The project - he tells us - started out as a game after he bought a drone. Standing on the balcony of his home in a high-rise apartment block, like anyone who has a new toy - in this case, a drone - Monzón Navas started a series of aerial surveys around his building. But here the photographer’s sensitivity makes all the difference; it opened his eyes to the visual power of the images taken from the drone and told the photographer’s – or communicator’s – brain that certain views of Bogotá needed to be exposed.
“I realised that the compositions created by the surrounding buildings showed me a hereto unseen side of Bogotá that I thought should be revealed and shared with everyone.”
In anticipation of a much-deserved official exhibition, Monzón Navas showcases his work through his Instagram account and his Behance profile, stirring up dormant emotions even in people who have nothing to do with architecture and urban planning. Monzón Navas’ playground is a mixture of “geometric shapes, contrasting light, composition and, in some cases, colours that you cannot see from the street.”
The result is almost alien, surreal. He explains the architecture of his city along lines that not even the building designers themselves, or the town planners, would have been able to identify. The Colombian photographer swings between close-ups of individual buildings and more wide-ranging compositions; this alternation makes his work stand out from similar attempts made by other people in other cities.
The name that Monzón Navas chose for his project is interesting in itself: Aerial Facades. During our interview, he talks about faces rather than façades. Still, the feeling you get is that the two concepts are almost one and the same thing, at least in these shots. The lines of the buildings featured in his pictures are so precise and straight that they look more like elevations or façades than roofs; the horizontal plane is imaginatively flipped by 90°. At the same time, however, in depicting buildings as uniquely as he does, Monzón Navas seems to actually craft real portraits of them, and by so doing, he exposes their face. So, face or façade? In his words, what he shows us is “Bogotá’s best face. A city with many faces from the street and a million faces from the sky.”
When asked to reveal something more about the technical side, and what turned a game into a real photographic project with dozens and dozens of shots, the photographer and art director revealed how the possibility of achieving the perfect elevation affects the quality of his work and the sense of flipping the horizontal plane. He claims that “Drones can compose and frame subjects, but the feature that struck me the most was the elevation that you can get, the capacity to go up and down and to control the drone just like you would a professional camera, to meet your needs.” He goes on, “The key to developing this project of aerial façades is the choice of the location. Then there are lots of other different settings, like colour adjustments, things you need to arrange like colour correction but beyond that, the photographic composition is the most important thing in this project.”
We can't wait for an official exhibition, but in the meantime, we continue to marvel at the Bogotá revealed in the photos that Camilo uploads to his Instagram stream; photos where the city rigorously points its nose upwards, looking towards the sky…and which Monzón Navas shows us in a reverse-angle shot.