But the following photographers have mastered the art of casting their discerning eye on the hard, fast, changing worlds that surround them. From neon city lights to small country-town cafes, these photographers transform these liminal structures into their subject, proving that every building is more than it seems.
In this article, we will explore the works of 13 exceptionally talented urban landscape photographers who use photography to investigate how these environments encompass us, and how in turn we encompass them. Through their unique perspectives, technical mastery, and artistic visions, they reveal the beauty, complexity, and human element within urban environments.
Edward Burtynsky‘s work explores the intersection of nature and industry within urban landscapes. His large-format photographs capture the environmental impact of human activities, presenting a thought-provoking commentary on the delicate balance between progress and sustainability.
Michael Kenna’s ethereal black and white photographs transform cityscapes into serene and poetic landscapes. With his minimalist approach, he captures the essence of urban environments by emphasizing light, shadow, and form, creating a sense of calm and contemplation.
Known for his large-scale, highly detailed photographs, Andreas Gursky creates mesmerizing compositions that depict the grandeur and complexity of modern urban life. His images, often featuring vast cityscapes and crowded spaces, provide a unique perspective on the relationship between humans and their built environments.
Sugimoto’s long-exposure photographs of city skylines and architectural landmarks are infused with a sense of timelessness. By capturing these urban icons in their most serene and ethereal states, he invites viewers to contemplate the ever-changing nature of cities and the passage of time.
Gail Albert Halaban
Gail Albert Halaban is a New York-based photographer who is known for her images of urban landscapes and the people who inhabit them. Her photographs often feature staged scenes that play with ideas of voyeurism and surveillance, offering a unique perspective on urban life, investigating how our created landscapes impact our experience of being human, both together and in isolation.
Camilo José Vergara
Camilo José Vergara’s documentary-style photographs chronicle the transformation and decay of urban landscapes over time. Through his long-term projects, he captures the social, cultural, and architectural changes that shape cities, offering a unique insight into the evolving nature of urban environments.
Benjamin Lowy is a celebrated photojournalist and iPhone photographer based in New York. There’s an Instagram filter named after him and his iPhone photos have graced the cover of TIME magazine. A selection of his work will be exhibited at the Apple Store, Sydney. Lowy has travelled to some of the world’s most remote locations and captured his surrounds using his iPhone to produce images that are both creative and candid.
Bernd and Hilla Becher
Bernhard “Bernd” Becher and Hilla Becher, were German conceptual artists and photographers working as a collaborative duo. They are best known for their extensive series of photographic images, or typologies, of industrial buildings and structures, often organised in grids. As the founders of what has come to be known as the ‘Becher school’ or the Düsseldorf School of Photography, they influenced generations of documentary photographers and artists in Germany and abroad.
Matthias Heiderich’s vibrant and geometric compositions celebrate the colorful facades and architectural patterns found in cities. His visually striking images evoke a sense of playfulness and joy, showcasing the harmonious relationship between urban landscapes and bold design elements.
Brett Leigh Dicks
Brett Leigh Dicks shares his time between the United States and Australia. Brett primarily investigates the landscape and its fragile ties with human history. His photographic endeavours have led him to explore the world’s natural and urban landscapes, with the resulting imagery spanning Australia, North America and Europe.
Julia Fullerton-Batten is a worldwide acclaimed and exhibited fine-art photographer. Julia’s use of unusual locations, highly creative settings, street-cast models, accented with cinematic lighting are hallmarks of her very distinctive style of photography. She insinuates visual tensions into her images through the tension between her models and the large-scale sets that encompass them.
Michael Wolf’s work delves into the intricacies of densely populated urban environments, particularly in mega-cities like Hong Kong. His photographs, often taken from high vantage points, depict the overwhelming scale and repetitive patterns of urban architecture, highlighting the anonymity and individuality that coexist within such spaces.
David Schalliol is an associate professor of sociology at St. Olaf College who is interested in the relationship between community, social structure, and place. His work has been supported by institutions including the Graham Foundation, the Driehaus Foundation, and the European Union and been featured in publications including the Journal of Urban History, MAS Context, and The New York Times. His series Isolated Building Studies was featured in Head On Photo Festival 2022.