Architectural Photography

Some photographic disciplines seem to be more resistant than others.

Some because of laziness, others because of teamwork, others because of ignorance and others because we have the feeling that we are “big”.

I have the impression that one of them is architecture.

Of course, I speak from my point of view and from my experience, because that is how I feel.

However, experience also tells me that with desire and some advice everything can be undertaken, so I dedicate this article to architectural photography, in case you are in a similar situation, take away your fear and go for the architectural photography, that one that tempts you so much.

What is Architectural Photography ?

First of all, it is better to define concepts, so that they are clear and we know what we are talking about.

Architectural photography captures the elements and spaces created by man.

It includes both the exterior of the buildings and the interior or details that make the work unique.

Architectural Photography Outlets

Photography can be done for the love of art or as a means of earning a living.

If what you have in mind goes more with the first thing, you can skip to the next paragraph.

On the other hand, if you are looking for new job opportunities within photography, you are reinventing yourself, or you need to expand your business, you may be interested in knowing about possible outlets for this type of photography:

Documenting a project built for the architect’s own archive or the architectural studio that designed it.

Publications in books, web or magazines, of architecture, decoration, etc Advertising for construction companies, hotels, restaurants, real estate companies Tourism dinamizing

Equipment for Architectural Photography

One of the first questions that will come to mind will be “what do I need?” Although it is not necessary a great team as in other photographic disciplines, I have to tell you that you should have some considerations and that certain material, if it is not essential, will be of great help.

You also have to take into account what the purpose of the photography is, if it is at an artistic level, if it is for practice and enjoyment or if it is for a publication or a sale.

In the latter case, customer expectations may be even higher than yours.

Tripod

You can do architectural photography without it.

Although I recommend that you include it (one with ball joint) in the ideal equipment for indoor photographs and for those cases where the light conditions are poorer, such as a sunset, blue hour, etc.

You can also use it to capture the movement around you.

Lenses

Maybe this is the part of the team you should be paying the most attention to.

To photograph a building, mainly because of its dimensions, you will have to make use of wide-angle optics, but be careful not to be too extreme because it is important to avoid distortions.

Ideally, you should use a decentralized target, although for its price, it is something to consider when you are serious.

To try, practice, enjoy, etc., in principle it is not necessary.

The important thing is that you avoid distortion by keeping your camera straight and parallel to the focal plane.

You can also try other more standard lenses to capture details, textures, etc., or telephoto lenses, when you want to achieve some compression effect between the work and the environment.

Because with these objectives, a lot of depth is lost and the different planes seem to be together.

BUBBLE LEVEL

It’s a very cheap thing, but it can help you keep the lines from falling off.

Use a spirit level to make sure the camera is completely straight in the different planes.

INDOOR EXTERNAL FLASH

While outdoors it’s not good for you, indoors, well used, it can get you out of more than one predicament.

You won’t always have large windows in broad daylight.

POLARIZING FILTER

Another accessory that will come in handy on certain occasions is a polarizing filter.

And what are those occasions?

For example, when it comes to avoiding reflections on glass, when you want to contrast clouds or when it comes to saturating the skies around your main building.

If you want to know a little more about filters, you can go deeper here.

REMOTE TRIGGER

When taking long exposures, a remote trigger will prevent shaky shooting (otherwise you can pull the timer on your camera, but it is uncomfortable to shoot many times).

PROCESSED

While it is ideal to use a decentralized lens so that lines do not fall out, this is not always possible.

Neither is avoiding these crooked lines if you can’t change your point of view, because no matter how much you put your camera in the right angle, part of the building you want to include still stays outside.

That’s why you have the option of correcting lines with an editing program, but avoid it whenever you can because it will never be the same, the photo will be cropped, information will have to be filled in, and so on.

On the other hand, not only the lines require processing, the lighting, which is a key factor, will also require certain adjustments.

Especially if there are different ambient lights with different temperatures.

A good adjustment of the white balance will be essential.

For best results, shoot in RAW.

Finally, when you edit an architectural photograph, try to make it as close to reality as possible, photographs that are too artificial lose interest.

THE SOUL OF THE BUILDING

Find out about the building, what its history is, what the architect’s intentions were, if you can contact him or her to talk about the essence of his or her work.

As much as it is a static and supposedly inanimate element, it has a soul.

It has been created by a person who has put dreams, illusions, desires, effort and a lot of care into it.

If you manage to capture even a small part of its essence, you’ll have a great run won.

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO TELL

In line with the above, once you know the personality of the building, think about what you want to say about it.

Based on that you can take one kind of picture or another.

You can use one type of light or another, include movement around or people to show your scale.

What you want to tell is up to you, depending on the work and your (or the client’s) interests, but whatever it is, try to have it more or less clear before you stand in front of the building or architectural work.

