10 Tips for Architectural Photography

From our judge James O. Davies, Head of Photography at Historic England.

10 Tips for Architectural Photography

You’ll need to read his article to see the example images, but here are his tips, in brief:

1. Before taking a picture, walk all the way round the building, acquaint yourself with the site.
2. Decide exactly what you want to say about the building, what it is you want to communicate through the photograph.
3. Use the ambient light and time your photograph accordingly. Watch how a building responds by the way light changes from dawn till nightfall.
4. Try to keep the composition simple. Try not to over complicate the frame. Remove unwanted clutter and remove superfluous items.
5. Look for even illumination across an elevation and beware the elevation that’s half in shadow. Try to shoot either early morning or late evening when the the light is more sympathetic.
6. If shooting whole elevations, don’t truncate the building, step back, use space and let the building breathe.
7. Photographs don’t always have to taken from eye level, look for elevation, this will give a better sense of proportion.
8. Keep looking. Your initial ideas and viewpoint may well encompass everything you want to say, but don’t rely on it. By changing position and watching how the light changes other shots may present themselves.
9. Be persistent. Successful photographs take time, so slow down and never rush a photograph. If the conditions are against you don’t succumb to the act of taking the image, return the next day, the next week; the building and architect deserve the best.
10. Shoot RAW files, use a prime aperture, use a tripod and endeavour to keep verticals true. Use your eyes and feet to compose the image before setting up the camera.

© James O. Davies 2015

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