Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

John Pawson: the 500 photographs-a-day man

“He may be one of our leading architects, but John Pawson has an addiction: photography. How did he turn his 230,000 ‘snatched shots’ into a book?”

“When I’m visiting a site, I feel naked without my camera. I take up to 500 pictures a day and I make my staff do the same. Once we’re back in the office, thinking about what sort of building might be right for the location, we run through the shots and explain what we were thinking when we took each one.

If people mention something specific about a place, a type of brick they saw perhaps, I always want evidence. “Where’s the photograph?” I say. A verbal description can help, but it’s not necessarily what the person saw. Video is fantastic, but it’s much too time-consuming. I can’t sketch, so I take pictures instead.” writes in The Guardian….MORE here

I don’t delete anything. I learned not to. Deciding what to delete takes a long time and, besides, the great thing about digital is that you don’t need to. The 272 pictures in A Visual Inventory, my new photography book, have been whittled down from an archive of 230,000. I don’t just take pictures on site visits, though. If something catches my eye, wherever, I’ll simply point and shoot. It could be the weather, the local architectural vernacular, some kind of material, pattern or texture.”

John Pawson’s photograph of a tree trunk

“I thought the tree trunk (1) looked like the foot of a dinosaur. On the construction site (2), it was the orange material that attracted me; it was only when I got home that I noticed how thin the floors were”


Here are a couple of John Pawson designed buildings the first for the Design Museum and the second for the Commonwealth Institute, if you want more info on Pawson this link will help

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