Hufton + Crow

by | 22. Feb 2018

The Camera
A fisherman casts his line into the river

Park Plaza, Chaoyang China, MAD Architects, © Hufton + Crow

Hufton + Crow architectural photography studio comprises of English photographer duo Nick Hufton and Allan Crow. They started collaborating in 2004 and with their passionate attention to detail and their dedication to self-initiated projects as well as assignments, quickly established themselves as a prolific and successful practice creating striking images of contemporary architecture from around the world. As two experienced photographers with complementary skills and competitive characters they bring a unique approach to their iconographic documentation of the built environment. In 2014 they won the prestigious ‘Architectural Photographer of the Year’ Award by Arcaid Images supported by the World Architecture Festival, and Divisare Atlas of Architecture ranks them among the top 10 architectural photographers worldwide in their extensive database of 2491 photographers.

Pygmalion Karatzas: Mr. Nick Hufton and Mr. Allan Crow thank you for accepting the invitation to discuss and show some of your work with us here at arcspace. Could you tell us about your backgrounds and how did you start being involved with architectural photography?

Hufton + Crow: Nick and I are old friends. We went to the same high school in Macclesfield, a small town near Manchester.  Our friendship began around 1994 when as young men we spent most of our time nocturnally travelling around the North West of the UK clubbing and engaging in general shenanigans. After school Nick went on to study photography at University and then moved to London and started assisting architectural photographer Chris Gascoigne.  When I finished university in Manchester a couple of years later, I travelled to London to see Nick and went on a few shoots and didn’t go home. After a couple of years also assisting Chris, Nick and I started Hufton+Crow in 2004.

A building in the background towers over the small urban street.

56 Leonard Street, New York USA, Herzog & de Meuron Architects © Hufton + Crow

A white steel structure flies over commuters in the new york train station

The Oculus, New York USA, Santiago Calatrava, © Hufton + Crow

A mirrored glass box hangs within a forest of trees.

Treehotel, Harads Sweden, Tham & Videgård Architects, © Hufton + Crow

PK: It is not often that we see photographer duos in this profession. How did you decide to collaborate and how does such a collaboration work in practice?

HC: Nick and I were hanging out in our local pub The Winchester in Archway, London, sometime in 2004 when we decided that rather than become professional competitors we would team up and form Hufton+Crow. In the early days of H+C we still used large format 5×4” analogue cameras, so shoots were very different from today. However I think the slower considered approach to composition helped train our eyes, and it was at this time we started to develop our style of contemporary architectural photography. It wasn’t however until we made the decision fairly early to take a leap into digital photography that we really found our style.

In these early days and for a number of years after we both attended all shoots together, it was during this period that together we developed our style and worked out the most successful way of photographing and communicating architecture. As the years passed we were able to work together on shoots less and less, primarily down to workload commitments. However we still share all our clients and a studio near to where we both live. We also make an effort to sit through and provide creative input to each others images before they are sent out to clients. Those fundamental elements and techniques that we developed together are still the blueprint for our approach to assignments today.

a myriad of staircases cross a building atrium

Dominion Tower, Moscow Russia, Zaha Hadid Architects © Hufton + Crow

a faceted building form sits within a desert context.

King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center, Riyadh Saudi Arabia, Zaha Hadid Architects © Hufton + Crow

a yellow taxi sits in front of a large concrete parking house

1111 Lincoln Road Parking, Miami USA, Herzog & de Meuron Architects © Hufton + Crow

PK: Could you describe your overall photographic vision and approach?

HC: I would describe our style as modern contemporary architectural photography. We always strive to produce strong compositions that display and communicate architecture at its best. In the beginning, using large format cameras, images needed to ‘be staged’ to a certain degree because of the additional lighting and often long exposures required. However with the advent of the digital photography revolution, and using the new wave of DSLR’s allowed us to spontaneously capture light and human activity much faster. When we switched to a digital format the final key to our style was the introduction and focus on people within architecture. Often we will compose ‘a stage’ of architecture on which the focus will be human activity of some kind. The architecture becomes the backdrop to human behaviour.

a white staircase curves into becoming the wall and roof

Heydar Aliyev Center, Baku Azerbaijan, Zaha Hadid Architects © Hufton + Crow

a buildinging sits within the historic Victoria and Albert Museum courtyard

Victoria Albert Museum, London UK, AL_A Architects © Hufton + Crow

Pedestrians walk underneath the curving shapes of a Zaha Hadid building.

