April 14, 2021

Playing With Architecture: Unconventional Architecture Photography Highlights ‘The Magic’ And Fun Found In Buildings

Architects. Storytellers. Photographers. World explorers. Meet creative content duo Daniel Rueda and Anna Devís. Recognized for their humorous imagery, hand-made props, perfectly executed poses, and interaction with architecture, Daniel and Anna took the X1D-50c along on their adventures, using building façades as their creative canvases.

Daniel Rueda:  Website | Instagram
Anna Devís: Instagram

Creative duo Daniel Rueda and Anna Devís showcase the beauty of buildings in their quirky architectural photography.

HAPPYTECTURE – For us, location is as important as the subject of the picture. That’s why we are always looking for colorful and interesting scenarios for our shoots. We like to think about the backgrounds of our images as another character of our stories. As a matter of fact, this photography would not make a lot of sense if you got rid of the architectural element. You wouldn’t see a smile on the façade without those two big browns windows. APERTURE: F/4 SHUTTER SPEED: 1/125 SEC FOCAL LENGTH: 30MM (XCD 3,5/30)

A girl whose yellow hat is transformed into an egg yolk, a boy trapped by the lines on a road in Superkilen, Copenhagen, are just two of the innumerable photos crafted by Daniel Rueda and Anna Devis, both of whom have thousands of followers on Instagram. The feeds of Daniel, a professional architect and self-taught photographer, and Anna, an architect as well and a communications expert don’t just give followers great photos, they tell stories that tickle the fancy of the observer.

But don’t be fooled by the light-hearted, wacky nature of their shots. Every single photo is the end result of a creative process that is developed from the concept to the sketch through to preparatory drawings so they can gauge the feasibility of their idea, but more importantly to make sure the images really are comprehensible. Sometimes it is the place that inspires a photo – like Copenhagen, the location of the bicycle photograph – at others, it is an object that triggers their light bulb moment. Whatever the case, there is almost always a person and this human element is as fundamental as the composition of the whole picture and it is by no coincidence that they involve visual references to René Magritte, the great maestro of surrealism as much as to history.

Each photo fed onto social media is accompanied by a short caption, and the words are the meta-code for the image; but the photo itself, being a significant surface, is the true bearer of the message. Despite their introductory words, the creators let observers freely use their imagination to create their own story, along the lines of Magritte, because what is said is not what you see… and what you see is not what was said. So, Daniel Rueda and Anna Devis don’t reproduce the real world – or what we perceive as the real world – in their photography project. Rather, they give us a kind of two-dimensional representation lying somewhere between painting and photography.

First things first – sitting down together and planning a new image. With a pencil in her hand, Anna is the one sketching out the concept. Then the location is decided. And lastly, the scale of the objects and subjects. Using different props and outfits, the team has to plan out exactly what is needed, along with the colour and style of the outfits necessary. Working with solely natural light, there are few hours in the day that the two have to execute the image without having any contrasts. Everything has to be prepared and ready before going out on a shoot, including buying clothing, painting objects if necessary, building structures, or cutting out paper shapes. “Most of the time, it’s not about taking the picture. It’s about building the props and perfecting the composition of the image,” says the duo.

The thing that stands out the most in the photos crafted by this young duo is the sheer sense of fun that they get across. Something intimately connected to Daniel Rueda’s childhood. His father loved photography and always took photos of the fun, enjoyable moments of family life, like holidays, birthdays and the like, so Rueda has always associated the act of bringing out the camera with something positive. And that’s the feeling you get when you lose yourself in the visual storytelling of this Spanish duo.

“Our backgrounds in architecture have completely shaped our way of seeing the world,” Rueda tells My Modern Met. “As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t be doing this if we hadn’t studied that particular degree.” Travel, even if it’s within the same city, is an integral part of Rueda and Devís’ process. “For us, every image has to tell a different story and, in order to do so, it needs a unique location to be told in.”

“There’s nothing random or fortuitous in our work,” Rueda reveals. “We get to decide every single element and how it affects the narrative of the image. This also allows us to chase a certain type of mood and tone that helps us build a cohesive portfolio of images where, even though every photograph tells a different story, it does so in a very homogeneous way.”

They brainstorm the project, and Devís translates it into “little drawings” that turn ideas into reality. “In this part of the process, we usually realize we need something that has to be produced, like a human-sized Tetris piece or a rainbow-colored paint roller, for example. All of our props are handmade, that’s why some of our images take so long to bring to life!”

A common feeling that comes from Rueda and Devís’ work is that of marvel—you can’t help but wonder how they find so many amazing spots. “As important as the props needed for the image are other things like the outfit of the model and the location of the set. These two variants always fulfill a very important role in our work, that’s why we spend so much time scouting for unique places and clothes even when we are not working on a particular project.”

So while the images might look “simple,” they are anything but that. “At first glance, one would probably think that most of our images are not very difficult to capture because of their modest appearance. But, with the passing years, we’ve learned that achieving this level of simplicity is really, really complicated; which makes the process of creating each image a completely different and unique adventure!”

Anna Devis aka @anniset
Daniel Rueda aka @drcuerda