12 Architectural Photography Styles to Inspire You

Unveil the silent stories etched in stone and glass: the essence of architectural photography awaits. But what secrets lie beneath...?
Date Published
March 3, 2024

Table of Contents

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Ever looked at a skyscraper and thought, "Meh, just another building"? Yeah, me neither. Because when the light hits those steel curves just right, it's like staring at a supermodel strutting down the catwalk—but it's your job to capture that million-dollar moment. Welcome to the world of architectural photography, where structures ditch their bricks-and-mortar day jobs and serve high-fashion realness through your lens. We're about to venture into the nitty-gritty of turning still buildings into still breaths—with tips that could turn your next snapshot into the talk of the town. You ready to give buildings their blue steel moment?


What exactly is architectural photography

Architectural photography is like capturing the soul of a structure—snap by snap, you're telling the story of buildings, making the inanimate animate. It's all about perspective, lighting, and that keen eye to really make bricks and mortar pop in a still image. Want a tip? Scour the scene for the best camera spots!

When you nail the right angle with the best cameras for architectural shots, that structure in front of you transforms from a mere building into a character with a story. Choosing the correct gear can be daunting, but it's like picking a dance partner – you want someone who can keep up with the steps of your creative tango.

Let's not forget about the lenses! The right lenses suited for building photography are crucial. They're like the painter’s brush, giving you the power to bring all those steel and glass giants into sharp, breathtaking focus. Narrow or wide, each lens frames a different narrative.

With a cocktail of expert architectural photography tips, your camera translates textures, shapes, and the interplay between light and dark into a visual feast. Your lens becomes a tour guide, leading viewers on a photographic journey through spaces both grand and minute.

In essence, architectural photography is the fusion of art and science, capturing the essence of design and immortalizing the intention behind each constructed masterpiece. It’s about discovering and sharing the very essence of the built environment—one shutter click at a time.


The history and origin of architectural photography

From iconic architectural photographers to the intricate process of photographing architectural details, the history of architectural photography is rich and fascinating. It's believed that architectural photography began shortly after the invention of the camera in the 19th century. Photographers started capturing historical buildings through the lens, preserving the heritage and beauty of ancient and modern constructions.

When you hear "architectural photography", think about the greats like Julius Shulman and Ezra Stoller. These photographers didn't just take pictures; they created stories with light and shadow, transforming the way we look at buildings. They were pioneers, seeing the world through angles and perspectives most of us wouldn't even dream of.

What is it good for, you ask? Well, every frame serves as a time capsule, honey. People use these images to study architectural progress, design, and even urban planning. So, the next time you're snapping a photo of that cool old building downtown, remember, you're part of a history that's as sturdy as the structures you're capturing.

Tips for diving into architectural photography? Start simple. Focus on one detail at a time. And, if you're serious about following in the footsteps of the greats, studying their work can transform your approach. Visit a photography exhibit or two, or even better, click through an online collection to see examples of those timeless architectural masterpieces.

And remember, while the monumental exteriors often get the glam shots, the little elements, like the texture on the door or the arch of a window, can tell you the true tales of time. So, get up close and personal with those historical beauties and let your lens be the storyteller.


Exteriors in Architectural Photography

When you're aiming to capture the grace of a building, nothing does it quite like building exterior photography. This style zeroes in on the design's outer beauty—those sculpted lines, grand entrances, and the play of light and shadow. You get to showcase the structure as a whole or to spotlight signature elements that scream, "Look at me, I'm a work of art!"

The best shots happen when natural light in architectural pictures plays nice. The golden hours? They're your BFF here because the light is all soft and dreamy, just perfect for making those buildings look their best. But hey, don't underestimate an overcast day, which can bring out textures and details like you wouldn’t believe.

But what's symmetry got to do with it? Everything! Symmetrical building photography is like the peanut butter to your jelly. It adds that satisfying, everything-is-right-with-the-world feeling to your snaps. Practice your shots when the sun is giving you the cold shoulder, and make those lines and patterns your standout stars.

Now, if you've got symmetrical exteriors down pat, you're pretty much the superhero of architectural photography. And why's that? Because anybody can take a pic, but it takes a real eye to capture all that structural glory in a way that'll make folks stop and stare. So, go on and find that perfect angle, watch the light, and snap that beauty in all its grand, exterior splendor!


Interiors in architectural photography

Capturing the heart of a building means snapping more than just its exterior. What about the inside, where real-life happens and history echoes in every corner? That's what interior design photography is all about. Don't just take photos; tell stories with your shots by capturing the architectural essence. Yeah, it's a thing, and trust me, the pros are all about this mojo. Let's get you on the same page.

First, you want to set the right mood with your lighting setups. This isn't some dingy basement selfie situation. We're talking careful orchestration of light to enhance those cheeky architectural features that scream character. Use the light to lead the eye, play with shadows and highlights, and create drama. Remember, lighting is the soulmate of texture and color, so make 'em work it like a high-fashion runway duo.

