What I look for in Architectural Photography
I'll start from the beginning when I was interested in architecture from when I was in secondary school and it prompted me to think about more than just how a building looks its more like how it fits with its surroundings and the function of the building. Now, as a student at the University of Huddersfield, I am fortunate enough to have guest speakers from all corners of photography. One of these speakers was Dan Hopkinson, an architectural photographer based in the north of England, this was a big interest for me as a lot of the speakers up till this point came from the fashion and editorial side of photography which didn't really resinate with me personally. Dan gave examples of his work which I found quite beautiful in their composition and simplicity and this is something which i now look for when creating my images.
Do you need a Tilt-Shift lens?
The first aspect I look for in architectural photography is ensuring the horizontals and verticals are parallel with one another. This occurs when the camera has been tilted back which causes converging verticals which is not what we want. Ways around this are through whats called a 'tilt-shift' lens which allows the perspective of the camera to be changed without needing to tilt the camera back causing converging verticals.
Here the image of the left has been left unedited to allow you to see the effect tilting the camera back has on the perspective of the sensor through the lens. The image on the right is the processed RAW file that has been distorted in photoshop and not with a tilt-shift lens however the outcome is the same.
Another point that should be incorporated into architectural photography for me is having another subject within the image, this can really help to make the buildings appear much warmer and relatable for the viewer. In the above photo here there is a man walking past which helps to portray that purpose of the area the building is in and also helps to give a sense of scale the image.
Is it Relatable?
This image I took back in March 2020 in one of my favourites, the construction workers walking past gives great contextual information for the viewer and also gives a sense of scale the for the work going on in the background. People could argue that the image is a little busy but this is typically the case for vertical architecture shots. the human aspect within this image also help to make the steel and concrete structures appear a little less cold and uninviting.
In contrast this image makes the apartments seem lifeless as though inhospitable. to help create a warmer image there could be people sitting on various balcony's reading and a couple having some friends over chatting outside. These are the subtle differences that help create good architectural photographs for clients.
Having an Eye for Detail
Lastly is having shots focusing on the detail within the construction. Wide shots are great for giving context the client and other viewers however, tightening the perspective helps bring the viewer into the shot and highlights specific aspects that the architect would want to be shown off through images. For shots like this I used a 135mm to help me get close while being far away. There is however a lot of compression with a lens like this which distorts the view making which can make it appear flat and textureless.
In conclusion, having a variety of both wide and close shots helps to expand the portfolio of images you are creating and also to make the building, whether its a home or workplace, relatable and welcoming. Having a tilt-shift lens helps to streamline the post-production process but it isn't an essential piece of kit especially given how expensive they can be. Perhaps further into my career as an architectural photographer I will make the purchase but as it stands I need the versatility of a zoom lens to help expand my portfolio.
This has been my first of hopefully many blog posts of me giving my opinions on things that interest me in photography and what goes through the mind of a photography student.