Architectural photography is the subgenre of the photography discipline where the primary emphasis is made on capturing photographs of buildings and similar architectural structures that are both aesthetically pleasing and accurate in terms of representations of their subjects.
Therefore, architectural photography is beyond capturing photographs of buildings. It is an art in itself about seizing not only the design and accurate representation of a building but having the photographs be aesthetically pleasing to the spectator’s eye. Architectural photographers should be skilled with the use of specialized techniques and cameras to capture the essence of an architectural structure, from the use of perspective control to capture void or non-void spaces and to know where and when to find such specialized shots. Because architectural photographers are meant to create a photograph, not to only capture one. Architectural photography is indeed the art of capturing the details and moods that make the space and the materials come together.
Architectural photography types
Interior Architectural Photography
This refers to photographs of a building’s or structure’s interior. Interiors are often more challenging to capture due to the ambient light available through windows or skylights is often limited, and sometimes filtered through the colorful stained glass windows. Supplemental lighting like a flash helps to capture interiors accurately.
Exterior Architectural Photography
This refers to capturing the outside of a structure. The wealth of natural light advantages exterior photographs to be captured easily. Depending on the whims of nature, exteriors may also yield wildly different and dramatic results.
One should follow up on some prime factors not only to improve the visual potential of their photography skill but also to carry the stories along with the photographs in order to communicate the relationship of context, space, and time with the architectural structures.
- Getting friendly with the weather: Architectural photography is very much dependent upon weather and different times of the day. Because a beautiful sunrise, sunset, or even rain, snow, cloud, or fog, all can bring architecture and nature together making the space feel magical.
Capturing a series of photographs during different times of the day, or in various weather conditions, helps to create a fuller story of the building’s relationship with its environment.
- Arrangement of good lighting: Good lighting should always be prioritized, mostly in the case of interior architectural photography. Appropriate lighting helps to emphasize a specific space, or structure. It plays a big role in shaping the understanding of what is important in that specific architectural project.
- Looking out for a unique angle: Perspective, in architectural photography, plays a very rewarding role. Taking time to find a distinct angle through which a photograph can expose an abstraction of a building’s detail to give rise to another level of beauty and appreciation for its form.
- Include or exclude people: Architecture does not exist without people. The presence of life in architectural photography has always been debated. However, the interconnection between people and buildings is an essential attribute of the artistic side of architectural photography.
- Attention to detail: Shooting with a wide-angle lens is the smartest thing to do in architectural photography. But as the buildings contain hundreds of intricate details that are lost when an entire facade or room is shot in one frame, exploring details closely, in that case, could disclose something new and interesting about the building’s history or construction.
- Use of post-processing: Post-processing a photograph, having a certain goal in mind, could convey the story of an architectural structure with a more reliable and convincing stand. It is a standard part of architectural photography. Software like Photoshop and Lightroom are quite easy to use with their wide variety of advanced functions.
- Use of appropriate photography equipment: One should invest in proper equipment in order to get started with high-quality architectural photography. The use of a tripod or polarizing filter could be an exciting way to achieve a perfect frame.
- Understanding camera mechanism: It is imperative to choose the right camera settings to capture all the details of a space. Understanding the shutter speed and aperture can help to hold control of the motion blur or focus point of a photograph.
- Creating compositing: Composition is all about arranging the visual elements within their frame. In architectural photography, it is very important to record the complete spatial context of the building by leaving no clutter within it. Composition encompasses the ways to frame a building in a standalone image to make it more captivating and interesting.
- Research about the particular project: Researching and knowing about the history and context of an architectural site before visiting is an indispensable resource that, without a doubt, can help to focus on a relevant story or idea to capture the essence of a building. Sometimes architecture can be so inspiring that one can get caught up in the moment and immediately want to capture the space instead of taking it all in. Themes and design intent are major elements in architectural photography.
Architectural photography allows people to obtain a visual understanding of buildings by creating a valuable resource that allows them to expand their architectural vocabulary. However, one must stay critical of the disadvantages of photography when it comes to architecture. Jeremy Till, the author of ‘Architecture Depends’, stated, ‘The photograph allows us to forget what has come before (the pain of extended labor to achieve the delivery of the fully formed building) and what is to come after (the affront of time as dirt, users, change, and weather move in).’