Architecture Photography Techniques For Beginners

If you are interested in photography, then you may be wondering what you should try photographing. Perhaps you have tried natural photography, portraits and landscape images. What you may not have done before is architectural photography.

Architecture Photography Techniques For Beginners

Architecture is one of the most beautiful still life things that you can take pictures of. Whether it is grand, old buildings, or just simple life within a cityscape to show the history and culture of a city. 

But, if you have never tried architecture photography before, you may be unsure where to start, how to frame your images, how to utilize lighting and so much more. In this guide, we can help you with all of the tricks and techniques of this style of photography(see also: Waterfall Photography Techniques For Beginners).

What Is Architecture Photography?

Architecture photography is the process of taking photographs of buildings and structures. 

This type of photography is important as it can tell a story, give insight into the history and culture of the location, and provides those viewing the image with an idea and understanding of the buildings despite not actually visiting.

It gives people an idea of what these buildings look like, and people can enjoy the beauty of the architecture of a city especially if they never have the opportunity to see it in real life.

Great architectural photography can tell a story, and go beyond the image itself. It can communicate the building itself, and its relationship with space, time, culture, and concept.

Architecture Photography For Beginners

Architecture photography is all about the design, construction and engineering of beautiful manmade structures and buildings.

Of course, you can simply point your camera at a structure to take a picture, but there is so much more to architecture photography than that. 

You have to consider the composition of your images, the equipment you use, the lighting, details, angles, landscape, and more.

Equipment To Use

The first thing to consider is the equipment that you are going to use. The right equipment can ensure that you get the perfect shot that really speaks to an audience about the architecture.

If you are a beginner, then a DSLR camera is probably going to be your best option. This can provide you with all of the settings and modes you need to play around with your images. 

You may also need a standard camera lens or prime lens to help you capture detail in your shots, whether you are shooting interior or exterior shots.

You may also want to choose a specialty lens to help you play with perspective and depth in your images. For instance, a wide-angle lens can capture all of the exterior of a building. 

Then, you should invest in a tripod. For architecture photography, you will need a steady camera. A tripod can help you if you are planning on creating a long exposure shot, and will give you sharper, crisper images in the long run. 

You also have to think about using a flash, especially if taking photographs of the interior details of a building. Some older architectural structures have incredible design details inside, so it is worth capturing them in all of their glory with a flash. 

Finally, think about where you are going to take the shot from. Perhaps you want to take it from ground level for a low-angle shot, but you could try using ladders or the rooftops of buildings to capture the right perspective you are looking for. 

Camera Options

As a beginner, you may be unsure what camera to use. If you are very new to photography, then you can try using your smartphone camera at first.

Smartphone devices have exceptional camera capabilities these days, so if you want to play around with the composition and style of your images, then this is a great place to start.

However, we do recommend using a digital camera such as a DSLR, as this can give you more freedom to play around with the settings and try different techniques.

For instance, you can shoot with settings that alter the shutter speed, exposure and ISO of your images to create truly unique and interesting images. 

Styles Of Architecture Photography

Once you have your equipment and camera ready, you need to think about what type of architecture photography you want to try. There are two main types of architecture photography; these are interior shots and exterior shots.

Interior architecture photography is what is inside of the structure. This is often the more complicated of the two styles as you have to use lighting well to capture what you want to portray.

Some older buildings may only have natural lighting through windows, so you will have to supplement this with flash and light boxes to ensure what you want to photograph is illuminated. 

Exterior architecture photography is much simpler. It is the process of photographing the outside part of a structure or building. You can utilize the natural light of the day, or the bright lights of a cityscape to illuminate the building itself. 

As you are using natural light, you have to consider the conditions in which you are photographing the structure as this can drastically change the result of your image. For instance, if you want a detailed image, then take a photo on a bright, sunny day. 

But, if you want a moodier, more sultry image, then you can try photographing on a cloudy day or just at sunset. 

Taking The Shot

When you are ready to start photographing, there are a few steps to take. 

The first step is to research the structure you want to photograph. It may have a history or a story to tell and you can portray this in your image.

Try researching the architect and designer to see what they were trying to say when building this structure. Think about when it was built, and what the city or town around it was like. 

Then, you need to visit the structure and get an idea of what kind of image you want to take. Have a look at what the eye is naturally drawn to. 

For instance, if you are taking a photograph of the Notre Dame in Paris, you may naturally be drawn to the two bell towers at first.

You may want to take a photograph from this side, and use a low angle to make them appear mightier and taller, and draw the eye upwards to the sky with perspective. 

Whatever you are noticing may need to be the focus of your photograph. You can zoom in on the details of the subject of your image, and look for inspiration and details that could portray the architecture as a whole. 

You may also want to zoom out on the building to show the landscape around it.

There could be a wider story to be told, with trees and greenery around the building, or perhaps show the building within its surroundings because there is a contrast between them. 

When you are ready to shoot, don’t just shoot from one angle. Try various sides of the building, different angles and positions to show various aspects of the structure. You can also try shooting at different points during the day or during different conditions. 

Architecture Photography Tips & Techniques

Architecture Photography Techniques For Beginners

Choose A Vantage Point 

Choosing where you take the image from can change the entire photograph. Having a good vantage point can help you play with perspective and angles. 

Prioritize Lighting

Lighting is everything. Great lighting should be your priority, and it can illustrate the size of a building, the shape of the building, and you can play around with shadows and highlight specific aspects of the structure. 

Shoot In Various Weather Conditions 

We have mentioned this before, but shoot your images in various different weather conditions and at different times throughout the day. This can help you use colors and lighting to portray the building.

It also provides a fuller story of the building and its relationship with its own environment and surroundings. 

Try Long Exposure

Long exposures are a great way to demonstrate the life that goes on every day around the structure, but the structure remains the same and in focus. 

Focus On Patterns

Some buildings may have patterns and symmetry that you can use in your images. This can help emphasize the features of the building or create linear interest that draws the eye into the image. 

Zoom In On The Details

Focusing on the details can add interest and show off the intricate details of the design of the building. You could reveal something unknown or something that has gone unnoticed within a building’s structure with your image. 

Use People

While it is architectural photography, don’t be afraid of using people in your images. These structures would not exist without people and their need for it.

Record the presence around the building as it creates a more ‘real-time’ and realistic view of the building and how it exists in the space. 

Final Thoughts 

With our guidance, tips and tricks, you can take spectacular photographs of architecture in no time. This article is meant to act as a guide to get you acquainted with architectural photography, so just have some fun with it.

Try out different angles and settings on your camera until you get an image that truly speaks to you and attracts the eye.

Laura McNeill
Scroll to Top