10 Helpful Tips for Striking Architectural Photography

Architectural Photography Tips


Architectural photography is a little like golf as in the ball is just sitting there; it shouldn't be that hard to hit a good shot! So it should not be hard taking pictures of a subject that doesn't move. Actually that's what can make it difficult. In this article I will share 10 helpful tips on how to make beautiful and impressive photos of architecture.

Hart Plaza | Detroit Architecture | Winter | Christmas in Detroit | Detroit Michigan | Image by Indiana Architectural Photographer Jason Humbracht in 2016

A Winter Chill in Detroit

Your perspective and location (and thus, that of your camera) will alter the way you compose your shot. Do you want to capture a cityscape with the contrast of short and tall buildings? Or do you want to stand at the base of those buildings, look straight up and show a skyscraper extending into the infinite sky? For the former shot, you'll be far away; for the latter, you'll be very close. Choosing the right equipment is key in your decision.

Indiana Landmarks building | Image By Indiana Architectural Photographer Jason Humbracht

Landmark

USE A WIDE ANGLE LENS

One of the most important things that will help you improve your architecture shots is getting a wide-angle lens. A wide-angle lens allows you to take in much more of the scene but it also tends to distort (or curve) lines, especially at the edges of the frame. Some architectural photographers use tilt-shift lenses, which allow for wide-angle shots with almost no distortion. However these are quite expensive, and you can always correct distortion later in Lightroom or Photoshop.

University of Michigan Law Quad | Image By Indiana Architectural Photographer Jason Humbracht

The University of Michigan Law Quad

Millennium Park | Chicago, Illinois | Image By Indiana Architectural Photographer Jason Humbracht

The Bean

TRY SHOOTING INTERIORS

Architects design a whole building, both inside and out, so go have a look inside. The interior architecture can offer up new compositions and lighting.

Indiana Architectural Photography | Indianapolis Union Station | Image By Indiana Architectural Photographer Jason Humbracht

Encore

Learn tips for better interior architecture shots at my post Interior Real Estate Photography: 5 Tips for Better Results.

Scottish Rite Cathedral

Banquet Hall

ADD REFLECTIONS

Look for reflections in water and glass. Getting creative with reflections can add scale and atmosphere to your images. The Indiana State Museum along the canal walk in Indianapolis is a photographer favorite to shoot, but usually facing the other way toward downtown Indy. I thought I would try a different perspective. By using the reflection of the two intersecting bridges aligning with the canal's dogleg right, it adds a bit of interest to the image.

Indianapolis Canal | Indiana State Museum | Indianapolis Sunrise | Indiana Architectural Photography

The Morning Blues

While shooting pre-dawn in downtown Detroit, Michigan, I incorporated this giant parking lot puddle to reflect the city's skyline and add depth to the image. I was able to add more drama to the image by shooting during the blue hour, which brings me to my next tip...

Sunrise Detroit | At Dawn Detroit Michigan | Detroit Architecture | Image By Indiana Architectural Photographer Jason Humbracht

Awaken

SHOOT DURING THE GOLDEN AND BLUE HOURS

With every form of photography, it's the light that makes the shot! Taking photos during golden hours, usually early morning just before sunrise or later in the evening during sunset, will help you capture ideal lighting situations, when the sun's angle is low on the horizon. In the image below, the rising sun is still low, casting soft colors into the sky above the buildings while making the their exteriors glow.

Indiana Architectural Photography | Indiana Real Estate Photography

She Draws Me In Again

My favorite time to shoot is during the very brief blue hour. It only happens for maybe 15 minutes, before the sun rises and after the sun sets below the horizon. Sometimes it doesn't happen at all or it's dull and not that spectacular. But if you get lucky, as I did in the image below, it makes for a stunning image.

Indiana Architectural Real Estate Photography | Noblesville, Indiana | Image By Indiana Architectural Photographer Jason Humbracht

Twilight

TAKE NIGHT PHOTOS

Night photography brings a new element to architectural photography, as many city buildings are specifically designed with night illumination. A glass building that is lit from inside adds different textures, as well as including a water feature or interesting clouds...which ties into the next tip on exposure.

Indianapolis Skyline at Night | Light Trails | Image By Indiana Architectural Photographer Jason Humbracht

Hasta la Vista Indy

For more on shooting Nightscapes, view my post 5 Reasons to Start Shooting Night Photography.

