If you live in a big city, you’ve probably tried architectural photography before – as well if you’ve ever visited a metropolis like London or New York City. And if you’ve ever tried pointing your camera at buildings, you probably already know that getting cool-looking pictures can be difficult.
Architectural photography brings with it some challenges. A lot of artists think one-dimensionally, resulting in pretty average shots. If you’re looking to improve your architectural photography, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we show you the most common mistakes and offer their solutions so that you can improve your future recordings.
1. Ignoring textures
Textures are one of the most overlooked aspects of photography, but keeping an eye on them can add another dimension to your images. When it comes to architectural photography, many people only think of the shape of the building – and are disadvantaged by it.
The architecture in many cities is diverse in terms of its textures. Some of the more modern buildings are sleeker and have glass, while older buildings feature brick or wood.
The solution: Think about the appearance of the building
Before you start photographing, think about the texture of the buildings you want to photograph. Once you’ve done that, think about how you can highlight them in your images.
For example, if we’re looking at brick buildings, you can get close and highlight how the bricks “feel.” You can use macro mode on your camera and further emphasize textures in your post production software.
2. Focusing only on the outside
When you’re out and about with your camera, you can quickly get an idea of what architecture looks like from the outside. But if you take this narrow approach, you might miss out on some amazing shots.
Many buildings, especially older ones, have impressive interiors that are arguably more impressive than the outside. Religious buildings are some of many examples.
The solution: get on board if you can
In many cases you should be able to enter the building. Of course there are some exceptions – residences, some offices and military usage areas are often a no-go. If you’re not sure if you’re allowed to take photos, ask the guard outside or go to reception. In any case, you will get a definitive answer.
3. Obtuse angle selection
Is most of your architectural photography at eye level? If so, you probably want to change things up a bit. Shooting at eye level means your results are often similar to everyone else’s; You’re also missing out on some cool shots that require little extra effort.
Most of the time we choose boring angles because we don’t think before shooting. You’ve probably felt especially guilty when you’ve gone out without planning some kind of story.
The solution: change your angles
If you want to take more interesting architectural shots, you need to think carefully before you start shooting. Think how you can find a unique angle; crouch, cross the street and even shoot corners.
You can also look out for unique viewpoints. Ask if you can go to the roof of an office building, for example, or consider a helicopter tour if the city you live in or visit allows it. You can also try using negative space to isolate unique features like chimneys and roofs.
4. Ignoring other nearby buildings
Many aspiring architectural photographers focus on a specific building and ignore the others that surround it. If you fall into this category, consider opening your mind to new ideas that will help you take more interesting pictures.
Just including a building in your image can provide an easy focal point, but if you diversify your content a bit, you can take your photography to the next level.
The solution: integrate several buildings into your picture
If you want to try something new, use the shapes and textures of several buildings in your picture. You can do this by going downtown in any major city, where numerous skyscrapers often stand side by side.
Examples of photographic styles you can try are:
- Capturing the corners of two different buildings side by side.
- Photograph the city skyline from a unique perspective or at a different time of day.
- Photograph adjacent architectural styles.
5. Go to tourist places
If you have ever traveled to a new place, you probably went to the touristy places first. This is not surprising considering you are a tourist. However, if you take the same photos as everyone else, you won’t stand out from the crowd.
You will probably have noticed that many images on Instagram look identical. How many times have you seen the same shot of Times Square and the Eiffel Tower?
The solution: explore new places or look for alternative perspectives
Once you’ve hit the tourist trail, try to find new places to photograph that are a little more authentic. The best way to do this is to seek out genuine local experiences, like immersing yourself in cafe culture or exploring off-the-beaten-path neighborhoods.
You can also take photos of touristy places, but think about how you can make those shots look different.
6. Ignoring lens compression
Any lens is better than none, but some will change the look of your photo more than others. When you’re photographing architecture, you want to make sure the buildings look as real as possible – and some lenses might get in the way.
You can fix lens compression in Lightroom, but it’s easier to choose a lens that minimizes the amount of post-processing you need to go through.
The solution: choose a suitable lens
Architecture is diverse, so we don’t have a one-size-fits-all solution for choosing the right lens. You need to think in advance what types of shots you want to take and choose from your equipment the one that best suits your needs.
If your architectural photography varies throughout the day, you should choose a versatile lens. 27mm, 50mm and 35mm – or your manufacturer’s equivalents – are all excellent choices.
Architectural photography is fun and challenging at the same time
There’s more to architecture photography than pointing the camera at a building that looks cool. You have to think about textures, angles, equipment to use and much more. Getting your architectural photography right takes a lot of practice, but these tips should at least point you in the right direction.