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An Introduction To Architectural Photography

There’s no denying that nature is full of beauty worth photographing. And many professionals make their living doing just that. But not all beauty is contained within nature. The work of man can be towering, impressive, awe-inspiring, and worthy of photographing. That is where architectural photography comes into play.

Architectural photography is a niche of photography with a subject matter that focuses on buildings and other human-made structures. It is not confined to a specific period or architectural style. The only real requirements are that the result is aesthetically pleasing and that architecture is involved. In this way, it is no different than any other specific niche of photography.

A Brief History

Many would consider architectural photography to be the oldest form of photography. The earliest surviving permanent photograph was taken between 1826 and 1827. Joseph Nicephore Niepce in France captured it. The picture is the view of several buildings from within the Niepce estate.

Architecture has been the subject of many well-known photographers over the year. Humankind has always had an appreciation for architecture and the role that these structures play in various cultures. In the worst cases, the structure may one day fail, but there is hope that the memory will remain in the photograph.

The complexity of architectural photography evolved alongside that of other photography niches during the 20th century. Cameras were becoming more capable, and photographers were discovering new ways to capture their subjects. Before the 20th century came to an end, architects were putting to hire the best architectural photographers to capture their work in the best light possible.

Subjects And Techniques

Most architectural subjects can be placed into one of two categories: modern or old. Though, in reality, it’s not always so easy to establish the difference. To some, anything built before the 20th century could be considered old architecture. Others might push that lining back even further.
The significant difference between these subject types isn’t necessarily their age, but simply the complexity and style of their design. Modern architecture provides more opportunities for experimental and abstract photography techniques. Meanwhile, older buildings seem to look best when photographed simply and straightforwardly.

The decision must be made whether or not the architecture should be framed with its surroundings. This is known as putting the architecture into context. Framing a building with its surroundings will require a wider shot and can detract focus from the actual subject. It often depends on the message that the photographer is trying to convey with the image.

Lighting can be tough to master because it’s impossible to change the position of the building or to have a significant influence over the lighting. The lighting typically comes from the sun, the moon, or any external lights that already exists. Architectural photographers rarely have the funds to light the building themselves. Nonetheless, they must find the best times and best angles to capture the lighting that they desire.

Whether it’s the lighting or nature itself, there are some obstacles faced by architectural photographers. Somehow, they always seem to capture their subject matter in incredible ways. The next time that you see a photograph of a building take the time to stop, appreciate the image, and consider the difficulty the photographer faced in securing that picture.


There are many reasons to hire a photographer to shoot the interior and exterior of your building.  Most of the time I work with Real Estate Agents to get nice photos of their home listings to help better sell the house.  Commercial developers use images in their marketing collateral to show the size, amenities, and aesthetic of their building and office spaces to rent out to new customers.  There are other reasons to develop great pictures of your building.  Whatever the reason, I am happy to help.  Give me a call to do a photo shoot, or check out my other photography services here.

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