| Global Times | 2012-7-1 20:20:02
By Liao Danlin
From June 30 to July 9, the outstanding works of the first China architecture photography contest will be exhibited at the National Art Museum for China. The contest was held by China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) and China Photographers Association (CPA).
The competition opened to the public in September 2011 through CPA's website and the China Photo Press. The contest includes two categories: art and documenting. From 39,507 submissions, 99 photos were selected for the final exhibition.
Though the contest revolved around the topic of architecture, the exhibition is not limited to buildings. Creative photography and photos of construction workers and scenery are all on display.
Many of the participants are people who work in the industry, such as architects, engineers, and construction workers. Wen Jun, a judge in the first round of the contest from CSCEC's side, explained that for industry insiders, architecture is part of daily life, and they see buildings and the surrounding environment as live, animated objects.
"Photographic techniques are not a priority. They care more about conveying their understanding of the architecture," said Wen.
"Architects have their specific ways of observing a building," said Liu Jie, the head of the photography society at CSCEC. "Architecture is a combination of art and technology. Architects know the art of a building better than most people."
Liu explained that photographers may be attracted by the colors of a building while architectural photographers may pay more attention to the lines, structure and specific details of a building.
"Every photographer, professional or non-professional has a preferred angle for shooting a building. That is why it is interesting to look at the photos," said Liu.
Architecture photography is an important branch of photography and has developed in many countries. Professional Photographers of America and American Society of Media Photography both have divisions specializing in architecture.
The development of architecture photography started late in China. Large-scale official events about architecture photography are still rare.
A member of CSCEC told the Global Times that as a leading corporation in the industry, the company aims to promote architectural photography in China to further the appreciation and understanding of architecture among the public.
"It is part of our responsibility," said Wen. Wen sees the exhibition a celebration of the construction industry, meaning that architecture results from the hard labor of construction workers.
Wen explained that the event started after the photography group of CSCEC became affiliated with the CPA. They intended to expand the activity to a national event.
The two categories in the contest allow for diverse submissions. The artistic category, including creative photography, focuses on works that represent the beauty of architecture in its form and a building's cultural and environmental connotation.
The documenting category focuses on the relationship between people and architecture. Photoshop and other forms of post-modifications are not allowed in this category.
Two main criteria in the competition are the artistic presentation of the photo and its cultural and social connotation.
Wen said that the quality of the photos vary, as they receive work from both professional photographers and amateurs. But among high quality photos, it is hard to separate amateur work from professional.
The competition accepts photos shot after 1979. Though most exhibited are relatively new, there are also old photos of old buildings.
"Architecture contains artistic features. Art has symbols of the period," said Liu. When addressing the changes of design in Chinese architecture over the last 30 years, he references clothing. People can tell the time period of a photo, based on attire. Design, techniques and materials also give clues of the time period. In this way, development is reflected through architectures.
The China Pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, construction of the Water Cube and other venues for the 2008 Olympic Games are reflected in the photos. The exhibition reflects the development of China and changes of time and offers a glimpse of the place.
Photos shot in Jiangxi Province portray life in an old village, whereas stone buildings in Tibet reflect local living conditions.
Architecture in Shanghai's Pudong district, Beijing's central business district and a wharf in Chongqing are some of the photo subjects.
Liu said that the district planner and architect should take into account the environment and surrounding area before starting design, to mold the building with the surrounding architecture. Design comes from careful consideration of an area.
Apart from the outstanding photos of the competition, some CPA members offered personal photos of architecture as a special part in the exhibition.
Photos by professional photographer Feng Jianguo display old buildings in Beijing's Wangfujing area while photographer Li Shaobai shot a corner of Yangxin Palace before sunrise, an old palace in the Forbidden City.
"Some people think that if everyone shoots the same building, the photos will be exactly alike. But based on my personal experience, if you project your feelings onto the object, your photo won't come out looking like others, even you are shooting the same object," said Feng.
Migrant workers are a leading subject in many photos. Close-ups of their hands and faces and shots of them at leisure are captured in some photos.
Wen explained that these people are a reason why architecture is not dull and dead in the pictures.
"They are part of the Chinese architectural culture," he said.
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