10 Ways to Do Architectural Photography That Stands Out
Looking for some helpful tips that can help you improve your architectural photography? Whether you’re a beginner photographer or an experienced shutterbug, this guide is sure to help. Read on, and get a few helpful tips you can use to take snapshots that really stand out – and improve your architectural photography.
1. Change Your Perspective
If you’re looking for standout shots, you may want to consider changing your perspective. Lie down in front of the building and take a shot straight up the side. Get above the building and take a shot of the normally-hidden roof structures. Use a drone to fly over the top of the building – and shoot a vertiginous shot straight down the structure – you get the idea.
Try to find angles and perspectives that are new and unique, and that other people don’t use too often. This is a great way to create a unique and interesting snapshot, particularly when you’re photographing a famous building – The Empire State Building, for example.
2. Shoot At Night (And Don’t Be Afraid Of Bad Weather)
Some of the best cityscapes and architectural shots are taken at night – and during inclement weather. The illumination of a city and buildings at night provides a pleasing contrast with the darkness of the sky and the brightness of the stars and moon.
Night is an especially great time to take photographs in urban environments – where you’ll encounter brightly-lit signs looming up in the distance, streetlamps, and other unique sources of light.
Similarly, don’t be afraid to shoot while it’s raining, gray, or snowing – bad weather can make your photos even more interested, and add more visual contrast to your shots.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Include People In Your Shots Of Buildings
Buildings are meant to be functional. Every building has a purpose – and unless you include some people in your photos every once in a while, that sense of purpose is lost. A building without people feels sterile and artificial, so don’t be afraid to incorporate the human element into your shots. Including people in your architectural shots helps provide viewers with perspective and adds a sense of emotion and purpose to your photos.
4. Get Up Close With the Details
It’s tempting to always try to capture the entire structure of a building in your architectural shots. But every once in a while, you should get up close and personal, and examine the details about a building. Eaves, columns, interior detailing, patterns – find structures that are visually arresting, and focus in on them. Even things like hallways, doors, archways and other such elements can be incredibly visually interesting, so make some time to look at the details of a building – and not just the entire structure.
5. Come Back to the Same Building Multiple Times
Before you even start taking photos, you should take a walk around a building and just observe your surroundings. A walk-through helps you find great areas where you can take beautiful shots.
Similarly, you should consider coming back multiple times to take shots of a building. Will it have a unique contrast when the sky is overcast? Does the harsh light of the noonday sun help accentuate the building’s features? Does it have unique lights at night that provide more visual interest? Come back multiple times and you’ll be able to find when the building will look its best – and provide you with the best photos.
6. Invest In A Fisheye Or Wide-Angle Lens
If you take a lot of photos of buildings, a wide-angle lens is a great investment and will help you capture more detail and a large field of view. If you want to get even more extreme, though, we recommend a fisheye lens.
Fisheye lenses offer an unparalleled field of view – often nearly 180 degrees – and their unique distortion effects can provide you with some great opportunities for artistic creativity. You can warp and bend straight lines of buildings, curve the horizon, and take straight lines and turn them into fun-house mirror-like, abstract curlicues. Once you’ve used one, you’ll love the unique options it opens up when you’re shooting architectural photography.
7. Play With Reflections
In an urban environment, reflections are all around you – water puddles on the ground, the mirrored glass windows of the office building next door, the tranquil surface of a pond in an urban park, and so on.
Reflections can be a great way to add visual interest to your shots, and be a bit more creative about how you’re shooting. They can also add context to your photos, which is always a good thing when shooting an inorganic subject like a building. This leads us to our next tip.
8. Add Context For The Building
Most of the time, it’s a good thing to avoid simply taking shots of a building in isolation. Each individual building is connected to the larger whole of a city or town in a unique way – and this context is part of what makes a building interesting.
Shooting a glassy high-rise alone won’t really stir any emotions in a viewer. But if the same shot of a glassy high-rise includes a shot of a housing project, you’re suddenly telling a story – and integrating your subject into the wider context of where it has been built.
Adding context also helps us place the building in space and time, and provides us with a perspective on the size of what we’re seeing, which helps enhance the visual impact of architectural photography.
9. Use A Tripod (Seriously)!
When shooting architectural photography, your goal is to capture as much detail as possible This means you want to keep your shots focused and sharp – and use an f-stop of f/8 or even higher, in most cases.
Using a narrower aperture can cause some motion blur, though. So we recommend that you use a tripod to help keep your shots sharp and ensure you do not lose any detail for motion blur. This is particularly essential if you’re taking low-light photos or shooting buildings mostly at night.
10. Don’t Be Afraid Of Post-Processing
A little bit of post-processing can go a long way when it comes to perfecting an architectural photograph. From using HDR to enhance contrast and combine multiple shots, to touching up the sky, background, and so on, post-processing is a valuable tool for architectural photography. It helps provide you with more artistic options – and allows you to alter and modify your photos until they match your vision.
That’s why we highly recommend that you always take your photos in .RAW format – which is easier to process – and become familiar with modern photo processing software like Adobe Lightroom. Doing so will allow you to take your photos to the next level, and unlock even more artistic possibilities.
Follow These Tips – And Become A Better Architectural Photographer!
You can’t become a better photographer overnight. It takes time and practice. But with these 10 tips, you can be inspired to get out there, do some more experimenting, and take architectural photography shots that really stand out – so get started today!
Check out our Comprehensive Guide to Real Estate Photography