Photography jobs

Meet Swedish architectural photographer Anders Bobert

Kyrre: Hi Anders! How are you?

Anders: Hi Kyrre. I’m doing well thanks. How are you?

Kyrre: I’m fine, thank you! I’ve been following your work for quite some time now, and I’m impressed! What is your background and how did you come to architectural photography?

Anders: Thank you Kyrre! I studied to be an architect here in Stockholm in the 90s. I never really worked as an architect, but I have been working in architecture ever since. While at KTH (Royal Institute of Technology) me and a few other students found the school’s computer room (we designed everything by hand at the time). As we were the first students to learn Autocad, 3ds Max, Lightwave and Lightscape, we started teaching other students and also started a business helping other architects visualize architecture. I was employed by Sweco to start their visualization department here in Stockholm in the year 2000. The market was young and the competition was mainly watercolor artists. The market has grown and more and more people are getting into the visualization game. I switched to White Arkitekter in 2007 and worked in their visualization group for almost 12 years. At that time, architectural photography was taking up more and more of my time.

My interest in photography started in the mid 80’s when I got my hands on my grandfather’s old camera. It was, of course, analogue and completely manual – but I immediately found it very interesting to play around with the aperture, the different shutter speeds, etc.

Kyrre: As a KTH-trained architect, and later 3D artist, how do you think being an architect and working with 3D images helped you become a photographer?

Anders: A lot of my clients really appreciate that I’m an architect by training. I understand the plans and I know “their language”. My long experience with 3D composition really helps me. The advantage of 3D images is that you can move a tree or put the sun wherever you want, and add as many people as you want. But it is also the charm of photography. Planning a shoot and being in the right place at the right time is very fascinating.

Kyrre: Indeed! So how did you find your first customers? How has it evolved over the years and how do you approach new clients now that you are an established photographer? How do you see the market in your area?

Anders: My first client saw some of my photos from his project on Instagram and wanted to buy them. I’ve done other marketing efforts over the years except for social media. I made a book/portfolio that I sent out to maybe 200 architecture firms and sent out occasional newsletters. And of course, as an architect, I know a lot of architects. I think the architectural photography market has evolved a lot, the need for high quality photos of the built environment is much greater today than, say, 20 years ago. So maybe you hired a photographer when you were doing a book or knew you were going to be published. Now my clients are all social media editors themselves and you need fresh photos so you can post more projects more often.

Kyrre: So true. As an architect working in Norway I can understand what you are describing.

What kind of projects do you photograph? Do you specialize in one type of photography, or do you do all types of architecture, or somewhere in between?

Anders: I can’t say that I specialize in any kind of photography. I have photographed hospitals, schools, residential buildings, villas, churches, conference rooms, concert halls, etc. interiors and exteriors, and even landscapes. I even do portraits. So no specialization. But architecture is a niche in itself, compared to other photographic genres, isn’t it?

Kyrre: What is your process when you arrive on a project? Could you share some ideas about your methodology?

Anders: I always discuss the project with the client first. It is important to hear their story and what they thought when they designed the building. What are the main characteristics and qualities? And I ask for visualizations if they have any because this composition has sometimes lived with the project for several years. I check how the sun moves around the project on Suncalc or the PhotoPills app and look at Google Maps to explore a bit. When I arrive, I am prepared and I know what to do. I also find my own interpretations of the building on site. As I walk around the building, I find new qualities that I want to capture. As the light changes things happen and I want to go back to the same composition. So it has to take time, the movement of the sun can be really important.

Kyrre: You have amazing drone photos and videos of STHLM01. How do you think drone photography has influenced the way you shoot and plan your shoot? And what is your process when shooting with a drone?

Anders: Regulations around drone shots have made it much more difficult. But when you know the rules and the time it takes to get the photos/videos approved by the authorities, it’s fine. I think drone shots are a good complement to “real” photos. It helps my clients to tell their story of the project and they are very appreciated. In the case of SHTLM 01, I woke up way too early one morning and when I looked out the window I saw that there was something special going on with the fog. And I was really thrilled when the drone soared above the fog and the top of the building caught the morning sun. I love my work!

