We have already spoken on more than one occasion about different photographic genres such as photojournalism or street photography . This time, we are going to deal with another genre that is probably one of the best known: architectural photography.
Discover why it is important to know the bases and techniques of architectural photography, in this article you will learn in detail about the elements, resources you need, and some tips to make this style photography.
What is architectural photography?
Architectural photography has been popular during these years, due to the importance of architecture in the world and in our daily lives.
It is the one in which we have to show, in the best possible way, both externally and internally of the constructions, it consists of portraying all the details of it, its context, other structures and urban landscapes.
It is generally focused or specialized in buildings, constructions, houses, shops, properties and hotels.
Furthermore, photography in architecture plays an important role in different areas, one of which is in the restoration of monuments and in the conservation of cultural heritage.
The importance of architectural photography
Over the years photography has introduced new ways of communicating and expressing oneself with photographic equipment. Architectural photography is closely linked to documentary photography: photo reportage or street photography.
Every day you have the opportunity to see many everyday situations that catch your attention. Turning them into stories through photographs is the main objective of architectural photography, it has become its own art form.
Architecture photographs are intended to capture the attention of the viewer with a simple and direct language, in addition to the importance of communicating the brand and the concept of architect.
Tips to start with architectural photography
These are some tips for you to learn to photograph architecture.
It is important to have the necessary equipment to achieve good results when taking architectural photographs. It is recommended to take into consideration the following elements, of course, for professional purposes, if you prefer to take pictures in an amateur way, any equipment at your disposal will be good.
Have a full-frame camera: To obtain the highest possible quality and resolution. DSLRs with full-frame sensors have long been the standard for architectural photography.
If you already have a full-frame reflex camera, that’s great, but if you are about to buy a new camera for architectural photography, we recommend that you opt for one mirrorless mirrorless like the Sony A7 or a Canon EOS R.
Wide angle lenses between 14, 16 or 18 mm and decentralizable lenses called Tilt & Shift to avoid and improve some focal distortion and the straight lines are well noticeable.
Tripod: All specialists in architecture photography use it in their projects, invest in a high quality tripod for better results, it will allow you to take pictures with a long exposure, to make the most of the light.
Practice: Begin photographing government buildings, museums, skyscrapers, and historical monuments. These types of structures offer interesting architecture.
Know the environment: Once you choose a building or structure to photograph, you should spend time to explore it and get to know it, know who built it, the design, interesting details, light, and how it works today. All of this will allow you to decide what style you want to achieve.
The most important thing is that you work with the team you have, learn to see your surroundings, practice to improve your photographic gaze.
Frames and angles to enhance your architectural photographs
To photograph interiorismo
Front Open: One of the frames that captures more information about the room. The 17mm focal length captures a perfect angle for indoors.
Front Closed: In this we define and close a lot the information that we want to count. The 20mm focal length is approximate. It allows us to filter objects or focus the scene more to highlight furniture or a relevant part of a room.
Angular in Open Corner: They are frames that manage to mark the perspective a lot . They are very useful in small rooms or bedrooms to enhance the space.
Close Horizontal Detail: It is very important to highlight decorative objects . They are objects that the decorator or home stagger.
To photograph exteriors
When choosing the angle to photograph, you have to take into account first, whether that angle forms a shadow, the colors, what type of light or at what time of day it is good to photograph it.
Nadir Angle: Used a lot for taking pictures of very tall buildings, where the geometry they generate adds significant depth to the picture.
Contrapicado Angle : it is opposite to the previous one, since in this case it is photographed from a place below the object to be captured. This style is used in architectural photography to show the grandeur of buildings and monuments.
Choose and take into account all the possible angles at which you can photograph, it will help you highlight its characteristics, textures, accessories and details that you want to highlight from the works.
You can see the video of compositions with Gaby Olmedo, you will discover new opportunities for your photographs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6W1MZptp4tg&t=193s
The perfect time to do architectural photography
Know and pay attention to the details of the streets you walk through, discover the special features of each building, its details, to capture the people around you. All this taking advantage of the best light and focus at all times.
In addition to considering a lot the time you want to shoot. Give people what others don’t, maybe you can use a drone to help you improve your work.
Take advantage of sunrise and sunset to have soft shadows, and the middle hours if you want hard and defined shadows. And of course, take advantage of the blue hour , it is a magical moment for outdoor photos.
The blue hour is the moment when the sky has an intense blue tone and the light is sufficient soft enough to highlight the dark areas of the scene, without the need to resort to an additional light source.
Featured photographers of architecture
We present a list of some of the artists who provide a unique vision of the architectural universe.
This British photographer started his work in 1980 and has since toured South Africa, London, Japan, Hong Kong, Iceland; Among other places, in search of the best play of light that helps to highlight the architecture, a characteristic that has led it to be recognized worldwide.
This New Zealander’s use of perspective and symmetry have meant, in addition to a long list of clients; different awards, including being part of the Best Architectural Photographers 2015 list in England and the TOP 7 in the Architectural Photographers 2013 in the United States.
Monochrome photographs, dramatic panoramas, and long exposures day and night are the specialty of this Polish photographer to capture clearly the building and its surroundings without losing dynamism . He was recognized by the International Photography Awards in New York.
Cameron R. Neilson
This New York photographer has made the pedestrian vision of citizens and black and white his signature to record iconic skylines from inside the city, so He has stood out with this distinct approach to architectural photography. In his project “Straight Up” for example, he reveals his passion for these types of portraits.
Lorena Darquea (1987), Ecuadorian architect and photographer, began her career under the influences of Mexico and Finland, where she studied career and visual arts, respectively. Her passion for photography was born from documenting the phenomenon of space, the honesty of the textures and the context where it takes place, that is why the cleanliness in shapes and lines that characterizes her work.
Camilo Monzón began exploring the surroundings of his department in Bogotá, Colombia with a drone. Curious to see the city from another point of view, he delved into the infinite possibilities of aerial shots. Thus was born his Aerial Facades project, a visual collection of buildings and architectural complexes that, with some editing adjustments, bring a new perspective to architecture and photography.
Post-production for architectural photographs
With digital photography the process of photo editing was facilitated, making this step almost mandatory. After this process, we can find the so-called digital edition, a process of image beautification, lens correction, creative filters or creation of unique compositions.
Therefore, it is important to have the knowledge to edit in Photoshop, Lightroom or other editing software , it is essential for any professional photography .
Make sure the photographs do not lose their realism, of course it will depend on what purpose you are editing them.
Photography for architecture is very important, not only for professionals in the field but for photography lovers, they allow us to understand the stories that can be told beyond architectural images, to communicate the relationships of buildings with their contexts, spaces and time.
Look for interesting details in unique corners, you don’t always have to show everything, expand your narrative capacity of the space. So practice, explore, and most of all, enjoy!