Ms. Binet's photograph of MAXXI Diptychon, by Zaha Hadid.
Ms. Binet's photograph of MAXXI Diptychon, by Zaha Hadid. © Ammann Gallery

In a world glutted with crystalline digital images of buildings to be scrolled, scanned and pinned, Hélène Binet’s architectural photography stands out for its reserve, its simplicity and an ineffable quality that comes from shooting on film. Her images can reduce a complex building on a spectacular site, like Le Corbusier’s monastery at La Tourette, to a series of vertical lines.

“A lot of architecture photography is very tense because it is trying to convey a lot,” said Ms. Binet, 55, who has been shooting architecture for 25 years. “I photograph the phenomena that happen because the building is built a specific way.”

She is the recipient of the 2015 Excellence in Photography award from the Julius Shulman Institute, and a related exhibition, “Hélène Binet: Fragments of Light,” will open on Saturday at the Woodbury University Hollywood Gallery in Los Angeles. She spoke from her home in London.


You have said you don’t want the photographs to replace the experience of the building. What does that mean?

I prefer to have silent, abstract images, that by looking at them you have an interaction. You create your own space, which maybe is not the exact space, but it is more real than a wide-angle descriptive photograph. I often refer to the space you create when you read a book or have a dream. If you want them to know everything about the building, they have to go.