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5 Simple Ways To Improve Your Architectural Photography

  • Inspiration
  • 04/09/16

One of the most common subjects in photography is to be found all around us: buildings.

5 Simple Ways To Improve Your Architectural Photography

When you have grabbed your camera and are heading out the door, there are always buildings, sculptures or bridges around and it’s not difficult to find something interesting. However, just snapping a photo of a skyscraper or old farmhouse is not something that creates a great photo; there are many factors to take into consideration, and we will go through some of them here.

  1. First of all you need to master the basics. Take a photography course to learn all there is about how to manipulate and capture light, which is the essence of what you do as a photographer. Understanding exposure, composition, focus and all other settings on your camera will be of great use when taking any photograph – and in architectural photography light and composition play an especially important role.
  2. Scout the location beforehand. If you have a subject building in mind, explore the surrounding area and make sure that you can find the best angle. Plan the shoot a few days in advance, so that you can time the best weather and light, depending on the feel you want in your photo. If the building houses a business, consider the opening, lunch and close-of-business hours to be able to plan for more or less people moving around the area, and also make sure that you have permission to set up your gear and take photos (especially true if it’s a government building).
  3. Allocate time for the photo shoot. Architectural photography is a field where patience really is a virtue. A great shot is planned and can take several days to accomplish when finding the best light and time to take the photo. Perhaps you need to stay at the site for several hours to catch the last rays of sun, or that storm coming in a few days will give a dramatic backdrop. When relying on natural light, be prepared to wait for the perfect moment, but also be prepared to anticipate it.
  4. Explore all angles. A photo taken looking up at the subject structure will be vastly different from a shot done from above or far away. There are times when compositional elements, such as lines and textures, are more pronounced when changing the direction the photo is taken from. Don’t be afraid to experiment and see all that a structure can offer.
  5. Switch to black and white. Our eyes are normally drawn to colour, and it’s common to explore those when picturing a building. The warm colour tones of a sunset reflected in the window, or the shifting colours of a polarised office window. But if it was lines, angles or textures that caught your eye, then it might be a better option to switch to black and white. This will give a greater contrast, which will accentuate the elements you wish to show.

By following these 5 tips you will be able to drastically improve any architectural photography, and who knows, perhaps your next shoot will be one that you can show off in your portfolio?