Weiss Architecture Studio

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from an Interview from Archijob Magazine 2015 – read the full article in Hebrew

Photography has always been the love of my life. I entered the professional field precisely through film studies. Training as a director and cinematographer shaped my way of looking at the world and the plethora of human actions through the glasses of life stories. For example home photography touches directly on the lives of people and the choices they make. The combination of being able to tell a human story with my love of architecture and design has brought me to the professional place I am in, as an architectural photographer looking at, rather than just technically documenting. it is important for me to leave an opening for a spontaneous movement of life – flapping curtain, passing plane, dog, cyclist. Architecture for me cannot be cut off from life. It was created for us and is in constant contact with humans. This differs from sculpture for example.


What attracted you to the profession?

I was drawn to the broad perspectives, the symmetry, the combination of artificial and natural light, color games, textures and of course the presence or absence of people in images. One static image is like a whole movie in one frozen image. You can direct, move people, control objects in space as much as you can. Unlike working on a film that usually involves working with a large team and burdensome pressure, architecture photography came to me as a perfect scene for creative work, with minimal distractions.

Is it possible to define the style you use to photograph?

My style is a natural style, of course along with enhancements and adjustments, like a model with light makeup. I let light tell the story, in its presence and absence and of course in perspective, through the choice of lens type. All of this implies an inner move that reflects on me as a person, with no distortions, stylistic clichés and grandiose mockery – no need to artificially decorate a building, space or architect. The architectural work is present and it has to speak for itself. I come with an honest approach, explaining space, giving my perspective, my interpretation and not being a documentation technician. Of course, if there is no light or there is a need to change and move objects in the house then we will do and work together to improve the appearance. The human dialogue created on set, while working, can be felt in the pictures. Anyone who works with me knows exactly what I’m talking about, and probably is probably smiling right now.


Description of the work process

When I get to set, I take all the gear I bring with me and just walk around, watch, and feel. I connect with the surroundings without conducting a preliminary tour beforehand. I decide where to start depending on the direction of light, and whether I see the need to add artificial lighting. Together we move objects on the set, ones that need to be removed or moved and of course the selection of angles begins. This process is done in dialogue with the customer. Rarely do I work alone, and exclusively on my own. The customer is always present and even when in hesitation, they always have an insight that can advance the next move. As in life, so too in photography, there is no single truth and I do not have a monopoly on the perfect image. An architect who has been working on a year long project or even on longer is imagining the ‘best’ angles of photography for months before I arrive. At best, I allow fantasies and musings to be expressed, they have a place, and it’s almost always the combination of the client and the photographer’s looks that bring in great results. Perfectionism is a useful feature in the field, as long as it does not become exaggerated with. What is needed to understand is that a degree of flexibility and understanding that striving for perfection is something that is to be required as an aspiration and not interpreted as an objective reality.


Tell us about a project you are particularly proud of

I am proud of projects where I was able to bring the spirit of the place or structure forward to the screen and is directly related to various elements of the site. For example, the relationship between the building, the environment and the people who live, work or spend time in it. With regard to the authentic perception of the spirit of the place, it is very important for me not to distort the perspective as much as possible. Distortions are an unacceptable interpretation and usually indicate a lack of professionalism. Of course, with the exception of situations where distortion, the angular curve is an artistic choice. The time of photography is also an influential factor – the exact moment can be at twilight or at noon when the sun is scorching and the shadows are harsh.
A professional and skilled architectural photographer needs to know how to work with light, in very delicate layers, to combine interior and exterior, sometimes allowing areas in the picture to be even more shaded or dark. I believe photography that is too bright is due to fear. There is no place where darkness can not be found and no object that does not have a shadow. One of the buildings that I was able to accurately grasp in the spirit of its design and location is the Porter building at Tel Aviv University, which bears a cliff above the Ayalon lanes. They were two days of a grueling journey that brought tremendous satisfaction.


What is the future of the field?

Often, when asked about the future of the profession, I find it difficult to answer. Not just in the field of architecture and design, but in photography in general. For example because it is a technology-dependent field, it’s difficult to predict what will happen in a decade. Photography in the form of a hobby has become very accessible, a lot of people buy equipment, experience in the field and also become professional in it. On the other hand, it is possible, for example, for home photographers to use self-contained small, artificial intelligence cameras which are loaded with pre-prepared computer simulations, in which advanced HDR software will record the house without human touch. Maybe the photographer is on the verge of extinction? There’s no telling. Personally, I believe that the human touch and the human perspective are irreplaceable. Capturing the moment here and now and the infringing choice and dialogue are critical and essential features of every day satisfying photography.

© All Rights Reserved to Shai Epstein