By SavithaHira Information courtesy &Photography: Hélène Binet |
On World Photography Day, IAnD brings you an insight into the working of Hélène Binet, one of the leading architectural photographers in the world…
A photograph immortalizes the moment; a moment that brings back memories, relativity, and reignites the emotional response. For connoisseurs of architecture, such photographs hold immeasurable value. For the architects, such meaningful photographic representations of their works garner immense professional gratification and add value to their portfolios; and for the photographer herself, it is a personal and professional high, integral to the evolvement of her proficiency.
Hélène Binet, architectural photographer to stalwart architects like Zaha Hadid, Daniel Libeskind, Peter Zumthor, Studio Mumbai, and many others, stands apart for her contribution to vivid architectural imagery.
Bred in Rome against a strong cultural backdrop, Hélène’s interest in photography was sparked soon after high school, when she began capturing ballet performances and musicians for posterity. It was after her graduation in the mid 80’s, during her work with the Grand Theatre de Genève that she met noted architects John Hejduk and Daniel Libeskind, who were instrumental in initiating her into space and its representation.
Her first architectural photographs were of Daniel Libeskind’s Machines at the Venice Biennale, Italy, in 1985. Three years later, she received her first commission - a building for Ar. John Hejduk in Germany. This as they say, was the beginning of a long successful journey. All along, the latter’s contribution to Hélène’s art, always making her go back to the first idea of a building, was complemented by inputs from Alvin Boyarsky, then Dean of Architectural Association School of Architecture (AA).
Following the work of contemporary architects – often from concept to completion, Hélène has worked with the likes of Alvar Aalto, Geoffrey Bawa, Le Corbusier, Sverre Fehn, Sigurd Lewerentz, Andrea Palladio and Dimitris Pikionis. Her lens moves from capturing historical details to contemporary stylizations, period to modern architecture, large building complexes to the minutest structural details. And each time, the photographer forges a new connect. “I think the ultimate emotion is linked to the building and the size of the building. I walk around the building making marks on the ground. In a way, I see if I can control it,” she once said. “So every building communicates something different to me. I mean it's always about a feeling of control because I put all the lines into the frame and decide exactly where they’re going to be.”
From husband, Ar. Raoul Bunschoten, she discovered how architecture could be a way to question and understand, delving deeper into the subject, and how various challenges could be met with. From Dimitris Pikionis, renowned Greek architect of the 20th century, Hélène learnt the importance of scale, materiality and details; and how architects play with them.
She dedicates herself to photography, enjoying every moment of her vocation, critically appraising herself with every assignment. French photographer, Lucien Hervé’s approach to architecture and light has influenced her with his characteristic style of cropped frames, oblique views and pared-down compositions tending toward abstraction that combined a humanist outlook with an architect’s eye.
French cinematographer Henri Alekan’s complete commitment to create a world only with light and 17th century Dutch painter, Johannes Vermeer’s precise interior compositions, with a focus on the play of light, have added on to Hélène’s repertoire as she works a lot with weather and natural light.
Hélène’s work for Peter Eisenman and Luigi Moretti among other stalwarts has resulted in images that crackle with light, shadow and texture, always forming an intimate investigation of the building in question.
The Swiss-born photographer looks at buildings with the eye of a true artist and her photographs not only bring inanimate materials to life but also somehow seem to invest them with a soul.
Ar. Daniel Libeskind has commented on Hélène’s extraordinary ability to capture the contours of a building without flattening them. “She exposes architecture’s achievements, strength, pathos and fragility,” he’s said. Hélène prides her work with analogue photography, and continues to work exclusively with film. In her own words, “I cannot define my style; I think this is the work of a critic.”
Informed by an interest in Geology, Hélène has lately started photographing nature; examining the formations of a landscape, their structures, and their physical process of change; herein, she aspires to transpose her learnings in architectural photography. IAnD recommends further reading on Hélène Binet: Interview:http://uk.phaidon.com/store/photography/composing-space-9780714861197/ www.helenebinet.com
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: Helene Binet, photography, Architecture, architectural photographer, vitra, zaha hadid, peter zumthor, John Hejduk, Daniel Libeskind, Raoul Bunschot,