It may seem easy enough to take a photo of a building, but once you’re actually looking up at a gleaming high-rise with reflections everywhere and vertical lines distorting your scale, you’ll realize the true difficulty involved. Here are a few architectural photography tips to help you move past “oh no!” and into “oh, yeah, I can do this.” Learn the basics of interior & exterior building photography with CreativePhotoConnect!
1. Create Panoramas
If you’re unable or unwilling to shoot with a wide-angle lens, consider taking several smaller, narrower shots and stitching them together in a panorama. You might need special programs like Hugin or PTgui to create the perfect image, but the effort will be worth it to capture all of the structure’s individual detail. You can also create time-lapse panoramas if you want to showcase a building during the day and at night.
2. Use an ND Filter
A neutral-density (ND) filter is useful for sunny days and shiny chrome buildings where the reflections make everything overexposed. It works by reducing the amount of light entering your lens and neutralizing the very white, bright lights that would make a photo otherwise unusable. You’ll see ND filters mentioned a lot in exterior architectural photography tips because they’re just that useful.
3. Go Fisheye
If you’re taking aesthetic shots rather than professional portfolio images, a fisheye lens can be a great way to bring style to your list of architectural photography tips. It’s an ultra-wide lens that distorts the edges of your photo to give it a circular, looking-through-the-peephole effect. It’s very distinctive and instantly memorable, especially when used for architecture shots.
4. Mind Your Lighting
Many people seek architectural photography tips for lighting issues. Whether it’s flood lights in a commercial garage or street lamps casting shadows on a residential home, you have to work with what you have, and different light situations can create drastically different photos. Consider the following during your photo shoot:
5. Pay Attention to the Background
The right background can really make your photo pop. For example, if you have a wide blue sky behind your building, a bird flapping its wings in the corner will give it that extra “oomph.” Some of the best tips for architecture photography are the creative ones, so don’t get overly focused on the technical aspects of a piece. Let your imagination have a moment in the sun, too.
6. Get Low
This is particularly useful advice if you’re looking for high-impact architecture photography tips. Instead of backing up and photographing the building from afar, get right up to it and crouch low on the ground. Shooting the structure from below will make it seem five times bigger than it really is, so even if you’re snapping pictures of a barren hut, it will look like a palace.
7. Research Its History
The history of a building can often reveal interesting facts and details about its age, purpose, construction and renovation. For example, a home that you’re trying to sell might have a special design immortalized in its iron-wrought fence, and highlighting these in your ad can attract attention from buyers. When it comes to architectural photography tips, the little things can make a big difference.
8. Use Leading Lines
“Leading lines” are lines in the foreground of the picture that the viewer’s eye will naturally follow into the background. You’ll find them discussed a lot in tips for architecture photography because they can create a powerful sense of scale. If you’re trying to capture something grand like a high-rise building or an ancient temple, use leading lines to emphasize its magnificence.
9. Use All Architectural Elements
Is there a staircase on the property? Take pictures while on every step. Is there an infinity pool stretching out across the hotel roof? See what reflections you can capture in the water. When combined with basic architectural photography tips, this kind of creative thinking is what elevates amateur picture-taking into true art.
10. Take Advantage of the Weather
Try to think of your building as a living, breathing thing. What kind of mood does it evoke? What kind of weather would bring out the feeling or atmosphere that you’re trying to create? A cabin in the woods might look especially peaceful under a layer of snow. A church will seem extra-imposing under dark storm clouds.
11. Create a Sense of Scale
This is most common in exterior architectural photography tips when you’re trying to make a point about the grandiosity of the structure. By incorporating people, plants, trees, animals and everyday objects into the shot, you’re letting the viewer know just how small these things are when compared to your subject. It’s a very effective technique if used properly.
12. Clean Your Space
One of the most important interior architectural photography tips is also one of the simplest: Clean the area before taking any photos! Look for trash on the ground, smudges on the window and wobbly pieces of furniture. Straighten rugs and carpets. Make the bed. Replace the broken blinds. If you want your photos to be perfect, your staging needs to be equally pristine.
13. Invest in a Tilt-Shift Lens
It’s a pricey piece of equipment, but if you’re serious about taking your architecture photography tips to the next level, a tilt-shift lens can help you with an everyday problem: distortion. When you take photos of very tall things like buildings, the vertical lines of a photo naturally converge and distort the image. A tilt-shift lens will correct this without any extra effort on your part, saving you time, money and energy.
14. Frame Your Shot
Maybe it’s a house between two symmetrical trees. Maybe it’s an elevator inside an office building with mirrored walls on each side. One of the more basic architectural photography tips is to frame your shot; this will give the picture a sense of balance and focus, and it will please the eye in a way that unframed photos don’t.
15. Embrace a Bug’s Life
A “bug’s eye view” is when you point your camera straight up. It can capture ceilings, domes, skylights and general off-the-ground perspectives in a way that really conveys their height and scale. If you’re looking for a snazzy way to highlight something very tall while you’re inside a building, pretend that you’re a bug.
16. Go Wide
One of the first suggestions that you’ll hear in architectural photography tips is to buy a wide-angle lens. They’ll fit more of both the building and the landscape into the frame, providing a much better “big picture” representation of the area. Wide angle lenses come with many different focal lengths, but the average range is 14mm – 28mm. Keep in mind that wider lenses actually have smaller measurements, so 14mm is wider than 28mm.
These are just 16 architectural photography tips that will improve your work and impress your clients. Of course, they aren’t the only tips on architectural photography out there. What do you say, readers? What other suggestions do you have? Open the comment box and go crazy!