The Thrill of Architectural Photography September 1, 2015 – Posted in: Photography – Tags:

The nice thing about architectural photography is that your subjects don’t move. Or at least, they shouldn’t. So you have time to contemplate the best framing possible.

Chances are good that you have a tripod. You can raise and lower the legs, fiddle with the center column, and move the ball head back and forth a few times. Once you get everything just right, lock it down.

But that’s the tricky part, isn’t it? (No, not locking down your tripod!) Getting it just right, that is. Because if you remove all the other compositional challenges of photography, such as facial expressions and movement, you’d better nail it.

And how exactly does that happen? Well first, get your eyes on. Because that’s where it all starts.

I’m sure everyone is a bit different in this regard. In my case, I don’t even reach for the tripod until I know exactly what I want to do. I walk around my subject, examine how the lighting is highlighting the textures and shapes, and search for an interesting angle.

Once I see something I like, I pull out the camera and explore it further while looking through the viewfinder. I may change the lens if necessary. I usually take a few test shots to see how they translate on the LCD screen.

By this time, I’m sure I’ve attracted the attention of security personnel watching me on video surveillance. But that will probably only last until someone far more attractive passes by.

Now I’m ready for the tripod. I mount the camera and adjust the settings. “Oh, it’s just one of those slow moving photographers,” the security guard mumbles to himself. He looks for something more interesting to watch.

Then, just seconds later… Oh wait, the light just changed. Everything looks perfect. I better move quickly or I’ll miss the shot. Oh no, it’s changing really fast now. Darn it, my ISO is too high. Dial it down, dial it down. OK, whew, I got a few frames, just in time.

Man, this architectural photography is a roller coaster ride. (The security guard meanwhile has wandered off for a coffee.)



If you want to perfect your approach to buildings and design, take a look at Architectural Photography 3rd Edition by Adrian Schulz. Expert tips for a variety of subjects.

Because, if there’s one thing we photographers can agree on, it’s that there’s no thrill like rapidly changing light on a great subject.

Derrick Story is the photography evangelist for Rocky Nook Publishing.