and enables me to creatively express myself.

What does the term ‘art’ mean to you?

Since the term is so subjective, I’d like to share my personal favourite work of art. It’s the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher, who documented the typologies of (industrial) buildings and structures. I admire their systematic approach, execution and presentation, which influenced a whole photographic movement.

 

There is a clear sense of form and structure within your work. Is this central to the images you create?

Definitely. I’m drawn to clear geometry, pattern and textures, with the occasional plant peaking in.

What themes are integral to your work? Lighting seems to be key?

Lighting is integral, but only a by-product I would say, since I often don’t plan my pictures. One re-occurring theme are various architectural elements of the second half of the 20th century, which add a certain nostalgia to the images. On a more technical note, I prefer to shoot buildings or corners from an angle and not straight on, as well as keeping the vertical lines straight, which adds a certain realism.

Composition is clearly considered within your work. When producing an image how much planning is involved? Are scenes captured spontaneously?

Often there is no planning involved. Most of my pictures are captured on spontaneous walks. However, sometimes I visit a certain area of a town with the intention of taking pictures there. If I was dedicated to photography full-time, my approach would probably change and be more systematic. Almost all my pictures are cropped or straightened, therefore the final composition is created in front of the laptop.

Can you tell us more about a particular image or series of images? What inspired them? What are you looking to say?

I saw this train station of a small place near my hometown while passing by in a train. I was fascinated by its bright yellow tiles, a design decision, which I found out later, was made in the early 90s. One Sunday, I went there and took pictures of the underpass to the tracks. The place is quite photogenic in my opinion. However, many people would probably describe it as ugly. Somebody online said the tiles were probably yellow in order for the piss stains in the underpass not to be visible.

There is a clear absence of human life in much of your work which is juxtaposed with the constructed scenes you are capturing. Why is this?

A simple answer: I don’t feel very comfortable taking pictures of strangers.

All your work is photographical. What do you find this offers you that other art forms do not?

I like the speed of which an image can be created. I tried digital drawing before, but never had the patience to do more than a few images. In the future, I might look more into digital collages!

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