If landscape is defined by nature, then a city is defined by its buildings. From ancient monuments to modern skyscrapers, architecture has always fascinated and captivated the eye of photographers all over the world. How do we get great architectural photographs that stand out from the rest? Isaiah Tan walks us through four tips for architecture photography.
1) The devil is in the details
You don’t need to be an architect to appreciate an aesthetically beautiful building, but having an understanding of the style of a building would certainly help in deciding the best way to showcase it in a photograph.
Look for the iconic and unique details of the building. From shooting majestic high angle overviews of the building to the minute intricate details of each fresco and window, there are many ways to photograph a building. If you’re serious about capturing the spirit of a building in photographs, try researching and understanding its history, the architectural style and the architect.
For example, an art deco style building usually has several distinctive characteristics – the year of construction on the front facade, lavish ornamentation, rich colours, bold geometric shapes and a symmetrical look.
2) Timing is very important
The golden hour is also usually the best time for photography. If you’re shooting the building at night, observe the artificial lighting and try to shoot just after sunset, when the sky is still bluish and not pitch black. However, even if the sky is pitch black, the dark background could make the colours of the building stand out more. It really depends on how the building is lit up and the surrounding ambient environment.
Some questions to ask yourself before taking your shot include: When does the sunlight highlight a particular area of the facade? Is there a nice flare that you can use at a certain angle to capture the moment? Would the building look more impressive by night? Where do the shadows fall? Are there abstract patterns and lines you could use to add depth?
A photographer with a schedule and a plan maximises his time and creates more opportunities for spectacular shots.
3) Be creatively observant
Look for elements that constitute a nice foreground or background. Access buildings across the street to get a different view. Use greenery, windows or other buildings to frame the shot. Adding just a little creativity makes your shot stand out from the others, and helps express your unique perspective of the building.
4) There is often beauty in symmetry
Most buildings are symmetrical, some more than others. Look for reflections on water or other buildings that would help your composition. Look for curves, lines and corners that might be distinctive features of the building. Explore, discover and appreciate what the architect has created and express the beauty of the building in your own personal way through photography.
A professional videographer with a love for photography, Isaiah runs a video production company, a wedding video/photo business, as well as a small bar in Singapore. He enjoys experimenting with different photographic techniques and always wants to learn and discover more of the world around him.