Rory Gardiner Inteview Feature | Yellowtrace

 

If you’re a regular consumer of architecture and design content (which if you’re reading this, we’ll assume) you’ve probably come across Rory Gardiner’s technical yet ethereal images. Born in Melbourne, Rory studied photography at RMIT before honing his practice in London after a serendipitous week-long trip turned into an 8-year stay. Now he splits his time between Melbourne and London having set up a studio in each, a move he likens to coming full circle.

Rory’s images consistently capture both aesthetic and conceptual beauty, due in part to the fact that he prioritizes visiting all projects prior to a shoot and taking time to simply observe the feel of a space. His father is an architect, which may explain a natural predisposition to being able to connect with an architect or designers’ intention. His portfolio is extremely well-travelled, having shot projects around the world for an impressive rolodex including the likes of David Chipperfield, Carmody Groake, Aires Mateus and Buchner Bründler as well as editorial publications such as Wallpaper*, Monocle and Domus.

But that’s enough from us – read on for more about Rory’s background, practice and thoughts on being a photographer today, including a very articulate take on the pros and cons of Instagram in the current creative zeitgeist.

 

Kunstmuseum by Christ Gantenbein (Basel). Photography by Rory Gardiner | Yellowtrace
Kunstmuseum in Basel by Christ Gantenbein.

Kunstmuseum by Christ Gantenbein (Basel). Photography by Rory Gardiner | Yellowtrace
Kunstmuseum in Basel by Christ Gantenbein.

Swiss National Museum by Christ and Gantenbein (Zurich). Photography by Rory Gardiner | Yellowtrace
Swiss National Museum in Zurich by Christ and Gantenbein.

Swiss National Museum by Christ and Gantenbein (Zurich). Photography by Rory Gardiner | Yellowtrace
Swiss National Museum in Zurich by Christ & Gantenbein.

 

+ Could you please give us a quick introduction on yourself and your background? What lead you to becoming an architectural photographer?

I was born and raised in Melbourne. I studied photography at RMIT and worked as a snowboard photographer in Japan during the summers. It wasn’t until I reflected on the mixed body of work I’d made at University that I begun to feel drawn towards photographing architecture – the images just stood out to me so much more. My dad is also an architect, so it makes a lot of sense in hindsight.

A week out of Uni I got a call from a lecturer saying I’d been shortlisted for a competition in London and that they were offering to fly me there for the week. I didn’t win the competition, but I did stay for 8 years. From there I steadily built a client base in London and then later in Switzerland and Mexico, where I still work regularly. During that period, I began working almost exclusively with analogue, an approach that has kept me feeling excited and connected to my work.

 

Tate Modern Switch House by Herzog & de Meuron (London). Photography by Rory Gardiner | Yellowtrace
Tate Modern Switch House in London by Herzog & de Meuron.

Tate Modern Switch House by Herzog & de Meuron (London). Photography by Rory Gardiner | Yellowtrace
Tate Modern Switch House in London by Herzog & de Meuron.

Museum of Islamic Art by IM Pei (Doha). Photography by Rory Gardiner | Yellowtrace
Museum of Islamic Art in Doha by IM Pei.

 

+ What is your main priority when starting a project? Is there something that is fundamental to your practice – your philosophy and your process?

I believe in working responsively, not formulaically, but this doesn’t negate the need for me to really consider each project first.

It’s really important that I visit a project before a shoot, so I can simply observe how a space feels – it’s a way of connecting with the architect or designers’ intention. I try to look at the way light interacts with materials, how the design sits within its context, and also how people have adopted the space. Often what is most interesting to me are the traces that people have left behind in the space.

 

Punchbowl Mosque By Candalepas Associates (Sydney). Photograohy By Rory Gardiner | Yellowtrace
Punchbowl Mosque in Sydney by Candalepas Associates.

Punchbowl Mosque By Candalepas Associates (Sydney). Photograohy By Rory Gardiner | Yellowtrace
Punchbowl Mosque in Sydney by Candalepas Associates.

Punchbowl Mosque By Candalepas Associates (Sydney). Photograohy By Rory Gardiner | Yellowtrace
Punchbowl Mosque in Sydney by Candalepas Associates. See more about this project here.

 

+ What do you feel is the most challenging part of being a photographer today?

It might be an age-old predicament, but I think trying to find a balance between art and commerce is still the most difficult challenge as a working photographer.

 

Ayla Golf Academy And Clubhouse Aqaba Jordan By Oppenheim Architecture | Yellowtrace
Ayla Golf Academy & Clubhouse in Aqaba, Jordan  by Oppenheim Architecture.

Ayla Golf Academy And Clubhouse Aqaba Jordan By Oppenheim Architecture | Yellowtrace
Ayla Golf Academy & Clubhouse in Aqaba, Jordan by Oppenheim Architecture. See our previous coverage of this project here.

 

+ Social media, particularly Instagram, is saturating creative industries and blurring the concept of ‘professional’ photography – how do you feel about social media as an advantage/disadvantage to your work?

It’s been both. Instagram has encouraged a diverse public discourse around photography and the role of images in society. Most people now have a decent camera in their pocket and this has made photography far more accessible and ingrained in our everyday lives as a means of communication and self-presentation. The result seems to be an increasingly visually discerning population – think back to the over-cooked hipstamatic filters only a few years ago and how this is rejected now. Personally, I find this engagement and exchange of imagery exciting.

Having said that, I am increasingly concerned at the vacuous feedback loop created by the currency of likes and follows. I’ve also noticed a decrease in my ability to concentrate – a critique I’ll happily level at the so called ‘geniuses’ of Silicon Valley.

 

Villa Waalre in Eindhoven by Russell Jones | Yellowtrace
Villa Waalre in Eindhoven, The Netherlands by Russell Jones.

Villa Waalre in Eindhoven by Russell Jones | Yellowtrace
Villa Waalre in Eindhoven, The Netherlands by Russell Jones. See our previous coverage of this amazing house here.

 

+ We understand you’re living back in Australia after quite a few years in London. How are you finding this has affected your work, projects, processes (if at all)?

I’ve just set up a second studio in Melbourne and am now splitting my time between the two cities. It does feel like I’ve come full circle after having spent most of my adult life on the other side of the world and the change is no doubt affecting my work. How I construct familiarity or unfamiliarity with a place has always felt quite important in motivating me to photograph. Moving to Europe, I had years of fresh eyes on new places coupled with a youthful urge to record everything I saw with my camera. Slowly those surrounds familiarised themselves and over time my practice changed to become more intimate. I began to better understand the intricacies of the light, the social and historical contexts and the architectural vernacular of each country I’d revisit. Back in Australia, I’m feeling a new kind of freshness looking at a place I knew so well. I’m noticing peculiarities in spaces I always took for granted and the consequences of the different latitude on the nature of the light here. Geography has such an impact on my work so I’m excited to see how working here changes things.

 

Holiday House in Monterrey, Mexico by Tatiana Bilbao | Yellowtrace
Holiday House in Monterrey, Mexico by Tatiana Bilbao.

Holiday House in Monterrey, Mexico by Tatiana Bilbao | Yellowtrace
Holiday House in Monterrey, Mexico by Tatiana Bilba. See our previous coverage of this incredible house here.

Open-Air Holiday Home in Zicatela Beach, Mexico by Ludwig Godefroy & Emmanuel Picault | Yellowtrace
Open-Air Holiday Home in Zicatela Beach, Mexico by Ludwig Godefroy & Emmanuel Picault.Click To Read Entire Post

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