How to Take Stunning Architectural Photography
Whether you have a love for historic creations or are more intrigued by modern marvels, there is a lot that goes into architectural photography. However, architectural photos are some of the most famous and most viewed photos in the world.
If you fail to take the right type of architectural photos, it can look like you’re just a tourist taking a picture of a building. However, if you take the right approach, you can end up with stunning, jaw-dropping architectural photography that really captures the beauty of the subject of your images.
Most photographers that have tried this before know that architectural photography is typically easier said than done—but these tips can help you take stunning architectural photos you will be proud to show off.
- Try Shooting in a Variety of Weather Conditions and During Different Times of Day
If you want to take a picture of a stunning piece of architecture that will leave an impression—then try to shoot the images in a variety of different weather conditions or during different times of day.
For example, a picture at sunset can make interested shadows and cast unique colors on the building. And shooting in the snow can bring a breathtaking coloration and dramatic effect to an otherwise stagnant image.
Try to be creative with when you shoot this architecture—the good news is, these buildings aren’t going anywhere so you have plenty of time to find the right condition for your photos.
- Get Creative With Angles
Buildings aren’t going to move, so if you want to create some visual interest when shooting architecture, you are going to have to be the one moving. Play with perspective, try new angles, even crawl on the floor if you have to.
Your goal should be to frame this building in a way that showcases its beauty like it has never been showcased before. Take some time and walk around, through and inside what you are shooting and really think about what you are seeing and where you could play with angles and perspective to shed new light on a stationary object.
- Lighting, Lighting, Lighting
As every photographer knows, good lighting is key to a great photo. This is particularly true when it comes to shooting architectural photos. You can play with lighting both inside the building when taking interior shots and outside.
With interior photos, try to shoot in the middle of the day when bright lights can come in from windows and highlight different aspects of the building and create interesting images that can really make an impact.
If you are shooting an exterior photo of architecture, aim for sunrise or sunset to create a soft ambiance that will highlight but not take away from the beauty of the building itself.
- Include People!
There are some people who think that architectural photographs should never include people—and that instead they should focus only on the building itself. Challenge yourself to leave that philosophy behind.
Buildings would never exist if it weren’t for people—and people are the ones that inhabit and take care of these buildings, so consider including them. Don’t go too far with this and have posed photos of people smiling in front of a building, but capture people interacting with a piece of architecture in the way that they are supposed to, in order to highlight why it is there in the first place.
- Pay Homage to the History
Every great photo is able to tell a story—and architectural photography is no different. However, sometimes creating a story or evoking emotion from a photo is easier said than done.
Do your homework before heading to a site and shooting photos of a piece of architecture. Read up on the history of the building and try to capture the essence of that building with your image. The more you know about a building, the easier it is to tell its story.
- Pay Attention to Your Lines
This is one area of architectural photography that you really have to pay attention to. There are going to be a lot of lines when shooting buildings, and you need to make sure that your lines are going where they are supposed to.
It sounds simple, but it is actually more difficult than it seems when you are actually taking these photos. Parallel lines can start to converge if you aren’t careful, and it can make a building look like its falling or distorted.
A few ways to make sure you keep your lines in check include, putting some distance between you and the building or trying out a tilt-shift lens. Either way, make sure you are following your lines when you shoot so you can capture your building as it is intended to be.
- Give Details Their Much-Deserved Attention
One of the things that really separates everyday pieces of architecture with truly astonishing pieces of architecture is detailing. There are so many great details in architecture and so many unique opportunities to shot these intricate little details in a frame.
While you may be tempted to only shoot architecture photos of a whole building, don’t be afraid to go in close-up to take some shots as well. These under appreciated little details are what makes architecture great and they can deliver outstanding photos as well.
- Play With Equipment
One of the challenges that comes with shooting architecture is that buildings don’t really move or change, so if you want interesting photos of architecture—you are going to have to be a little creative and play around with some equipment.
A wide-angle lens is thought by many to be a must-have for architectural photography and is great for interior spaces. If you are shooting in low-light conditions and want to make sure that the details of the photo can still really pop, considering bringing a tripod along with you.
Drones are also becoming popular options for people who are taking architectural photos as they can provide unique angles that the standard photographer simply won’t be able to capture.
A fish-eye lens may give off a unique look, but it is a powerful tool that you can use in order to capture the building and its surrounding environment.
Filters can also be fun when shooting architecture. A polarizing filter is a must-have for all types of photographers, and is one that you should already have in your bag. Use this common filter in order to add contrast and make your images more vivid.
- Don’t Rush
Some photographers have the odd habit of rushing when they are shooting architecture. Perhaps it is because the subject doesn’t move, or change. However, you need to be willing to take your time if you want the perfect shot.
Give yourself time to walk around, play with angles, and let the sun naturally change to give you different lighting. Every great architectural photographer will tell you that you can’t rush perfection, and while it may seem like you’re taking the same photo over and over again—a little patience can go a really long way.
- Play With Post Photography Software
There are certain types of photos that don’t need a lot of work in post—however, architectural photography is one type of photography that can really benefit from some post-photo editing. This is a great way to make your architectural photos really pop and really make an impact.
Invest in a high-quality photography software program and play around with different effects to enhance your photo and create a stunning final image. Color correction, sharpness and increasing contrast are all little changes that can make a big impact.
- Give Black and White a Try
There are some people who simply don’t like shooting in black and white, for a variety of reasons, but architecture is one place where black and white can really make an impact—particularly if you are shooting a building that has a lot of sharp lines and high-contrast (such as modern architecture).
Back and white photos are another way to help make your image stand out and look less like the front of a postcard and more like the stunning piece of photography that you want it to be. Deep, moody black and white photos can also help bring some more emotion into an otherwise stale shot.
Keep these tips in mind as you start to explore the art of architectural photography. Of course, like any other type of photography, the best way to really hone this craft is to practice, practice, practice and do a little trial and error.
The great part about taking architectural photos is that you can easily practice on the buildings around you—before you move up to bigger, more notable buildings. So, use your house, your gym, or your bank as practice as you perfect your skills. After all, these may end up being truly breathtaking pieces of work from piece of architecture you see every d