Architectural Photography Tips

These photography tips are designed to help in the approach and technical problems of taking interesting and accurate images of buildings.

Architectural photography is all about capturing the interiors and exteriors of buildings to show them at their best to the viewer.

However, how this is achieved, differs greatly from photographer to photographer and from camera to camera depending on its capabilities.

Each individual photographer will have their own way of interpreting a building with their own creative impulses and utilising composition, colour, light and shape as their tools.

How architectural photography is approached does have a lot to do with the particular abilities of the camera being used.

Many basic digital cameras do not have a very wide-angle view and so capturing the whole building can be a problem. Top end digital cameras have the ability to change lens for ones that are able to take wide angled shots.

However it is not always necessary to have the whole building in shot to create a great architectural photograph and even if you do, it is always possible to stitch several images together using computer software.

Basic Photography Tips for Exterior Architectural Photography:

Photography Tips For Architectural Photography - Photo by Kate Tilmouth
  • Make sure there are no unwanted objects in the frame. You can achieve this by moving position or using a telephoto lens to compress the view and reduce the space between the building and other objects around or near it.
  • To add depth to enhance the three-dimensional aspect of a building, use colour within the composition as either a focus point or as a frame. Using a wide angled lens and getting in close to the subject will also add depth but can lead to some distortion to occur.
  • Use natural light to alter how a building will appear in a photograph. Wait for the appropriate time of day where it hits the building in such a way as to enhance its over all structure.
  • Shadows can also play a big part in achieving a striking image.
  • Front lighting will create a flat image with no form, whereas side lighting will add texture and shape to an image.

Be aware of buildings appearing to lean in your images. This is caused when you point your camera up at a tall subject.

Some photography tips to over come this problem are:

  • Stand further away from your subject - you may have to crop your image later to get rid of too much unwanted foreground.
  • Use a wide angled lens or a zoom lens.
  • Sometimes the leaning effect can be corrected using image software afterwards.

This can be done using Photoshop for instance by choosing from the menu Select > All > Edit > Transform and choosing either the Perspective or Distort option (playing around with both will allow you to see which gives you the best results). Then pulling the picture from the corners to move the image to correct leaning verticals.

Photography Tips Photography Tips

Interior Photography Tips

Architectural Photography - Interior Photography by kate Tilmouth
  • Use a tripod or something to steady the camera and a longer exposure, rather than using a flash to capture a sharper more natural looking image. A flash can create very ugly shadows and may bleach out some details.
  • Position the camera in the room to make best use of natural light and shadow.
  • The best time to take internal shots is in the middle of the day when the colour temperature of the light is not too blue and isn't too strong to create harsh shadows.
  • Set the white balance of your camera to match the lighting conditions. In a lot of compact digital cameras you will have a switch to use for interior shots.

Architectural Detail

Architectural Photography - Photo by Kate Tilmouth

Sometimes it is not always possible to take a picture that includes the whole building. Architectural detail can often be over looked, but can make a very strong image if used in connection with the right composition and lighting.

  • Look out for carvings or wall plaques; even railings and window frames can become the focus of an image.
  • Fill the frame with the detail and crop out any unwanted distractions.
  • Use strong natural light to create shadows and depth.
  • Try to get as close as possible to the detail either physically of using a zoom lens (a tripod may be required).