1 PHOTO(GRAPHER): HÉLÈNE BINET

by Hugo Oliveira

 

HO: Where was this photograph taken?

HB: Kolumba Museum – designed by Peter Zumthor – in Cologne, Germany.

HO: When was this photograph taken?

HB: The date could be 2008 or 2006, I forgot. It was just before the opening of the building.

HO: Was this the first time you were in this city and in this space?

HB: I had been there for four or five days. But it was the first time I shot Kolumba. After I did the photographing I came back a year later to do more photos for the museum - as it was finished with the art pieces inside. So I thought it would be interesting to go back to the same room and see if I can play around the subject. As a result I did a few colour photos, but I do think that the first set was the most successful without a doubt.

HO: Are there any technical aspects about this photograph that you would like to mention?

HB: My work is shot on film and I don’t shoot digital. I use a 4x5 camera which is the classical camera that architectural photographers use.

HO: What's the story behind this photograph?

HB: I was shooting, and it was actually the end of the shoot, and there was a lot of construction work going on around – it looks very peaceful but then it was noisy, and there were big machines – and there were two moments that happened. One was that the electricity was cut out. Finally my brain worked better because there was not so much noise but also there was no artificial light, and suddenly, there was this very small effect of the light “touching” the concrete ceiling which made the light coming in through the brick wall much more relevant. So I had to beg the workers not to repair the problem with the power too quickly so I could take this photograph. So, in most shoots I try to plan what I am doing, but this was absolutely not planned, and I was glad it happened because it was a significant moment in capturing that building.

HO: Why did you select this photograph?

HB: For me it embodies a lot of things that are important. That moment of light captures the role of how light creates a “body of life” in the building, and it makes me understand how not only do we need light to see materials and space, but we also need the space to see the light. If we have light without any object or material we would not be able to see the light. This means that the relationship between light and object is incredibly important and somehow poetic. In my photograph you can feel a body of light that is playing around the room. It is created from different openings in the wall, reflecting and refracting into different beams of light.

Hélène Binet is a Swiss-French architectural photographer based in London.
The image and interview selected are part of the editorial project "1 Photo(grapher)".