Paying attention to the spaces around you is one of the most important skills when it comes to being a good photographer. Helpfully for him –and luckily for us – Fred Guillaud’s background as an architect means that he already has a studied understanding of space, texture, light and colour, resulting in a collection of photographs that are beautifully composed and fascinating to look at. We spoke to Fred about getting into photography, combining layers and reading between the lines.
Hi Fred. Tell us a little about yourself - where are you from, where are you based and what do you do outside of photography?
I am a French architect living in Barcelona, Spain. I basically share my time between my practice as an architect, teaching in a French university and photography.
When did you begin shooting, what made you start and what has driven you to continue?
I began to shoot when I was studying architecture. I needed to document the places or the architecture I was working on. But this need became an activity on its own when I understood that photography could also speak for itself.
What do you shoot on?
I am not into technical details, I’d rather use point and shoot cameras to focus on the scenes. I just need a solid, easy-to-use analogue tool. The only thing that matters to me is the optical quality. On the other hand I like to work with only one camera at a time. So through the years I have been carrying cameras like the Leica-minilux, Contax T3 and the Contax G1.
You also work as an architect – how does your knowledge of architecture affect your photography?
First of all it has helped my eye for composition, especially when I’m looking at volume, texture, light and colour. But over all, my architectural background and practice helps me to understand the layers of the city and the complexity behind the act of building. Where I try to construct buildings and spaces as an architect, I try to deconstruct them as a photographer, focusing more on how people inhabit the spaces that surround them. I try to read "between the lines".
Where I try to construct buildings and spaces as an architect, I try to deconstruct them as a photographer, focusing more on how people inhabit the spaces that surround them. I try to read between the lines.
Over what span of time were these photos taken? What makes them stand out from your other shots?
The pictures that I have selected are extracted from my 2015 diary. As you can see on my webpage I organise my work chronologically, and I share the pictures that represent something to me. The ones I selected were all taken in Barcelona, the place where I shoot the most.
How do you think your work is affected by sharing it online?
I mainly use Instagram to share my pictures online. I love this tool because it has let me discover a lot of great people. Thanks to the communities you can create you can follow a lot of feeds focusing on analogue photography, architectural and documentary photography. But I have to confess that I try to prevent myself from taking ‘Instagram pictures’. The daily consumption of images slowly brings you to take some more ‘easy’ pictures if you’re not careful.
What do you look for when you’re taking a photo? Are you more concerned with the composition or evoking a certain feeling?
What makes me take a photograph is the precise moment when a subject is in a kind of balance. I always try to combine different layers in my pictures, such as composition, subject, light, colours and graphics, even if I classify myself as a documentary photographer. I try to find a good balance between the decisive moment and daily scenes, in order to give something more personal to my pictures.