I was an architect with great passion for 15 years, but I must say that it takes a long time to complete an architectural work, which doesn’t suit my character.
I would be very satisfied with my work if I knew that a person went to see an architectural work after having seen it in my photos.
Years ago, I left Sanremo on a Vespa and ended up in Morocco!
Aldo Amoretti is an architect who after practicing this profession for several years, decided at a mature age to change jobs and become an architectural photographer. Right from the beginning his shots were successful and allowed him to win important prizes and attract attention on the world scene. Today Aldo Amoretti can boast among its customers some of the most acclaimed studios on the planet, Peter Zumthor, BIG and Snøhetta just to name a few. Speaking with Aldo Amoretti, you clearly perceive that although in his life he has had the opportunity to see and photograph many works, his passion of knowing and deeply understanding architecture has remained intact.
Before becoming a professional photographer, you were an architect. How much has this helped you in your profession?
I was an architect with great passion for 15 years, but I must say that it takes a long time to complete an architectural work, which doesn’t suit my character. I have always liked photography, usually I portrayed my architectural works personally. One day, some of my friends, owners of a studio, asked me to photograph their work, which fortunately was then rewarded and widely published. From that moment on, I have never stopped photographing.
What is your relationship with the client? Is the project explained to you before or during the shooting? Are there usually any common requests?
Usually before the shooting, I study the project.
I am pleased to look at and analyse the project tables, the photos that are already there and any reports by the architect. I do all this to try to understand the designer’s intention. This information allows me to take a more complete reading of the project when I am on site.
Are architects curious about your point of view?
Yes, they are curious to know how I see their work and this allows me expressive freedom during the shooting.
Are shots ever suggested to you?
In important works I would say no.
Do you take many photos during the shooting?
No, but not very few, either.
I like working with multiple light conditions and this leads me to repeat the same shot several times during the day.
In your career you have photographed authors who create an intimate architecture, such as Peter Zumthor or others who can be considered almost the opposite because they are very scenographic, such as BIG or Snohetta. How do you deal with such different architectures?
I photograph different authors with different approaches. I remember that when I photographed the Mine Zinc Museum I spent three days in the absolute silence of the Norwegian forest, reaching almost a state of symbiosis with the architecture I was photographing. After all that time I was able to perceive every slight variation of light and atmosphere capable of influencing the appearance of architecture.
This approach reminds me very much of nature photography.
When I did BIG’s “Amager Resource Centre” job, my shooting behaviour changed completely because it became dynamic and fast, almost like that of a photojournalist.
During a project when you understand that there is no need to take more photos?
In a nutshell, when I no longer want to take pictures.
In practice, when you have run out of energy?
No, I stop because I feel I am satisfied and therefore I no longer feel the need to continue.
Sometimes I take a few hours, sometimes I need days.
Do you think the photographer’s work can contribute to the understanding of a project?
It certainly adds another point of view. I would be very satisfied with my work if I knew that a person went to see an architectural work after having seen it in my photos.
I noticed, as in your case, that often an architect always calls the usual photographer. How do you explain this?
Maybe because he sees his architecture told in the way he would like to.
Being an architectural photographer also means moving around a lot. What is your relationship with travel?
I really like travelling. Actually, I really like the feeling of moving and crossing space. I find it equally exciting to walk the streets of a city or the countryside or move inside a building.
I really like travelling by motorbike and sometimes taking trips that are almost challenges. Years ago, I left Sanremo on a Vespa and ended up in Morocco!
I guess these trips aren’t for work …
In reality it was one of my first works, I had to do a report on the Lisbon Expo of ’98 that I published in Abitare. I was in Sanremo, I put the necessities in my backpack and started this long journey on my Vespa 125 Primavera, which took me across all of France and Spain.
Once I had arrived in Portugal, my destination was still a long way away because I had to reach many cities and interview different architects who had participated in the Expo. After having travelled all over Portugal I decided to go down to the Strait of Gibraltar and head towards Morocco. I returned to Liguria after two months.