Learn how to take photos of “beautiful architecture”

modern building against sky
Photo by Expect Best on Pexels.com

BEAUTIFUL ARCHITECTURE ! Just one of the 51 subjects of photography! When I first saw this subject, my first question that came to my mind was: “how do you classify beautiful architecture?” This could be really subjective. But, let’s take a look at some buildings and see if we can talk about these masterpieces of art – made into a building.

This building is the “rock and roll hall of fame building” Photo by Lance Anderson on Unsplash

When you want to take photos of beautiful buildings, I have found that generally there are two types of buildings that are classified as either modern or ancient. Interesting that there was so many good architects back in ancient time, and if you get a chance to take pictures of these ancient buildings, you will certainly fall in love with them too. The photo above is some beautiful architecture that we would classify as “modern architecture”. The buildings like this are all in very interesting designs, and part of the buildings are not a building at all, but, an extension of the building to get it’s interesting shapes. If you have ever studied architecture before, if you choose to add a chunk of building off to the side, like the above photo, you know it has to be balanced within, or it won’t stand. And the other interesting thing about modern architecture is that the creator didn’t have any problem showing the beams, and poles, and ceilings within the building’s interior to create these buildings.

low angle photo of staircase
Photo by Andre Moura on Pexels.com

The building here above was designed to be efficient, but, you notice all the poles that hold up the stairs, the beams in the ceiling, and in this case, glass in the ceiling. Very modern effect. If you want to get good pictures of modern buildings, it is good for you to get photos of the building that has some strange or interesting character. For some reason, the architects of ancient time probably would have never dreamed of doing this. But, anciently, they used a lot of ornate decorations in the creations of their buildings. Like this:

This ancient architecture still had the interesting designs to the building: the rounded hallways, or beautiful stained glass windows, but, look at the carvings in the building to give it some story to the building.

One thing that will really work on architecture, either modern or classic, is see what you can do with light coming through the windows. This makes the building seem even more artistic, if you can get rays of light to work with the building.

Photo by arpa sarian on Unsplash
fashionable woman in light room near wall
Photo by SHVETS production on Pexels.com

In modern buildings, like the one above, the light seems to be very diffused, not so directional. The lighting is perfect for taking pictures of anything inside.

Here are some good tips that I know will help in taking photos of beautiful buildings:

1- Take pictures of buildings in different weather. It’s amazing how good a building will look when it’s wet.

photo of lighted buildings during night time
Photo by Ricardo Esquivel on Pexels.com

2- Prioritize good lighting, whether it is outside or inside. Look at how nice the lighting on the Eiffel Tower looks when it’s all lit up:

low angle photo of eiffel tower
Photo by Flo Dahm on Pexels.com

3- Explore details of the building and get photos of that:

Photo by Rodrigo Sümmer on Unsplash

4- Visit the site many times. A good photographer does his homework. Go several times, and walk through the building, walk around the building, look at different ways to take pictures of the building, both in and outside. You will be glad you did. And also, don’t objectify the building. If it seems to have one amazing structural detail, don’t take a photo of just that. A person seeing your photos of the building will want to see what it looks like all the way around, so they know what it looks like if they come to visit.

Here is a few more photos of beautiful buildings, and notice how the photo was taken:

canoe on body of water with pagoda background
Photo by Alexandr Podvalny on Pexels.com
residential cottage house with courtyard
Photo by Max Vakhtbovych on Pexels.com
Photo of Salt Lake Temple during the Golden Hour. Photo taken by Lanny Cottrell Photography


blue and gray high rise building
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

There seems to be quite a fascination of tall buildings for people. Always has been, always will. When you stand by one, and look up, all you can say is: “wow”! The marvel of what man can create is truly amazing. And now tall buildings are becoming more beautiful as they get built too. If these buildings are so fascinating, then it’s obvious that people would want to take a picture of this building. Architectural Photography is another great word for this. And it certainly does show off some skills of one person, or persons who create these monster buildings.

Obviously, then, there must be some skill in taking pictures of these buildings. Let’s get into the “How to” of taking photos of skyscrapers.

  • One thing that totally makes sense in taking pictures of a building is to take the photo vertically. You will be able to get the whole building in your frame easier than doing it horizontally.

