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About the Profession of Architectural Photography

Updated on September 8, 2010

First of all, architecture is a rewarding subject for photography. Buildings stand still, they do not  need to be directed, and they are available both day and night. Upon first glance, it might seem that selecting how to depict a building is a simple process. But an architectural photographer is challenged with showing an ordinary, everyday building (object) in such a way that its shapes and structures appear fresh and interesting.

We may pass an office building daily without noticing anything special about it. We may use a railroad station for the usual reason. Manufacturing facilities and warehouses do not raise expectations of artistic value. In all of these cases, the architectural photographer’s objective is to show those things that would ordinarily go unnoticed. This may happen by emphasizing a geometric shape so that the reduction to the essential brings out its own aesthetic beauty – something that image so that a seemingly barren subject takes on a new quality. Yet in the quest to make an image more interesting, it becomes important to avoid too many effects or to distract from the actual subject at hand.

Of course, it is fun to try out and practice new techniques and effects. This is a normal process when trying to find one’s own style. Early on, technical expertise and finesse may take the front seat. But then again, the subject is even more important—a great building usually also leads to a great picture. For this reason, photographing architecture by world famous architects often brings lucky breaks to those just starting out. The spectacular architecture is perfectly suited for those who seek technical perfection, the option to explore lighting and various angles of view. Still there is a difference to pictures taken from a beginning photographer and those taken by an experienced photographer. It is a slow process which often leads to a personal style that is distinct to that photographer. Technique is important, but it certainly is not everything. There is a great deal of instinct and intuition involved as well.


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