6 Common Architectural Photography Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)
If you live in a big city, you’ve probably tried architectural photography at least once. Ditto if you have already visited a metropolis like London or New York. And if you’ve tried pointing your camera at buildings, you probably already know how hard it is to get cool pictures.
Architectural photography involves several challenges. Many artists think in a one-dimensional way, which results in pretty average shots. If you want to improve your architectural photography, you’ve come to the right place. We will show you the main errors in this guide and offer their solutions so that you can improve your future shots.
1. Ignore textures
Textures are one of the most overlooked aspects of photography, but keeping them in mind can add another dimension to your photos. When it comes to architectural photography, many people only think about the shape of the building, which puts them at a disadvantage.
The architecture of many cities is diverse in terms of textures. Some of the more modern buildings are sleeker and have glass, while older buildings are brick or wood.
The Solution: Think About the Look and Feel of the Building
Before you start photographing, think about the texture of the buildings you plan to photograph. Once you’ve done that, think about how you can make them appear in your photos.
If we look at brick buildings, for example, you can get closer and highlight the “feel” of bricks. You can use Macro mode on your camera and further accentuate textures in your post-production software.
2. Focus only on the outside
If you’re on the go with your camera, it’s easy to get caught up in what the architecture looks like from the outside. But by taking this narrow approach, you might miss out on several amazing shots.
Many buildings, especially older ones, have stunning interiors that are arguably more impressive than the exterior. Religious buildings are just a few examples among many others.
The solution: enter if you can
In many cases, you should be able to get inside the building. Of course, you will find some exceptions: places of residence, certain offices and areas for military use are often prohibited. If you are unsure if you are allowed to take photos, ask the guard to come out or go to the receptionist. Either way, you’ll get a definitive answer.
3. Choose Dull Angles
Are most of your architectural photographs at eye level? If so, you’ll probably want to change things up a bit. Shooting at eye level means your results will often be similar to everyone else’s; you also miss out on several cool photos that require little extra effort.
Most of the time, we choose boring angles because we don’t think before shooting. You’ve probably found yourself particularly guilty of doing this when you went out without planning some kind of story.
The solution: change the angle
If you want to take more interesting architectural photos, you need to think carefully before you start taking photos. Consider how you can find a unique angle; crouch, cross the street and even pull around the corners.
You might also consider looking for unique viewpoints. Ask if you can go on the roof of an office building, for example, or consider taking a helicopter ride if the city you live or visit allows it. You can also try using negative space to isolate unique features, such as chimneys and roofs.
4. Ignore Other Nearby Buildings
Many beginning architectural photographers focus on one building in particular and ignore the others around it. If you fall into this category, you’ll want to consider opening your mind to new ideas that will help you take more interesting photos.
Including just one building in your image can provide a simple focal point, but diversifying your content a bit can help you take your photography to the next level.
The solution: integrate several buildings into your image
If you want to try something new, use the shapes and textures of several buildings in your image. You can achieve this by going to the downtown area of any major city, where many skyscrapers are often placed next to each other.
Here are some examples of photography styles you can try:
- Capture the corners of two different buildings next to each other.
- Photograph the city skyline from a single vantage point or at a different time of day.
- Photograph styles of architecture juxtaposed next to each other.
5. Go to tourist places
If you’ve ever traveled to a new place, you’ve probably hit the sights first. This is not surprising, given that you are, well, a tourist. However, taking the same photos as everyone else won’t make you stand out.
You will probably have noticed that many photos on Instagram look identical to each other. How many times have you seen the same shot of Times Square and the Eiffel Tower?
The Solution: Explore New Places or Seek Alternative Perspectives
Once you’ve traveled the tourist circuit, try to find new photography spots that are a little more authentic. The best way to do this is to seek out real local experiences, like immersing yourself in café culture or exploring off-the-beaten-path neighborhoods.
You can also take photos of tourist spots, but try to think about how you can make those photos different.
6. Ignore Lens Compression
Any lens is better than none, but some will change the look of your photo more than others. When shooting architecture, you need to make sure buildings look as real as possible, and some lenses can prevent you from doing this.
You can fix lens compression in Lightroom, but it’s easier to choose a lens that will minimize the amount of post-production you need to do.
The solution: choose a suitable lens
The architecture is varied, so we don’t have a single solution for choosing the right lens. You will need to think about the types of photos you want to capture beforehand and choose the one that best suits your needs from your equipment.
If your architectural photography varies throughout the day, consider choosing a versatile lens. 27mm, 50mm, and 35mm, or your manufacturer’s equivalents, are all excellent choices.
Architectural photography is both fun and challenging
Taking architectural photos is about more than pointing your camera at a cool-looking building. You have to think about textures, angles, equipment to use and much more. Succeeding in your architectural photography will take a lot of practice, but these tips should at least point you in the right direction.
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