Symmetry has been perceived by the human eye as a thing of beauty since time immemorial. Now modern photography has provided a new take on the concept of symmetry in architecture. We caught up with Sydney-based photographer Chris CT to ask him about his love for the Leica Q, the architecture of Hong Kong and why looking up brings its own rewards.
What camera and equipment do you use?
Over the years, I have owned SRLs, DSLRs, rangefinder cameras, toy film cameras, compact cameras and mirrorless cameras. Whenever I travel, be it for work or for leisure, I will research the destination for interesting places to explore and to take photos. On my last trip to Asia, I decided I wanted to keep things simple and light. Therefore I took the Leica Q. It has just the right number of controls on the body for easy access.
How would you describe your set-up?
I tend to keep my photography set-up simple. I do not lug around a bag full of lenses, flashes or a tripod. I feel that if I do not have to think about the set-up too much, then it frees me up to focus on taking the shot. This is one of the reasons why I chose a fixed-lens camera.
When did you first become interested in photography?
I took my first photos when I was very young. We had a small rangefinder film camera at home and I would just take photos around the house. I never had the opportunity to formally study photography, but I really enjoyed experimenting and exploring on my own. I think my eyes are drawn to lines, patterns, texture and colors. These things have, in one way or another, influenced the type of photographs I take. I think this may be why I tend to take photos of structures, architecture and city streets.
How did your interest arise in architecture and facades, in particular?
Architecture and facades tend to have all the elements that naturally draw my attention. There are the strong lines and patterns on a facade. And it is a real bonus when I come across a colorful facade!
For our featured shoot you went to Hong Kong. Can you tell us a bit about this trip. What was it that drew you to Hong Kong?
I travel to Hong Kong often to visit family and friends and of course to feed my two interests: food and photography. For this visit, it was the second leg of my Asia trip (I was in Taipei just before Hong Kong). Hong Kong is a real gem when it comes to architecture and facades. I love how it has such a good mix of really modern architecture and older buildings. The older buildings generally have all the elements I like: lines, colors and patterns and typically, the building facades have fantastic color arrangements.
You seem a big fan of symmetry. Could you tell us a bit more about your thoughts on symmetry in photography?
As mentioned, I tend to like lines and patterns. Symmetry shots typically have strong lines or leading lines and patterns to them. Symmetry just seems to present well in my eyes. The photos feel well balanced. Generally I look for repeating patterns (a well-balanced facade in terms of window spacing or color arrangement for example), two buildings side by side or a vanishing point.
Architecture photography has become more and more popular over the last few years. Why do you think that is?
A nice looking building (be it the structure or color or particular texture) is like a very photogenic art piece, an attraction. Look at certain hashtags on Instagram and you will see the popular ones. In a way, this is driving the popularity of architecture photography. In some cases, interesting architecture makes for a great backdrop. In Hong Kong, certain building facades have become so popular that you have to queue up just to take a photo.
Is there a place you would love to visit to shoot the architecture?
Every year, I try to explore different places. Though you can not go wrong with the popular ones and these include Choi Hung Estate, Yick Cheong Building, China Hong Kong City, Ping Shek Estate and Innovation Tower.
Can you give us an insight into how you captured some of these stunning vertical shots looking up at the facades? How did your technique differ from a normal shot?
There is a popular saying amongst Hong Kong photographers and that is, “When in Hong Kong, look up!”. Hong Kong is known for its very tall buildings and they are typically close to each other. These two things make for great “look up” photos. The trick is to find the right corner or center so that the sides of the building or buildings frame your shot. The Leica Q has a nice wide-angle lens and this is perfect for these kinds of shots. One thing to keep in mind though is exposure, as generally you are shooting directly into the sky while the sides of the building or buildings are quite dark.
You can check out plenty more of Chris’s great architecture photography on his Instagram