Why shooting from roofs?
An aesthetic reason
Technically, roofs allows me to shoot quite high from the ground, so I can get perfect parallel lines on the building facades I capture. This is very important for me for the aesthetic I’m looking for. I also think that architects doesn’t design buildings to be seen only from the ground (actually it’s how we mostly see them). For me the best angle is the same level as the building itself, it’s respect more the proportions. From the ground if we look up at a tall building or a skyscrapers, all lines converges to one point. The architects don’t -and technically can’t- compensate this perspective. During the Louis XIV’s century, french garden landscapers was taking into consideration this perspective and for instance the main alley which bring to the castle, wasn’t technically parallel to visually create a strict parallel illusion when you arrive at the garden’s entrance. Garden are built in a horizontal position, buildings are vertical, which is obviously technically completely different.
Architects doesn’t design buildings to be seen only from the ground.
Getting a new perspective
The idea behind shooting from roofs is also getting a new perspective on our own environment for a better understanding of it. Indeed, since I live in China I see my own culture from a new prism and it’s blooming my mind. I like this idea of seeing the things differently, it can be applied in our personal life, it’s make our own vision wider, it’s help to understand things and people deeper. I remember once, I bring a friend to a roof in Paris, just on side of the Seine river, close to « La Conciergerie » and « Notre Dame de Paris ». This friend spent his entire life in Paris and once he discovered the view he was completely amazed and told me: «thank you so much Sylvain, it’s a very nice gift you give to me, you making me re discovering my own city, it’s incredible».
Roofs help me to be physically higher but also to remind me this importance of comprehending life from different angles.
A personal reason
There is also a very personal aspect which bring me to explore the city from roofs. I’m from North Alps and I use to practice outdoor sports mostly alone in mountains, I got from that both adrenaline and my necessary dose of solitude. Moving to an over 20 Million habitants city from a hundreds habitants village in North Alps was really challenging for me. I think that photography was at first just an excuse to explore Beijing from the roofs. Sometimes I go on roofs without taking photos, it’s just a way to me to be alone somewhere and admiring the view in a quiet place. I have also this call for adrenaline inside me, and I can’t resist to it. Roofs are my secret gardens. Whatever mountains or a forest made with conrete, glass and metal, I consider my direct environment as a place -I even can say a playground- to explore. In mountains I love to go out of trails and it’s the same if I’m in a city, I like to go in a place where no one suppose to go.