Photography and Architecture, get the perfect match

by | Oct 9, 2020 | collaborations, news, travel

If you always travel with a camera and you like visiting interesting projects, you will know that photography and architecture are the perfect couple. However, like everyone else, they also have their conflicts.

What is it usually the biggest problem? Well, you are not the only one with those interests, and the following can happen (photo before Covid-19).

twa-saarinen-jfk-airport-design
TWA Flight Center · New York, USA

Horror!

That is why I will share some of the tips I use to take the photos I publish in Architectural Visits. Of course, it will depend on the specific work and the circumstances of the visit, but there are some basics that we should not forget.

Are you ready? Let’s get started!

Plan your visit ahead of time

If the building is renowned and you know that it receives a large amount of visitors, book the first visit of the day.

I recommend arriving even before the doors are open. Thereby you will enjoy the exterior by yourself and take pictures without being disturbed by anyone.

I learned this tip when, by mistake, we arrived at the Gropius House one hour before our visit. The house was still closed. What a wonderful thing! I was able to take photos without anyone bothering me.

gropius-house-featured
Gropius House · Lincoln, USA

Enjoy excellent architecture alone and capture the perfect photo. What else could you ask for? Well, I know… But even if you have to wake up very early, it is totally worth it!

If you can’t be alone, incorporate the people around you into your capture. There is no better way to scale an architectural photograph than including a person on it.

Use external objects for the composition of the picture, and treat the people who visit the building as your models.

I used this tip when I visited the Rietveld Schröder House in Utrecht. The moment I saw that person parking his bike on that spot, I almost cried for joy!

Rietveld Schröder House
Rietveld Schröder House · Utrecht, Netherlands

However, I know that this part is not always easy. People are often tourists also with their cameras, and sometimes not really stylish. This brings us to the next tip.

Patience, a lot of patience

We know that having patience is good for everything in life, but when it comes to photography in occupied spaces, it is essential.

I can’t count the number of times I had to wait for someone to move to take a picture. I know that when we travel we try to make the most our time. However, if you want to take good architectural photographs, you need to make time for your visits.

What if it’s a guided tour? Join the slow team and be the last one to leave the room. It’s the only way to get photos like the one I took in the Couvent of La Tourette by Le Corbusier.

tourette-couvent-le-corbusier-crypt2
Couvent of La Tourette · Éveux-sur-Arbresle, France

Was it impossible to take a good photo using the three tips above? Then it’s time to search for details.

Look for those spots that are above the human eye. Luminaires, corners, material transitions… Elements that call your attention for their design, or shapes that reflect a special intention of the architect.

Do you remember the photo we saw at the beginning of the TWA by Eero Saarinen in New York? There were so many people that I wanted to jump off that bridge, so I took this advice. Aside from avoiding a Dantesque show, I ended up taking photos like this one.

twa-saarinen-jfk-airport-tiles
TWA Flight Center · New York, USA

Now, I hope you are looking forward to visiting architecture with your camera and putting these tips into practice. Can you already see the perfect photo?

For more examples, check the photography section at architecturalvisits.com.

Visiting New York? Do not miss it!

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Helena Ariza | Architect, passionate about photography and traveling. My purpose is to take you on a journey to the best architectural works.

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