Kyrre: Your photos have been published on almost every major architecture site on the net. Do you also post personal (non-commercial) projects?

Anders: As I am passionate about architecture, I always bring my camera. I try to keep an eye on what’s happening in my area to see if there are any exciting new projects. And I publish them on my Instagram or my Linkedin.

Kyrre: What type of equipment do you use and what is your favorite focus for your work?

Anders: I’ve been using Nikon since day one. My father had a Nikon F-301 in the 80s which I took over. So now I have the Nikon D850 and a D810. I have the Nikon 24, 45 and 85mm Tilt/Shift lenses and a Laowa 15mm lens for those extreme occasions. And many other lenses for other types of work. I rarely photograph architecture with anything other than shift lenses. My favorite lens is the 24mm. If I only bring one lens, this is it.

Kyrre: You write on your website that you participated in a workshop with Åke E:son Lindman in Barcelona. How has it influenced your work? Where do you draw inspiration for your work? Is it only other photographers, or other art forms as well?

Anders: Yes, it was a very good start. It was a very interesting week where participants took pictures of buildings during the day and we had critique sessions the next day. Åke gave me the basic technique.

It’s a really tricky question where I draw inspiration from. I scroll through Instagram and other social media from time to time and see many talented photographers.

Kyrre: What is your approach to interior photography? Do you use artificial lighting? Please detail your approach.

Anders: I tried working with flashes on interior shots after seeing some of Mike Kelley’s work. But I think my experimentation with flashes seems a bit flat and unnatural. But more importantly, I think architecture is so much about managing light. So bringing in an artificial light source contradicts the architecture if you know what I mean.

Kyrre: I understand what you mean. I’ve also tried working with flashes for interiors, but I don’t have the skills to make it look natural yet.

What is your process when you come back to the office and start your post-processing? Do you have any post-processing secrets you could share with our readers?

Anders: I don’t think I have any secrets. I work in Lightroom and Photoshop and I think I work like most people. I try to be honest most of the time and think about how I experienced the room or the building on the spot. I mean the eye can see so much more than the camera and I have to pop shadows, reduce highlights, etc. I always do quick edits of all photos using a Loupedeck+ in Lightroom to see which ones to work on further. I then point out the ones I like the most and work on those a bit more. Final photos are taken in Photoshop to remove unwanted elements, maybe replace the sky and make sure everything is straight and without distortion etc.

Kyrre: Let’s go back to your way of working on site; What is your thought process to find the best composition?

Anders: I try to make things simple and unambiguous. I like symmetry and straight lines. I also try to include the environment because the architect often thinks about the context when designing the building. And I try to think of it like an article in a magazine: you need wide shots and details to tell the whole story.

It is very common these days that clients want to have people in the photos. Sometimes there are very few people around the building and I have to take several exposures and mix them in Photoshop. And I often find myself under a tree to get some greenery, like the “foreground tree” in there sort of.

Kyrre: Do you take a lot of pictures or just focus on a few comps when you’re on site?

Anders: I usually take too many pictures. But I find my favorite spots/compositions and come back to them in different light situations.

Kyrre: Let’s talk about the business side of things. There are quite a few articles here on APA that explore fee structures. Could you tell us how you set your fees and how does that change over time?

Anders: My fees depend on how many photos they want and how they plan to use them. For their webpage and social media there is a price and if they want to use them for a magazine ad, that is another, depending on the magazine and so on. Usage is the most important factor when choosing charges. Most architects use my photos the same way, so my fees are essentially the same. Developers have other needs and therefore the fees can be very different.

Very nice to chat with you Kyrre. I also follow you on Instagram and I really like your work!

Kyrre: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. We look forward to following your work in the future! I recommend everyone to follow Anders on Instagram to see his current work.