Seeing Architecture Through A Different Lens: Jeanette Hägglund

Jeanette Hägglund is a Swedish photographer who has established herself with her work in portraiture and her ability to manipulate shape and color to produce otherworldly results. She has become well known on Instagram for her skill of capturing the abstract aspects of architecture. Through her technique, she twists and manipulates concrete and immovable structures so as to make them appear as abstract objects. It is certainly this attribute of hers that has captured her impressive following. The fact that she is able to do so with just an iPhone is even more impressive! We interviewed Jeanette about her process and her life as a photographer.

Tell us a bit about your background. How did you get started with photography?

I got my first camera at the age of 8, and every since then I’ve been working with different subjects and ideas, as well as exploring and playing with different methods. I was originally into art, and worked with different exhibitions while I was in photography school. Before I started up my own business, I was only doing art photography. Now I am able to balance my commission projects with my own projects.


Your subject matter is incredibly broad, ranging from architecture to people. How do you manage to maintain the high quality your photographs possess across all the genres, when most photographers only stick to one or two?

We only live once, and since I’m passionate about a lot more than just architecture photography, I simply don’t focus on only one subject matter. Thats the short story. I enjoy to shift from architecture to people from one day to another, or even switch between the two over the course of the same day.  People are more difficult because you have to interact with them, and also make them feel secure in the situation. They are another challenge. That being said, I love challenges and I have lot of goals and things I want to explore in all of “the fields” I’m involved with. While being restless, I also have to have a lot of patience, which sounds like a contradiction, but is necessary; I appreciate contrasts in almost anything in my life. To explore and play with different methods and genres fascinates me, and I have more possibilities when I’m not limited to only one genre. I’m picky and perfectionistic. As such it’s easier to maintain a good quality.



It seems that your main focus, at least on Instagram, is architecture photography. How did you get into that?

Yes – and that’s a decision born from my broad subject matters. I needed a place where I could focus on just one genre, as it can be both wonderful and terrible to be so “broad”.

I appreciate contrasts in almost anything in my life.


How does your process differ when taking photographs of buildings compared to other photographs you take? What aspects do you think are more important? 

What ever I do with light is most important. When working with ads, branding or any kind of portraiture, I choose the time and place, because the light situation is so important. For example, I shot some portrait photos of a young woman with white “alabaster” skin in a forrest of birches very early in a winter morning. I wanted to be there before the sun rose too high – so that I could use the low soft light. It was cold and she was only dressed in a red dress. The choice of location here had to do with both her personality, and her look. The light emphasized the mood I had in mind. An early or late afternoon light is my favorite light situation for people and portraits, but often also for architecture. When i work with people, I put a lot of effort to find a nice location, props and lighting. Just a quick look at my website tells that colors are important too, no matter what my subject matters is.


Looking at the photos, it’s hard to tell where your photographs take place. Where do you go to find subjects for your photographs? Do you know beforehand which buildings you’ll be photographing?

My architecture photographs tend to be abstract and therefore the surroundings are often hidden. From the very beginning, I realized I could capture NYC in Stockholm, Athens in Uppsala, Copenhagen in Amsterdam and Berlin in Barcelona. It´s all about the way of seeing, composing and making abstracts. Equally, as I tend to focus on similarities between structures, I also emphasis their uniqueness. If it’s my own project I mostly prepare by searching the internet for interesting buildings. But through my commissions I get an address from my client. Architecture photography is both a work and a passion. In most cases I know the building I’ll be shooting beforehand, but I can also “stumble upon” them while exploring a city.

For a full mindmap behind this article with articles, videos, and documents see #architecture

Which of your photographs is your personal favorite, and why?

My favorite is neither out there yet, nor do I have a favorite existing one because my favorites change so rapidly. But if i have to choose one it’s a piece from an ongoing private project.

Could you give us some advice for aspiring photographers?

Follow your passion and be prepared to work a lot.

Jeanette Hägglund 4   Jeanette Hägglund 3 Jeanette Hägglund 2   Jeanette Hägglund 5


About the Author /

James is currently studying Psychology, with a focus in Neuroscience, at Stanford University. He is a member of the varsity fencing team there, and also a huge soccer enthusiast. Passionate about psychology, James is interested in the role it has in our everyday lives, and particularly the impact it has on marketing and advertising.

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