Modern culture is obsessed with images, leading to a greater appreciation for architecture via photographs than physical spatial experiences. Architectural photography has many benefits. It allows us to see buildings we may not have the chance to visit. This is a valuable resource that helps us expand our architectural vocabulary. But one must be aware of the drawbacks of architecture photography. Jeremy Till, author “Architecture Depends,” summarizes the situation in his chapter “Out Of Time”. “The photograph allows you to forget what came before (the pain of long labor to build the building) and what’s to come (the insult to time as people, weather, and dirt move in). It freezes or rather, it freezes out time. Architecture photography “lifts the building out-of-time, out of breath, ” giving architects solace.
These tips will not only increase the visual strength of architectural photography but also tell stories. They go beyond individual images to convey buildings’ relationships to their surroundings, time, space, and place.
Photograph in all weather conditions and at different times of the day
To capture architectural wonders, people often seek out the most dramatic lighting. This includes sunset hours when colors are bright and shadows are long. This can produce very atmospheric images but it doesn’t really capture the building’s atmosphere at any one time. A series of photos taken at different times or in different weather conditions can tell a more complete story about the building’s relationship to its environment.
Prioritize good lighting
No matter when you’re shooting photos, lighting is a top priority. A great architectural lighting design helps to highlight a space, a particular structure, or atmosphere. It also plays an important role in helping one understand the importance of a particular architectural project.
Look for a unique angle
It’s fun to play with perspective. It can be very rewarding to take the time to look at a building from a different perspective. This may reveal a hidden form or abstract that could help you appreciate it more.
Be open to including people in architecture (architecture is incomplete without them).
Till has included a funny excerpt from his chapter “Out Of Time”, where Till describes how the photo editor of “The Everyday and Architecture”, refusing to accept a cover photograph with a person in, is content when that person is replaced by a bicycle. There has been a tradition of not including people in architectural photography. It is as though we are somehow contaminating the beauty that is pure and designed. A few high-profile architects photographers are challenging this trend. Architecture wouldn’t exist and can’t be created without us. Don’t be afraid to capture our presence.
Take the time to look at details as well as the whole.
While wide-angle lenses are the best choice for architectural photography, hundreds of tiny details in buildings can be lost if a whole facade or entire room is captured in one frame. For example, a closer look at details could reveal more about the building’s history and construction.
Do not try to fixate on the building
Imagine being shocked to see a building that you have only seen from one angle. One of the most disservices to architectural photography is objectifying buildings so that one can only see it from one view. Till once again summarizes the situation perfectly: “It’s not an overstated urban myth, that architects design buildings to take specific photos of them, but that architecture becomes the primary source of reference.” It is difficult, but not impossible to capture the entire spatial context of a building.
Post-processing tools are available
The process of processing images is now a common part of photography. This allows you to adjust your images to create the atmosphere you desire. Lightroom and Photoshop are both easy-to-use with advanced functions like lens correction. However, images should not be altered without a clear understanding of the acceptable limits. Hugin is a great tool to create panoramic photographs from a collection of images.
Make sure you invest in the right equipment for photography
If you are serious about pursuing high-quality architectural photography, investing in the right equipment is worth investing. The wide angle lens is best for interior and building photography. A tripod can also be used to capture low-light situations. A polarizing filter can be used to enhance contrast and make images vivider. A drone equipped with a quality camera could be the best option if you want something more.
You can return to the site several times
The ability to return to the same spot repeatedly will reveal new layers of architecture that can be used for communicating the evolution or degeneration of a building. A perfect shot of a newly built building is beautiful and captivating. But why not look beyond the first shot to see what architecture looks like? The building’s most interesting parts are perhaps only revealed over time.
Do your research about the building before you buy
It is a great idea to research the history and context before visiting an architectural site. This will help you focus your photography on a story or idea that captures what the building stands for.
Another great resource to improve your architectural photography skills is our article 9 Architectural Photography Tutorials that Will Help You Get the Perfect Shot. It also includes advice on specific shots. Enjoy, practice, and explore!