30 & 31 May 2023

2022 Features and seminars

Images by Michel Denancé

Michel Denancé / 10 years of architectural photographs
A photographic or architectural Exhibition? Both.

Michel Denancé is a graduate architect who has never built before but likes to look at the work of others. He has even made it his profession by transcribing his contemplative capacities into images. Most of the photographs in this exhibition have been taken from reports commissioned by architects.

Architectural photography is not for photographers with a strong ego. It is at the service of the architect, or rather his work, and must first make it intelligible, then seductive. It is both for documentary and advertising purposes and is intended to interest and convince the general public, pre-selection juries and potential clients.
Since its beginnings, it generally respects two codes: the first supposes that the building's vertical lines are just as vertical in its representation; the second - less and less systematic - suggests that photographs be taken in good weather, not for the blue sky, but so that shadows help to interpret the volumes and materials.

Unlike his fellow photographer who works in a studio, the architectural photographer cannot direct, move or modify his subject. He rarely has a comfortable perspective and does not make his own light. He is forced to adapt to the context, the course of the sun and climatic conditions. But he retains control of the setting and the moment: he can have a wide view to include the whole site, then narrow the field down to the finer detail; he can find the elevations or perspectives of the project, if they exists. He can, if luck is on his side, go to a neighbouring, well-placed terrace or he can wait, sometimes in vain, for passers-by or a more favourable light.

His mission is not to drown his client in an exhaustive collection of technically correct images. From the moment he takes his pictures, he must select his angles and propose a coherent reading of the building. The architect can then easily find the photographs (two, five, ten, or twenty) intended for a publication, his brochure or the simple enrichment of the site, in the report that he has received.

Finally, the building will most often be known by its photographs. If these incite people to visit, they will then really be able to apprehend the scale of the project and experience the physical sensation of being there. Drawings, photography and video feed the eyes and imagination and explain buildings the best, but you can only hope to really know a place if you have wandered around it. Architect friends, keep travelling!

The buildings presented in this exhibition cover a wide range of architectural commissions. They have been designed by agencies of all sizes and renown, with very modest or generous budgets, in free or highly constrained sites, in cities or in towns. The photos selected are not necessarily those that the architects concerned would choose as a matter of priority. The idea is rather to show, through these 46 projects, different families of architectural images (day/night, contextual/general/partial, from the ground, from above, from a helicopter, empty or occupied).


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