5 Tips on How to improve your architectural photography

No matter if you are a professional architectural photographer, an architect or anyone that want to improve your architecture photography skills. 

01. Distortions 

Avoiding Distortions and keeping straight lines are crucial for proper architectural photos.

Distortions  Distortion usually happens  when using ultra-wide lenses or not maintaining the camera parallel to the ground.

Professionals can minimize distortion by using tilt-shift lenses that allows keeping the lines straight.

Everyone else can reduce this effect by using a longer focal length of 24mm and above. If you are on mobile, you can zoom slightly but not too much as mobile phones zoom digitally and not optically and can impact your image quality.

Straight lines can be easily fixed while using the camera or external leveler, those bubble levels on the camera or on the tripod to make sure you are leveled to the ground.

TIP: use the grid option on the camera or phone to have straight guidelines 

The second element to keep your images straight is photographing parallel to space while keeping your camera straight forward and now tilting up or down, just straight.

angled image are the most hard to keep straight.

angled image that works

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02. Tie the environment 

Tying your space to the environment always helps to upgrade your architecture photos.

Try to understand what makes your space and the surrounding  unique and how you can combine both in the image.

Don’t forget the a house  or a building can be anywhere, it is important to showcase the building and how it ties to the space.

It can be the landscape, the unique views or the location itself. Include those views and surrounding in the image.

After all, location, location, location is what most people pay for these days. 

A great trick is using the thirds rule, while it’s not an actual rule you have to follow by, you can have your structure on 1/3 of the photo and showcasing the environment in the other 2/3 hinting of the areas and views and how the architecture that the structure was build connects to it.

03. Work with the light

The Sun movement is predictable, one quick look on countless apps will let you know in which exact time the sun going to be in the sky.

Use the light to enhance or light the space, try to create powerful visual while using the sun to your sides and not directly behind you to create gradient of light on the surface.

Photographing while the sun is in front of your camera will result in most of the time in glare on the lens and washed out the sky but sometimes this can work for you.

This also applies to dusk images. As we can’t move the building we have to work with the natural light.

Sometime this will have to be at sunrise and sometimes when the sun is about to set.

Use the golden hour or when the sunrise for more dramatic and warm feeling when it “hits” the building from an angle creating shadows and more interesting details.

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04. It’s not about the space it’s about the work

Many people think that architectural photographers job is to create beautiful visuals, while this is true it is not the first agenda.

Your job is to explain to the viewer his client’s hard work and time in designing, creating, executing and supervising.

It’s also important to reflect the actual value and represent why should one hire you’r client for the next project.

Focus on what the creator had in mind, translate hundreds of hours into single visual by focusing on the elements and not just space.

Choose an angle that is focused hinting on all of the details. in difference than real estate photography our goal is to showcase more “closed” frame highlighting all design elements, material, finishes, colors and surface.

05. Finish with the Hero Architectural Shoot

The magic hour is the twilight hour, you have the whole day to create beautiful images using the sun light, but you only have 5 minutes to capture twilight.

Capturing a stunning twilight architectural shoot is done at the moment when the sun is setting and the lights from the space are strong enough to capture booth at the perfect time. 

Start by:

  • Turning all the interior and exterior lighting if you can control them. 
  • Find the perfect spot and angle that works for you prior to sunset 
  • Take a picture every few minutes when the start is starting to set down.
  • Wait for the moment that the interior lights allowing to view inside while there is still light outside.
  • Keep capturing after the sun has set.
  • To get the most out of twilight shoots we use a combination of multiple exposures in post-production to mix the best of the sunset and the best of the interior light to create one image that shows all.

click the image to enlarge

In conclusion:

Improving our architectural photos can be done by keeping few basic rules.

Make sure they are straight and avoid perspective distortions, this should be your starting point. 

Understand the goal of the design, what special in this project and how you can capture it highlighting all of the above.

Work with the light to create some shadows for more dramatic feel, it also helps create details and dynamic range of color and depth.

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