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Interview with Architectural Photographer Roberto Garcia

Roberto Garcia is an architectural photographer who has combined his fashion photography experience with European culture that he lived.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Roberto Garcia

Roberto Garcia


by Melisa Kaya

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Roberto Garcia lived and worked in Bilbao, London, Milan, Paris, Madrid, and Barcelona, he explored New York and Miami, and finally, he decided to stay in Los Angeles. He has started his photography career by shooting DJs and event photos in the clubs, then he worked as a photo editor and fashion photographer in fashion weeks. And now he is focusing on the interior and architectural photography with his different photography and editing skills which comes from his previous experiences. I asked Roberto Garcia about the Importance of Photography in Architecture.

Roberto, how did you decide to pursue a career in photography? What or who inspired you?

It happened naturally. My first jobs were as a photographer - taking photos of DJs in a club, photographing fashion shows - but somehow I started to show interest in architecture and photographing spaces. It also happened that I knew a few architects in Barcelona and they needed photos. So one thing led to another, and I ended up focusing more on architecture.

My main inspiration is cinema, which is like having an open window on the world. I have been interested in other cultures since I was a child, and I think photography has given me a great tool to connect with the world.

Country House in the Valley - Photo by Roberto Garcia

Country House in the Valley - Photo by Roberto Garcia

Before you start talking about photography, could you tell us about yourself? Who is Roberto Garcia?

I majored in Media Studies (Video & Cinema) at Universidad del Pais Vasco (Basque Country University) in Bilbao. I remember from my first year of college wanting to go somewhere else, travel the world, and “start my life.” I was still living with my parents at the time.

I was able to study in Portugal for my last year of college, and that was a wonderful experience. That was when I started working on my first photo projects with an analog camera.

I started compiling a small portfolio of my prints and slides that enabled me to show my work to prospective employers. From Portugal, I moved to London, where I took courses in Photoshop and black and white photography. London fascinated me because of its cosmopolitan vibe.

I would say my career in photography began when I moved to Barcelona and started working for the nightclub Razzmatazz, photographing DJs and live bands. I was really open to any photography job. Three years later I was hired as a photo editor in the fashion show editorial business. I would go twice a year to Milan and Paris and stay in the hotel, editing thousands of photos that my colleagues were taking. After a year, my boss asked me to shoot at the Madrid Fashion Week, and I moved up from editor to photographer. I remember my first day in Milan Fashion Week, shooting several shows, surrounded by top designers, top models, and celebrities from all over the world.

When the financial crisis of 2008 began, I wanted a steadier job, so I called a photo studio in Barcelona that specialized in advertising, Garrigosa Studio. I was its producer for the next 6 years. It was interesting to see how an international photo studio functioned. I got used to working with ad agencies from everywhere, including a few from Turkey. During those years I was hired by Airbnb to take interior photos in Barcelona. In my mind, I never really closed the door on photography.

A few years later, I began to want a life change. I looked for an opportunity for personal and professional growth. At the end of a trip to California, the idea of working in the US came to me. I had always had an interest in American culture (music, movies, literature), so after considerable thought, I decided to leave my job in Barcelona and take time off to explore Los Angeles, New York, and Miami. Los Angeles interested me the most, so I came to L.A. in 2015.

I would say listening to music and playing guitar are my main hobbies, along with travel photography. (I have taken photo trips to Mexico, China, Cuba, and Israel.)

Getting to know new places has broadened my perspective. For me, that has been fundamental.

CONTEMPORARY LOFT - Photo by Roberto Garcia

CONTEMPORARY LOFT - Photo by Roberto Garcia

How would you describe your photographic approach?

I like spaces to look natural, not over-retouched. I like to enhance the beauty of the design and architecture that I photograph. I think design and architecture improve the quality of our lives. I am fascinated by what other creative people are able to achieve and that is why I love working in a team. After hearing the ideas of the people I work with, I like to give my input. It is important to me to understand their ideas and goals as they conceived them so that I can portray them in the best possible way.

LUXURY APARTMENT - Photo by Roberto Garcia

LUXURY APARTMENT - Photo by Roberto Garcia

You lived in Bilbao, London, Madrid, and Barcelona before you moved to Los Angeles. How did the cultural diversity of those European cities affect your vision?

Cultural diversity affects not only your vision but your whole persona and mind. Each city represents a different moment in my life. I was young and inexperienced when I was living in London, but I needed a place to start my life after college. I lived in Barcelona for 12 years and I am very grateful for that. I needed to settle down and I had a good personal and professional life there. I liked the fact there was a mixed culture in Barcelona, Catalan, and Spanish. It made the city richer and more interesting.

Could you tell us about Roberto Garcia Photography?

Although I have been a photographer for 16 years, the business side of photography has been developing for me since I came to Los Angeles in 2015. It has happened naturally and progressively. L.A. is a city that allows you to develop yourself in many different ways. I find that all my previous experiences in photography and advertising have helped me to understand the business and my career as a photographer.

