When observing architecture and landscape through still images there can be an inclination to overlook the composition, but rather to reflect on what lies within the photograph. However, the manner of which we observe an architectural and landscape photograph is deciphered by the person behind the lens, the photographer.
The photographer artfully constructs a perspective, angle, or standpoint of which captures the architectural achievement and surrounding landscape successfully aesthetically and/or sensitively. We spoke to architectural photographer Leonardo Finotti to discuss his journey from architect to architectural photographer and his recent Rio Reenquadrado photoseries.
You studied and obtained a degree in Architecture, why did you shift your eye for architecture from design to photography?
I studied both architecture and photography. By the time I had to finish my architecture degree, I managed to do my final work with photography. The real decision was made when I travelled to Italy and finally moved to Lisbon. There I started shooting landscape architecture and never stopped.
You often work in conjunction with architects, how does this compare to capturing architectural achievements of the past?
Naturally, it is a good thing to have the architect AROUND, to understand THEIR intentions and desires, but in the end, is not that different. For me, to shoot for a client or to shoot for personal work is a similar process. Of course, when you have a client you deal with other’s expectations, you need to deliver. But when I am the client, so to speak, I am very demanding as well.
For the last couple of years you’ve been working on the photoseries, “Rio Reenquadrado”, what about Rio’s landscape inspired you to build a series around it?
I have two lines of work that coincide in the Rio series. On the one hand, I keep rigorously exploring modern architecture; on the other hand, I like to track those informal and anonymous landscapes you can find in Latin American cities. Rio stands out in modern architecture (think on Niemeyer, Burle Marx, Reidy, and much more) and has this informal side, one can say this wild side.
In Rio’s scene there is always the presence of the landscape, even if it is a little garden.
Besides, I like to structure my work in series. For that line of work, I usually partner with Michelle Jean de Castro, who is involved in the design of the installations. In the B&W squared series, I felt like rephotographing my own work since the originals are colour and rectangular.
In the “Rio Reenquadrado” series you do not focus exclusively on architecture, was this your intention when going into the project or did it develop organically when the project commenced?
In the beginning, all of the series develop organically. I mean, I didn’t know that this was going to be a series until a few years ago, but some of the images were taken ten years ago or more. Revisiting the archive allowed me to think on the series, and then went back to Rio and shot what was missing.
In Rio landscape and architecture are often merged, and Roberto Burle Marx has a lot of responsibility in that. Art is also very present, mainly in the form of murals.
Is there significance in the series being shot on black and white film?
Black and white is a way of structuring all information and highlighting its essence.
Your work has taken you across the globe. How would you say Rio’s (or Brazil’s) architectural landscape differs from other cities?
I have an ongoing project on Latin American Modern Architecture, which has been exhibited several times and published by Lars Muller. In that series you can find few patterns; Rio’s modern architecture differs not only from the rest of Latin American but also from São Paulo or Belo Horizonte. In Rio’s scene, there is always the presence of the landscape, even if it is a little garden. In many of those scenes which would look natural in my photos
most of them are artificial landscapes such as Flamengo Landfill, Copacabana sidewalks and Tijuca Forest.
Who are the Brazilian architects and photographers that have inspired you and your career?
This one is always a hard answer. Paulo Mendes da Rocha’s consistency inspires me. His conviction in the power of architecture is moving. As for the photographer, when I was starting with this career I had a master who trusted and trained me, Thomaz Harrell.