Architectural Photo Tips and Tricks

December 12

11 min. to read

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We have specially created a complete guide to professional architectural photography so that you can easily improve your skills. You can use these tips and tricks for creating better architecture images.

Architectural photography is a special type of photography requiring a specialized (and at times expensive) set of tools and demands a discerning eye. When shooting architecture it is important to capture discrete elements that the architect has laid out. 

Since most people viewing your images will likely never visit the space you are capturing, it is up to you as the photographer to convey what the architect intended. For building photography, it is your responsibility to take what someone has created in three dimensions and translate their vision to the viewer through a two-dimensional image. If you are up for the challenge, here are a few tips and tricks to get pointed in the right direction.

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“The mother art is architecture. Without an architecture of our own we have no soul of our own civilization.” -Frank Lloyd Wright

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What Is Architectural Photography?

Architecture is one of the most technically challenging types of photography. Its task is to reflect in a photograph the beauty and uniqueness of buildings, their individual elements, and exterior decoration, and it also involves taking pictures of various engineering structures and small architectural forms, such as bridges, fountains, pavilions, and so on. 

Modern architectural photography in a town or city poses a challenge - to portray architectural objects with their interiors and exteriors in the most advantageous and authentic way possible. Architecture photography is often found in a wide range of subjects from skyscrapers to small huts. Now we will tell you how to photograph buildings creatively.

Architecture Photography Equipment

When shooting on a clear day, it's always a good idea to have a polarizing filter to help reduce reflections, highlight colors and get a clear view. Use a lens hood to protect against glare.

Best Camera

Choosing the right equipment for architecture photos is very important. Сompact camera that has a silent mode should grab your attention. It's very convenient because if you go to the square to capture an element of architecture, you want people not to pay attention to you. That way you can just do your architectural photo and still be invisible. If you're photographing from low angles, the tilt-adjustable screen allows you not to kneel down. 

You can also raise the camera for structural photography above your head and tilt the screen down to capture a building from an unusual angle. These simple things can make a big difference in how you use the camera and interact with the subject.

Best Lens

Wide-angle zoom gives you more leeway for structure photography compared to a fixed focal length because you won't always have the ability to get to the exact angle and height you need for your shot. For beginners, a zoom lens will also work better as it will help you get to the right angle with a sense of scale in exterior architecture photography. However, fixes usually boast cooler optics and sharper images, though it depends on the model.  

When you shoot upwards at close range, perspective distortions appear. Also, note that strong perspective control is the process of composing or editing images to better conform to common distortions in the different perspectives. The control of perspective distortion is to make sure that all vertical lines look that way in the image. For example, in architectural photography, this refers to columns, vertical wall edges, and lampposts.

While these lens distortions don't always look bad, many professionals prefer special tilt-shift lenses. With this equipment, you can photograph impressive architecture, tall buildings, and rooms with high ceilings at once without distortion. Note that tilt-shift lenses are not suitable for cropped cameras.

How to Capture Great Architecture Photography?

Next, we'll tell you what you need to pay attention to in order to make a real masterpiece.

1. Composition

Avoid Converging Lines in architecture photography: first and foremost you’re the biggest concern when shooting architecture are composition and the avoidance of something called “converging lines”. When you’re vertical lines are not spot on, converging lines occur and they distort the final image of the design you are shooting. Instead of perfectly vertical walls in buildings photography, you may end up with walls that appear to be falling inward on top of the viewer. Clearly, this isn’t the reality of the building you are shooting. If you’re shooting for a client, you don’t want to show off a building that looks as if it’s falling down!

2. Use a Tripod!!!

Enough said… It will help you to shoot archetecture photography with long exposure in any weather conditions.

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3. Wait for it…

As with all photography, lighting is key, but you need to wait for a perfect time of the day. If you aren’t able to bring lights or don’t have the time to wait around try taking multiple exposures of the space and then blend them together in programs such as Skylum’s Luminar Neo. This allows you to show detail in both the extreme shadow and highlight areas in a relatively even exposure. This also applies to interior lighting.

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4. Attention to detail

How to photograph buildings? Architects and designers spend countless hours planning every detail of a space. Likewise, you should invest some time to soak up the space before you even take the first shot. Walk around and check out different angles, look for small details that might get overlooked, and try to incorporate these into your final image. One of the best architecture photography tips: if you are able, stage your scene; add props like fruit, or a newspaper to make the space feel more alive. Designers and architects love seeing the space being used as intended. 

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5. Preparation

This is perhaps your best asset in getting the right shot using tips for architectural photography. If you plan ahead, scout the location, note the best times of day for the right light, and spend even 10 minutes thinking ahead and pre-visualizing how the shoot will unfold, you will notice a dramatic difference in the polished final look of your images.

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While architectural photography can be an extremely technical endeavor requiring specialized lenses and tools, it doesn’t necessarily have to be. You can still create amazing architectural images when keeping the above tips in mind, especially when using post processing software like Skylum’s Focus CK or Aurora HDR to correct distortions, add effects, and otherwise polish your final image.

6. Light and shadows

When shooting pictures of architecture, you may also be faced with the problem of high contrast, which can cause the camera's exposure metering to malfunction. This is especially important if you want to captivate detail in both shadowy and brightly lit areas. The way out in such cases is to use exposure bracketing and then merge the captured frames into a high dynamic range with a photo editor.

How to edit Architecture Photos with Luminar Neo

When photographing architecture, the strength of this post-processing software is the ease of use of the editing tools, with a very user-friendly interface and the availability of professional AI-based editing tools.

For example, there's the HDR Merge Extension, capable of merging up to ten architecture photos into one, which should convey the full intensity of the scene and view of your subject as you perceive it with your eyes. Thanks to the powerful engine of the Luminar Neo, you will get incredible results very quickly, in just a couple of clicks.

Conclusion

Now you know how to photograph architecture. Practice will allow you to adjust your eyes to take pictures of architecture. This will let you shoot subjects in a more interesting way, avoiding trite compositional techniques and putting more personality into each shot. Try to use these architectural photography tips for perfect shots.

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