An Interiors Photographer Shares His Favorite Images of the Decade

An Interiors Photographer Shares His Favorite Images of the Decade

As a young man, the Irish photographer Simon Watson thought he’d like to be a painter. Today, his affinity for that medium is still evident in many of his photographs. His portraits and interior images, especially, suggest the influence of Northern Renaissance painters. “I choose lenses based on how van Eyck would see something,” Watson says of the Dutch artist. “I’m a big fan of side window light and I love depth and darkness. I guess that’s a little more Vermeer-y.” As a photographer for this magazine, Watson has turned a painterly eye to 12th-century Austrian castles, Brutalist German factories and 19th-century Irish tenements. For each story, Watson says, he tries to find “a sort of penumbra — the light between dark and bright — where the image comes alive. I like to embrace light as it falls. I’m not afraid of the shadows.”

Watson’s work regularly takes him to far-flung locations — this year alone, he traveled to Beirut, Italy, Austria and Morocco — and so he is used to changes of place. Still, the last 10 years, during which he remarried, had two children, and ended a 25-year stretch in New York to return to his native Dublin, represent a seismic shift. In the selection of his images above, which include photographs taken on assignment and at home over the past 10 years, new textures and tones reflect the move. “I’m much more aware of seasons and nature here,” he says of life in Ireland. “I go for long walks on the weekend; I’m a member of three different botanical gardens.” Intimate images of his family life — bath time with his kids, a dusk outing with his wife, the photographer Christine Lebeck Watson, on Ireland’s wild west coast — taken with an iPhone, are woven in, too. “It’s not just a fancy interior here, an important person there,” says Watson, reflecting on the last decade and the photographs that represent it. “What’s important in my life now, I suppose, are the moments that I have.”

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