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 Germany/Switzerland-based architectural photographer Yohan Zerdoun.
Archinect: What is your relationship with architecture? What drew you to architecture, as a photographer?
Yohan Zerdoun: I love photography for the same reasons I love architecture; for its human, artistic, and technical aspects.
I had the chance to grow up in many different countries and already as a young boy I developed a passion for image and space.
Since my childhood, I remember to have had the desire to become an architect. In class I was drawing sketches of imaginary buildings in my notebooks, while my classmates dreamed of becoming policemen or super-heroes … a job with a uniform.
Photography came to me during my adolescence … I was immediately bewitched by the camera and by the position as a photographer, by the need to be aware of all what surrounded me. Since then, I never left my camera.
I studied architecture in Paris and after I graduated, I started to work for Diener & Diener Architects in Basel, Switzerland. I realized that architectural photography could have a role in my life thanks to the architects I met every day.
They discovered and enjoyed my photographs and were asking me more and more to be the one to photograph their projects.
Describe how you work... who are your clients?
YZ: Of course it depends on the architect and the project.
My way of working is quite simple, I am getting a phone call and an email with the data I need, the site plan, some drawings of the project, maybe a text and until when they need the photographs. And I'm on my way.
My works are mainly commissioned by architects but also by editors as well as public and private institutions.
Do you mostly work in a specific region? What is your travel schedule like?
YZ: Every time I receive a call it's a new surprise, to learn about my next destination…. I go wherever they need me.
Architectural photographer is a field work and it's a part of my pleasure.
My schedule is different from week to week and from month to month, it depends on the commissions I receive and on my own projects.
What is your goal when capturing buildings in photographs?
YZ: An architect calls upon a photographer for several reasons, two of which are very important for the architect and his agency.
First, an architect needs to have a history of his personal work for the future and also to have good references for potential clients. It is then important for me to witness and to enhance the project as a whole.
The second reason is equally important, the communication. A project needs to be published to promote the architect or an institution. This can be achieved through specialized magazines or websites, blogs, or through their own internet site. This is why I attach great importance to aestheticism and composition in my photographs.
What are your thoughts about including people in your photos? Is it important to photograph a building in use, or by itself?
YZ: It depends on the situation and on the result I want to have.
I'm not against having people in my photographs, on the contrary, this may give an idea of how the space is used and about the scale of the building.
It is important for me that the building remains the main subject of my photos.
What are your favorite pieces of equipment?
YZ: My spirit level.
Do you work alone?
YZ: Yes, I usually photograph alone.
How do you feel about seeing your photographs on blogs and websites?
YZ: The aim of my work is to highlight the projects of the architects for whom I work, so it's always a satisfaction for me to see my photographs published in blogs or websites.
Nevertheless, I always ask the details and the purpose of the publication not to be diverted from its original purpose, architecture, and ask to be credited for my work as the photographer.
Yohan Zerdoun works as a photographer for architecture offices, editors as well as public and private institutions.
Born in Paris in 1980, Yohan Zerdoun shared his early years between France, Israel and England, and today lives in Germany and Switzerland. Inspired by his travels, already as a teenager he developed a devotion for image and space.
At the age of 22, he began his architectural studies in Paris, where he graduated as an Architect in 2008.
He then joined the agency Diener & Diener Architects located in Basel, Switzerland, while continuing to deepen his passion for photography.
In 2012, Yohan Zerdoun founded his own office of architectural photography.