Five common architecture photography mistakes (and how to fix them)

 

Architecture photography can sometimes be complex and technically challenging, but all is not lost! We’re going to go through these five common architecture photography mistakes and give you some tips on how to avoid them in your own work.

Using the right equipment

 

This first one may seem obvious, but using the right equipment is vital.

 

If you want to produce the best images possible then you’re going to need to invest in good kit, and this doesn’t just mean getting the newest camera.  It means learning about which equipment is best for each given situation from your camera, lens and tripod right through to accessories that can help speed up your workflow while on site.

 

If you want to see my top picks for the best equipment for architecture photography, check out this post.

 

Take your time

 

One of the biggest mistakes with architecture photography is rushing.

 

Light is vital for all photography but for architecture photography you’re often relying on times of day and weather to be on your side to capture the perfect shot. Learning to be patient is a great tool to have in your architectural photography arsenal.

 

Doing really simple things such as checking the weather or where the sun will be at certain times of day will save you a whole lot of time. For tips on handy apps to help with this, check out THIS post.

 

When possible, wait until everybody else on site has finished but before the client has moved in.  That means that you’re not having to fight tradesmen who are trying to do their job too or getting in the way of the new tenants, both of which will affect the quality of your work.

 

It’s also a really good idea to visit a site at multiple times.  This will allow you to see the building at different times of day and in different weather conditions which could bring out things which you have missed in previous visits.

 

Keep on the straight and narrow!

 

This is my number one pet peeve with architecture photography.

Seeing buildings which aren’t straight.

Imagine if you were the architect or interior designer and someone had made your design look wonky.

There are loads of ways to prevent it:

  • Don’t use such a wide lens, it can be tempting to just stick on the widest lens possible and get in as much of the scene as possible but sometimes the best kit you have is your legs. So start using them and walk backwards a little bit!
  • Tilt shift lenses.  Although a little on the expensive side, these lenses will really help improve your architecture photography. As the name suggests, they allow you to tilt and shift the lens to compensate for the perspective issues which inherently come from shooting upwards on a building.
  • The keystone tool. Capture One and Lightroom both have the handy keystone tool, which allows you to straighten out converging lines in post.  It takes less than 10 seconds to sort and dramatically improves the looking of an image. Nobody likes looking at drunk buildings.

There are certain times when using perspective can be used for artistic effect but as a rule of thumb, especially when shooting for a client, try and avoid it.

Ensuring everything is straight is a key skill in architecture photography

 

Fail to prepare and prepare to fail

 

Another easy pitfall to avoid is not being prepared.

Do all the obvious things like charge all your batteries and pack your bag the night before.

Check the firmware in your cameras and laptop, there is nothing worse than arriving on site and your macbook picking up wifi and deciding to auto-update for 45 minutes (yes, I’ve been there).

Also, research the area you’re going to photograph.  Google maps and streetview can be great for this, knowing where you’re going to shoot from and having a shot list written down will make sure that you don’t end up just winging it on the day and have covered off exactly what you need to.

 

Value your work

Finally on the list and perhaps the most important is do not work for free.

Not only are you devaluing your own work but you are also devaluing the work of every other architecture photographer trying to earn a living from their craft.

It may seem hard and especially so when you are first starting out but a valuable exercise is to realise how much the improved photography is worth to your client.

For example, if you know that a site is worth millions and your photography is going to help them sell or lease it much quicker then make sure you price that value accordingly.

That’s five of the most common architecture photography mistakes that I see, almost on a daily basis. If there are any that really niggle at you, then pop them in the comments below.

 

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