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Ståle Eriksen: ‘A time to reassess our position and purpose for the future’

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In the latest in a new series giving voice to the photographer behind the lens, Ståle Eriksen reassess his position and purpose for the future

Producing the AJ involves a continuous schedule of commissioning photographers to go and shoot buildings, make short films, compile material boards and – in summary – furnish our art editor with great imagery to bring architects’ drawings and models and the text of the building studies vividly to life.

If not specially commissioned then we are always on the look out to find the photographer who has most recently visited, or most innovatively captured, the building or site in question and agree how best to reproduce their work.

Coronavirus has put a freeze on the regular rhythm of things, but we are still keen to feature and promote the work of photographers – and rather than bring you their silent imagery, we have asked a handful of regulars and those previously unfeatured some questions that explore what life as an architectural photographer looks like in lockdown.

Burberry Autumn/Winter 2019 by Al-Jawad Pike

Having grown up in Norway and Holland, Ståle Eriksen studied photography at London College of Printing. Since graduating his photographic practice has been based in London, working within the architecture and design communities both in the UK and abroad – specialising in architecture and interiors, as well as architectural scale model (see the 1:20 model of Stanton Williams’ Clermont-Ferrand Metropolitan Library in France below left) and still life photography. Ståle shoots the materials boards for the monthly editions of AJ Specification.

Kingdom Street, London – Allies & Morrison

Allies & Morrison’s Kingdom Street project

1:20 model of Clermont-Ferrand Metropolitan Library, France by Stanton Williams

The noise of ‘the machine’ has ceased and we can reassess our position and purpose for the future

When was the last time you took a picture?
Early this morning, on a bike ride through central London.

How has coronavirus lockdown affected your work?
Some shoots have gone ahead, while carefully observing social distancing. Other work has been put on hold, but luckily most of the planned shoots are still there for whenever lockdown is eased. There is obviously a slight uncertainty surrounding new construction at the moment, but I’m positive that this will resume soon. A more immediate concern is the practicality of future international travel for my shoots. Fingers crossed! On the upside, the current situation has given me more time for my own projects, for a change!

House in Dollis Hill, London – Thomas-McBrien Architects

House in Dollis Hill, London by Thomas-McBrien Architects

Does the potential for deserted streets appeal to you as a photographer of architecture and the built environment? If so, what is your dream location/building? If not, why not?
It’s an interesting question. It certainly appeals to me, but not necessarily for capturing images of buildings. For a brief moment we have been allowed to experience the city in all its glory and bleakness, undisturbed by the frenetic activity we are so accustomed to. This rare opportunity to observe buildings for longer periods of time uninterrupted, has revealed to me an even clearer distinction between quality and shoddiness, between great buildings and eyesores. 

How has the way you think about photography more generally changed?
My work is about stillness and calm (as seen in the image second from top, of a deserted runway and seating for Burberry Autumn/Winter 2019 by Al-Jawad Pike) and there are usually no crowds of people, so I don’t think much has changed in my relationship with photography.

However, it’s been back to basics in many other ways, and on the positive side I think we can now see clearer what’s important to each one of us, but also on a broader scale, as humanity. The noise of ‘the machine’ has ceased and we can reassess our position and purpose for the future.

Follow Ståle on Instagram and check out his website eriksenphoto.com

Chapel, London Craftworks

Chapel, London by Craftworks

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