Seven key ideas on architectural photography
We have to first admit that the vast majority of the projects that we know we first know by the photographs that represent them. Second, we have to realize that the natural environment in which the life of photographs definitely happens today is the internet.
If we think also that millions of pictures of new and interesting architecture projects from all over the world are continuously available to our computers, tablets and smartphones, we have to realize then thatthe images that portray our projects are also available to millions of viewers anywhere in the planet that we are actively trying to entice in order to show them our photographs, explain them our projects in a simple and captivating manner and, finally, to favorably and decisively influence their opinions on our proposals.
When we have this clear idea of what we intend in planning the diffusion of our architecture projects and we have such an incredibly powerful resource like the internet at hand to make it global and perpetual, what do we have to consider to make the photographs that represent our architecture projects to work like we actually need?
Having said this, I hope that you will find this list of seven ideas on architectural photography useful:
Architectural photographs do interpret a project, they never document it: anyone can point a camera at a building and capture an image that merely documents its appearance with no other intention to go further than just certifying its condition. Architectural photography used as a documentary resource has very little if any communicative power.
It is completely impossible to photograph an architecture project without understanding it before. Architectural photographs are the vehicles that interpret and synthesize in images the essential features that make a new project different and unique. Communication begins from an intentional photographer's look on an architecture project to make it first attractive and intelligible then.
There is nothing more important in architectural photography than the correct choice of the point of view: the position of the camera is the only factor responsible for the appearance in perspective of a building and the distribution of the image elements in the photographic frame. If the point of view changes, the proportions of the elements of the image are transformed as also the appearance of the building is. From the distribution of the weight of the image elements in the frame, a favorable or unfavorable interpretation of the architecture project results.
Nothing ever happens by chance in architectural photography because all the decisions that the photographer takes affect the frame and the communication of the project consequently: the position of the camera, its higher or lower angle, the focal length of the lenses plus the quantity, quality, distribution and temperature of the light are all variables that an architectural photographer consciously uses to build a visually appealing photograph from understanding the project with the evident intention of interpreting and communicating it.
If the look of the photographer on the architecture project is clean and straightforward, communication gets much more accurate and effective. The simpler, cleaner and clearer the visual language of the photographic frame is, the more harmoniously images work and the more rapidly they attract the attention of the viewer. Simple shapes and saturated colors always work better than an excess of elements that constrain the frame.
All the elements that do not add sense and strength to an architecture photograph, in fact they are subtracting it. An incorrect choice of point of view or a careless appearance of the elements of the frame in a photograph are obstructing both clarity and the necessary flow of communication that we seek and determine that the viewer negatively identifies that the photograph and the architecture that it is representing are poor and of bad quality.
Architectural photography is a matter of persuasion: every effort that we make to create compelling photographs that represent an architecture project are always intended to seduce the viewers that contemplate them to convince them that our work –that of architects, but also that of photographers ... – is the best in its class.
The professional photographic representation of an architecture project is the last vital and necessary step of all the stages that make up its journey immediately preceding their public diffusion in every possible digital or printed media.
Choosing a professional to photograph your project and communicating it in images is a more than decisive election.