Interview with Chris Hytha

Chris is a designer and visual artist based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Back in 2015, a passion for photography sparked when he left his small hometown architecture school at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Chris’ visual art developed alongside his growing skills as a designer, and this architectural influence is integral to his work. His main inspirations to create are light and the built environment. The following is our interview with him about his work in Newark.

The Newarker: Where are you from?

Hytha: I am from a small steel town Northwest of Philadelphia.

The Newarker: How would you describe your work/artistic vision?

Hytha: My work is heavily influenced by the 6 years I spent in architecture school. I can’t help but notice the details and peculiarities of the built environment around me. Through my seven years of taking photos, my appreciation for light has only grown. I am always intentional when it comes to the time of day and weather conditions of my photographs.

The Newarker: Can you share some about your recent project featuring Newark? How did you decide what buildings to photograph?

Hytha: I am working on a project called Highrises, which documents historic high-rises around the country. When I was exploring Newark, I was specifically looking for tall narrow buildings built in the early 20th century. This process starts using Google Earth to find interesting buildings, and I was surprised to find such incredible structures in Newark.

Newark and Essex Building

The Newarker: How did you get such clear unobstructed vantage points?

Hytha: To get these clear unobstructed orthogonal views of the buildings, I use a drone. The images are composited from 5–10 images taken while flying up the facade, which yields a high-resolution, flattened perspective image. I am an FAA-licensed drone pilot and coordinated with the Newark airport tower to plan my drone flights.

The Newarker: What prompted you to photograph Newark for the series?

Hytha: One goal of the project is to highlight lesser-known beautiful historic buildings. Everyone knows the Crysler Building or Empire State, but this country has so much more to see. Newark is overshadowed by New York City, and I had never seen its skyline prior to this project.

Military Park Building

The Newarker: How has Newark inspired you creatively?

Hytha: When I began exploring the architecture of Newark, I was shocked to find such a wealth of beautiful Art Deco buildings like the Lefcourt-Newark Building. 

Lefcourt-Newark Building

The Newarker: Any idea of what your next project might be?

Hytha: My next project will likely revolve around energy. This is a transformative time for the nation’s energy supply as we shift to more sustainable sources. The physical manifestation of this national shift is the rapid decommissioning of coal infrastructure, like the massive coal-fired power plants and oil refineries. These architectural typologies will soon be distant memories, which I am interested in preserving through photography and digital art. 

Oil Refinery-3

The Newarker: Tell us something about you or your work that few people know.

Hytha: I had never used a DSLR camera prior to the start of college, but many of the themes in my work started long before I began taking pictures. As a kid I would draw cities full of skyscrapers I designed, which now lead me to the Highrises project. Additionally, industrial scenes full of pipes and smokestacks were one of my favorite subjects to draw, and that fascination now continues through my photography of decommissioned power plants.

You can follow Hytha and his work here:

Twitter: @Hythacg