Architectural photographer Nikola Olic has been working on a single project for over seven years. In fact, he doesn't quite remember the precise moment he began developing this particular series – nor has he a specific deadline or completion point in mind. ‘Structure Photography' was born out of an instinctive reaction to capture architecture in a certain way and keep going. Now, the series has a little fewer than 100 photographs in it, and it's still evolving.
‘About seven years ago, a few photographs came together in an effortless way that hypnotized me into spending more time with photography,' he says. ‘I dedicate significant time to carefully curating the published collection, and removing or adding photographs.'
When asked about his series' central concept, Olic, a Serbia-born professional photographer who's been living in the US since the age of 17, replies that, in a way, there isn't one. ‘I didn't have any particular goal or concept to chase,' he explains. ‘I was externalising my internal photographic dialogue, exploring well known visual spaces from well known architects, feeling that there was a new world of visual associations and surprises that a given building can offer, going beyond what even the architects themselves could imagine them to be.'
The body of work focuses on presenting cleverly, artistically framed crops that capture architecture – some famous buildings, some not – in a way that emphasises shapes, colours and patterns. There is a certain abstraction to the work, although often, the structures are instantly recognisable – the spire curves of the Chrysler Building in New York, the angled tiers of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC and the hanging gardens of the Bosco Verticale in Milan are hard to miss for the architecture aficionado. Still, this is not about particular styles or architects, but more about a fresh, intimate way of looking at buildings as objects.
Photographing Montreal's urban spaces at night during lockdown
It is this relationship of unexpected graphics and volumes that attracts Olic to choose a subject for his imagery. ‘Unusual shapes, unusual buildings, unusual combinations of visual factors, those are all on my mind as I explore the physical space and move around with my camera,' he says. ‘There is a randomness to it, I try combinations and permutations of visual elements in front of me, and sometimes it works out. '
From there, the process is simple. Olic doesn't use a lot of technical equipment, working with a fairly ‘light' and inexpensive non-DSLR Nikon camera with a built-in Super Zoom, and he doesn't take long to set up each shot. It's a matter of minutes, as he points out. ‘If I learn later that there was more I could have done with the photograph, I will gladly go back and give it another try, with a specific plan on what I want to do,' he explains. ‘I once flew to Chicago just to (re)take a photograph I thought could improve some thinking I had done before (I was wrong. But I love Chicago, so no complaints)
Receive our daily digest of inspiration, escapism and design stories from around the world direct to your inbox
Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture Editor at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018) and Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020).
Samuel Ross’ Miami Design District benches swoop in for sculptural sit-downs
Samuel Ross’ Miami Design District ‘Expression.Service.Essence’ project comprises 12 bench designs permanently installed in the ever-evolving neighbourhood
By Adrian Madlener Published
Malorie Blackman is celebrated with British Library exhibition
‘Malorie Blackman: The Power of Stories’ at the British Library shines a light on her journey as an author, while touching on social issues represented in her novels
By Tianna Williams Published
Vincent Van Duysen’s stone furniture explores sensuality and culture
Vincent Van Duysen’s new furniture collection for stone specialist Arca is unveiled at Design Miami 2023
By Rosa Bertoli Published
Inside Ricardo Bofill’s Walden 7, a cathedral of postmodern curiosity
A new series by architectural photographer Sebastian Weiss takes us on a tour of Walden 7, Ricardo Bofill’s majestic Catelonian apartment building – a cathedral of utopian curiosity and community
By Harriet Lloyd-Smith Published
Heaven on Earth: architect Toshiko Mori curates Candida Höfer’s sublime new photography show
At Sean Kelly, New York, architect Toshiko Mori is curating a new show by Candida Höfer, spanning a 30-year period of the German photographer’s spatially sublime work
By Pei-Ru Keh Published
10 Wallpaper* photography moments of 2022, from piña coladas to Pipilotti Rist
The most memorable Wallpaper* photography moments of 2022, courtesy of our esteemed photo desk
By Holly Hay Published
‘Site Unseen’ explores viewing and documenting architecture through photography
The Center of Contemporary Photography in Melbourne invites us to ‘Site Unseen', an exhibition about different ways of viewing and documenting architecture
By Ellie Stathaki Last updated
Ricardo Bofill’s La Muralla Roja as captured by Sebastian Weiss
As a tribute to architecture icon Ricardo Bofill (1939 – 2022) we revisit Hamburg-based photographer Sebastian Weiss’ captivating photo series on ‘La Muralla Roja’, first published in 2020
By Harriet Lloyd-Smith Last updated
A photographic trip through America’s roadside façades
In her ongoing series, The Mother Road, Hayley Eichenbaum documents the tainted romanticism of roadside architecture on Route 66 in the American Southwest
By Harriet Lloyd-Smith Last updated
Architectural photographer Dennis Gilbert (1951-2021): an appreciation
Architectural photographer Dennis Gilbert has died aged 70. Founder of View Pictures, one of the foremost agencies for architectural imagery, and an honorary fellow of RIBA, he helped shape our perception of contemporary architecture
By Jonathan Bell Last updated
Photographer Dia Mrad captures aftermath of 2020 Beirut explosion
Architecture-trained photographer Dia Mrad’s first solo show, ‘The Road to Reframe', captures local architecture after the Beirut explosion of 2020, in terrible, dramatic, ‘surrealist' stillness
By Ellie Stathaki Last updated