Tips for Architectural Photography

Approaches Interplay with Flexibility and Experimentation

Since architecture is inanimate, photographers usually are afforded the time and opportunity to take a methodical approach by controlling several factors in order to capture the perfect photograph. You don’t have to worry about motion, and you can experiment with a variety of eye catching view points, optics, lighting and shutter speeds. Preparation and experimentation are key.

Night photography - Architectural Photography

Tips for Architectural Photography


Decide how much environmental context is needed, an important consideration when choosing which lens best suits your purpose. After considering whether to include background and foreground elements, decide on your focal point. Look for natural frames or visual elements that will draw the viewer into the scene. If you want to show the relative size of the building, you may want to include a visual element such as a person. People can also provide information on how the building is used. Look for a balance between positive and negative space. Experiment taking photographs from a variety of perspectives. If you are looking to achieve an accurate representation, maintain symmetry by ensuring all lines are straight.


It is important to consider if your goal is to create an impression or an exact representation when selecting your lens. Fish eye lenses provide a circular perspective, which can be used to provide a surreal perspective, though not very accurate. A wide angle lens is often used to capture a wide contextual field, but beware of converging lines, which are generally undesirable in architectural photography. When looking for an accurate representation, a direct approach may be best. You can focus on interesting patterns by using a telephoto lens to compress the perspective. Some of the most interesting parts of a structure are best captured in isolation.

Dusk photography - Architectural photography


Stabilizing your camera is important during this experimentation. A tripod allows your camera to remain stable while allowing for time to experiment with light, angles, shutter speed and aperture. If your tripod does not include a level, you can purchase an inexpensive bubble level to ensure your shots are straight. There are also software leveling programs that can be used during the editing phase. Using a longer shutter speed leaves your shutter open in order to get enough light into your camera on overcast, evening, night or other low light situations. A remote control release prevents movement. Consider using a low ISO to reduce noise and a small aperture to eliminate lens errors.


When possible, take pictures from a variety of different view points, angles and times of day. The basic building blocks of any good photograph involve the interplay between light and shadow. Take into consideration the mood you are trying to convey. It is important to balance the exposure between the building and the sky in order to achieve a dynamic representation. If you want to focus on accentuating patterns and textures, look for direct sunlight early or late in the day. When the sky is brighter, you may want to consider using a polarizing filter to darken the sky. Shadows can add elements of interest or they can be a distraction. You should, however, be cognizant of any light reflections, particularly when photographing glass buildings or windows. A polarizing filter can also help minimize or eliminate this distraction. Some buildings may appear more flattering in warmer light created during sunrise and sunset. Deep blue or orange skies can also be an interesting contrast for buildings with exterior lights. Some buildings are more interesting at night. Don’t be afraid of inclement weather. It can yield some unusual and unique photographs. Though a methodical approach and well planned purpose are crucial to your planning, incorporate flexibility and experimentation to achieve truly stunning and breathtaking photographs!


Sunset - Shootfactory Architectural photography