The Second Studio (formerly The Midnight Charette) is an explicit podcast about design, architecture, and the everyday. Hosted by Architects David Lee and Marina Bourderonnet, it features different creative professionals in unscripted conversations that allow for thoughtful takes and personal discussions.
A variety of subjects are covered with honesty and humor: some episodes are interviews, while others are tips for fellow designers, reviews of buildings and other projects, or casual explorations of everyday life and design. The Second Studio is also available on iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube.
This week David and Marina are joined by Photographer Iwan Baan to discuss his career, how he became a most sought-after architectural photographer, working with Rem Koolhaas, his process, his style of architectural photography, documenting structures during construction and after completion, vernacular architecture, and more.
Highlights & Timestamps
Iwan Baan’s first camera and early passion for photography. (00:00)
The beginning of Iwan’s career as an architecture photographer with Rem Koolhaas. (12:17)
I was that time experimenting with panoramic photography, like the 360 degrees and interactive ways to use photography. […] I felt it could be an interesting way to use that for the [OMA exhibition on the history of Europe]. […] There were a lot of OMA projects finishing at that time, like the Seattle public library, Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, Casa da Música, Berlin Embassy. […] And Rem basically said, “Ok, you fly there and photograph these places.” And I said, “Sure.” That’s kind of how it started. From that day it never stopped. Suddenly it became all architects surrounding me. (14:22)
Iwan’s ‘documentary’ style of architectural photography. Photographing construction workers and the construction process. (18:11)
There has to be a specific reason for me to travel halfway across the world to a place… to describe a place and to show how people live there, what they do there, how a place like that is different from our environment here. I think all these values were always interesting to me, and suddenly the architects came in between there, but [those values] still were my main reason. If I fly to China for a building of Rem, I didn’t know much about his architecture in a way at the time, but it was that context and story which fascinated me… and the architecture almost becomes like a way to frame that story, to anchor that story around a specific subject, but at the same time trying to move away form that subject all the time. (23:12)
Iwan’s process. (29:12)
I try to enter these places as a sort of blank canvas. I step basically every week into a totally different world, a totally different community, a totally different culture. The first moment you come there, you are super open to all these differences and what makes that place unique. I feel like this is always a big inspiration for me to see, so I try not to plan too much in advance and be more surprised by whatever is there and whatever unfolds there. Usually there’s always something. (29:30)
Iwan’s most published photograph. (36:12)
Photographing architecture when it is complete and being appropriated in different ways. (43:52)
The challenges of Iwan’s work, publishing work, minimizing post production, current projects. (57:50)
Documenting structures and places before they disappear due to modernism and economic, government, and environmental changes. (01:21:40)
Training other photographers. Photography styles. Next projects. (01:30:55)