”Architectural photography requires not only photography techniques, but architectural senses.” Having a deep understanding of architecture may not be a prerequisite in taking stunning architectural photographs, but it certainly helps. Architecture graduate and professional photographer Nguyen Thai Thach shares his love for architecture and architecture photography.
As a graduate in architecture, it's little wonder why Nguyen Thai Thach opted to specialise in architecture photography. He believes strongly that a photographer needs to understand architecture to become an architectural photographer.
In this interview we ask him about his work and the philosophy behind his photography.
1. Vietnam is one of the most rapidly developing countries in the world. Did the number of new skyscrapers and developments inspire you? If so, in what way?
Actually, I like to shoot cityscapes. This is why I travelled to some of the most crowded cities in Asia – Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Bangkok. Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh are developing rapidly but they are incomplete in terms of infrastructure.
2. In your travels around the world, where have you experienced the most interesting skyscraper architecture?
I have not travelled much. I have only visited Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Bangkok. I’m planning to visit Dubai this winter.
I would say Hong Kong is an incredible city of skyscrapers. The buildings have a small base, built up super high, and crowded together in a high-density area.
3. Do you have any advice for someone starting out with architectural photography?
Anyone starting out with architectural photography needs to learn to use an ultra-wide angle lens effectively. They need to learn more about architecture and read more architectural books and magazines.
4. What were some of the most difficult architectural shoots you have done? Why?
I haven’t had noticeable difficulties when shooting architecture. However, some building sites are confusing with a lot of electrical wires. It takes me a while to erase them during post-processing.
5. You enjoy taking a day and night version at certain places. Which one would have more impact and why do you do this?
To me, day and night architectural shots have the same impact. The day version expresses shape, material and external space; while the night version expresses the internal space and the lighting of the architecture.
6. Unlike a lot of architectural photographers, you use a fish-eye lens for buildings some of the time. Why do you do this and what are you trying to achieve?
I don’t usually use fish-eye lenses to shoot architectural photos. However, when I do, it is just to provide an optional creative and fun view for the architecture.
7. What is your essential equipment for architectural photography? Why?
I ensure I bring along a tripod, an ultra-wide lens and a set of external lighting for shooting indoors. A tilt-shift lens is also highly recommended.
8. Could you share some tips and tricks for better architectural photography?
Composition is extremely important. Don’t clutter up the photograph. Try to have only 2 or less points of interest or "gathering points".
I like to keep the key point of the building to 1/3 left or right according to the Rule of Thirds.
Mind the gathering points.
Fondly known as Thien Thach, a nickname he has had for almost a decade, Nguyen Thai Thach started out as a specialist in physics and architecture. His in-depth knowledge of architecture and design manifests in his artful photographs in landscape and architecture, often bringing out the true beauty of his subjects with a unique perspective. He has been a photographer since 2010 and took on a specialty in architecture photography in 2014. He now runs his own photography company, Thien Thach Photography.