Behind the Lens | Photographer Joe Fletcher

  • British-born, Californian-based photographer Joe Fletcher unashamedly admits he’s enamoured with the golden state’s light. “The light here has presence; it’s magical and golden,” Joe says. “I’m quite in love with it.”

    Joe credits his UK heritage for shaping his perception of architecture and design. He has inherited a passion for what he calls England’s design identity; “understated, humble but refined”. “I shy away from anything flashy – I suspect that’s rather English,” Joe laughs.

    Since moving to the US in 2003, Joe has chronicled some of America’s best emerging and established architects, such as Woods + Dangaran, Faulkner Architects and Walker Workshop. His published works offer a fresh perspective on California’s ranch houses and iconic Palm Springs architecture, such as Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann House.

    Joe’s favourite buildings are those that emphasise a relationship with the natural world they inhabit. Pictured: Amangiri Resort in Utah, USA by I-10 Architects

    The photographer has also captured remarkable architecture in some of the most dramatic landscapes such as the secluded Amangiri Resort by I-10 Studio in Utah’s Canyon Point. “My favourite buildings are those that emphasise the relationship to the natural world they inhabit, be it nature or the elements,” Joe says.

    Interestingly, Joe didn’t set out on the path to becoming a photographer. Instead, he completed a Bachelor of Fine Art majoring in painting, which subsequently influenced his approach to photography. “I learned the emotional content of your work is far more important than technique,” Joe says. “A large vocabulary will aid your writing, but if you’ve nothing to say, it’s of little use.”

    He credits photographer Richard Pare and his lens on Japanese architect Tadao Ando’s work for piquing his initial interest in architecture. “I was captivated. There was a synergy between the architecture and photography that elicited the poetry of light. I immediately wanted to experience making the same.”

    “The light here has presence; it’s magical and golden. I’m quite in love with it.”


    – Joe Fletcher

    The Kaufmann House by Richard Neutra in Palm Springs, California |  Photography by Joe Fletcher

    The Kaufmann House by Richard Neutra in Palm Springs, California |  Photography by Joe Fletcher

    Since then, Joe has learned to express his belief that great architecture is a visceral experience. It reminds him to be present and to resist the urge of slipping into a formulaic composition. “My favourite photographs are found, not created,” he says. “When photography works as a medium it can be deeply emotive. But it’s a spell that’s easy to break.”

    Although there’s a thrill in seeing new architecture for the first time, Joe also enjoys revisiting projects he’s previously shot, to capture the beautiful patina that develops in the years after an initial shoot. “It’s where you often appreciate the architectural work and the multitudes of beauty gifted by the natural world to us every day. “It’s all memorable, really,” he says. “At the end of the day, I’m taking pictures for a living, when some people are behind desks all day. That feels pretty special.”

    This piece originally appeared in est Magazine Issue #45.

    Ishawooa Mesa Ranch House by Lake Flato Architects | Photography by Joe Fletcher
    Photographer Joe Fletcher

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