Paulina Ojeda is an architectural photographer from Aguascalientes, Mexico. She has developed the passion for photography throughout her career as an architect. Ojeda’s photographs surround her love for details or hidden beauty that she always try to convey. Seeing her work as an inspiration for architecture as well as photography lovers, Handhome has done an online interview to have a better understanding of Ojeda’s photography and thoughts.
Handhome: Please introduce yourself to Handhome readers. How long have you been taking architecture photos?
Hi, my name is Paulina Ojeda, I’m from a small city in Mexico called Aguascalientes. I have been taking pictures for 7 years, and I started to get involved in architectural photography for almost three years.
What makes you interested in architecture photography?
I remember when I was a little girl, I had a very dear aunt architect, every time I was with her while walking through the streets, I remembered that she always spoke beautifully about all the layers that make up our city, of course at that moment for me, they were just stories, but I think that they helped me learn to see the urban landscape differently. Since then, I think I’ve developed a passion and curiosity about the city, I was surprised by the amount of factors that can structure and define a city, the fact that if you really look closely at your surroundings, you can read the story behind it very clearly.
I believe that architectural and urban photography is my way of trying to analyze and understand the world that surrounds me. Many times, due to the rush of everyday life we go through many facts of daily beauty or the situations that surround us, with photography I get to capture all the interesting details that I see and it gives me the opportunity to analyze them more after taking the photograph, regarding the behaviors that we have in the big cities through all different perspectives, such as from pedestrians, cyclists or in a car, from the very well thought out detail of the light in a place, at a very specific moment of the day. That sense of place in a photograph always amazes me.
Before being a photographer, did you have any career that involves architecture?
Im an architect, in fact, with a couple of friends from the career, we established a studio called Contra Taller de diseño. Actually at the very beginning we all started with architectural photography but with time, each of us started to focus in different passions and interests, the great thing was that each one contributed to the studio in different kinds of ways and they gave us the benefit to have more flexible visions to see possibilities in different types of projects, but well, as you already might guess I stayed with photography.
Besides your main job, do you have any interest/hobby that helps you develop your own mindset toward photography?
I know it sounds very cliché, but I love travelling, to anywhere in the world, I think it’s a good excuse to get on the road and get lost, I love seeing all the little things around me without hurry and, of course, take pictures of it. I also love doing any type of outdoor activity, such as climbing a mountain, hiking, cycling on the mountain, etc. I have seasons in which I love to draw or paint, I also love being in a very disorderly city and walking through its streets. I think it’s a really good exercise that keep my eyes sharp, seeing others ways to live and do things, that can reflect from the aspect in nature to an interesting building, how people behave in certain places, the food that is cooked in certain places, the handicrafts that are sold by the man on the street, everything helps to learn more of your environment if you allow yourself to see it.
Are your photos taken with any preconception or artistic approach?
Talking about the commissions in architectural photography I try to express the feeling that the space gives me as well as give visitors a really good notion of the project, of all the spaces and specifics details that makes the building unique.
But I also try to have a more artistic approach, maybe more abstract, capture different textures, the play of light and shadow, I always try to see these special aspects in each project.
What is the most distinct feature of Mexican architecture that you want to convey in each photograph?
I think that with this issue of climate change comes more architects who have the courage to do work in different ways, at least in Mexico, I think we are bringing back natural materials, accepting them as they are and reflect our environment in architecture. I’m glad to see that we are embracing our culture.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my country and our architecture, but if you come to Mexico, you will see that we have some cities that have, as I call it, personality problems, because they are full of contradictions, trying to appear something that they are not. I think that when a city embraces what it is and shows its true nature, it is the most beautiful and interesting place to visit.
I have to say that I’ve had a lot of luck with the clients I’ve had. They have really interesting and beautiful projects, full of exquisite details in each space that make my work really easy and enjoyable, I am very grateful for that.
So that’s what I try to express in my photos, that a generation of architects is emerging, at least in my opinion, they are doing things that are related to the time and space that we are in, besides embracing our culture as it is , all this is reflected in the warmth of the projects with very particular colors, vegetation. It’s about finding the beauty in imperfection.
What’s your opinion on Vietnamese architecture and culture? Based on your research, do you find similarities between Vietnam and Mexico?
Recently, a couple of architect friends of mine have returned from your beautiful country. They went to work in an architecture studio and everything they showed me got me hooked. I love architecture that also, as I told you before, has that beauty in materials, the way you introduce and respect the nature and make it a very important part of your spaces.
I think that in some way this is something that we have in common or maybe Mexico is becoming similar to a Vietnam in that aspect. Maybe I just have to go there and see for myself. But one thing is certain, that we both have a very homelike culture.
Is there anything making you curious about our country?
The skill you have with bamboo, you are masters of it! I think it’s something in the generation or the ways in which you teach architecture, because it fascinates me that in the projects or cities that I’ve seen, I love that you have found beauty in imperfection and that you embrace it as it is. and even emphasizes more. I think you are very respectful with your surroundings and always try to give a sense of place in each project.
Most of your Instagram photos are about buildings, architecture, nature in Mexico. Have you ever been to another country? If not what’s your next intended destination? Is Vietnam one of them?
Yes, until now I have had the fortune and the opportunity to travel to Central and South America, truly extraordinary countries in all aspects. I try to travel to a country I had never been to at least once in every year. A couple of weeks ago I’ve been looking for the next destination, and my eyes have gone to the east, at the top of my list, it’s Vietnam.
If you come to Vietnam, what do you most look forward to?
I really want to see the contrast, from a really big city to a small city and beautiful landscapes, amazing archaeological ruins.
I think that when you have different points of view about something, you can better understand how and why it is structured, and have a more real vision of its nature.
I would love to see more work with bamboo. When I traveled to Panama and Ecuador, I was fortunate to be able to collaborate in the design and construction of small social projects with bamboo, after that I was hooked to the beauty of that material, the nobility and all the possibilities it offers. And, well, to complete the question, I would love to be able to return to Mexico and be able to transmit all these virtues that exist in your country through photography.
Thank you, Paulina, for your time!