HERITAGE ESTATE - Photo by Roberto Garcia

HERITAGE ESTATE - Photo by Roberto Garcia

What types of services do you offer to architecture and design firms?

I focus on photography. I also offer 3D virtual tours, aerial photography, and videography, partnering with other professionals.

How long does it take to complete an average architectural project's full photo work?

It depends on the size of the job. It takes from one day to few days from photo-shoot to editing. Sometimes pre-production work with a client to discuss details about the shoot adds time.

HISTORIC VILLA - Photo by Roberto Garcia

HISTORIC VILLA - Photo by Roberto Garcia

Which factors determine the project budget?

There are many different types of clients, budgets, and businesses. For example, taking photos to sell a house would cost less than producing a portfolio for an architect or interior designer. Some clients recognize the value and importance of photography better than others.

What is the most important component of a spectacular architectural photograph?

Different elements play a role: The architecture design, the natural lighting, the staging, the photography, and the editing. I say all play equal parts for a spectacular result.

MID-CENTURY DESIGN - Photo by Roberto Garcia

MID-CENTURY DESIGN - Photo by Roberto Garcia

How does the work of a professional architectural photographer add value to the architectural project?

I use my photography and editing skills to enhance the beauty of an architectural project. It is also a question of being fair with what you see. You want to show the beauty that is there but not fake it.

What do you think about the effect of a good photograph in the buyer's decision?

A good photograph is fundamental and key in the process of selling a property. Unfortunately, not everyone gives enough attention to this fact.

Could you tell us about some of your architectural photography projects?

I am currently working on a project photographing luxury villas for the vacation industry.

I work for contractors, developers, and interior designers.

POOL OVERLOOK - Photo by Roberto Garcia

POOL OVERLOOK - Photo by Roberto Garcia

Do your equipment and project plan vary depending on the size of the building? What types of work do you prefer most, is it interior or exterior?

I use tilt-shift lenses for architectural projects. I carry different lights depending on the size of the space I need to photograph. I like to shoot both interior and exterior. It is always better when the architecture is beautiful and challenging.

How do you protect the rights of your photographs in this online era?

I take this matter seriously and always ask my clients how the images will be used. I generally retain ownership of my images, but clients sometimes buy the full rights to them.

I like to have control over my work product, although I guess it is inevitable that some people use your work without permission.

CONTEMPORARY HOUSE - Photo by Roberto Garcia

CONTEMPORARY HOUSE - Photo by Roberto Garcia

Could your clients use the photographs in any publication, catalog, website, ad or other platforms in the future?

Yes, if there is a license for it that we have previously agreed on.

Smartphones and affordably priced DSLR cams made everyone is more enthusiastic about photography. How did this affect the professional photography industry?

I think having a smartphone or a DSLR doesn’t mean you can work as a professional photographer. I see this as a career that takes time and craft to develop.

It is a positive thing that a lot of people have access to cameras and challenge themselves to take and share photos.

HISTORIC VILLA - Photo by Roberto Garcia

HISTORIC VILLA - Photo by Roberto Garcia

What advice would you give to photographers who want to pursue a career in architectural photography?

Start somewhere: photograph homes of family or friends, and build a small portfolio. Learn all the skills. Study photography, art, and design. There is a lot of free information about architectural photography on YouTube. Start easy on the equipment but little by little, invest in upgrading it, especially good lenses.

What type of different solutions do you offer for different needs? Could you briefly tell us about your other services?

I recently got my drone license because some clients were asking for aerial photography. I believe there should be a specialized professional for each field. I focus on photography and partner with other professionals for other services such as videography or virtual tours.

I also do portraits when clients request them.

What is your favorite photograph that you have ever taken?

It’s hard to say. I have shot so many. To be honest, my favorite might be a photograph unrelated to architecture. If you are asking what I would hang on a wall, I would choose from among my travel photos.

CONTEMPORARY HOUSE - Photo by Roberto Garcia

CONTEMPORARY HOUSE - Photo by Roberto Garcia

What do you think about social media? How do you use it for your profession?

The use of social media is important for marketing your work. I use Houzz or Yelp to offer my services. At the same time, I like posting on Instagram and I love seeing other peoples ideas and projects there.

How can our readers follow Roberto Garcia Photography?

I have an Instagram account @robertogarciaphoto for my commercial work. I am also on Facebook as @robertogarciaphoto.

How could you describe Los Angeles from a photographers' eye?

It is a fascinating city visually. For example, you can find all sorts of architectural styles from art deco and mid-century modern to all the different 20th Century styles. There is an effort to conserve some iconic buildings and vintage signage that make L.A. very unique. The city’s downtown has changed enormously in recent years. Many old building such as banks has been converted into restaurants or art galleries.

The city has multiple landscapes and interesting spaces that are perfect for photographers. I also like the fact that there is a beautiful desert within two hours’ drive, high mountains nearby, and the ocean.

From a business point of view, the city is formed by different industries: movies, TV, music, fashion, and art. Therefore, Los Angeles attracts creative people from all over the world.

Thank you Roberto.

For more information, please visit website of Roberto Garcia