Jim Stephenson

Architecture and Interior Photography by Jim Stephenson

Where and when was this photograph taken?

The image is of The Serpentine Gallery’s Pavilion for 2013 in Hyde Park, London, England. It was taken at 9:38am on June 4th, 2013.

Was it the first time that you had been there?

I’d been visiting the site for a number of weeks on a commission to document the construction of the pavilion. This was my last day on the job, the opening of the completed structure.

What were the physical conditions on site?

The light was especially good, given the temperamental nature of British summers. The sun was out and the morning haze had lifted. The day was beginning to warm up and I was comfortable in a t-shirt, especially having carried my heavy photographic equipment across the park. Hyde Park is a huge green space in central London and as such combines the peacefulness of a park with the hum of distant traffic to remind you you’re still in the city.

Are there any special technical aspects about the photograph?

This is a pretty unsophisticated image, in a technical sense. Whilst photographing the pavilion on it’s opening day, I noticed a scrum of press agency photographers clamouring for a photo, so I took my camera off it’s tripod and shot it handheld. I ran off a couple of frames and wound up liking this one the best. The foreground (right of frame) is important both for context and to frame the scrum, and as with almost all of my work the vertical planes are at least vertical.

What do you find most interesting about this image?

This building only existed for a matter of months before being taken down (it was planned as a temporary structure) and over the summer it was photographed many, many times by lots of different people, not least on it’s opening day. I find this idea, of a scrum of photographers photographing a building quite humorous and perhaps casts a different eye over it. This sort of behaviour is usually the reserve of paparazzi spotting an A-list celebrity. Here, the building is the superstar.

Is there anything that you were trying to communicate through it?

This picture wasn’t one I planned to take. It’s was very much an impromptu moment, so I can’t say I was trying to communicate anything in particular through it. That said, once my images were released and started to be used by magazines, newspapers, blogs and so on, this one usually ended up being the most popular one! I like to show people reacting to architecture and using the space in my work as much as possible and this is at the far end of that – an extreme reaction that is tinted with humour. I goes to show that it’s not always the images you think that will have the widest appeal!


This is an excerpt of an interview which is part of the editorial project “1 Photo(grapher)” and originally published for Scopio Network.