Architecture is not only one of the toughest professions one can choose, but it is also one of the oldest professions known to man. No denying that man has always needed for shelter right from the beginning. What started as a basic requirement is now one of the many prestigious professions in the world.
An architect is always learning be it in college or out in the field. After an intensive five year course, students have countless opportunities to explore out in the field. The gates that open are exciting and challenging. From considering doing your practice, step into further studies to gain specializations, to joining private architecture setups, government sector jobs, or being an architectural journalist/photographer, the possibilities are endless.
The architectural profession is never static. Be it the search for new projects, or delivering the perfect project to clients, we are always on the move. A niche of architecture- photography is one very enthralling field seen on the rise. With the advancements in technology and social media, it has become important to not only deliver fascinating projects but also get it documented to increase the reach substantially.
An architectural photographer holds the utmost importance in capturing a visual narrative of the building for all sorts of publications. It is not a picture, but a timeless story to be seen by the world. Photographs are everlasting memories of buildings. But to recite the narrative through these images requires skills of an architect, the perspective of the building, significance of context, use of colors, textures, the perfect time of the day to capture the building in the full bloom of light and shade, requires the eye of an architect.
The five years of extensive architectural studies inculcate sensitivity towards our built environment which is not easy for a layman to understand or interpret. Architecture for people outside the field of architecture is something that looks good. But to create that good relevant to the context and the client is something an architect can only do. Also, to understand the perspective of an architect, to deliver the perfect essence and purity of form, photographers need to have that understanding. The concept, the views, the expression of the building, is what an architectural photographer with an architectural degree can understand easily, not a regular photographer.
Working meticulously to convert the virtual renders to realistic renditions, architectural photographers spend hours and days on projects, day and night waiting for perfect moments inside and outside of the building. As they say, God is in the details. These details well-taught in the hard-core architectural studies influence photography as well. A non-architect photographer might not be inquisitive enough to understand these details as perfectly as an architect can, who has closely lived through them from the very beginning.
Architectural photography is not one man’s job. The proper approach towards architectural photography is analyzing the project first, the story behind it, and elaborate understanding of the design intentions of the architect. What completes the shoot is a prior analysis of the kind of light, neighborhood, viewing angles, and the weather. An architect puts his heart and soul into projects that are built. To give it a second life, the architectural photographer has to have the ideal tuning with the architect as an architect to create marvelous creations.
Non-architects focus more on the human aspects of the building, which is important but might end up losing the relevance of the shoot to capture the dimensions of architecture. An architect can bring a second life to the projects with his intellect and understanding. We can describe architects as artists and the buildings are their inanimate arts. Realizing the hidden aspects of concepts beneath these inanimate objects of art and converting them into photographs are some skills acquired by architects as they move further into the profession.
Now how do we decide the perfect frame for a perfect picture? The toughest part of architectural photography is setting up the frame for that ideal shot. A perspective of an architect is again required here. Subjects taught us in the architectural degree such as architectural drawing, the theory of design, architectural construction, climatology, building materials, visual representation and graphics, history of architecture, etc. lay down the foundation of appreciation and recognition of architectural elements in photographs.
While construction would make us familiar with the structure, material study teaches the crux of amalgamation of textures. History of architecture evokes sensitivity towards our cultural heritage, while the design studio kick starts our mind into taking roads of design less traveled. More elective subjects like visual representations, interior design, and photography are initial trials for students to realize their passion and work towards it. Any subject taught in the five years of architecture degree carries the utmost importance in delivering any project. And the final justice is done to the project only when all these aspects can be photographed ultimately.
Being an architect changes our perspective towards life and our built environment. To expect something we know from a non-architect doesn’t only bring injustice to the project but also the person hired. For the understanding of an architect to be reflected in images, the person behind the lens needs to know this field. Architectural photography is different from regular photography. It requires more space, analysis, and time and a thorough understanding of architectural aspects. Equipment is always a secondary requirement. What creates a beautiful memory is a vision behind the photograph and not the equipment.
I hope these views make it clear on how the studies of architecture are completely relevant for pursuing architectural photography. A prerequisite requirement of basic architectural knowledge can create wonderful archival records of images for the generations to come, giving complete justice to breath-taking projects coming up in today’s world.
Here are few courses available in architectural photography
- Architectural Photography (Online Short Course)
College: London College of Communication
- Digital Architecture Photography
College: USC School of Architecture
- Architectural Photography- Film And Digital
College: USC School of Architecture
- Architectural Photography
College: University of California