Maíra Acayaba Interview
Maíra Acayaba is a prolific photographer living and working in São Paulo, Brazil. Her work focuses on architecture, cities and landscapes and is regularly featured in national and international magazines. Her images have also been published in books (Rough Style, Living in Style, Atlas of World Architecture of Braun). She collaborated with ETH Zurich to create an online guide of architecture in São Paulo – SP2014.net, and has participated in exhibitions, Biennale of São Paulo, and Netherlands Fotomuseum. In 2016, she launched the book ‘Bold and Bright: chic and exuberant interior inspiration from Brazil’ with her personal photographic study of Brazilian houses. Fascinated by the inherent silence in photography she works diligently to capture and convey the many aspects of architectural photography, from the concept and design elements to light and atmosphere, in order to present cohesive photo-essays.
Pygmalion Karatzas: Mrs. Acayaba 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?
Maira Acayaba: Before becoming an architecture photographer, I was a photographer. While studying Social Sciences, a friend asked me: when are you going to assume that you are a photographer? It was not an easy decision really, but from then on, I have been building my path to becoming a professional. However, I always photographed, since I was 15 years old, with an analog camera. I was fascinated by the whole process involved in photography. As for becoming a photographer of architecture, it was natural considering the way I see the world, my formal framework, my interests, and my personal relationships.
PK: Could you describe your overall photographic vision and approach?
MA: I like the art of photography when it takes you to other places; it takes you out of your usual space and throws you into another; another environment, other landscapes, poetically and culturally. I like the silence inherent in photography that is very present in architecture photography. Photography is always silent even if subtle; the inevitable distancing always trying to be broken.
I always try to relate my subject or architectural work to the place and the landscape in which it is inserted. I also create ample images and perspectives using the vanishing point so that the look is not lost and focus on the essence of the project, the main architectural element and the atmosphere of the place. It’s all there! We just cannot miss an instant of light and movement. My particular aesthetic, I believe, is developed from many references: from books, from art exhibitions, from being, perceiving, seeing.
PK: From your experience, what makes the relationship between architects and photographers a successful one?
MA: I love working with architects because most architects like and understand photography, the value of the work of interpretation. Not always, but most of the times, the clients get really involved with the process. We visit the project together or we sit to talk about it. It is good to know what the concept is, the motto of the project before experiencing it.
PK: Which are some of the influences to your photographic work and in what ways have they affected your approach?
MA: In Brazil, Carlos Moreira, Rochelle Costi, Caio Reisewitz, (many of my references came from the plastic arts) Geraldo de Barros, Cristiano Mascaro, Nelson Kon. In the world, I was very impressed by an exhibition I saw here in São Paulo about the School of Dusseldorf and then, later, professional photographers such as Fernando Guerra and Iwan Baan.
PK: What photographic gear and post-processing workflow do you use and what are your thoughts about their role in the creative process?
MA: Currently I use a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, and I post-process in Lightroom and Photoshop.
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?
MA: Oh, it’s changing so fast! Here in Brazil, magazines are closing one after the other in recent years. There are only a few left. Although I find it a pity – not seeing the photos that we work with so much care printed – I see that at the same time new online platforms appear and each time with more quality and more targeted audiences, doing a good curatorship and taking care of the texts much better than before. So yes, more and more magazines lose their vanguard role but are giving way to platforms that are doing it online.
PK: How do you approach a project from the communication with the client to the on-site photo shoot, to the editing of the final selection of images? Tell us a bit more about your process in the various stages of architectural photography.
MA: I think I’ve said a little bit about this before but I can add: I spend a good part of my time selecting the images to form a cohesive and non-repetitive essay about a path traveled in the project, and about the space/light experience.
PK: Your series ‘Traces’ and ‘Abandonment’ are some examples of your personal photographic projects. Can you tell us a few words about them?
Maíra Acayaba website: www.mairaacayaba.com