Professionally photographing architecture and interiors is challenging; maybe that’s why there are fewer architectural photographers. With no qualifications to speak of when I began shooting, my creativity wasn’t stifled by rules and constraints. Taking a path of reckless abandon, I destroyed many well appointed rooms with my ‘keen eye.’ Clean lines were mercilessly slaughtered as I forged on, blissfully unaware of how poorly I was representing such beautiful spaces. Though I’m not ashamed of these misdemeanours, I vow to keep my verticals straight from this point on.
If you’re new to shooting architecture, here are some basic guidelines that I believe will make the journey a bit smoother.
- Scout Now, Shoot Later – Always scout the location before shooting. Since you can’t move your subject, be prepared. During the site inspection explore every potential frame so you can visualize your shoot and find creative perspectives within the space. Knowing when the ambient light is best will result in more high quality images. You can always add light to your shot, but use off-camera flash to enhance the available light, not as the main light source. The images will be more natural looking. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule and experimenting with off-camera flash is a great way to find out what works for your own shooting style.
- Keep it Steady – Use a tripod. It might not be sexy but who are you trying to impress? It’s an empty room. Fiddling with a tripod can feel tedious and you’ll work for the proper elevations but the end result is worth the extra 10 seconds of adjustment. Sharp images and straight lines are your reward. Post editing software does a fine job of correcting converging lines, but there is something satisfying about getting it right in camera.
- Details and Styling – Removing a towel from an oven handle is hell of a lot easier on site than it is in post production. Take away any visual information that clutters your shot, including furniture. It’s not always an easy task, but the extra effort will make a huge difference to the final edit. Decorative objects and small furnishings can be great, just try to tone it down. Remember, your goal is to showcase the space as whole, so too many items can detract from that.