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La Maison Hatley

James Brittain

WINNER OF A 2020 CANADIAN ARCHITECT PHOTO AWARD OF MERIT

“This image has an interesting, powerful composition. The light is fairly even; the sky and snow have the same quality of light. The tactile nature of the skin of the barns is quite beautiful.” – Michael Moxam

Grey skies, snow and cold. These are constant features of life during a Canadian winter, and yet they show up fairly infrequently in photographs of architecture.

Mostly, representations of architecture are made during summer or fall, with cheerful blue skies the preferred visual language. Summer pictures do have the advantage of flexibility for a publishing schedule—it seems no-one wants a reminder of winter at other times of year.

But winter is an exceptionally beautiful time for pictures. It’s tough on the hands when out with the camera, but snow and soft winter light have special qualities that can inspire feeling and wonder.

Pelletier de Fontenay and François Abbott asked me to photograph La Maison Hatley over the winter in Quebec, and I chose to make this—and all the other exterior photographs of the project—in overcast skies.

Client: Pelletier de Fontenay and François Abbott

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