Museum of the Future in Dubai, architecture photography by Gerry O’Leary
Every photographer has a list of dream projects that they’d love to capture. I’m incredibly lucky to have photographed some of the most amazing structures on earth, and added architectural wonders to my portfolio. Here, I’ve included some of the dream projects on my list. I’m starting with museums in the Middle East, as this region has some of the most aesthetically pleasing buildings that house treasures old and new.
The connection between architects and photographers
The dreams of architects are realised by photographers. Let me explain – the architect begins with a sketch, a vision from their imagination. Photographers of architecture create artful images that conjure a symphony of delight for viewers. They are narrators through a lens, telling the story of a building. The architect sees his vision come to life and when the architectural photographer captures its form perfectly, the circle is complete.
When you next gaze on one of the world’s architectural marvels, remember that its tale lies not just in the bricks and mortar, but the photographs that breathe life into its existence.
In order to immortalise the architect’s vision and etch the triumph of a project in eternity, the art of architectural photography is indispensable. It marries the mastery of two professionals, and it elevates concrete, wood and glass to an artistic platform.
1. Museum of the Future – Dubai
One of the world’s most complex structures, the Museum of the Future was designed by Killa Design and engineered by Buro Happold.
I’ve already captured some striking photos of this icon as it is located just 1.2 kilometres from my home in Dubai. I’ve been watching its evolution since it was conceived. My studies of its form render me like an artist in residence for the Museum of the Future, rather like my work on Expo 2020 Dubai.
Being in Dubai has allowed me to see this remarkable construction at different times of day and year. I’ve previously mentioned the importance of light, and with the shape and form of the Museum of the Future, knowing exactly when to photograph it is key. Timing is critical here as the façade of the museum collects dust easily and some days are hazy. I’d have an advantage as I’m just down the road and wouldn’t need to jump on an international flight to do the shoot, so I could jump in just after the exterior had been cleaned on a perfect day for photographing.
2. The Louvre – Abu Dhabi
A mesmerising building that blends French design with Arabian heritage, the Louvre was designed by Pritzker prize-winning architect, Jean Nouvel.
I was lucky enough to attend the launch of the museum where I met the esteemed architect, Nouvel. I got a chance to briefly share my admiration for the structure of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, in particular the unique design of its dome, which casts visitors under rays of light spliced through complex geometric patterns in steel. My background in construction management allows me a deeper understanding of the challenges they faced in producing and building the dome, which appears to float above the museum.
It also provides extra context for my desire to photograph this museum. Knowing the importance of these details, I can invite viewers into the world of the architectural lensmen, giving them a snapshot of where passion and precision converge. Through my lens, I will unlock the secrets hidden in the play of light and shadow and breathe life into still structures. I am trained at understanding each angle and perspective and how they exude the soul of the design. It is my role as a photographer of great architecture to capture that for the audience.
3. National Museum of Qatar – Doha
I am regularly commissioned for photography shoots in Doha, having photographed Qatar National Convention Center and Qatar National Library. On every trip, I make sure to check out the extraordinary buildings under construction and admire the completed masterpieces in the city.
Inspired by the desert rose, the crystalline forms of the National Museum of Qatar unfold by the waterfront in another exceptional piece of architecture designed by the great Jean Nouvel.
To date in my career, I have published three reputable coffee-table books that showcase the incredible architecture of amazing buildings. I believe the National Museum of Qatar would be an excellent subject for a book like these – I’m open to discussion with its owners!
4. Zayed National Museum – Abu Dhabi
Currently under construction on Saadiyat Island (near the Louvre Abu Dhabi) is the magnificent Zayed National Museum, a monumental design by Foster+Partners that resembles the wings of a falcon, one of the national symbols of the United Arab Emirates.
The project is a manifestation of the visionary architect’s brilliance. It stands boldly against the horizon, representing each stroke of the architect’s pencil, every ounce of sweat and toil of the engineers and labourers who have worked on it, all culminating in this work of art. It needs the discerning eye and creative prowess of an experienced photographer to tell its tale through the lens. Without this, its tale will remain untold.
Exterior and interior photography of museums
These stunning museums have all been created to house priceless works of art and it is wonderfully synchronous that the exterior should be designed with this in mind.
In my photographs, the museum becomes a living entity, whispering tales of grandeur and grace. My lens captures not just the building’s façade but it’s essence, its aura. The dance between subject and artist reveals the heart that beats within the walls. To get the right perspective, you must hire an artist.
Which dream projects would you suggest for a photographer and architecture lover? I’d especially love to hear from people outside the Middle East as there may be new projects I haven’t heard of.
Come back next week for a new video!