architecture · Research

Architectural photography

After reflecting on my images it is evident that the weakest in quality and in terms of driving the narrative are the architectural images. Before heading back out with the camera I have done some research into established architectural photographers and how they have used lighting, editing and composition to make their images striking.

A lot of modern architectural photography focuses on the architectural beauty of the infrastructure.

Heydar Aliyev Centre, Baku Azerbaijan - Iwan Baan
Heydar Aliyev Centre, Baku Azerbaijan – Iwan Baan

Such as this image by Iwan Baan. The composition and lighting have been thoughfully considered but the most striking part of the image is the buildings modern curves and contrasting striking edges. This building provides the interesting content in the image.

The buildings I am photographing are around a century old and whilst they are beautifully striking to the eye when captured on camera their beauty is lost behind the 2D wall and bland brick colour.

One technique that Iwan Baan uses that may be helpful in my photography is the use of negative space.

Floating School in Africa - Iwan Baan
Floating School in Africa – Iwan Baan

This image would be relatively bland if it had been taken as a close up. We would be able to see the same infrastructure and location but it would loose its interesting appeal. The use of the rule of thirds and use of negative space add interesting elements to the image. Negative space allows us to appreciate the location, it provides an interesting colour contrast and leaves more room for admiring the infrastructure of the building.

When re-shooting my architectural photography I will experiment with negative space to make the buildings less obtrusive in the image.

Berenice Abbott photography
Berenice Abbott

I feel like this image by Berenice Abbott is as close to the composition I tried to capture as there is. The image is shot so that the majority of the building can be seen and covers the foreground and background of the image. I think it is composed nicely but is only as interesting as it is because of the use of black and white which clearly gives context to the image and adds to the narrative.

As my style of photography is more documentary I want to capture the buildings as they would be seen to the naked eye as much as possible. Therefore I wouldn’t consider shooting in black and white and think the colour in my current architectural photography adds to the image.

One way to make the images more interesting is to shoot close up on a certain part of the building.

Eugene Atget photography
Eugene Atget
Phyllis Dearborn photography
Phyllis Dearborn

These images are examples of using a close up shot of the building to portray the entire building. From the worn down look of the window or the broken texture of Eugene Atget’s image it implies to the audience that the rest of the building is the same. This means you can convey that the building is old and worn, or modern and beautiful but make it more interesting to the eye by focusing in on just one section.





Preparation Plant Winters, Mijin, Winterslag - Bernd and Hilla Becher
Preparation Plant Winters, Mijin, Winterslag – Bernd and Hilla Becher

In images where the entire building is shown the building is usually the centre focus of the image. This makes sure that the eye is drawn straight to the building, the entire building can be captured in the image and leaves breathing space around the edges of the image. I think by centring the buildings I will still be able to capture them in their entirety but the image won’t be as bland as there are still other elements included.


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