As an architectural student, you are often tasked with creating space that evokes an emotion, feeling or engages one of the senses in a particular way. As you learn to do this, you begin to see space in a different and more exciting way, the detail, the light, the texture, the depth, the negative space and the void all take on newness to them previously unseen.
Once you have graduated to “architect” you hopefully are able to create spaces that tell stories beyond the physical coming together of their windows and walls, and it’s about the “essence of the space”. Being in such a space, one will often feel the designers intent if well executed, but how do we capturing that ‘essence’ visually through photography?
First, let’s be honest, not all buildings or spaces have this “intentional design” built into them, (some “architects” didn’t learn this art and still roam free creating stuff we have to navigate around) but there are some that are worth capturing. Like architecture, photography is an art, and it has a lot to do with composition so here are a few tips on how to approach composition in architectural photography to help you capture the “sense of space” the architect set out to create.
Look Straight Ahead
Although capturing a space from a straight-on perspective seems quite obvious, it’s often overlooked. This point of view often offers much of how the spaces are supposed to be experienced and therefore allows you to borrow the architect’s lens as this is often the perspective which the space is designed. Be sure to explore and capture multiple axes from a straight-on view that will give you depth and added detail and an isometric-like view.
Be sure to look both up and down when capturing spaces in architectural photography, these angles exaggerate the height and depth of the space and create amazing scenes. By capturing a space this way, the vertical lines on the building appear to converge the further they go drawing you deep into the space.
Additional to these “points of view” honing in on symmetry and repetition in architectural photography is a sure way to capture the essence of the space. These two aspects, if designed and executed well, bring a sense of rhythm to the space. This “visual pace-setting” can portray a sense of calm and composure or urgency which can be felt and experienced when in the space or if captured in a photograph.
We all experience the world from the confines of our human bodies, and so this is a perspective we can instantly relate to. Adding a human figure, still or in motion within a frame gives a sense of size and scale that help us to virtually transpose ourselves into the space.
Focus on Detail
Lastly, although not a standalone approach, capturing details of the elements of the space allows the viewer to virtually occupy the space as if they were in it. These details convey “feel” of the space by capturing the texture of the components that make up the space.
By using these guides on what to capture when photographing architectural spaces, you should be able to take some pretty engaging photos. It’s important to remember that the goal of architectural photography is to bring the viewer into the space in a way that captures the essence and intention of the architect.
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