Photographing Gaudí


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I think that I am not an architectural photographer specialized in heritage: I would say that it is not something that I have provoked but that has happened and with what I feel very comfortable.

Always from the beginning of my professional career I have photographed contemporary architecture for architects, designers, publishers, communication, strategic marketing agencies and industrial firms mainly. Architecture of the 20th century since I started taking pictures in the early 90's and the 21st century as long as my career progresses.

I photographed my first heritage building in 2014, the Palace of the Generalitat , commissioned by the Office of the President of the Generalitat of Catalonia for the book commemorating the 600th anniversary of the palace. Without being really conscious of it, I made a leap of six centuries from contemporary to gothic architecture.

Although I understand very well that all art masterpieces are considered to a large extent like this because they do exceed the barrier of time, I never imagined myself in the situation of representing in my photographs that unique ability to transcend time for a work of architecture. I can perfectly assume this quality for paintings or sculptures in a museum but I have to admit that I was not used to see heritage with these eyes.

Surely because architecture is part of the landscape and it is easy not to see it when you relate to it on a daily basis, that does not mean that its essential qualities are not as prominent as those of any other work of art: that is, as in whatever photographs of contemporary architecture, my intent is always looking for and making visible those of a heritage building because that is what really confers them both their personality and the quality of permanence over the centuries.

In the case of photographing the works of Gaudí this idea is especially important given the density of concept and detail in all of its buildings. When I photograph his work I always have in mind a phrase from one of Vincent's letters to Theo van Gogh: 'I am trying now to exaggerate the essential and purposely leave the obvious things vague'. That is, in my opinion, the key to photographing Gaudí.

I also keep with me three more ideas that inspire all my work of interpretation in photographs of Gaudí's buildings: the first one, trying not to be overwhelmed by the fascination that causes in me what I see so I can always keep a cheerful and open minded attitude for –second idea– to be able to share in my photographs the emotion of discovery of all the big and small details that I capture with my camera. This way I can achieve that viewers from all over the world can also discover and interpret what I see with the same sincere fascination.

And third idea and perhaps the one that supposes a more demanding challenge, to be very conscious that the work of Gaudí has been and is continuously photographed almost to the infinite and beyond, that every day thousands of new images by tourists, amateurs and professionals are being uploaded to the internet and are available to anyone, anywhere: knowing this, my duty as a photographer is to portray Gaudí with a new and different look to confer my photographs the power to stand out in an immense ocean of images. If I work with all the rigor I am capable of, I can really make that difference.

All the Gaudí works that I have photographed, directly or indirectly, have been created on assignment for the companies that manage the buildings –several of them in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites catalog– to collaborate in their printed and digital communications. With my photographs I have accomplished to attract new traffic and visits counted by millions to the pages that have published the images, that’s why we shoot them.

I know that I still have to photograph many of Gaudí's works besides the ones that I have portrayed so far –the Batlló House, the Gaudí Crypt, the Palau Güell, the Vicens House and El Capricho–, like many others of the Catalan, Spanish and World architectural heritage buildings and I hope to be able to work in the future on new photography projects with the companies and institutions that may require me.

A good communication in photographs is an essential part of the preservation of heritage and I am happy to be able to contribute to it with my professional abilities.


David Cardelús