Architectural Photography: The 8 Best Tips & Tricks – Architecture and Design | Ad On Picture

Architectural Photography Definition – What is Architectural Photography?

Architectural photography is the practice of photographing buildings or other structures with the aim of capturing their design aesthetic. But the definition doesn’t quite end here. A good architectural photo not only captures the architect’s aesthetic intentions, but is also aesthetically pleasing.

Photographers who photograph houses, buildings, bridges, streetscapes, etc. do so with a number of different objectives. Some do this for commercial reasons. They take photos to sell to developers, builders or real estate agents, who in turn use them to highlight and advertise their work or to sell the buildings themselves.

In other cases, architectural photography can be about contributing to the visual understanding of the built environment. It can show a building to those who have not had the opportunity to see it or to those who will never have the opportunity to see it. While most would jump at the opportunity to visit Notre Dame Cathedral, globally, only a fortunate few have the opportunity to do so.

The best architectural photography does this in a way that truly captures the essence of a building. It provides context and effectively educates the viewer.

Tips for beginners in architectural photography

before you start

When trying your hand at architectural photography, it’s important not to approach your subject coldly. You need to get to know the building you want to photograph in advance. Visit it many times. See it from the outside (and inside if you can) and explore its history (and that of its immediate location).

What equipment do you need for architectural photography?

The first thing to remember about gear is that you are dealing with static subjects. As such, things like face-tracking autofocus systems and fast burst modes aren’t necessary.

What you need is a good camera and a choice of interchangeable lenses. A DSLR is a good choice for the camera, but there is no best lens for the lenses. Depending on the task at hand, you should consider prime lenses, zoom lenses, tilt-shift lenses and wide-angle lenses.

Zoom lenses allow you to capture architectural features that are otherwise inaccessible, while prime lenses deliver the sharpest images possible. Meanwhile, with a tilt-shift lens you have the advantage of being able to adjust the lens angle independently, and wide-angle lenses help you photograph large structures that would otherwise be too large to fit in your frame.

In addition to cameras and lenses, professional photographers nowadays use other devices such as drones to capture images. Then of course there are software tools like Photoshop and Lightroom to edit and enhance your photos.

What are the prices for architectural photography?

Although rates vary, most good photographers charge rates from around $1,500 to $2,000 per day for interior design photography and outdoor work.

What belongs in your architectural photography?

Several buildings around the world (Sydney Opera House, the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower, etc.) are instantly recognizable. If you’re trying to photograph them, there’s little point in doing so from an angle or perspective that your audience is already familiar with. In terms of composition, always look for something new. Give your photos a new perspective. This also applies to lesser-known buildings. Don’t just look for the “best” angles. Try something abstract and be prepared to look for the less obvious perspective or composition.

context is important

Remember that architecture is nothing without people or the broader environment in which it is set. Good architectural photography captures the context. Don’t be afraid to use people in photos and provide references to the building’s function and history. Explore it up close and discover something in your composition that you (and your audience) didn’t previously know about the structure and its surroundings.

A selection of the best architectural photography

tianjin university swimming pool

1. Swimming pool at Tianjin University, China – Terrence Zhang

Taken in 2017 at Tianjin University, this photo captures the building’s stunning concrete arches on the ceiling and the effect of light on the space. The photo was named the overall winner of the 2017 Arcaid Images Architectural Photograph Awards.

the ship New York

2. The Ship, New York – Joan Muñoz Arango

This photo of the Vessel, a cucumber-shaped building that has become a New York landmark, was captured by Colombian architectural photographer Joan Muñoz Arango. It was shortlisted for the 2019 Architectural Photography Awards.

China Resource Headquarters

3. China Resources Headquarters, Shenzhen – Su Zhewei

Located in Shenzen, China, this tower is 400m tall and features 56 stainless steel-clad exo-columns, converging into 28 columns at the top and bottom, forming a diagridic system. This photo of the tower by Su Zhewei was shortlisted for the 2019 Architectural Photography Awards.

Dubai skyline

4. Photo of Dubai skyline, Dubai – Sebastian Opitz

This photo by local photographer Sebastian Opitz was taken on the 85th floor of the Princess Tower in Dubai with a Nikon D700 and a fisheye lens.

Chongqing Railway

5. Chongqing Railway, China – He Zhenhuan

Amazingly, He Zhenhuan captured this black and white photo of Chongqing train station in China using an iPhone X. The image, which uses light and shadow brilliantly, won the public vote in the Mobile category at the 2019 Architectural Photography Awards.

the twist museum norway

6. The Twist Museum, Kistefos Sculpture Park, Norway – Laurian Ghinitoiu

The Twist, a museum designed by the Bjarke Ingels Group, crosses Norway’s meandering river Randselva, connecting two sections of Northern Europe’s largest sculpture park. This hauntingly beautiful image by Laurian Ghinitoiu captures it beautifully.

New York streetscape

7. Streetscape of New York City, New York – Berenice Abbott

This photo was taken by Berenice Abbott, a photographer who wanted to document the nature of change in New York City in the 1930s. This 1936 view along a street toward the Manhattan Bridge is a fine example of her work.

Praca dos Tres Poderes

8. Praça dos Tres Poderes, Brasilia – Lucien Hervé

Hungarian-born Lucien Hervé, a photographer who spent much of his life in France, took this photo of Praça dos Três Poderes (Three Powers Square) in the 1960s.

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