French photographer Julien Boudet is mainly known for his work in fashion under the alias Bleu Mode. Yet his meticulous attention to volumes, textures and sculptural shapes reveals itself in his true passion — architecture.
Like a lot of photographers in the fashion industry, Boudet travelled non-stop for the last three years, rarely spending more than two-three weeks in the same place. Exploring the cities in his free time, he turned his travels into the ultimate quest for the world’s modernist and brutalist gems. The locations he photographed span a multitude of cities, from London, Marseille and LA to Montreal, Taipei, Kobe in Japan and Almaty in Kazakhstan.
Compiled in a book released in collaboration with the West Coast-based label STAMPD — and fuelled by the interest in architecture shared by Boudet and the label’s founder Chris Stamp — the photos are a fascinating journey through the functional yet stunning lines, curves and ideas of the modernist heritage.
Where does your interest in architecture come from?
I first started getting interested in architecture after I moved to New York in the summer of 2008. Back then I began to pay attention to buildings around me, different designs, materials, details. When I attended Parsons a couple years later, my interest grew as I was reading more about architects, and I quickly became more familiar with the modernist movement, especially brutalism.
I would often go around New York City taking photos of buildings with a Toyo large format camera borrowed from school. I practiced a lot at the Standard hotel in the Meatpacking district since it was the closest one from Parsons, and these cameras aren’t easy to carry around. After dropping out of school, when I started working full time as a freelancer, I got to travel a lot for work and I began to shoot buildings everywhere I’d go. However, for practical reasons, I switched to 35mm film and 120 film cameras.
How do you find time to research and photograph architecture on your travels? And what are your main ways of research?
The first thing I do is searching online before traveling. While I’m in town I also go around the city by car, or even running, since I run pretty much everywhere I go, and just explore randomly — it allows you to discover buildings that haven’t been shot a lot yet.
For instance, in the Georgian capital Tbilisi, once I was done with all the “popular” buildings I found online, I started driving around, as well as asking locals to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. And I had actually missed a bunch of great ones. I also have a list of places to shoot in my notebook, mostly countries I haven’t been yet, so anytime I get a chance to go visit I will photograph these specific spots.
Why do you shoot architecture specifically on film?
I think it brings something special to the image, a different feeling. Since the subject isn’t moving, in opposition to a fashion model for instance, I like to take more time to frame and expose properly, try and find interesting angles, look for nice details to focus on. Also it does make it a lot more authentic; I’m not a big fan of digital photography anyway.
Do you have a favourite building or place among the ones you photographed?
It is a difficult question, yet I would pick that particular building I shot in Almaty in Kazakhstan — it was the most impressive structure I shot. Plus the fact that I found it randomly while driving around in the suburbs makes it even better. Another favourite that I did not include in this book is the “cité radieuse” in Marseille, by Le Corbusier. This is a magical place, located in the centre of the city. It’s a little town on its own. Being from Southern France I often go there to grab a coffee. It’s very inspiring and relaxing.