Galaxy Soho, Beijing China, Zaha Hadid Architects © Hufton + Crow

PK: From your experience what makes the relationship between architects and photographers a successful one?  

HC: Like all relationships, successful ones are built on the ability to listen, on trust and good communication. We have developed our style over the years and combined it with a professional work ethic. We listen to our clients requests and requirements and then with that in mind try and apply our combined knowledge and experience to achieve their goals.

A sky jump structure rises from the surrounding snow scape

Holmenkollen Ski Jump, Oslo Norway, JDS Architects © Hufton + Crow

an arching concrete roof hangs above an old concrete structure

Long Museum, Shanghai Chica, Atelier Deshaus © Hufton + Crow

a shimmering metal facade sits along a wide public staircase

MAAT, Lisbon Portugal, AL_A Architects © Hufton + Crow

PK: Which are some of the influences to your photographic work and in what ways have they affected your approach?

HC: Other contemporary photographers such as Iwan Baan and Fernando Guerra to name a couple have provided inspiration over the years and we always enjoy seeing their images around.

A diagrid structure flies above an opera house lobby space

Harbin Opera House, Heilongjiang China, MAD Architects © Hufton + Crow

a timber clad structure sits in the middle of a public square

Market Hall, Ghent Belgium, Robbrecht en Daem © Hufton + Crow


Looking up towards the sky of a circular balcony atrium

The Learning Hub, Nanyang Technology University, Singapore, Heatherwick Studio © Hufton + Crow

PK: How important is the role of post-processing / retouching in your creative process?

HC: To us its highly important. We’re not in the game of visualisations or rendering things that aren’t there, but our approach is to ‘imagine’ the finished photograph on location and then collect the required ‘data’ to take back to the studio and realise the vision. This almost always includes combining several layers of RAW files that contain different elements to produce a final image.

Curving concrete meets a glazed facade

Arnhem Central Transfer Terminal, Arnhem Netherlands, UN Studio © Hufton + Crow

curving glass openings punctuate a concrete structure

Guangzhou Opera House, Guangzhou China, Zaha Hadid Architects © Hufton + Crow

PK: Some of your projects were self-funded/initiated. Can you give us some examples from this approach and how they developed?

HC: Especially in the early days but also through out our career we have adopted the mantra of ‘If the mountain won’t come to you’. Basically we are passionate about photographing architecture and sometimes you’re not going to get asked, so we decided to go and shoot it anyway. Several self funded shoots have led to long established relationships with high profile clients. Other times like when I traveled to Austria to shoot the bus stops in Krombach, it was just a thoroughly enjoyable shoot that gets in out there online and creates some exposure.

A timber structure forms walls, benches and nooks to sit in

Vennesla Library and Culture House, Vennesla Norway, Helen & Hard Architects © Hufton + Crow

A cube clad in many small rods dissolves the structure and the volumes edges

Seed Cathedral, UK Expo Pavilion, Heatherwick Studio © Hufton + Crow

Minimalist white arches form a corridor between spaces

Musee des Beaux Arts de Nantes, Nantes France, Stanton Williams Architects © Hufton + Crow

PK: What are your thoughts about the shift from print to online media? How has it affected the way architectural photographers work and how do you see the field changing in the future?

HC: One thing that is constant is change.. The whole world has shifted online. I’m not sure it has affected the way we work other than I think our images reach a much wider audience these days. The fundamentals of our business have always been based on direct commissions so where the images end up is secondary really.

A staircase made of thin poles sits in the countryside

Krumbach Bus Stop, Krumbach Austria, Sou Fujimoto Architects © Hufton + Crow

Looking down through a spiraling staircase

Szczecin Philharmonic Hall, Szczecin Poland, Estudio Barozzi Veiga © Hufton + Crow

a glazed facade building dissolves into the background landscape

Louvre Lens Museum, Lens Pas-de-Calais France, SANAA Architects © Hufton + Crow

Links:

Hufton + Crow website

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