To be a successful architectural photographer, what matters the most is a positive and enthusiastic attitude. If you are keenly interested, only then you can bring out the best photographer in you. Everything else, including the equipment, comes secondary.Here are a few things you will need to understand to be a good architectural photographer.

With our modern-day, technologically advanced, and image-obsessed culture has influenced the art of architectural photography to a great extent. In the book “Architecture Depends”, Jeremy Till talks about how architectural photography lifts a building out of time.

Photography opens multiple up opportunities for architects or anyone interested in architecture to enhance and learn about architecture all over the world even without visiting them in real life. 

Not only does architectural photography create a valuable resource of our built environment, but also captures the essence of any building that might not be easy to visit. We are surrounded by architecture; from doing little errands to going to work, our life revolves around architecture. As easy it might seem architectural photography comes with many complexes and challenges. To be a successful architectural photographer, what matters the most is a positive and enthusiastic attitude. If you are keenly interested, only then you can bring out the best photographer in you. Everything else, including the equipment, comes secondary.

Here are a few things you will need to understand to be a good architectural photographer.

1. Understanding the context

These photographs become a timeless archive of monuments and buildings which we can use to get an understanding of these monuments and buildings. Photographs tell stories; they go beyond being mere images to communicate buildings. Hence, understanding and including the context of the building/ structure must be a judicious decision while capturing them. 

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2. Lighting 

Natural lighting works wonders in photography. Try to shoot in the abundance of daylight while experimenting with different angles. Analyze the movement of the sun around the building and how the lighting changes the mood of the building throughout the day or night. Lighting plays a crucial role in determining the memory of the building through a picture. It is important to understand the layers of lighting, the predominant one being natural lighting.

An amazing photographer and my best friend, Hardik say that this is one of the finest tricks in photography; to analyze and understand how light reflects from the surfaces of buildings and how it accentuates the various patterns of buildings to give amazing shots.

Stepping out of your comfort zone is very important. As you start understanding the light movement and the wonders it can do, you might want to get up at 3:00 in the morning sometimes or maybe stay up late for perfect shots!

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©Ar. Simran Kaur
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3. Take your time

Architectural photography unlike other kinds of photography needs its own time and understanding to capture the best. Once you decide your subject, take a little tour in and around it and explore all angles available for photography of that subject. Spending a day or two is important to get in-depth knowledge for perfect shots.

Reading about it before visiting and knowing its intangible context also helps. 

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4. Equipment

It is not the equipment but the vision is what matters to capture great photographs. And indeed it is a true statement. If you have the right inspiration and a whole lot of dedication, you are on the right track! But a little investment is a great push and upgrades your level of photography. You might have the vision to capture the right kind of light, and the equipment will always become your right hand in helping you capture the same. As you grow in this field, it becomes more important to create the best images using the best equipment. 

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5. People

While an image free from any disturbance might feel easy to capture, including people gives a lot of meaning and profundity to your picture, especially in interior photography. It helps in preserving the true essence of that moment and structure. Architecture has no meaning if people do not use it; hence including people gives a lot of meaning to your photograph as viewers grasp the real self of the built. 

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6. Post Processing

As important as the part of clicking the picture may seem, having the right editing skills is also equally important. Now I don’t expect beginners to be equipped with all the knowledge from the very first day, but it is important to know about the right applications/software to edit pictures perfectly. The more you practice, the more efficient you become. There is no doubt that natural images have a story of their own to tell, but post-processing can generate perspectives not known to the human eye, creating captivating pictures one cannot take his eye off!

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7. God is in the details

The only thing that differentiates a master photographer from good photographers is the quality to capture the details. Every building has hidden gems and patterns that a photographer needs to analyze before shooting. Capturing the wholesome beauty of any built structure is easy, magic happens when details are captured. Details can be of many types – they could be architectural details or they could be some patterns created by the light falling on the structure. It’s the smartness of the photographer which enhances the building to make it stand out.

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8. Think out of the box

To stand out in this competitive field, it is important to have a vision that differs from everyone else around. Get your mind cracking, pick that lens up, and show us what you got! With the rising technological advancements each day, it is very important to put your best foot forward. Being original and ethical while experimenting with all sorts of techniques and equipment is the ladder to success.  

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From clicking distorted perspective pictures to getting awards for quirky shots which one couldn’t have thought about, it is an astounding journey! But seeing the uncertain times in this pandemic, we only have our abundant archive of architectural images on the World Wide Web to help us travel! Take this time to enhance your skills and be prepared for the competition waiting outside! 


Simran Kaur is a creative individual who has just begun to explore her writing potential into the field of architectural journalism. When not making architectural drawings, her passion about writing makes her fill her little notebooks with poems. Connect with her to find out more about her mysteries!

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