You have only to look at Miguel De Guzmán and Rocío Romero's portfolio to know that the duo have succeeded in capturing a wide array of panoramas and sharing the ideas attached to them. Through their Madrid and New York based photography and film studio, Imagen Subliminal, document the latest happenings in the world of architecture in an effort to give their audience a taste of the energy and creativity that drives it.
We sat down with the duo in honor World Photography Day, where they shared how their work has changed through the years and photography's contemporary and future role in architecture.
Fabian Dejtiar (FD): Miguel, in a previous interview you shared with us about your start, your inspirations, and your style of working. What has changed over the years? How has technology impacted your work of photographing architecture?
Imagen Subliminal (IS): The changes since the 2013 interview, I believe, haven't been due to technology but rather the human element. The most significant change has been the incorporation of Rocío Romero's work into the studio. She began collaborating with me in 2013 and became a partner in ImagenSubliminal in 2016.
Our work as a team is really what has driven our evolution in the field of documenting architecture. Coming together from drastically different professional areas has made us find common ground in our ideas and work styles and to experiment with how we tackle projects. This common ground is essential in creating a coherent image that showcases ImagenSubliminal as a unit. I believe it's what reinforces us and allows us to bring together everything we have learned and discovered individually.
Regarding technology, I don't think it has changed as drastically these past few years as it did in previous ones, like when photography turned digital, or high quality video cameras became economically accessible for many people, or when drones were added to the arsenal of tools available to photographers. Obviously, in recent years, tools have improved, cameras and software and the like, but there hasn't been anything groundbreaking. Virtual reality is catching on of course but it still hasn't reached its peak.
In any case, we've always enjoyed experimenting with new tools and ways to communicate, so we try to stay up to date with technology.
FD: At the time, Carlos Arroyo commented on you ability to capture an atmosphere in a way that lets your audience live it. Relating to this and new forms of communication, what are your thoughts on the contemporary role of photography in architecture, especially nowadays when architects and even everyday people take their own photos and share them via social networks?
IS: It is true that social networks and easier access to imaging tools have, in many ways, pushed photographers out of the once exclusive role that they occupied as communicators. We don't see this as a negative thing, however. If anything, it's an opportunity to experience a multitude of viewpoints about architecture.
Our role is still important since we offer experience and expertise to architects who want to communicate their vision of a project and the ideas behind it. We put extra focus on the collaboration through the studies we bring to the work process, from planning the report to the post-production and distribution. Our objective is not only to capture a scene but to capture the atmosphere that the architect has in mind for a project.
We think that the advantage of using professional photography in architecture is not only due to the knowledge and experience but also the will to understand the project and the ability to collaborate in order to study and create a narrative that transmits ideas in the most visually appealing way possible.
FD: Currently, along with Rocío Romero, your work is based in Madrid and New York. In that sense, I imagine that the worldwide lock-down has given you a lot to think about with regards to your work in architectural photography. Can you comment on your experiences with this and the challenges that came about during this time?
The lock-down was much stricter in Madrid than in New York and it forced us to suspend a lot of our work since it's done strictly in person. However, we've been able to dedicate time to organizing and getting up to date with and meditating on our work. In terms of our digital work and collaborations, there hasn't really been a change since it's been done remotely for years.
The biggest challenge isn't what we've done up until now but rather the unknown brought by the coming months--the difficulty in traveling, the crisis in both the architecture and construction sector...
On the other hand, many challenges and opportunities have come about thanks to digital communication and the need to find new languages and tools to share ideas; areas that we have a lot to contribute to.
FD: A photographer's work in architecture is very much tied to what is happening in society at the moment. Today we are facing economic, health, and social crises on a worldwide scale. How do you think that architectural photography could improve the quality of life in cities. What do you think that the future holds for architectural photography?
IS: Architectural photography, as a form of communication, can help share ideas, spark discussions, and bring light to situations and problems as well as how to face them. I don't believe that, in itself, it can change the quality of life but it can help to spread ideas that lead to action that does. Communication in itself is not enough but it can help mobilize the agents of change.
In terms of the future, we think that our field should enrich itself by incorporating means of communication that draw from other sources like social networks, art, cinema, video games, publishing...
Relaxing the language, continuing to experiment with and adopt the tools that become available to us as a way to share architectural values and ideas. This is how our role with continue being relevant in supporting the realm of architecture.