The Eye of an Architect.
The world´s leading architecture magazines do it, as the world´s leading architects. Publishing firms, artgalleries, advertising agencies and glossy lifestyle magazines do it too. Do what? Use the services of Swedish architectural photographer Åke E:son Lindman. His distinguished portfolio includes palaces and cabins, Italian gardens, functional-style buildings, embassies, and the most fabulous lofts. Hotels and guesthouses, private homes, cities and restaurants. From the most ancient to the very, very latest. Many of us has wondered: what does he see that seems to escape the eyes of so many other photographers? Is it the subject matter, the angle, the light and shadows, which in his images interplay to create an almost perfect reproduction of the spatility? Is it his passionate interest that lets him perceive so quickly the perfection inherent in the architecture he is depicting?
“Above all, it is his ability to see what can be photographed, what can be used to make an image,” answers Peder Alton, architecture and photography critic. He doesn´t need to think for a long time to find the best angle. He is quick, gets a great deal done, and presumably would like to photograph everything if only that were possible.”
Olof Hultin, former editor-in-chief of Arkitektur magazine, has this to say: “Åke E:son Lindman is the Swedish architectural photographer who continually and with a sure instinct seeks to develop his proffessionalism- which as an editor one appreciates. Not all photographers share his genuine interest in architecture. This means that he sees the architecture, not the image, as what is most important. As a result he is now succeeding more and more in photographing the space and not the object. That is where the wheat is really seperated from the chaff!”
Lindman himself believes that his strength lies in being able to depict a space precisly as it is, often straight on from a central perspective. As soon as his gaze falls on an object he knows what the image will be and exactly where he should stand with his camera.
“I have the eye of both an architect and a photographer,” he says. He studied photography at the University Collage of Arts, Crafts and Design (Konstfack) in Stockholm at the end of the 1970s but it was only a decade later that he chosed to focus solely on architecture. His decision was the result of a commission to record for posterity a housing fair in Upplands Väsby near Stockholm. While doing the job he realised that not many photographers specialised in spatiality. He therefore allowed his already deep-rooted interest in art and architecture to blossom. Before choosing to specialise he had also worked in fields of artphotography and documentaries. His architectural photographs seldom contains people, partly because of their long exposure times and partly because people are seldom as perfect and timeless as the spaces he is depicting.
“We humans are far more dated because of our clothing fashions,” he says. “Architecture is more timeless, even though it is also marked by time in things like the choice of materials and designs.”
Looking back on his career now Lindman says that since he decided to focus on architecture hardly a single commission has felt uninspiring. His passion is evident in his smile as he explains the ambition behind his work: to make the image a little better than the reality.
Text: Susanne Helgeson