Then, bam! Dive into the specifics with interior design photography techniques. Notice how that velvet loveseat calls for a close-up? Or how the staircase spirals up like a sculpture? That's your queue to capture the uniqueness of each interior space. And hey, practice makes perfect. So, go ahead, explore and experiment, because in the grand theater of architectural photography, the interiors are where the real magic plays out.

But don't forget, capturing the essence isn't just about pointing and clicking. It's an art. Read up on legendary clickers like Julius Shulman or Candace Wheeler to see how they immortalized interiors. You'll get a sense of how to weave history, design, and photography into a masterpiece that tells the story of a space without uttering a single word.


Commercial architectural photography

So, you've seen those glossy photos of skyscrapers gracing the pages of business magazines, right? That's commercial architectural photography, and it’s all about making those buildings look like the rockstars of the concrete jungle. To snap a pic that’ll make a building seem as important as the CEO’s corner office, you’ve got to talk gear first. Tilt-shift lenses? Yup, that's your new best friend for keeping those lines straighter than a ruler and avoiding that trippy falling-over look.

Now, we're diving into that behind-the-scenes magic: architecture photography post-processing. You wanna take a good photo and turn it into a great one? Get cozy with your editing software because it's all about tweaking the lights, the contrasts, and let's not forget those pesky color corrections. A bit of dodge here, a touch of burn there, and voilĂ !

But don't think snapping pics of these commercial giants is a walk in the park. Nope, you gotta plan. When's the golden hour? How's the weather acting up? And if the stars align, you might just get that shot where every window glints like diamonds. That's the stuff that puts commercial site photography in the big leagues. Bonus tip: If you're serious about nailing this style, check out some wizardry with a tilt-shift lens to truly elevate your game.

Remember, with commercial buildings, it's not just about the structure, it’s the soul behind the concrete and glass. It’s about capturing an essence that says, 'Yeah, we mean business, and we look darn good doing it.' Now go out there and make those buildings shine like the money-making beacons they are!


Residential architectural photography

Picture this: You're strolling through a charming neighborhood, and each home tells a story with its unique design and ambiance. Well, residential architectural photography is all about capturing that essence of a home, making it look as inviting as a freshly baked pie cooling on the windowsill. To nail this style, you're going to need a trusty wide-angle lens that can catch those sprawling front yards and cozy nooks.

When it comes to getting those sleek shots of a living room or kitchen, your go-to move is to photograph interior spaces effectively. It's not just about the room but the feeling you get when you're inside—maybe it's the morning light spilling across the breakfast nook or the way the shadows play on a polished concrete floor. Always look for the light and shadow dance, and remember, the devil's in the details, so capture them.

Now, if you've tried to snap a shot of any room, you know it's trickier than taking a selfie with your cat. It takes skill to show the charm of residential interiors. You're going to want your camera settings tuned to perfection, and your wide-angle lens should be your BFF at this point. This type of lens helps you avoid those odd angles where the walls look like they're closing in—no claustrophobia here, please!

Lastly, let's talk about the outside, because residential building photography showcases a home's whole vibe. You've got to keep an eye out for the right perspective. Maybe it's from the cozy corner of the front porch or from the middle of the blooming front yard. And if you can time it right, capture the golden hour glow—that soft, warm light that makes everything look like it belongs in a magazine.

Remember, your snaps are selling a lifestyle, not just walls and windows. So channel your inner real estate tycoon and make that house look like a million bucks—or more, we're dreaming big here!


Historical architectural photography

Ready to time travel with your camera? Historical architectural photography is your ticket to capturing the essence of bygone eras. It's all about documenting architectural heritage and those stunning fine art architectural images that make history buffs and art lovers swoon.

First things first, focus on those lush details. Photographing architectural details isn't just about snapping a wide shot—it's about zeroing in on the craftsmanship and care put into each ornate cornice and meticulously laid brick. Trust me, your lens is a time machine, and the minute intricacies of historical buildings are polyjuice potion for the soul.

But hey, to really make history pop in your photos, remember that "fine art" part of fine art architectural images means you're not just documenting — you're creating too. Play with lighting, angles, and perspectives to elevate your photos from simple snapshots to masterpieces worthy of a gallery wall. Visit this guide to artful architectural photography for some dreamy inspiration.

And who knows? Maybe centuries from now, some future photographer will look at your work and think, "Now that's what I call historical architectural photography." Make sure you leave your own mark by adding your unique flair to every photo of those breathtaking historical buildings.


Modern architectural photography

Alright, let's dive into the world of modern architectural photography, where buildings aren't just structures—they're the stars of the show. You're here because your love for shapes and lines isn't confined to doodles on a napkin. Modern architecture captures the essence of our time, showcasing not just a place but our relationship with space and design.

