How To Photograph Architecture

1/10/2018 10:17 am

Photographing Architecture

As photographers, we draw our inspiration from the world around us. With many of us living near or making our way into bustling cities daily, it is easy for us to be drawn to architecture and use this as our muse.

Although the subject matters may be plentiful, architectural photography requires a specific set of skills, which we will attempt to uncover below.


Architectural photography involves many components

Having some experience in outdoor and landscape, or similar styles photography will be a real bonus if you are tackling architecture for the first time.

Environmental factors, cloud formations and the direction of the sun can all play a huge factor in the outcome of your images and it’s worthwhile scheduling your shoots for appropriate times once you have developed a bit of an understanding.

Just as importantly, the skills you have obtained through landscape, travel and conceptual photography practice can all be utilised in your first architectural trials. Firstly, it is good to understand the vertical line.

Photographing Architecture
Photographing Architecture

Vertical Lines

With any art form, rules are made to be broken, or at least bent but one mainstay of Architectural photography is ‘keep vertical lines vertical’.

Your camera lens will inherently distort perspectives, slanting vertical lines inwards from the front of your subject, until they converge beyond your frame. These distortions can be used to your advantage when capturing more dramatic shots, or when taking cleaner more structurally based pictures.

When focussing on a structural object use any geometrical patterns to your advantage, aiding to engage your viewer’s eye.


Invest in a tripod

Architectural photography, perhaps more than any other type of photography, involves an understanding of balance and symmetry.

It is important to have a focal plane which is perpendicular to vertical lines and vertical lines which are straight, which we have touched on earlier. The easiest and most effective way to keep these things in check is with the use of a tripod, which helps you keep the camera level and parallel to the horizon.


As well as this technical advantage, tripods are also essential for capturing steady shots which are sharp and free from noise, thanks to the ability to shoot at longer shutter speeds and avoid raising the ISO setting.


Photographing Architecture
Photographing Architecture

Work with perspective

The key to an above average architectural shoot is obtaining a fresh and interesting perspective of your subject.

Shooting from street level can often lead to boring and flat images, while a higher vantage point, longer distance, or similar can lead to greater success. If you are within a close proximity to your subject, try to focus on individual features, as opposed to the structure as a whole.

Part of the appeal of architectural photography is capturing a new perspective on a familiar subject. By experimenting and developing your own unique style early, you are giving yourself every chance of creating a distinctive portfolio that stands out from the crowd.


Work with the light

Natural light is your friend but you also have to learn to use it wisely. Front and backlighting are best to be avoided, as it can reduce details and lead to flat subjects, or leave important aspects of your structures steeped in shadow.

With the ideal light at about a 45-degree angle to your subject (side-front), you can generally use whatever shadow is created to your advantage, by adding dimension to your image. You will also find surface details popping and an overall character boost to your images.


Photographing Architecture
Photographing Architecture

The right time to shoot

It can be frustrating as you are keen to get out there shooting, but you will quickly learn that there are appropriate times to shoot and schedule your shoots accordingly if you want to develop a portfolio full of successful images.

As a general rule, sunny and clear days will give you plenty of bright light to illuminate your images, adding contrast to your compositions. The golden hour, a friend to all outdoor photographers, is the period just before sunset or after sunrise. This is your prime time for shooting, taking advantage of the warm golden colours, deep shadows and an overall mood which lends itself to imagery.


The mirrors edge

It is important to survey any scene and make adjustments accordingly, being mindful of any factors which can affect your images.

One aspect which can particularly detrimental to architectural photographers is reflective surfaces, such as glass in buildings, cars, storefronts and signs.

Although it is often unavoidable to completely remove these objects from your frame, be mindful of their positioning and their effect on your image, as there is nothing worse than noticing them later when you are in the process of editing.

Photographing Architecture

Architecture has long been a favoured subject of artists from all mediums, due to its ability to make us think, feel and admire these man-made objects, appreciate their place in the natural world, and contemplate the past, present and even the future.

If you are ready to start your Architectural journey, please browse our selection of Tripods, Filters and architecture lenses which can help you make these learning curve a little bit easier.


Photographing Architecture


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