Industrial architecture | Indianapolis architecture | night photography | nightscape | Image By Indiana Architectural Photographer Jason Humbracht

In Front of the City

USE A LONG EXPOSURE

Using a long exposure, usually anything over 5 seconds or so, will give flowing water a misty, almost ghostly quality to it. A cool cloudy sky will have the same appearance and when you time it with vivid sunset colors, it makes a more dramatic image.

IUPUI Campus | Downtown Indianapolis, Indiana | Image By Indiana Architectural Photographer Jason Humbracht

Afterthought

In the image below I used a long exposure to blur a car rounding the corner, creating a bit of motion and drama to an otherwise ordinary scene.

Carmel Arts & Design District | Carmel, Indiana | Image by Indiana Architectural Photographer Jason Humbracht

Carmel Arts & Design District

DISCOVER THE LINES AND PATTERNS

Lines and patterns create interesting shadows that can make your image more complex.

Indiana State Museum | indy skyline | Indianapolis Canal Walk | Indianapolis Architecture | Indiana Architectural Photographer

The Back of the Front

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico | Spanish Architecture | Image of Indiana Architectural Photographer Jason Humbracht

Choices

SHOOT FROM A LOW PERSPECTIVE

Shooting low draws the viewer into the scene and leads their eye up to your picture's subject. Always include something of interest in the foreground; it could be a rock or some driftwood, or whatever happens to be there.

Plaza Vieja in Old Havana, Cuba at night | Architecture of Havana, Cuba | Image By Indiana Architectural Photographer Jason Humbracht

Plaza Vieja

Indiana State Capital | Monument Circle | Indianapolis Night | Image By Indiana Architectural Photographer Jason Humbracht

Nighttime Color Spectrum

DON'T BE AFRAID TO INCLUDE PEOPLE (Architecture doesn't exist without them)

This used to be a no-no. However the self-proclaimed world's most visited architecture website archdaily.com disagrees. A February 2017 article reads, "Historically, there has been a trend not to include people in architectural photography, as if we somehow contaminate the pure, designed beauty. Fortunately, a number of high-profile architectural photographers are beginning to buck this trend. Architecture doesn’t and wouldn't exist without us—don’t shy away from recording our presence."

Old Havana, Cuba | Cuba Architecture | Image By Indiana Architectural Photographer Jason Humbracht

Cathedral Color

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico | Spanish Architecture | Image of Indiana Architectural Photographer Jason Humbracht

A Morning Scene in San Miguel de Allende

SHOOT STRAIGHT UP

When you look straight up, new composition choices will come to mind. Find an unknown angle and create a sense of asymmetry by taking photos of buildings looking straight up.

Soldiers & Sailors Monument Indianapolis, Indiana | Image By Indiana Architectural Photographer Jason Humbracht

Xmas in Indy

Just like the light can have an effect on the way the building looks, so can your position while taking the shot. Again, here is where time comes into play as an important factor. You want to make sure you have the opportunity to move around the building, shooting as you go. You also want to get as close to the building as possible, shooting straight up, for a different perspective. Pretend you are a bug or ant crawling on the ground—No one really looks up at a building from this angle, but it just might make the most amazing photograph you’ve ever seen.

Downtown Indianapolis at Night | Indy Architecture

Vertigo

On the other hand, getting as far away or as high up from the building as possible, to include the entire structure in one shot, could also create a unique shot. Play around with the perspective at which you shoot to really allow yourself to create amazingly unique photography. (source)

Sunset from a rooftop in New Havana, Cuba | Image By Indiana Architectural Photographer Jason Humbracht

New Havana Views

Apply these awesome techniques to shoot distinctive photos that people will love. If nothing else it will help you see things differently and maybe learn something new along the way. Cheers!

Indianapolis Canal | Indiana State Museum | Indianapolis Sunrise | Indiana Architectural Photography

The Morning Blues

For more on interior architectural photography, view my post Interior Real Estate Photography: 5 Tips

Architectural photography is something that produces timeless images. Always think about lines and shapes, and look for patterns and colors. Remember you can convert any image to black and white later so look for images that are full of shadows and highlights. A building is a static thing and you need to move around it to find new perspectives and approach it as if it were full of life and character.

 

 

 

 

"There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are."   -Ernst Haas

Related Images:

This entry was posted in Architectural Photography, Exterior Architecture, Interior Architecture, Night Photography and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

    Subscribe to Blog via Email

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 962 other subscribers

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*