A question that architectural photographers are often faced with when they tell people what they do for a living is: “what is architectural photography?”
We are surrounded by architecture everywhere we go and many people believe that architectural photography is merely something tourists do when admiring all the man-made structures. However, architectural photography is also of commercial importance and a form of art in itself.
Definition of Architectural Photography
To truly understand what is architectural photography, it is important to know how it is defined.
Architecture photography involves photographing structures and buildings in a way that aesthetically pleasing as well as accurate. Aiming your camera at a building and taking photos is not enough. Photographers of architecture often use ambience and lighting to set the mood, as it is not possible to use emotions the same way as taking photos of human subjects. By selecting certain angles or backgrounds which utilise contrast or repetition, a photographer can help to create a feeling or tell a story through imagery.
This discipline requires you not only to think outside of the box, but also to apply certain techniques for better results. Not every photographer knows the full extent of what it is to do architectural photography and all the challenges that come with it.
What Type Of Work Do Commercial Architectural Photographers Do?
Commercial architectural photographers capture both exterior and interior images of buildings for clients that need to display the architecture as attractively as possible.
Architects, for instance, need a portfolio of buildings they have designed to show to potential clients and convince them to make use of the architect’s services. A stunning visual representation is always much more effective in selling a product than words, which is why it is so important for the images to be awe inspiring.
The same goes for realtors. Potential buyers and investors tend to browse the Internet for properties and would often make appointments to go and view the properties they found most appealing judging by the online images. It is then easy to see why attractive photographs can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to realtors and architects.
The hospitality industry also benefits from architecture photography. Architectural photographers know exactly how to make restaurants, hotels and other accommodation seem extra inviting.
What Is The Future Of Architectural Photography?
Architectural photography has evolved through the years… from the first, high-contrast black and white photographs to the modern digitally manipulated images. Architectural photography schools used to teach students about film processing and techniques in the dark room, but may focus more today on the different software and post-processing techniques. Even with the actual photoshoot a lot has changed when it comes to camera and lens design.
Some may speculate that architecture photographs may become obsolete as computer graphics (CG) are becoming so realistic, with buildings being rendered seamlessly in 3D and providing an extra dimension to the experience. They believe that, in the future, even less people will know exactly what is architectural photography.
However, even though computers can generate realistic images of what a structure may look like, it will not take the place of actual photographs. High quality representations of the physical buildings will always be in demand and look more “alive.” Photos will still remain more accurate and dynamic than computer renderings.
Are There Any Architectural Photography Schools Or Courses?
There may be a select few elite architectural photography schools established by famous architectural photographers, but usually architectural photography is offered as a course at many institutions.
In most photography schools the students will study all of the different disciplines in photography, with architectural photography only as a subject option. This gives photography students the option to choose which discipline they want to specialise in at a later stage.
Architecture photography is also sometimes taught at schools of architecture, to educate young architects on what architectural photography is and giving them the opportunity to compile their own portfolios.