A Different Genre

Photography and architecture are but different forms of art that help us visualize the world from different perspectives. While being individually appreciated, architectural photography is a genre of photography that captures the external as well as internal beauty of building structures and cityscapes. It is very important to focus on the quality of the image that captures even the most minuscule details required for catching one’s eye. 

History of Architectural Photography

Architectural photography was first introduced in the 1870s by Albert Levy when he began to click photographs of older buildings. Nicéphore Niépce captured one of the first permanent architectural photographs’ which was the view from the window at Le Gras. Architectural Photography started to become an established visual medium by the 1860s. By the 1950s, architects had even started hiring professionals for commissioned architectural photography of their projects.

Architectural Snapshots-Sheet1
Oldest surviving camera photograph – Window at Le Gras Nicéphore Niépce_©https://en.wikipedia.org

How does research play a role in Architectural Photography?

Research on a building structure especially when it is an older building or a building that is in the process of renovation, there is freedom for the photographers to capture details of the building like artistic staircases, ornamentation, engravings, ceiling structures, etc. This also helps in the documentation of architectural structures and could be expanded on in future buildings or modernized if needed. It helps to preserve the architectural knowledge once used that could be taken into consideration and expanded on by the new generation of architects. 

Play of light and shadow in Architectural Photography

Lighting is an important element to be considered while photographing building structures. For example, during the day, the brush of golden-yellow that the sunlight plays on a glass facade is completely different from what the city lights would showcase in the night. While natural light plays a key role in exterior architectural photography, artificial plays an important role in the photography of the interiors. Most photographers combine a bunch of architectural lighting types to get a good interior photograph. They usually dim the surroundings and focus on the architectural element to be featured in the case of sculptures or artworks while giving almost balanced lighting when capturing an entire room to be shot. LED lights are said to be the next best thing for interior photography after natural lighting as they can mimic the sun and allow for flexibility in adjustments with regard to colour, brightness, and intensity. 

Role of perspective

The perspective captured by the photographer of the building structure is what defines the beauty of it. The angle, light, and perspective go hand in hand while capturing a picture. The photograph entirely depends on the element to be captured – whether it is an external facade or a small coffee table. There is no single right way to capture the right perspective of the architecture as it depends on each photograph’s intention and style. Experimenting with different angles, heights, distances, and lights is what could give the photographer a better idea of how the perspective would enhance the architecture. 

Architectural Snapshots-Sheet2
Perspective Photography of the Holocaust Memorial, Berlin Thomas Wensing_©https://snapshot.canon-asia.com

Famous Architectural Photographers

Iwan Baan is one of the most famous architectural photographers as he can capture the unexpected and quick-moving life in building structures. His desire for constant movement helps him to see the buildings as he does. One of his go-to techniques is to hop on a helicopter to get away from his subject so he can observe it from the sky. From here he captures how a building interacts with its surroundings. Another famous photographer from the 1900s is Julius Shulman whose main focus was on modern house photography du in California. The modern house – #22 Los Angeles is his most famous architectural photograph. His photographs feature lighting, shapes transparency, textures, and even human models.           

Architectural Snapshots-Sheet3
Iwan Baan_©https://www.artforum.com
Architectural Snapshots-Sheet4
The modern house – #22 Los Angeles_©https://lamag.com

Key Trends in Architectural Photography 2023-2024

While architectural trends are evolving through diverse technological advancements, architectural photography is also stepping up. Some of the key trends that are being focused on are minimalism and geometry, natural light, creative staging, symmetry and composition, and HDR photography. While clean symmetric shots emphasize simplicity through the lines and shapes of a building, photographers play with contrast and develop the photo in a way to captures its absolute essence. While perspective plays a vital role in capturing an image, staging is emerging to become a creative approach. The inclusion of people, vehicles, immediate surroundings, etc helps add to the depth of the image and acts as a story on its own. This way the image shows the relationship between the built structure, the existing environment, and the human interaction. 

Future of Architectural Photography

The future of architectural photography lies in drones and AI solutions. Drones offer an entirely different perspective to these images with their ability to capture images in a way unmatched by human photographers. 360-degree photographs are also emerging which allows individual experience. Generative AI is creating a huge revolutionary effect on architecture. The tools and algorithms are being used to create beautiful visuals, energy-efficient buildings, lower carbon footprints, etc. The integration of human creativity and AI intelligence is yielding unimaginably magnificent outcomes. 

REFERENCES

  1. NFI. Architecture photography – everything you need to know.April 2023 https://www.nfi.edu/architecture-photography/
  2. Hicks. S. How architecture depends on photography. October 2021. Archdaily. https://www.archdaily.com/969419/how-architecture-depends-on-photography
  3. Building Material Reporter. Ai turning for solutions in Architecture & Design- let’s check how. https://www.buildingmaterialreporter.com/influencers/architect-and-design/ai-turning-for-solutions-in-architecture-design-lets-check-how
  4. https://youtu.be/lZmj_JOjBzU?si=TFHCam9Xflzg2owY

IMAGE REFERENCES

  1. https://snapshot.canon-asia.com/vn/article/eng/architecture-photography-from-a-different-perspective
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:View_from_the_Window_at_Le_Gras,_Joseph_Nic%C3%A9phore_Ni%C3%A9pce.jpg
  3. https://lamag.com/architecture/a-shot-in-the-dark
  4. https://www.artforum.com/events/iwan-baan-197579/
Author

A nature lover who is passionate about art and design which only helped widen the multidisciplinary perspective of architecture. Juggling between being a full time architect, an entrepreneur and a budding writer she also tries to fulfill her travel diaries and takes ballet lessons.