Interview with Philip Gunkel: Upping The Architectural Photography Bar is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for website owners to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to,, and any other website that may be affiliated with Amazon Service LLC Associates Program.
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Recently I joined the new social network Ello and I found myself amid other photographers and creatives. One of the newly followed photographers who caught my eye was Philip Gunkel, a photographer based in Berlin, Germany. After checking out his website I had to get in touch for an interview to find out more about his latest architectural series.

What inspired you to capture photographs from your recent architectural series “The City of Arts and Science” photographed in Valencia, Spain?

I am really a fan of Santiago Calatravas architectural work, and after I saw pictures of the City of Arts and Science for the first time on the Internet, I knew that I will have to go there sometime. Actually this was the final work for my graduation on Lette-Verein Berlin in Photodesgin 2012. One of the reasons I went there was also that the quality of the Images I found on the web were not really satisfying especially I did not find any good interior shots at all.

Because I absolutely admire the interior work of Calatrava on the City of Arts and Science I had to go there and capture the amazing Beauty of these rooms. All rooms/spaces inside are in my opinion an unique and amazing work of interior design. They all have a really elegant, quiet and peaceful atmosphere and are filled with daylight or awesome light design. My vision was, as described in the first entry, to shoot these spaces, because of their incredible architectural beauty and to capture them with all of their strong “symmetrical perfection” which Calatrava and his team created.


Have you always had an interest in architecture? What was your favourite building out of the photographic shoot?

My father is an architect as well, maybe thats a reason why I am that interested in architecture today, too.
I just love shooting architectural photos because it is a different way of working than for example on an Editorial Fashion series.

If you shoot architecture it is that amount of freedom and quietness to explore what the architect want to say to us with his building/room that I really enjoy. When you get yourself into that, the architecture itself will explain to you and direct you to the right perspective and the right shots. Also I really like it when I as a photographer can not control everything on location, and when there is no perfect sunlight on an building then you simply have to come back tomorrow morning at 5.30 O’clock.


What gear do you use to photograph the buildings in this series?

I shot this photographs with a Canon 5D Mark II and most of the shots with the 17-40mm EF Lens. The exterior shots are made from a Manfrotto 488 and with that I used a 10 stop neutral density filter from b&w as well sometimes.


Did you face any lighting challenges during the day or at night, and if so how did you overcome these challenges?

My toughest lightning challenge was to shoot the Sala Principal, the main opera hall of the Paleau of the Arts Reina Sofia.
It was really difficult because I was not allowed to shoot with a tripod, I had only about a minute to do the shot and there was a rehersal on the stage, so the hall was not illuminated at all, with other words it was really dark in there. To get a satisfiying result that also defines the pure size of the room, I made 4 (x3) vertical shots at iso 1600 and stitched them afterwards.


Was any post processing work carried out after the shoot and in total how long did the series take to finish?

There was a lot of postprocessing necesarry just because of the lightning conditions in some interiors for example and it took me about 3 Months to get my series of 15 Pictures ready for printing.


If you had some advice for an upcoming architectural photographer what would it be?

Inform yourself. Background Information about the building is elementary. Be Patient, take your time and go there again and again and AGAIN ! Be carefull with the structures and the colors (White Balance) and try to reproduce them authentically. Finally try to find some harmonical and calm composition that represent the thoughts of the architectural design.


Do you work closely with the architect to photograph projects like this?

I would like to and I did in the past during other projects but Santiago Calatrava and his Team have a specialised photographer in their team and had not been interested in a cooperation.


Are you working on any projects currently?

Yes i am working on multiple projects including a new architectural series that I am going to shoot in near future. For that I am going to visit the Leonardo Glass Cube in Bad Driburg, Germany.


What’s the best way of contacting you and where can people follow your work?

Write me an email on whatever you have in your mind.
You can follow my work and inform yourself about my projects directly on my website or on some other websites including: 500px / Facebook / Ello / Flickr

Thanks for your time Philip.