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The winner of our recent Steps and stairs contest, Gilbert Claes, gives us some background on his winning image, and the processes behind it.

"This picture is a detail of the outside of the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

The Centre Pompidou is a very unique building - a complex, multicultural, mixture of different styles of art and literature, developed, in part, as a western proponent to the decentralisation of art and culture by impulse of the political powers of the time.

National Geographic described the reaction to the architectural design as "love at second sight." An article in Le Figaro-declared "Paris Has its own monster, just like the one in Loch Ness." But two decades later, The New York Times noted that the design of the Centre "turned the architectural world upside down", and the Pritzker jury said The Pompidou "revolutionised museums, transforming what had once bone elite monuments into popular places of social and cultural exchange, woven into the heart of the city." Needless to say, it is a controversial, special and exceptional building, and one that has always held special interest for me.

Architecture is one of my favourite photographic subjects. So, when I see an interesting building, I take the time to do some research into it, and walk around the walls. I have developed a photographic eye for details during the years. I can distill interesting details from the whole and feel the beauty of the patterns, lines or planes. And with the Pompidou, I was particularly mesmerised by the staircase structure. To enhance the effect of the shapes, I duplicated my photo and created a perfectly symmetrical image from it. The repetition of the pattern of the steps is very striking, visually, and that’s exactly what I wanted to achieve.

In my opinion, a good photo should be one that attracts attention. When the viewer continues to stare at the image for longer than is usual, then I have reached my goal. I'm always looking for the unusual image ... in creativity and simplicity. All that is superfluous is doing nothing but deflecting attention away from the subject, which has a negative effect on the quality of the image.

I am pleased with the result of the ‘steps and stairs’ contest, and I'm and grateful for the crowd-voting rating system that gave me the opportunity to showcase my work to such a wide audience."


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