ENVIRONMENT

Ortega y Gasset’s phrase “I am me and my circumstances” comes to mind, as we could say that something like this happens to a building, in this case it is him and his environment.

An architectural work is not usually isolated, it coexists with other buildings, with other architectural or natural spaces.

This coexistence is sometimes casual, other times it is managed in a very incompetent way (especially in certain past decades where many architectural “crimes” were carried out in this country (Spain)).

That’s another matter, though.

And other times, that relationship is studied, cared for and pampered.

Stop and think about it, see if you can find out about it when you research the work itself and take it into account when making your photographs.

But never forget your surroundings.

INTERIOR

If you think that only the exterior of a building or an architectural work matters, it will do you good to know that it does not.

On the contrary, an architectural professional pampers both the interior and the exterior, how and where the light falls, the spaces, the orientations, the details, etc.

Remember to use a tripod when shooting, and if there is ambient or artificial light, watch the white balance.

THE KEYS TO ARCHITECTURAL PHOTOGRAPHY

In photography there are two key elements, which although they are in photography in general, here they have a special importance.

I’m talking about light and composition.

1. LIGHT

There was a reason why the great architect Le Corbusier said:

Architecture is the encounter of light with form.

In photography light is important (as well as necessary), in architecture it is also important.

When a professional projects a building, he does so bearing in mind the light at all times, as it is what helps him, among other aspects, to give shape to the spaces and create volumes.

It takes into account both daylight and its changes, as well as how to artificially illuminate spaces.

All this affects the way the building is perceived, both on the outside and on the inside.

And it even influences the mood of those who live in it or visit it.

Therefore, it is very important that you observe the light and how it coexists with the work before planning your session.

You should know which light is more favorable to him, which is more appropriate to tell what you have proposed to convey with your photograph.

Some tricks:

Except for looking for backlighting, the ideal is for the sunlight to be behind us or at most 45o to our left or right.

The hard zenithal light highlights the textures of the walls.

Outdoors it looks great in the warm, soft light of sunset or sunrise.

Blue hour is a great time to combine the blue of the sky with the yellow of artificial lights in houses or streetlights.

2. COMPOSITION

Perhaps a photograph that conveys a strong emotion can be forgiven if the composition is not very good.

In architectural photography, you won’t.

If you don’t pay special attention to the composition, it won’t help you to have found the perfect light.

Take care of the lines, study the different perspectives, keep the visual balance and make the most of the vanishing point.

Another resource you can use in your photographs is the human factor.

Including people within the frame will help you show the scale.

On the other hand, if the purposes are, for example, real estate advertising, this resource will give you an emotional addition.

MOST COMMON PROBLEMS IN ARCHITECTURAL PHOTOGRAPHY?

The main problems you’ll encounter will be:

1. LIGHT

In interiors and after sunset you will find the problem of lack of light.

Solutions?

On the one hand, the use of the tripod, on the other hand, the external flash that indicated you to photograph indoors or certain areas outdoors.

But make sure that, except for a specific effect, the light is bounced or diffused.

A flash will never be a good solution.

Watch the white balance too.

On the other hand, you will have to adapt to the ambient light outside.

It will be your knowledge of the different types of light, knowing which one is more optimal for what you want to tell, that will help you solve it.

You can pursue the light that suits you best, wait for it, or even adapt to it if there is no other choice.

I left you some tricks before, don’t forget.

2. LACK OF SPACE

By this I mean that, sometimes you will find yourself unable to frame the whole work because of lack of space to move.

Many times these buildings are, in turn, surrounded by others.

You’d like to be able to walk away, include the environment, and so on.

However, the limitations are there.

In this case, the solution lies in the equipment or even your ingenuity to capture other perspectives, abstract or capture details.

TEXTURES, GEOMETRIES AND DETAILS

The whole is always the sum of its parts, so when photographing any architectural work, look for the small details, visible geometries, textures, etc.

With them you can even create abstract images.

Once again, good light management and composition will help you in this task.

BLACK & WHITE

There are many reasons to shoot in black and white.

Today I’m going to leave you a few related to this photographic discipline, so you don’t forget about the gray scale:

Enhances line based compositions Reinforces textures Eliminates color distractions It’s timeless.

INSPIRATION

And, to finish, I leave you with some architectural photographers, so that you can find ideas, inspiration and so that you can go a little deeper into the advice I just gave you.

Mariela Apollonio

Jesús Granada

Helen Binet

Roland Halbe

Fernando Guerra

Emilio Chuliá

But it’s about taking a tour of their galleries, not staying there forever.

Run for your camera and go photograph any building you like nearby.

The only way to really learn is with practice.

Come on! What are you waiting for?

https://www.bwvision.com

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