Fred Guillaud sees spontaneity and unexpectedness in city landscapes. The Barcelona based photographer explores the city in his work by letting an unassuming eye fall upon the intricacies of urban architecture, finding casual nuance in the layers of inhabited space. Having worked previously as an architect, Guillaud utilizes photography as a way to explore daily life as well as a tool to inform architectural practice.
His work often presents space in unexpected ways, calling attention to the relationship between new architecture and old, intended use and spontaneous urban involvement, and the intricate bond between a city and its history.
Inspired by early American colorists such as Stephen Shore and William Eggleston, Fred Guillaud captures the beauty in the unexpected areas of the city’s architecture, framing urban life with an outré and intriguing point of view.
Having moved from France to Barcelona, how has the difference in history and native architecture inspired you or changed your practice?
It's been 17 years I moved to Barcelona now. Somehow it matches with the beginning of my photographic practice. Barcelona is a very photogenic city, the great amount of emblematic buildings as much as the extroverted urban life drove me to intensify my photographic activity.
As you’ve said before, in your photographs, you try to focus on what architects do not control — like happy accidents and urban layers. Do you think an emphasis on these things expands your view as an architect as well as a photographer?
Definitively. I use to say that as an architect I conceive and build spaces and as a photographer I try to "deconstruct" architecture, reorganizing the layers of informations in order to build my images. I try to find organization in the complexity of urban forms of life and this influence both of my practices.
Has the visual interrogation present in your photographs changed your understanding of architecture and the way we use space?
Photography is an extension of my practice of architecture. I consider it as another tool for architects. But I wouldn't say that it changes my way of understanding architecture and space. It is more a way to study, criticize or explain the way I see our environment.
Do you often find yourself revisiting spots you’ve photographed before, to see a change in light or if there have been changes to that space?
Yes indeed! This is something I haven't organized yet, but through my 17 years in Barcelona I took pictures of places that doesn't exist any more or that have changed. When I sometimes go through those shots I have the feeling that I am recording a little bit of the history of this city.
Your photos sometimes feature a person as a reference to scale. Do you also think there is a social aspect investigated in your photographs as well?
It is not my main purpose, people are basically used in my urban scenes as "scalers" or "punctums" as defined by Roland Barthes. But obviously, just by being present they reflect a social aspect of the spaces i shoot.
Images courtesy of Fred Guillaud
text SARAH CARTER