Behind the Lens | Photographer Rory Gardiner

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    London and Melbourne-based photographer Rory Gardiner captures light, materiality and form in a way that transforms his architectural photography into artworks.

    Rory Gardiner has established a name in the global design community, working with some of the world’s most renowned architects.

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    Growing up in Melbourne, Rory was introduced to architecture photography at an early age. “My dad was an architect and a keen hobbyist photographer,” the photographer reflects. “When I was sixteen, we did a road trip through New Zealand where he introduced me to the camera. From that point, I just became more and more obsessed with photography.”

    While finishing his photography degree in Melbourne, Rory was short-listed for a photography competition in London. This one-week trip turned into something more permanent, and he never flew home. “I lived and worked in London for the best part of a decade, and at first it wasn’t easy to establish myself there as the standard of work is so high,” he says. “The breadth of the creative community in London blew me away – something I’d underestimated before moving there.”

    “Photography seemed like a very therapeutic way for me to process the world, and to this day, I maintain it’s the only thing I’ve ever had any natural ability at.”


    – Rory Gardiner

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    Blending the lines between landscape and build, Rory captures the big ideas of French architect Ludwig Godefroy’s Mexico project, Casa Merida.

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    Having a base in London quickly led to global projects in North America and Europe and also extended Rory’s network reach to like-minded clients worldwide who are interested in rethinking the image. “There are often formulas and well-trodden tropes in architecture photography that can feel stale, so it’s refreshing when clients are keen to push the envelope,” the photographer says.

    Rather than conceptualising the singular architecture shot within his photography, Rory instead aims to build a narrative—setting the scene through a 100% analogue process. “There are no screens on set,” the photographer points out. “This forces me and the people I collaborate with to engage directly with the camera itself, focusing on the image we are building together in real-time, rather than unpicking it from behind a computer.”

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    Intuitively modernist, Gardiner portrays the intersections of nature and the Los Terrenos house by Tatiana Bilbao. “This house is testament to the strength and originality of the thriving architecture world in Mexico,” says the photographer.

    Rory almost always spends time at the location before the shoot without his camera to understand how the light interacts with the architecture and how the composition can be captured in his distinct organic aesthetic. “My priority when photographing is being able to work intuitively, so for me, this means considering light, weather and timing prior to the shoot,” he adds.

    Thinking back over his career, a dream project for the photographer is one that invites a new perspective on location and scale. “I get excited about interesting urban contexts, particularly when the project offers me the chance to show the breadth of structure that it sits within,” Rory says. “Similarly, I get giddy when a project is set deep in the wilderness and lends itself to images that meld both the natural and built environment together.”


    This feature originally appeared in est magazine issue #41.

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    “The 7th Room by Snøhetta is one of the most remote locations I’ve ever worked in,” Rory says. “This hotel in Swedish Lapland really made you feel like you couldn’t be any further away from daily life.”

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    Aires Mateus designs some of the ‘most delicate’ architecture Rory has encountered — their approach seamlessly blurring between old and new.

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