New Poetry & Portraiture in Architectural Photos

New Poetry & Portraiture in Architectural Photos
Nikola Olic
Unstaged architectural photographs can offer a powerful sustained gaze at new unintended, unclaimed and liberated visual worlds hidden in plain sight.

Nikola Olic
Belgrade, Serbia
I am a photographer interested in breaking existing frameworks for how urban structures and architecture is seen, understood and photographed.
Field of work
Architecture, Visual Art, Photography
Project category
Raising awareness
Project submitted

I am a photographer trained in classical music and computer science engineering, using the two as anchors towards a visual understanding of our world that seeks reimagined balance, order, rhythm, and composition while rejecting commercial and transactional aspects of architecture and urbanism as the currency of how we can photograph our cities and our urban lives. Although I was born and raised in Serbia and keep a residence there, I was educated in the USA and spend significant time traveling around the world. My architectural photographs have been published widely all over the world and were most recently exclusively used to launch the New York Times Architectural Quiz series. I am also among 30 photographers included in the UK's 2023 Aesthetica Art Prize. My photography is also included in various private and public collections like the Royal Institute of British Architects, and has been written about in major international media such as WIRED Magazine, The Washington Post, The Guardian, BBC News, CNN Style, The Boston Globe, Dezeen, ArchDaily, Dwell Magazine, Forbes and USA Today, and regional Balkan media such as Politika,,, VICE Serbia and many others.

My photography seeks revolutionary new framework of poetry and portraiture in architecture, seen as sculptural studies of the modern everyday and intimate portraits of contemporary monuments, towards questioning the architectural and photographic status quo of what our built world is, what architecture is, what it represents, and how it can be photographed.

Expanding on the grammar of architectural photography, architecture's infinite visual possibilities and mixed and complex intents are examined, celebrated and liberated through diverse subjects that can be ambiguous, disorienting, transitive or even absent.

This provides a sustained gaze at the unintended and unclaimed visual worlds hidden in plain sight, with a variety of architectural conclusions, truths and final states. With photography, we can domesticate these immutable structures, reimagine their certainty and permanence with a delightful ambiguity, conceptualize and improve our shared urban diversity, and meditate on the thin line between the familiar and unfamiliar.

That thin line between the familiar and unfamiliar should be examined within a public experience of architecture, the shared visual language of architecture, with its local and global memory and recognizability, and the fluid new radical scope of baselines and outliers for how architecture is photographed.

This points towards both regional -- I collaborated with all major Serbian media and local Balkan photography festivals such as Belgrade Photo Month in Serbia, Sarajevo Photography Festival in Bosnia, and DA! Architecture & Design festival in Zagreb, Croatia -- and international collaborations, mentoring, teaching, writing and presenting, straddling successfully over the last 10 years to form a dialogue between established architectural spaces such as The Royal Institute of British Architects and the American Institute of Architects, and artistic outlets such as UK's Aesthetica Prize I had been awarded in '23.