Architecture photography and the artistic eye
Good architecture photography doesn’t just happen. It requires planning, good equipment and an artistic eye.
For the planning, I need to be aware of the style of building(s) that the architect/client wishes to have photographed, which will lead to ideas on the type of images I’ll aim to get. This goes hand-in-hand with discussing the client’s desired outcomes and the type of photograph they wish to get from the shoot.
Planning also requires being aware of the surrounding area to the building. For exterior photos the environment around the building will determine how much of it I can see from any angle and what trees or other plants and buildings may be in the background. Google Street View plays a part in that.
The environment also plays a part in thinking about interior photographs – what will be visible outside the windows? Trees? Other buildings? Which way is North – (i.e. which sides of the building won’t have direct sunlight)?
The time of year and time of day for the shoot will feed into this for lighting – natural lighting wherever possible, of course – and for environmental factors like leaves on trees or plants in gardens.
Closer to the shoot, an awareness of the weather becomes essential – a rainy day, with drops on the windows will lend a completely different feel to photographs than sunshine streaming through the panes. Having that in my mind allows me to adjust to the circumstances, and not just march in to take a stock set of photographs regardless of conditions.
For equipment, a tripod and a remote trigger are essential to minimise camera shake, and get as much as possible perfect in camera before I get back to post-processing. A simple example: is the image level – you’d be surprised by how many architectural (and landscape, but that’s a different topic) photographs are slightly off level. I see it instantly and though many clients may not pick it out, they’ll notice even if they can’t put their finger on why the photo isn’t quite right.
And finally, the thing that can’t be planned for or bought – an artistic eye. This is what sets a great image apart from a good image. Curves, proportions, balance, tension, composition. That’s the final element that goes into my creative architecture photography.
About the photographer
Paul Ligas is a professional commercial photographer based in Herefordshire, working across Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and the UK. Follow on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and connect on LinkedIn.