In Focus is Archinect's series of features dedicated to profiling the photographers who help make the work of architects look that much better. What has attracted them to architecture? How do they work? What type of equipment do they use? What do they think about seeing their work in blogs?
In this feature, we talk to Portland-based photo artist Jim Kazanjian.
Note from editor: we've departed a little in this article, from our regular "In Focus" series articles, by profiling an artist who specializes in manipulating found architectural photography, rather than photographing the work.
Archinect: What is your relationship with architecture? What drew you to architecture, as a photographer?
Jim Kazanjian: I would have to say my relationship with it borders on obsession. I am fascinated with architecture's inherent properties that allow it to generate narrative constructs, specifically within the medium of photography.
Describe how you work... who are your clients?
JK: My technique could be considered "hyper-collage". I cobble together pieces from photographs found online and feed them into Photoshop. Through a palimpsest-like layering process of adding and subtracting, I eventually merge these various parts together. I am basically manipulating and assembling a disparate array of multiple photographs to produce a single homogenized image. Right now, I am using around 50 photos to create one of my pieces.
In the past, I have done commercial work (as a CGI artist) on projects for Nike, Adidas, Hewlett-Packard, NASA, HBO, NBC, CBS and Intel. My current body of images, which you see here, is strictly "non-client".
Do you mostly work in a specific region? What is your travel schedule like?
JK: Everything is done in the computer. I never have to leave the studio.
What is your goal when capturing buildings in photographs?
JK: With my work, I am using architecture as a phenomenological device to reinforce and distort the viewer's perception of time and space. This results in a visual tension which I feel is key to creating a successful image.
What are your thoughts about including people in your photos? Is it important to photograph a building in use, or by itself?
JK: My focus is on the space inside the photograph. It is all about the ambiance and getting it to resonate. I think once you introduce people, they have the potential to become "characters". The ambiance then becomes secondary, as it gives way to the characters' narrative.
What are your favorite pieces of equipment?
JK: Photoshop. It is the best. I give Adobe credit for not screwing it up after all these years.
Do you work alone?
How do you feel about seeing your photographs on blogs and websites?
JK: I think it's great. Most people will actually credit my work and even link back to my site. The majority of my print sales are the result of someone finding the work on a blog and tracing it back to my gallery.
Jim Kazanjian received his MFA from the Art Center College of Design in '92. His BFA was completed at the Kansas City Art Institute in '90. He has worked professionally as a commercial CGI artist for the past 18 years in television and game production. Various clients he has collaborated with include: Nike, Adidas, NBC, CBS, HBO, NASA, HP, Intel and others. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon.