The City of Angels has the largest concentration of architectural, engineering and construction professionals on California’s West Coast; Los Angeles also boasts a broad range of museums and cultural venues where WAN learned of the work of renowned architectural photographer Nico Marques. Our LA Correspondent Katerina Hojgrova had the pleasure of interviewing Nico and learning more about his captivating photography, an essential part of every building project.
Where did your passion for architectural photography come from?
Architecture shapes most of the everyday environment around us and has a major impact on all aspects of our lives. Photography reflects and documents life, and at the same time tells a story without needing to use words. Combining the two puts architectural photographers in a position of a simultaneous documentarian and storyteller of the built environment, with the task of showing a project to an audience that will most likely never get to see that physical structure. This is quite a responsibility and truly fascinating to me.
From an early age, I had an interest in architecture, art and photography. Growing up in Portugal and Germany, I remember receiving my first camera for St. Nicolas Day when I must have been about five. I proceeded to try and take underwater photos in the bathtub (with consequences quite surprising to me at the time), but even then I did not stop after ‘a slight bit of controversy’.
Following this early age of experimentation I went on to discover Sebastião Salgado's deeply moving body of work and was hooked, photographing my surroundings ever since. Later, another Brazilian gentleman named Oscar Niemeyer added the architectural sense of awe and thus planted the seed which grew into the Nico Marques / Photekt brand.
Have you ever been tempted to train as an architect? When did it become a career?
Yes, and I do, in fact, have a Master of Architecture degree from SCI-Arc in Los Angeles. I also worked as a designer and project manager for several national and international architectural firms for more than a decade. During this time I started to oversee and coordinate photo shoots for our projects due to my experience in the field of photography prior to my architectural career. My boss and the principal of a partnering firm were not satisfied with the work of a photographer we had hired and who had shot without client representation, so they asked me to fly to the high-profile location to supplement the initial shoot with my photographs. My work hit the mark and something 'clicked' in my head: I can combine two of my life-long passions into one profession! Thus began my architectural photography career with the Nico Marques / Photekt brand established shortly thereafter.
How has the boom in online architecture/design blogs affected architectural photography?
Social networking platforms such as Instagram, Flickr, Pinterest, to name a few, have been heavily criticized by some for ‘cheapening’ the profession. I disagree, as I think that these outlets are just another set of tools in the hands of the professional, and I believe that one should embrace them to the fullest. On some level I am still stupefied by the fact that friends and colleagues can take photographs pretty much anywhere in the world and share them instantly if they choose to do so.
This kind of immediacy of information flow also appears to be blurring the distinction between print and digital outlets more and more as the kind of reach a middle-of-the-road website is able to achieve can only be matched by high exposure publications. I do own far too many books and magazines as I thoroughly enjoy sitting down and perusing the printed artefact, but the immediacy of information flow on sites such as yours or others becomes irresistible when put in the context of today’s society.
Have I found more work as a result of my online presence? Absolutely, as potential clients are able to locate you much more easily and your audience is magnified to a high degree through blogs and related websites. Only two weeks ago I picked up a job for a multi-national lifestyle brand after an advertising agency had seen my work on a photography blog. It doesn’t get much more direct than that.