To many people, taking photographs of buildings is easy. You just need a digital camera or smartphone. After all, how difficult can it be? Buildings stay obediently still and they do as they are told, no tantrums, they are what they are. Just point and click – easy ehh! I know this is not true, even professional photographers can sometimes get it wrong. It takes a strong understanding of purpose, composition, context, lighting, perspective and patience to get a great shot of a building.
The first thing that needs to be understood is the purpose of the photograph. Firstly, there seems to be two inherent styles or requirements for the photography of buildings: Architectural photography and Real Estate photography. They each have different needs because the imagery is used for different purposes. There are different opinions on the differences and what they actually are. But my thoughts are:
Usually this is mainly about style and presenting the property in the most appealing manner. Often used for marketing a venue, such as historic buildings. These photographs often need to be iconic and provide a grand appearance. A great deal of thought needs to be given to picking the best angles to draw a viewer’s eye into the image. Attention to small details like glare, wall smudges, cords, and anything unattractive needs to be carefully considered. The imagery produced is likely to be used for marketing purposes and needs to be eye catching. Quite often large historic buildings benefit from being photographed form a high angle or an aerial view.
The real key to great architectural photography is great lighting. Buildings look flat, dull and lifeless on overcast days. Sunshine brings out the colour and texture in buildings and really brings them to life. Often the best light can be achieved in the early morning or early evening when the sun is low in the sky and therefore more oblique than when it is right overhead at mid-day. Of course, it’s not always possible to achieve such lighting as it also depends on which direction the building faces and if there are any tall buildings or trees surrounding it to cast big shadows. If the building faces North it will never have the sun on it, or if it does, there me be just a few minutes at sunrise or sunset where the sun grazes over the front of the building. Another great time to photograph buildings can be at night (providing the building is well-lit) as it can make for some really dramatic architectural photos.
Internal shots provide a different challenge. Often because of restricted space, lighting or sometimes trying to get everything in shot if the room is large. Subtle changes in these factors can often make a huge difference to the effectiveness of a photograph.
Another side of architectural photography is the imagery around the design of a building. This is often relevant to new and major buildings that need to display a lot of design aspects. This may be done for the company who constructed the building, the architect or even the building owner. Sometimes to expose and display the building to its best potential requires additional lighting.
Often modern architecture will need to focus on conceptual design. Perhaps a large formwork, glass, steel, concrete and cladding where a contemporary building is being photographed. We are used to impactful views of city skylines with “stand-out” designs. Sometimes showing these buildings in their best light requires real imagination to avoid a point and click look to the final images
Whereas Architectural photography is likely to be focused on quality and style, Real Estate photography is very much focused on value, speed or lifestyle. The aim being to “sell” the property to a specific target audience. The seller is also going to focus on the cost per image. This means that a photographer is providing a very different product. It also needs to be available quickly to enable a property to be put on the market and there will often be little time for optimisation of prints. The exception to this will be high value properties, where price margins allow for high quality photography and the buyer is looking for many of the factors contained in architectural photography.
Internal photography is often a challenge to producing good, stylistic images. It often needs to encompass photography in tight spaces to imagination to show-off a room to best effect. Sometimes the “props” or furniture present a challenge.
Martin Neeves Photography has a lot of experience with both forms of building photography, but our real specialisation is in architectural photography as the images on the page show. If you want to see more examples of my work follow this link to see examples of past projects displaying both old and new buildings. There are further examples in my Aerial Photography portfolio.
Call me now on 07973 638591 or on 01455 271849 or CONTACT ME for an estimate or to discuss an architectural photography Leicester shoot.