AD Photographers: Duccio Malagamba

de Young Museum / Herzog & de Meuron © Duccio Malagamba
de Young Museum / Herzog & de Meuron ©

The great buildings we feature ever day at ArchDaily have something in common: someone behind the lens capturing the building in a unique moment. Architecture photographers play a big role on how we actually see buildings, and we have decided to start a section to present you their work, their thoughts and who knows, here you might find the photographer that can help you put your work on ArchDaily and other magazines around the world.

We start with italian photographer Duccio Malagamba:

1. How did you start in photography?

I approached photography as a teenager, when the father of one of my best friends -amateur photographer- allowed us to join him when developing films at a storage room. The miracle of the apparition of the veiled images in the reddish darkness of the laboratory impressed me deeply. Soon after, I decided that when I grew up I wanted to be a photographer, and I even managed to sell some photos of my travels. When I finished High School, my parents insisted that -no matter what I would do afterwards – I should get a university degree. I choose, rather accidentally, the School of Architecture, when I found out there was a module on photography.

Guggenheim Bilbao / Frank O. Gehry © Duccio Malagamba
Guggenheim Bilbao / Frank O. Gehry © Duccio Malagamba

2. Are you an architect?

Yes, I studied in my country, Italy, at the Genoa University. There, my passion for photography decreased as my fascination for architecture kept growing. I graduated cum laude with a final project directed by Giancarlo de Carlo and I moved to Spain looking for a job. After some experiences in a few small studios in Barcelona, I started working as an architect at the Martorell-Bohigas-Mackay studio. A few years later, I won a research scholarship about Spanish Contemporary Architecture and for that I had to take pictures again.

As a result of that experience I started to consider that I could be an architect using the camera instead of a pencil.

3. Why do you like to photograph architecture?

Because it joins indissolutely my two great passions in life: Architecture and Photography.

Church at Marco de Canaveses, Portugal / Alvaro Siza  © Duccio Malagamba
Church at Marco de Canaveses, Portugal / Alvaro Siza © Duccio Malagamba

4. Favorite Architect?

I always try to collaborate with architects I like. I work in a slow and reflexive way, and it would be frustrating to spend days and hours studying how to photograph something that has no value for me. Therefore, most of my clients are also my favourite architects… Anyway, if I were forced to choose one, I would lean towards Alvaro Siza.

IMKZ Library,  Cottbus, Hermany / Herzog & de Meuron © Duccio Malagamba
IMKZ Library, Cottbus, Hermany / Herzog & de Meuron © Duccio Malagamba

5. Favorite building?

If the previous question was hard to answer, this one is impossible. I’ve had the luck to visit and photograph many of the most interesting projects built during the last 20 years and I see no way to choose among such brilliant and different buildings such as the Marco de Canaveses Church (Alvaro Siza), the IKMZ at Cottbus (Herzog & de Meuron) or the Igualada Cemetery (Miralles/Pinos), just to name the first three masterpieces that come to my mind.

Terminal 4, Barajas Airport / Richard Rogers & Estudio Lamela © Duccio Malagamba
Terminal 4, Barajas Airport / Richard Rogers & Estudio Lamela © Duccio Malagamba

6. How do you work?

Very slowly, though the arrival of digital photography has meant a speeding up of the fieldwork against a longer post-production.

Whenever possible, I like to visit building sites with the architect and listen to his explanations, comments and reflections. Then I start to construct my own personal vision of the building. A vision that, while keeping reality as a starting point contains certain doses of fiction as, for me, it is absurd to try and chase an objective description of architecture by means of photography.

It is clear to me that a building can only be known by visiting it, so I am not worried by the “documentary” aspect of my work.

Nevertheless I like to take profit of the credibility that we all instinctively give to photographic images. The tendency to believe what we see on paper or onscreen does exist just the way we see it, turns these images into a formidable source of suggestion and inspiration. I take profit of this condition to suggest, remark, stimulate… trying – indeed- not to betray the spirit of the buildings I photograph”.

Forum Building / Herzog & de Meuron © Duccio Malagamba
Forum Building / Herzog & de Meuron © Duccio Malagamba

7.- What kind of equipment and software do you use?

Because of my way of working, I travel alone (I still haven’t found an assistant who is able to wait for me without getting nervous and who is also ready to travel in short notice and without knowing when we will be back…) and after years of carrying large format cameras with all the equipment – backaches included – I consider the arrival of digital format heaven sent. Nowadays, I use a Canon EOS 1 Ds MkIII and Adobe Photoshop CS3.”

You can also see recent works photographed by Duccio Malagamba at ArchDaily.

Cite: Basulto, David. "AD Photographers: Duccio Malagamba" 21 Dec 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 02 Sep 2014. <>


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    I’ve come back at least ten times to look at these photos again. They never stop. The image is always in motion. The sun, a shadow, a person, is always poised to move.

    I’ll take a risk and say that the photos of the “Church at Marco de Canaveses, Portugal / Alvaro Siza” are the finest contemporary architectural photography I have ever seen. They rival or exceed anything by Julius Schulman, Marvin Rand, or Ezra Stoller (the triumvirate of modern masters in my book). Especially the photograph of the entrance to this building is masterful. The open door violates the symmetry of the shadow in just the right way to explain human scale in a photograph that would be otherwise devoid of reference. This gesture, too, is just enough to introduce an element of dynamic symmetry into a composition of rigorous monumentality. I just find myself wondering how long this artist had to sit there in order to capture that shot? Finally, speaking about the same photo, I puzzle over the absolute lack of distortion in the image. This technique (whatever format and lens is being used) transforms Siza into Fra Angelico for me. It is pure perspective inferring a connection to reality that would be hard to actually see on the site.

    Thank you AD for publishing this article. Though I have seen Mr. Malagamba’s work before, this special presentation makes the point that he is a truly great artist.

    Terry Glenn Phipps

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    hi i am doing a course on architecture at college h.n.d in photography.and hope to do this when i finish college would be gratefull for any info to enhance my architecture.

    many thanks john.

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