Back to Brutalist Roots with Jason Schmidt
Before realizing his love of creating images, photographer Jason Schmidt originally saw himself as an aspiring architect. Growing up in New York, he idolized the iconic Twin Towers and later found his ideal aesthetic with Brutalist architecture. In his latest cover story for T Magazine’s annual design issue, Jason marries his creative interests in a series of photo shoots focused on the six Brutalist leaning Chilean structures which he refers to as a “dream assignment.”
“It was kind of amazing,” Jason explained. “There was a local producer and architect who knew most of the architects that designed these six different homes, and he was our guide. We drove about four hours to get to the first house and we shot till sunset which was about 10pm and we were able to actually sleep in the first house. And then we got the sunrise and then we hit the road again. It was six houses in six days and six nights. And the itinerary was over a thousand miles. I had never been there before and the landscape there is incredible, quite extreme and it made for these incredible setting for these rather generally extreme homes.”
Traveling to six homes in six days from northern Chile to more southern areas of the country is no small feat. Jason traveled light, bringing just his camera and a tripod. “Interiors were not the primary focus, otherwise I would have had to bring some lights but in this case, I knew I wanted it to just be the daylight. A big part of shooting architecture is that invariably end of day and beginning of day are going to have the best light. Midday can be too flat or too harsh. You have to figure out exactly what the right type of angle is,” Jason stated on his process once on location. “Where I want to stand for a certain definitive view of the structure, or a certain elevation, or a certain facade. But then I’ll come back and revisit that same view or that same spot with my camera and tripod back multiple times throughout an afternoon or morning because sometimes the light radically changes the way the house is rendered dimensionally, as well as the mood. Sometimes the editing process is pretty interesting because I have to compare the same picture and see how it works.”
Although this project with T Magazine is architecture and structure focused, Jason is inspired by people and artists. “My portraits are pictures of people in a room and I sort of frame the space and put the person in there. I like organizing how I see things in a sort of architectural way.” In his photography work today, Jason still thinks about the lines and proportions of architecture that originally inspired him in his images every day.