Brad Temkin

Brad Temkin is an American photographer based in Chicago. His work is primarily about the human impact on the landscape, and much of his earlier work reminds me of Virginia Beahan‘s landscape pictures of Cuba and her work with Laura McPhee.

State Street (looking Northwest) – Chicago, IL January 2010


Fire House #98 (looking Southwest) – Chicago, IL July 2009

Highmark Building & Liberty Bridge (looking South) Pittsburgh, PA May 2011

Cultural Center (looking East) – Chicago, IL July 2009

Something that I find interesting from this particular series called “Rooftop” is that it seems to be doing the opposite. Rather than having the human built elements impact the landscape, the natural landscapes have impacted the human built space. The natural areas in the picture are often manicured and self-contained. They are at the bottom of the images anchoring the rest of the picture, while the background consists of truncated and sometimes vanishing buildings.

111 S. Wacker (Nothern View) – Chicago, IL October 2010

Mellon Institute (looking North) – Pittsburgh, PA May 2011

The photographs show unexpected views of the city, giving the viewer insight of places that, although not exactly private,  are definitely not public.

Cultural Center (looking North) – Chicago, IL July 2009

Despite being shot from a high vantage point, Temkin’s images are not about the bird’s eye view of the city like for example Sze Tsung Leong’s “Horizons”. Instead, these pictures are about the relationship between the rooftop spaces and the rest of the cityscape.  The contrast between the semi-private space and the larger backdrop suggest a quiet, almost meditative place, that exist within and sometimes despite the city surrounding it.

City Hall (looking South) – Chicago, IL September 2009

SoHo (looking Southwest)- NYC,, NY October 2009

Some of the images evoke ideas of a post-apocalyptic urban landscape, especially when the natural elements are unkempt and out of control.  This is exacerbated by the lack of human presence in most of the images.  It is as if nature were slowly and organically taking back some of the space that belonged to it. And yet the cohabitation of the natural and built landscape feels harmonious.


City Hall (looking Southwest)- Chicago, IL April 2010

City Hall (looking South) – Chicago,, IL May 2010