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5 Tips to Improve your Architectural Photography

Architectural Photography is a fascinating and technical world. 

If you are an Architect, a Photographer, or a vendor in our industry here are a few tips to take your images to the next level.

Table of Contents

How to Avoid Lens’s Distortions in Architecture

One of the basic and the most important things in our industry is avoiding distortions that are created by the lenses and keeping straight lines.

Distortion usually happens when you are using an ultra-wide lens or you are not maintaining the camera parallel to the ground.

Camera Level

Make sure you are parallel to the floor and horizon, don’t tilt the camera left or right, up or down, and use a bubblehead to see that you are leveled.

Lense:

Professionals use tilt-shift lenses that allow them to keep the lines straight.

Everyone else can reduce this effect by using a longer focal length of 24mm and above. 

If you use a smartphone, you can zoom slightly, but not too much, as mobile phones zoom digitally and not optically and that can impact your image quality.

TIP: use the grid function/option on the camera or smartphone to have grid guidelines to make sure your image is straight.

How to incorporate nature/environment into your images

Tying your space to the environment always helps to upgrade your visuals.

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

Don’t forget a space is a space, it’s all about how it connects to other elements and location, make sure you showcase the surrounding. 

It can be the landscape, the unique views, or the location itself.

A great trick is using the thirds rule, while it’s not an actual rule you have to follow. You can have your structure on 2/3 of the photo and showcase the environment in the other 1/3 hinting at the area, views, and location.

Using the Sun for Exterior shoots

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

Use the light to enhance or light the space, try to create a powerful visual while using the sun.

Making sure the sun is to your side will create a gradient and directional light and a better sky.

You should try to avoid photographing directly towards the sun which will create colored light (lens flare) and will also over-expose/burn the skies.

Also when the sun is directly behind you, you will have a more flat image.

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

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

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

Capturing the Designer Work, not the Space

Many people think that our job is to create beautiful visuals, while this is true it is not the main purpose.

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

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

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

Choose an angle that is focused hinting at all of the details in the space.

When working on a real estate project our goal is to showcase more “closed” frames highlighting all design elements, materials, finishes, colors, and surfaces.

How to Create Architecture “Hero” Shoot

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

Capturing a stunning twilight shoot is typically done at the moment when the sun is setting and the lights from the space are strong enough to capture both the interior and the exterior together 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 allow us 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.

Conclusion

Improving our imagery can be done by keeping a 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 is special in this project, and how you can capture it highlighting all of the above.

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

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