“It is not about what you see but how you see it.”
This is the tagline at the top of Serge Najjar’s Instagram profile, and the images that follow illustrate just how powerful this simple premise can be when applied by a talented photographer. A Lebanese native hailing from the capital Beirut, Najjar’s home city is one of his greatest sources of inspiration, and he seeks to capture its diverse architectural fabric via this series of striking abstract photographs.
Beirut is home to a number of creative young firms such as Hashim Sarkis Studios and Accent Design Group. This November, it also gained a major new retail center in the shape of David Adjaye’s recently opened Aïshti Foundation, the façade of which will be of special interest to Najjar, who is drawn to the repetitive geometric patterns and bold color combinations peppered throughout the city.
The photographer describes his creative process on Lens Culture:
“Every Saturday I drive my car toward a destination, still unknown, and guide myself by my instinct, by light and by whatever attracts my eye. At some moment, I stop. I position myself. And then all I have to do is wait for something to happen. In most cases, what captures my attention are the architectural details. My aim, then, is to try and get closer to abstraction (within the real world). I try to look at my everyday surroundings with a new eye.”
The photographer’s online portfolio illustrates the power of keeping it simple. His images, usually featuring an abstract architectural moment and a sole figure to highlight its scale, have attracted over 58,000 followers on Instagram. Speaking to Wired, Najjar explained how his camera offered up a new perspective of the urban environment he grew up with:
“Beirut is a wonderful place for an architectural freak like me. Construction has been booming since the end of civil war and the country has a rich variety of buildings… Photography made me realize that I didn’t know my country as well as I thought I did — that it was possible for me to look at it with a new eye [and] redefine what I saw through my lens in a subjective way,”
For more architecture from Beirut and other cities around the globe, explore thousands of projects on the Architizer database by clicking here.
Top image: Koujak-Jaber by Victor Bisharat, 1964; photo by Serge Najjar, 2013