The series of architectural photographers – 2: Hélène Binet


An interior view of the Salerno Maritime Terminal in Salerno, Italy, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, 2016; photo © Hélène Binet courtesy of ZHA.

The series of architectural photographers – 2: Hélène Binet

Born in Sorengo, canton of Ticino, Switzerland in 1959, Franco-Swiss artist Helene Binet is one of the most acclaimed contemporary architectural photographers.
Binets’ work is characterized by an approach to architectural photography that is remarkably different from that of most photographers today. In fact, Binet’s main inspiration comes directly from the masters of 20th century photography – in particular the Hungarian-born French photographer Lucien Hervè, renowned for his long collaboration with Le Corbusier.
Like them, she focuses mainly on architecture; although this does not mean that she is interested in a purely objective representation of buildings. On the contrary, Binet’s works are always “expressionist”, so to speak, because his images do not simply depict architecture “as it is”, but also convey the deep impression it makes on it and, through it, on us. Thus, his photographs somewhat transcend their subjects to become “architectural” works in themselves.
Echoing Le Corbusier’s famous motto: “Architecture is the skilful, correct and magnificent play of forms assembled in light”; another distinguishing feature of Hélène Binet’s work is the extreme attention to the contrasts of shadows and lights, a feature which perhaps finds its origin in her experience as a stage photographer at the Opera of the Grand Théâtre de Genève which she made in the 1980s just after finishing his photography studies at the IED -Istituto Europeo di Design in Rome and before turning full time to architectural photography.

Portrait of Hélène Binet Binet

Hélène Binet, portrait (cropped); photo © Jasmine Bruno, courtesy Royal Academy of Arts.

Large format camera Arca Swiss 4x5 Hélène Binet

One of Binet’s favorite devices is a large format Arca Swiss F-line 4×5.

She is a proponent of analog photography and openly ignores digital cameras. his film cameras include a large format Arca Swiss 4×5 and a medium format Hasselblad from the 1970s.

“Digital has made architectural photography very clever. Sometimes you don’t know if it’s a photo or if it’s a rendering, and that bothers me a lot. » Helen Binet.

Primarily using medium focal length lenses, Binet focuses the viewer’s attention on architectural elements, details, surfaces, textures and the interplay between light and shadow.
Unconventionally, his images often frame a small portion of a building, and this fragment is often able to portray the whole better than the “see it all” perspective photographs we’ve become accustomed to since the advent of digital cameras. and ultra-wide. angular rectilinear lenses. Moreover, by focusing on small architectural pieces, carefully chosen and photographed through a demanding and time-consuming creative process, she transforms an architectural photograph into a psychological experience in which viewers can find fragments of memories and engage with empathy. with what they see.
Unlike those of other renowned colleagues, Iwan Baan for example, his “empathetic” approach to the representation of architecture does not require the presence of people; perhaps because in Hélène Binet’s vision we (and she) are those people.

“I believe that photography is about celebrating a moment. You say yes and you commit at that moment.

Official website of Hélène Binet:

Salerno Maritime Terminal Zaha Hadid 03

Salerno Maritime Terminal, Salerno Italy – Zaha Hadid Architects, 2016, © Hélène Binet courtesy of ZHA.

Hélène Binet, Jewish Museum of Berlin, Daniel Libeskind

Jewish Museum, Berlin, Germany – Daniel Libeskind, © Hélène Binet courtesy of Ammann Gallery.

Hélène Binet, Kolumba Museum, Peter Zumthor

Kolumba Museum, Cologne, Germany – Peter Zumthor, 2007, © Hélène Binet courtesy of the Julius Shulman Institute.

Helene Binet, Heydar Aliyev Center, Baku Azerbaijan, Zaha Hadid

Heydar Aliyev Center, Baku Azerbaijan – Zaha Hadid Architects, © Hélène Binet courtesy of ZHA.

Hélène Binet, Rosenthal Art Center, Zaha Hadid

Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art, Cincinnati, USA – Zaha Hadid Architects, 2003, © Hélène Binet courtesy of the Julius Shulman Institute.


Firminy C, Fiminy, France – Le Corbusier © Hélène Binet courtesy of the Julius Shulman Institute.

Hélène Binet, St. Matthäus parish church, Gottfried Böhm

Gottfried Böhm, Parish Church of St. Matthäus, Düsseldorf, Germany, 2020. Type C digital print, 102 x 80 cm; © Hélène Binet, Courtesy Ammann Projects.

Hélène Binet, Can lis, Majorca, Jørn Utzon

Can lis, Jørn Utzon, Majorca, Spain, 2019; © Helene Binet

Hélène Binet, The Garden Walls of Suzhou, China

The Garden Walls of Suzhou, China; © Helene Binet


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