Tips for Building Your Architectural Photography Skills

Whether you’re on a city break or your lunch break, you’ll never be too far away from interesting, intriguing or inspiring architecture. Even the most mundane buildings can be beautiful from the right angle.

The Architecture category in CEWE’s Our World is Beautiful photography competition has received hundreds of excellent entries, taken in all corners of the globe by amateur and professional photographers alike. With just six weeks left until this year’s competition closes, you don’t have long left to join them in submitting your best shots.

With this in mind, we’ve put together a simple guide to architectural photography to help you capture the environment around you, whether that’s the urban sprawl of the city or the intricate details of the interior of your favourite building. Follow these tips and you could soon be capturing your own impressive images for our competition – just in time to be in with a chance of winning!

Try going monochrome

Architectural photography places more of an emphasis on form and structure, which is why many of these photos work well in black and white. Look for strong contrasts that will work well in monochrome, such as white buildings against blue skies, or reflective windows within darker surroundings.

If possible, shoot in RAW and convert the image to black and white in post-production. RAW images contain all of the information your camera can capture, giving you the opportunity to fix any harsh highlights and bring out detail in the shadows.

Stairs

Daddy Long Legs – Alan Humphries

Go inside

Many buildings are more interesting from the inside, so don’t just focus on the exterior. Get a different perspective by heading inside. Often this gives more of an insight into how the building works and is used, which can add another dimension to your photographs.

A mixture of both exterior and interior shots can really tell the story of a place, but make sure you check if photography is allowed before you start snapping. Some buildings have restrictions on flash photography, using a tripod, or photography in general, so don’t get caught out.

Inside a clock tower

Musée d’Orsay Clock – Sophie Farmer

Look up

Similarly, don’t just shoot straight on. Looking up often reveals a more compelling angle, and in some places (particularly churches and other religious buildings) the ceilings can often be the most beautiful and intricately detailed features.

Architecture details

Palazzo Sciarra – Perry Wunderlich

In many ways, architectural photography gives you great freedom, as many of the best examples are more abstract. You don’t need to fit the entire building into your frame – instead, look for interesting areas of symmetry, and don’t worry about whether the building is recognisable from your shot.

Architecture

Krankhaus Köln – Daniel Krebs

Seek colour and texture

Look out for eye-catching colours and textures to add depth to your images. The appearance of many buildings will vary throughout the day as the light changes – visit a building you love at different times to give your photographs a different look and feel.

Underground station Stockholm

Stockholm Underground – Ron Tear

Focus on the details

Often the beauty of a building is in its details. Whether old or new, all buildings have their own details which make them unique. Get up close to these details to capture more of the character of a piece of architecture, and to highlight the craftsmanship and artistry that went into its construction.

Architecture details

Spirit of Detail – Matej Sokol

Pick out contrast

Many buildings are excellent examples of symmetry, and picking out contrast can enhance this symmetry within your image. Look for strong lines too: vertical, horizontal or diagonal, they will draw the eye into the picture, or in some cases enhance the abstract effect of your photo.

Two CCTV cameras

Widze wszystko (I See Everything) – Yevhen Haloshyn

Don’t overlook the everyday

You don’t have to be exploring a new city to find interesting and exciting buildings to photograph. Don’t overlook the architecture around you on a daily basis. Train stations, libraries, offices, shops and even your own home are all good places to practice your architectural photography skills and capture a different side to the place that you live.

Library

Das weisse Haus (The White House) – Pascal Kobler

“Look up, look down, notice more.”

Esther Johnson has had two of her photos featured in our monthly round ups of our favourite entries from UK photographers, both of which were in the Architecture category. Here she shares the story behind each photo, and provides an insight into her photographic philosophy.

“I like to live life in a very mindful way, noticing the beauty around us and taking opportunities to connect with and capture it wherever I can.”

Wind down

W I N D : D O W N

“I do love a spiral staircase for an arty and hypnotic photo! These stairs are in our tallest building at work. I’d set out on the climb intending to get a shot of the city out of the top window, but the excitement of the potential view back down the staircase started building at the third floor and I almost hurled myself up the next six floors in a desperate rush to capture it!

“Getting the angle just right so that the stairs formed perfectly straight lines was a delicate balance and I used Snapseed to pull out the richness of the colour and reflections.”

Urban Clouds

U R B A N : C L O U D S

“This beautiful building of sky was a chance encounter as I looked up from shooting a freshly painted yellow line on the road (the colour juxtaposition against the tarmac was incredible)…but then this happened! It quite literally took my breath away and I heard my partner laughing behind me as he’d already spotted it whilst I was fixated on the floor – it was one of those walks where you’re inundated with beauty and are grateful for a powerful iPhone camera!

“I love how you can hardly tell where the building ends and the sky begins. I played with the light balance a little in Snapseed and wrestled with editing out or keeping in the little street light…but it made the cut in the end as I liked how it grounded the image.”

If these photographs have inspired you to capture your own entries for Our World is Beautiful, or you’re keen to put these tips into action, don’t delay! The competition ends on the 30th June, and the overall winner will be the lucky recipient of a once in a lifetime holiday, so what are you waiting for?

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