In portrait photography, the goal is to capture the essence of a subject’s personality and make use of a certain mood to match or highlight it. For Hamburg-based Sebastian Weiss, the goal of his architecture photography is more or less the same for an ongoing project. If you’re into this genre of photography and are curious about how he captures the “personalities” of buildings and architectural elements, this is definitely a body of work you’d be delighted to see.
Sebastian describes himself as “passionate about concrete aesthetics and the beauty seen in city shapes.” When you have an eye or appreciation for architecture like his does, you’ll definitely see it in his work. In his ongoing project, Dramatis Personae, Sebastian harnesses this passion to capture not only the beauty of works of architecture, but their personalities.
What’s this “personality” that he has been seeking to capture? According to Sebastian, the project represents the way the facade of these buildings “deliberately restrains the identity of the object” to put the focus on their “public performance.” The very term from which he named his project after also explains it best. Dramatis Personae refers simply to the characters of a play or a narrative, and that’s what he perceives his subjects to be: characters who are cloaked with personas that are perceived different from “who” they are inside.
Dramatis Personae draws on the public’s experience and tendencies when they see eye-catching buildings and architectural landmarks. When we see these unique buildings from afar, we don’t know what’s inside or what they are for, but we often make guesses. It looks like a museum. It looks like an ultra-modern office building. Is that an exclusive, high-end apartment building? It could be a library. Well, it can even be a spaceship or a super high-tech headquarters for space exploration, as Lars Stieger has even imagined.
I personally think the appeal of this project is in the way it successfully demonstrates how some outstanding examples of architecture can be vastly different from easily identifiable forms of architecture, like churches and temples.