More than a few of my friends have asked this same question… ” How do I make my photos of architecture be more than just a picture of a building?” And this is what I tell them… well… first you have to ask yourself “Why am I looking at this piece of architecture?” Is it because it is old and I love the textures? Is it modern and I love the forms the architect used to make it dramatic? It’s a wonderful play of light and I want to capture it. They’re as many reasons a photographer would find a piece of architecture interesting as they’re pieces of architecture. The subjects are varied beyond imagination. And to further expand the situation… architecture actually encompasses almost anything man-made that’s larger than a bread box! Skyscrapers… bridges… homes (inside and out) … windmills… power plants… grain elevators…. and then there is architecture that flies ( airplanes)… and rolls (automobiles) and swims (boats) … gosh my fingers are getting tired just typing out a few possibilities… and those are just the tip of the iceberg! I do not intend to share an example of every kind of architecture out there… heavens no… and I am sure I will miss some photographer’s reason for shooting something large… but heh… here goes!
Let’s start where I start… wide. Let’s dispense with “so wide” that it is actually part of a large landscape. Wide shots… or almost complete subjects are usually… just not me. Meaning… I rarely shoot an entire building… or bridge… or whatever. I do this because I believe the human brain will fill in some of the repetitive parts and even more important to me… the more you include… the smaller the subject will be in the frame. I like to have subjects dominate the scene. You may not and that is just fine and dandy. But here are a few shots that are pretty darn wide.
I told you that architecture can be varied! Those shots are pretty darn wide… and that is OK with me… but normally I like to be tighter. Now here comes the fun part… the part that separates the photographers from the snapshoters! Drama! And where class do we get drama? Correct! Usually from the heavens! Meaning… time of day! Time your photography so that you can get the most drama possible. Sometimes that is in the morning… sometimes in the late afternoon… sometimes that means in the evening. Here are a few shots to illustrate that time of day is the easiest way to make your photos more dramatic.
Another way to add drama is to be more dramatic. Now that was silly wasn’t it? What I meant to type was… use strong powerful compositions! Like these.
Another way to make your architectural photos more dramatic is to introduce another surprising element alongside the subject. Like this…
But above all…. never forget that the good old standbys of juxtaposition, leading lines and framing will enhance any photograph… especially the ones of architecture. Here are a few photos that hopefully illustrate that point.
Now… all that being said… let’s not forget that interior spaces are also architecture. Here are a couple recent ones.
And … because I have shots thousands of buildings and bridges and this and that… here are a few of my favorites.
That last one is sure interesting. Not because of lighting… or really the time of day… it is interesting because it is a record of what happens when a painter meets an old tired nondescript building… crazy magic!
So…. actually it turns out that architectural subjects are not any different from most other subjects. Strong compositions… and a keen sense of what Mr. Sun may bring to the party are the building blocks of memorable photos… whether they are bigger than a bread box or not.