Innovative architectural photography approaches are your toolkit for highlighting the sleek and the unique in today's urban jungle. Think less about snapping a picture of a building and more about telling a tale through steel and glass. Creative angles for structural photo shooting are not just encouraged; they're a must. Your mission? To find that sweet spot where light, shadow, and form play nice and yield an image that makes people look twice.

Think of photographs that make you go "Whoa, how did they even take that?" Those shots where futuristic structures twist and turn, defying gravity and logic. This style of photography craves a fresh perspective—time to play with composition and scale until even the most mundane office block looks like it belongs in a sci-fi movie.

Remember, interpreting modern designs through your lens isn't a walk in the park. You need to grasp the vision behind the architecture, then use your camera to translate concrete and chrome into emotion and narrative. Whether it's the curve of a staircase that flows like a ribbon or the imposing angle of a skyscraper reaching for the stars, each shot should tell a different story.

And the best part? There's no one way to do it. You carve your own path in this concrete jungle, where each photo is a fingerprint, unique and telling. Embrace the modern, wrap your head around angles that challenge the eye, and above all else, shoot with a passion that burns like the high noon sun reflecting off a glass facade.


Night-time architectural photography

Get ready to dive into the mysterious world of night-time building photography. Why's it so cool? Picture this: buildings bathed in the soft glow of street lamps, stars peppering the sky above, and maybe the odd neon sign bringing a pop of color. Your camera becomes a magic wand, capturing scenes totally transformed from their daytime counterparts.

So, mastering shadows in architectural images? It's not just a good idea, it's crucial. You're playing with contrasts here, folks. The dark of night amplifies shadows and highlights, making each photo a dramatic play of light and dark. You want to catch those details that daytime just blurs out.

And speaking of details, let's talk high dynamic range architectural photos (HDR, for those in the know). HDR's your best friend when the lights go down. It lets you combine multiple shots taken at different exposures to create a single image that's rich with detail. It's like night vision for your camera! Plus, it keeps the highlights from blowing out and the shadows from going all black-hole on you.

But here's a pro tip: Don't just snap away willy-nilly. Take your time. Set up that tripod, tweak those settings, and wait for the perfect moment. Maybe it's when the traffic dies down, or when the building's lights flick on like a Broadway show. That's when you'll capture not just a photo, but a story.

Last thing, and don't forget it: patience! Night-time shoots are about waiting—for the right light, the right moment. It pays off, promise. Now go on, get out there and show those buildings who's boss, camera in hand!


Drone Architectural Photography

Have you ever dreamed of soaring through the sky to capture the perfect shot? Drone architectural photography might just be your new best friend. This style not only gives you a bird's-eye view of breathtaking architecture but also adds an innovative angle to your portfolio.

Flying high above the ground, drones offer an aerial perspective in architecture photos that can't be matched by traditional methods. You'll get those sweeping vistas that showcase the symmetry and scale of buildings, and hey, maybe even catch details you’d miss from down below. Remember, though, an eye in the sky doesn't mean skimping on quality. Digital photo storage for architecture work is crucial. Those high-res files are big, so make sure you’ve got the storage solutions to match.

So, wanna take your photography game to towering new heights? Get your hands on a drone and embrace the sky as your new studio. Trust me, the view up there is nothing short of spectacular. Just be sure to check local laws, 'cause nobody wants to turn their photo op into a run-in with the law!



Q: How do I become an architectural photographer?

A: Start with learning photography principles, focusing on buildings and structures. Take a course, practice techniques, and build a portfolio showcasing your work.

Q: What are the two types of architectural photography?

A: The two main types are exterior architectural photography, capturing building facades, and interior architectural photography, focusing on inside spaces.

Q: What is considered architecture photos?

A: Architecture photos are images that depict the aesthetic and design elements of buildings and structures.

Q: Who is a famous architectural photographer?

A: Julius Shulman is renowned for his photography that captured the essence of modernist architecture.


Final Words

So, you just dove deep into the world of architectural photography, from its rich history to the nitty-gritty of snapping stunning spaces at night. You’ve zoomed past exteriors, waltzed through interiors, and even taken to the skies with drone photography. If your brain's buzzing with tips on the best gear and techniques for capturing buildings inside and out, you’re not alone.

Your final takeaway? Architectural photography is more than just pictures of buildings—it's about telling the stories embedded in every brick and beam. Plus, it's an art form that keeps on giving, whether you're framing historical traditions or pushing boundaries with modern designs. So grab your camera, because there's a whole lot of inspiring architecture out there waiting for your unique lens!

Remember, every shot you take adds to your visual symphony of straight lines, sweeping curves, and bold silhouettes. Here’s to your next architectural masterpiece!

Meet the Author
Aria Ohlsson
Aria Ohlsson, the Instagram storyteller extraordinaire, takes you on adventures through her enchanting narratives. An avid hiker, she scales peaks and weaves tales of mountaintop triumphs. When she's not conquering trails, you'll find her immersed in classic novels, finding inspiration for her next tale.
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