Great Shots

A Q&A session with Matt Wain award-winning photographer and Art of Building judge.

Q: What do you need to consider before you buy a digital camera?

The words of Edward Steichen come to mind: “No photographer is as good as the simplest camera.”


As with buying anything, think about what you need, talk to your friends, listen to the reviews and go and try them out.  And it’s true that ‘buying a Nikon doesn’t make you a photographer – it makes you a Nikon owner’!

Q: For someone who is just getting into photography what advice would you give them?

Shoot lots and critique your work as carefully and as honestly as you can. Try a camera club or go on a course. And remember – photographic rules are there to be broken - trust your eye.

Q: Is there a difference in the way you should approach taking a photograph of a person, compared to a building?

No. Technically, you can’t move the building (generally!) and that’s the difference. Otherwise, you have the usual variables. Fundamentally, there is no difference because photography visualizes life.

Q: What do you think makes a great architectural shot?

Photography is all about humanity – including architecture - how we choose to live, how our environment affects us and how we affect our environment. So, for me, a great architectural shot is one that invites you to look into it, which challenges you and shows you something unexpected.

Q: Abstract photography can be really hit or miss, what advice would you give to someone looking to take this style of shot?

Digital photography has opened up abstract photography to everyone with a digital camera. The discipline is all about creativity and capturing a different perspective. Creatively, the image must still have meaning. Technically, only one rule applies – there are no rules!


My advice would be to shoot lots and be fearless with your experimentation to achieve what you wish to convey. Break ALL the rules and if you are just starting out, you’re lucky you haven’t learnt any!


Q: Who are your favourite photographers?

It took me a while to appreciate his images, but now I’d say Andreas Gursky – I think his work is truly wonderful. For architecture, I always loved Julius Shulman’s approach – through his images, you get a sense of the age – the people, as well as the architecture and that’s what great architectural images should convey. And, putting my first last, Sebastião Salgado’s ability to get the viewer to focus on certain details within the composition is unequaled…apart from Don McCullin!



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