I studied about 10 different articles about taking pictures of buildings, and surprisingly, there were different steps by different photographers. So, between what I have read between the different articles, here is the tips I think are the most important.

  • Along with the first tip, in order to get most of your building to fit within your frame, you will need a Wide Angle lens. It will certainly make it easier to get the whole building in your frame, if you can use the right lens for the right job.
high rise building
Photo by Mihai Vlasceanu on Pexels.com
  • Lighting of the building is something you should study before you take a photo. Remember that the perfect lighting is what makes ever photo great. Is it better to take a photo at sunset or late in the day? Or even morning? Another thing to really make a photo great with buildings, is to see if you can get some clouds in the photo. It is something that just doesn’t happen accidentally while you are walking by this building, you would, if you have the time, find a day that has the perfect clouds. An artist would probably paint the clouds in his picture, so why not consider yourself an artist and study when there will be clouds?
  • Look for unique angles of buildings that maybe some other photographer has not tried yet.
Photo by Jason Oh on Unsplash

Sometimes people fail to show the big beams, the micro-structure of a building and that is something a good photographer will look for. Wander around the building to see if there is something like that.

  • Don’t be afraid to show people in your photo, but, if you get faces in your photo, you will need to get a copyright release. The law says you have to approval from the person if you are going to use that photo in a publication of any kind.
photo of people walking on street near brown concrete building
Photo by Lina Kivaka on Pexels.com
  • A good idea to really get good architecture photos is to get to know your subject better. And that subject, of course, is the building. What can you take pictures of, that will highlight what makes that building so famous (if it is famous, or if it’s not, what feature could you highlight?)? Is it the entrance to the building? Is it the lobby? Is it the big windows? What would you like to highlight now?
Notice how this building has unique slide open window frames. The whole frame turns from front to side to give you more view. Photo by Sara Sadeghloo on Unsplash


Day Ten: “Architecture” — Go Monochrome

From the geometry of skyscrapers to the ironwork on historical buildings, there are many opportunities to capture the beauty and complexity of architecture.

Walk through this intricate, organic doorway of La Pedrera, a famous building by architect Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona, Spain:

Perhaps there’s a grand spiral staircase at your favorite museum. A stunning Art Deco movie theater in your town. Or a futuristic micro-house on your block. How will you interpret this theme?

Today’s Tip: As we explored yesterday, color is a powerful element in photography. But black and white, or monochrome, can also be very dramatic. Today, look for architectural elements that translate into black and white: sharp lines, patterns, defined shapes, large surface areas, and a mix of very light and very dark colors.

Day Ten: “Architecture” — Go Monochrome

When we talk about monochrome in photography, we’re referring to images developed or executed in black and white or in varying tones of only one color.

Today, think about how black, white, gray, and the shades in between can interact in your frame in dynamic ways. As you compose your architecture shot, look for sharp lines, distinct patterns, defined shapes, large surface areas, and very light and very dark colors.

Compare the color and monochrome versions of today’s featured image — the lines, shapes, and surfaces come alive in both versions in different ways:

color versus monochrome
Photographer Merilee Mitchell, who blogs at The Gravel Ghost, often shoots in black and white:

It’s difficult to describe in words, but I innately know what something will look like in black and white. I see things geometrically: I sense large shapes in view, I see “values” (the degree of lights and darks) in a shot, and I know how they will translate.

If you’ve never shot in black in white, many devices and phone cameras let you switch to black and white shooting mode right in the camera. In the iPhone, for example, select the Mono, Tonal, or Noir settings to shoot in monochrome.

Or, shoot in color and convert your images to black and white (or grayscale) after you shoot, which is how Merilee works. You can convert your image in Photoshop or a free image editor like PicMonkey, GIMP, or Pixlr Express. The change is simple — for example, in PicMonkey, select “Colors” and then adjust the lever under “Saturation” to remove the color. Or, in Pixlr Express, click on “Adjustment,” then “Color,” and adjust the bar under “Saturation” to remove the color.

Don’t miss tomorrow’s blog: “Getting your photo right the first time”. Back when film was king, you had to take the picture right the first time. Colorful, light corrected, and rich in color. There was no “Post Processing”. But, photos were just beautiful, and contrast was perfect, and the skies were rich blue. How was that done? And can it be done right that way now? Read tomorrows article.

Today’s special: