Architecture and interiors is something that envelops us every day, thus making it a very popular subject among both amateur and professional photographers. It’s a broad subject, which encompasses everything, from skyscrapers to farm houses. Virtually anywhere we go, we’re surrounded by some sort of architectural style almost on a daily basis. And it is because of this that it should come as no surprise that it’s such a popular model for photographers.
Despite being diverse, there are a few principles and techniques which can be applied to most situations. Keeping them in mind, during your sessions, will help you to think more carefully about your structure, framing, composition and even lighting.
With practice, however, it will become like second nature and help you develop your eye for architecture photography. This will give you the ability to shoot your subjects in a more interesting way, thus avoiding commonly repeated compositions and will inject more personality into your photographs.
When photographing older architecture, a more straightforward and simple composition is what usually works best. This allows the photography to showcase the natural beauty and elegance of the building, which usually makes the picture much better. It usually helps to include some of the surrounding scenery to help give the entire picture more context and makes it feel less cramped, and freer.
What will make the experience ever better is researching the reasons behind that piece of architecture and find out why it exists. You’ll be surprised how a little bit of information can change your perspective and even fuel inspiration. Ask a local or even a guide to point out small interesting aspects that would have otherwise gone unnoticed by the general public and then makes that your focus.
Contemporary Interiors and Architecture
While photographing modern architecture however, you can get away with using a much more modern style. Experimental approaches with wide angle lenses to produce extreme perspective, photographing the buildings and interiors from rather unusual angles all give away to a more modern and abstract method. Also since modern buildings are more often than not squeezed closed to one another, you can crop in tightly on the building and not make the photo feel unnatural.
Good Architecture speaks of itself, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes a building is just overall fantastic but you as the photographer struggle to find an area to shoot it from. On the other a building you pass every day without even giving it a second glance, can suddenly become interesting. Give it time, and walk around, point your camera different ways at it and forget about the people around you and you’ll find it!
PUT YOUR ARCHITECTURE IN FOCUS... OR DON'T
Sometimes a question arises, whether or not to show your building’s surroundings, and it all depends on the situation or the message you want to convey to your audience. Ask yourself the question, will putting the building in context add to or detract from the photograph??
It all depends on what one wants to convey in the image it could be an emotion,feeling or just the interiors or exterior of the building like the way it is.
Lighting is a crucial part of any type of photography but in architectural it shows us a way to give perspective to an image. While we have no say over the position and orientation of a building, and lighting something that big is usually out of the question and not to mention expensive. Instead we have to make do with whatever the sun provides us with.
For most architecture photos, side lighting usually produces the best results. It provides plenty of illumination and also casts long and very interesting shadows across the face of the building which makes its surface details stand out and gives the structure a more 3D look.
Window light diffused on the other hand gives a beautiful effect when it comes to interior photography. Simply because it creates a very soft and moody feel to the image.
When a building is lit from the back,the best way to deal with this kind of lighting is to either crop out the sky and increase the exposure to help rescue some of the detail or use the backlighting to your advantage and photography the building as a silhouette.
SHOOT DURING THE NIGHT
Everything somehow manages to come alive at night, even the most boring architecture - as a matter of fact, many modern buildings and cities are designed specifically with darkness of night time in mind.
Especially because, after dark these buildings are lit by dozens and dozens of lights which bring colour and vibrancy, and cast beautiful shadows all across the face of the building?
However, when shooting at night make sure to use a tripod and set your camera to its lowest possible ISO setting to keep digital noise to a minimum.
REDUCE DISTORTION BY CHANGING YOUR LENS
If you shoot a building from to close, it can leave the walls looking extremely distorted, as the building is bulging outwards. But while this can be a very interesting effect to play with, most of the times, we want to reduce this so that it doesn’t become the star figure in your image.
However, by using a longer lens, such as a telephoto lens and photographing the building in your mind from further away, it will reduce you chance of a distorted walls. Instead, you will find the building walls and lines appear an acceptable level of straight.
You can also use the telephoto lens to help you create some great abstract effects, by changing the focal length. This will allow you to flatten the perspective and make the lines of the building appear parallel to each other, giving the photograph a more surreal feel.
PICK OUT INTERESTING DETAILS
As I said before, most architecture or interiors is covered with small details that only a few people may know about. Ask around and then make that detail your prime focus – from ornate windows to decorative cornices.
Be on the Lookout and pay sharp attention to these details and magnify in tightly on them for a more intimate photography that has the ability to convey both the character and personality of the building and the interiors.
USE THE WEATHER TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
Unlike most forms of photography, the weather can play a very important part in architectural photography. If used well, it can be a very interesting ally and may allow you to get different types of shoots according to the what your weather man/woman says.
A church on a clear sky less day may strike a viewer as pleasant but it may be a bit bland for most photographers, but revisiting when there’s a storm brewing or even a on a foggy day or during the golden hours of the day, and the results can be much more intriguing. By revisiting and shooting the same building in various weather conditions and at different times of the day, photographers can produce a beautiful portfolio of shots.
IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT BUILDINGS
Stop thinking laterally and think outside the box,a clichés though when shooting architecture or interiors, it’s very easy for your mind to get stuck and equal architecture to buildings only. But this far from the truth and in fact most manmade structures come under the architectural portfolio – from bridges, towers, windmills, monuments, and even lamp-posts.
Interesting images can be made by just training the eyes and bringing some emotions to it.