“Architecture is frozen music”, a photograph captures the essence of this quote. A photograph is a stationery collection of pixels that communicates more than a structure’s physical elements. Learning about design elements and principles are the foundations for being an architect. And architectural photography accentuates the basics and styles of a form. 

Before venturing into this art, there are some ground rules to master. Adjust your eyes like a camera lens, not literally. Try to look at the structure and landscape within a frame. That helps freeze a decent composition. Employing techniques like the rule of thirds, golden ratio, and perspectives helps catch a viewer’s attention to the object framed. 

The art of architectural photography can be classified based on composition techniques:

  1. Rule of thirds: When dividing a frame into thirds, the subject must intersect with the four intersecting points. This ensures a balanced and complete frame.
Architectural Photography: The art of capturing structures - Sheet1
rule of thirds_ ©PetaPixel
  1. Symmetry: Who doesn’t love symmetry? The human mind cherishes patterns it can predict. Capturing this architecture principle can be very interesting.
Architectural Photography: The art of capturing structures - Sheet2
  1. Leading lines: Using lines formed by the architectural subject and its landscape is exciting. It leaves the viewer curious about an element outside the frame or brings the viewer’s attention to the subject.
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Leading Lines_©Fstoppers
  1. Golden ratio: The golden ratio in architecture works in ordering elements such that its aesthetically pleasing to the viewer. The same concept is applied in architectural photography. The elements that fit within a frame must be composed along with the golden ratio. This results in balance. 
Architectural Photography: The art of capturing structures - Sheet4
golden ratio_ ©PetaPixel
  1. Golden triangle: Using diagonals and triangles adds dynamic tension to the photo. Vertical and horizontal lines suggest stability. Humans aren’t used to visualizing diagonal axes or triangles, so involving them releases a sense of “dynamic tension”.
Architectural Photography: The art of capturing structures - Sheet4
golden tiangles_ ©PetaPixel
  1. Frame within the frame: This composition technique acquires depth to the photo. Making use of archways, windows or branches makes the subject captured more interesting. The frame can be in the foreground or background, it is all about being creative.
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Frame within the frame_©Peachpit

Architectural photography started getting recognition in the 1860s. Over time it has progressed based on how architecture is portrayed by a designer or perceived by a user. Earlier, it was all about the structure itself. No landscape or human interaction was encouraged. 

Architectural photography aimed to show untouched subjects in serene states. Slowly, photographers wanted to capture a particular era in architecture or used architecture to timeline periods. Urban sites developed and people flocked in the streets. 

Architects needed designs that accommodated them and interacted with them. This concept is espoused in architectural photography. Photographers captured people interacting with spaces, and spaces weren’t limited to steel and concrete. 

Architectural Photography: The art of capturing structures - Sheet7
1900 Great Depression Walker Evans_ ©pierremm
Paris Euegene Atget_ ©pierremm
Paris Euegene Atget_ ©pierremm

Now, architectural photography is an art form. It helps highlight design features of a structure and reveals abstract views unfamiliar to the naked eye. Photographs taken from exhilarating heights and angles leave people intrigued about the site and structure. Sometimes, a photograph cannot be recognized as a structure for people but an artform. 

Photographers are sensitive to the equipment they use and the time of the shooting. They have adequate knowledge of architecture and are professionals with graphic softwares. Most are even architects turned photographers.

Hufton+Crow_ ©Divisare
Hufton+Crow_ ©Divisare
Cristobal Palma_ ©designboom
Cristobal Palma_ ©designboom

Architectural photography includes interior and exterior shots. Interior architectural photography focuses on geometrical patterns and rhythms. An interior photograph beguiles the viewer into its subject. Restaurants and malls take advantage of interior photographs to exhibit their ambience. 

Exterior architectural photography reveals the outer skins of a structure and how it wears them. It discloses the weather play of a structure and its surroundings. Tourist spots and architectural wonders showcase their exteriors to invite visitors.

Interior-Architecture in Rotterdam_ ©Dennis Veldman
Exterior- Arrow heads of esplanade Singapore_ ©Guang Ye

Architectural photography during construction is another type of photography. It divulges the challenges faced during the construction and assembling of the structure. This field of photography caters to an audience of architects. It helps an architect understand if their project justifies its purpose and checks a sense of space and size.

Like other activities, architectural photography isn’t a piece of cake. It comes with hours of observing a location. Learning a building’s purpose and plan and knowing about its materials. An architectural photographer takes hours to capture the perfect photo that serves justice to the structure. 

The photographer must adapt to the architecture and understand it before trying to capture it. It is about conveying what a designer aimed to design. Perhaps the concept of the structure or even its purpose. Once mastered, it is the perfect pass time, even profession if you’re excellent at it.

Architecture stands as a voice to express the artistic aura and work of the architect at a particular time. Architectural photography interprets architecture in several ways. Unveiling various perspectives visually and artistically. It enables an individual to experiment with experience. What used to be an accurate portrayal of the structure has now gradually evolved into a manipulation of different perspectives to bring out the interesting elements of a single structure.


While keeping to her roots, Abigail likes to venture unconventional paths. Exploring a designer's journey of concept making excites her anyday. While pursuing architecture she invests time in photography and music. She believes when designing, sustainability is a prerequisite along with adapting aesthetics.