Ilir Rizaj is a successful architectural photographer, originally from Kosova. Ilir moved to New York in 1988 and took up photography as his passion. Now a member of AIAP, Ilir has traveled Europe capturing architecture at its best.
Ilir Rizaj privileges NY Elite Mag with an exclusive interview, by sharing some of his favorite works. His photographs invoke memories and a feeling of man’s closeness to nature and building.
Interview with Ilir Rizaj
NY Elite Magazine: When did you know Photography would be your career of choice?
Ilir Rizaj: For a very long time, I did photography purely for passion. Five years ago, it became a career. It is very difficult to keep the passion alive once you do it professionally, but I’m doing my best.
NY Elite Magazine: How did you get your start in the industry?
Ilir Rizaj: I was very lucky to have met Fadil Berisha, the famous fashion photographer, who became a life-long mentor and friend.
NY Elite Magazine: What type of photography do you do?
Ilir Rizaj: I photograph people, landscapes and sometimes food. But my main field is architectural photography. I’m always in a different location, different setting, and meeting amazing talented designers. So it’s always exciting work.
I got my first clients through contacting them directly. After that, I was able, based on work that I did for them, to be accepted at the Association of Independent Architectural Photographers. That opened the doors to get many prestigious clients, whose designs and my photography get featured in magazines.
NY Elite Magazine: NY Elite Magazine: How would you describe your style?
Ilir Rizaj: I try not to have any style that would make my photography repetitive. I like to be eclectic, always evolving. My main goal is to try to preserve the original lighting design of a particular space, its atmosphere, its soul. That is the most difficult challenge.
NY Elite Magazine: What is it that interests you most about photography?
Ilir Rizaj: With almost anything we do, we are trying through our creative work to bring a sense of posterity, a sense of meaning and beauty to this reality we call life.
NY Elite Magazine: What type of cameras do you shoot with?
Ilir Rizaj: I use Nikon cameras that I absolutely love. But like with other tools, it’s what you do with a tool.
NY Elite Magazine: Are there any new exciting projects that you are working on or have lined up in the near future?
Ilir Rizaj: I am planning a documentary on history of architecture of Kosova and Albania in collaboration with Përparim Rama, an award winning architect from London who is originally from Kosova. It is taking much longer that originally planned, because we are both very busy, but also we are planning to make it on the highest level of quality and substance.
NY Elite Magazine: Where do you draw your inspiration?
Ilir Rizaj: My main inspiration is my infinite curiosity about everything that surrounds us.
NY Elite Magazine: If you could take your art in any direction where would it lead you? What new thing would you try?
Ilir Rizaj: I am slowly getting into film making. Adding motion to still photography is very exciting.
NY Elite Magazine: What does it take to be successful in your industry?
Ilir Rizaj: Like in any industry, it takes clear vision, and boundless passion combined with very serious work ethic.
NY Elite Magazine: What are your do’s and dont’s when taking photos?
Ilir Rizaj: Study the subject from all the angles, observe the lighting conditions, think on your feet and do not rush. There is a world of difference between a snapshot and a photograph.
NY Elite Magazine: Can you tell us about a memorable moment you had during your artistic career?
Ilir Rizaj: Traveling to different places is always amazing, but meeting someone special, which happens, makes it a true blessing. Human interaction is what gives meaning to everything.
NY Elite Magazine: How has photography influenced you as a person?
Ilir Rizaj: It has helped me interact on deeper level with nature and people. Life is a journey of growth and evolvement. To be able to go back and relive those moments is magical.
NY Elite Magazine: Favorite photo you have taken and why?
Ilir Rizaj: I do not have a favorite photo. It would be too harsh to my other photos. But if one photo has to be chosen to express what architecture is all about, it’s my photo of Patriarchy of my hometown Peja. I was born nearby, I played there as a child, and to go back and photograph it recently was amazing feeling. I composed it in a way to show the ruined foundations of the first structure in the foreground, visually and geometrically leading the viewer’s eyes towards the existing church in the background, all juxtaposed with majestic scenery around it all. The relationship between all these elements and the beauty of it all is mesmerizing, and the historic context is priceless.