Architectural photography, whether classic or contemporary, can be both rewarding and challenging. Figuring out how to get the ultimate shot isn’t always easy, even though you try again and again.
There are a lot of factors that play into getting the ultimate shot, some controllable and some not, so here a few tips you should know before you even begin.
While some of these may seem like common sense, they may not be what you think about each time you ‘point and shoot’ your camera at a building. However, taking all these tips into consideration will surely help you get a frame-worthy photo.
1) Always have your camera and location ready
If you really don’t want to miss anything, then perhaps you should consider carrying your camera with you everywhere— you never know when inspiration will strike. If your location is already chosen beforehand, then be sure you are prepared for that particular location. You should also check with the owners of the building or property, or possibly the city to see if you need a permit to take photos. Not knowing could get you into trouble, impeding the opportunity to get your dream photo.
Lastly, take a look at the weather report for the location you are heading to. Depending on the type of shot you want , sunny, cloudy, rainy, stormy, clear , the weather could ruin your day.
2) Invest in the right photo equipment
It is most important that you have the right gear with you for the job you’re going to do. When it comes to architectural photography, a wide angle, fish eye or ultra-wide angle lens is the best option.
These types of lenses allow you to get a dramatic composition, and provide you with the ability to fit the entire frame of the building into one shot. However, not all buildings will fit into every shot.
This is where a camera with panoramic format can be beneficial.
3) Don’t rush perfection
One of the biggest tips for shooting amazing architectural subjects is to take your time.
Not only does this give you enough time to get the shots you want, but it allows you the opportunity to explore the building.
You want to give yourself enough time to walk around and look at all sides of the building to discover which area will give you the best and most unique view.
4) Pay attention to the light
You might be surprised at how different a building and its surroundings can look when the sun goes down at night, or disappears behind a cloud. Take shots during the day from different angles of the building to see how they look.
Then, return at night and see what has changed about the building and its environment. You will find, that as the sun sets, different shadows appear and the building may even take on a new appearance or facade.
Furthermore, the direction of the sun compared to you and the building can make a difference. It can create shadows and reflections, and increase textural elements, as well as contrast. For instance, if you want to create a silhouette as the sunsets, you want to make sure the building is between you and the sun.
5) Black & White or Color?
Another thing to think about is deciding between color and black and white. Although the decision is purely up to the photographer, there are some points you should take into consideration.
When it comes to architectural photography, color is often the most important feature of the structure that you would want to highlight. Therefore, shooting the building in color might just be the best option.
Conversely, if you are merely after a very graphical shot or one that highlights the structural lines of a building, you might be better shooting in black and white only. It allows the contrast to be much more present in the finished product.
6) Don’t forget post processing
Post processing normally consists of color correction, sharpness, and increasing the contrast. However, to get the ultimate shot, you will want to do a little extra.
Mostly, you will want to think about lens distortion that may have occurred while you were taking the photos.
There are many famous architectural locations around the globe that have been photographed many different times, in different light, and in different weather conditions. Perhaps this is why they are so famous. Does that mean that’s where you should go?
As a photographer looking to create the ultimate shot, perhaps you should find your own location. Find someplace that no one has been, a building that isn’t usually photographed, and give yourself the challenge of turning it into the next spot that architectural photographers are dying to go.
As always, have a great time out there shooting!