Design Monday - Exterior Architectural Photography

Posted in Design

Design Monday - Exterior Architectural Photography

With a love for design, and finding ways to relax after work on a Monday, LUXYCLAD® is excited to bring you "Design Monday" - weekly blog posts that highlight or feature something interesting, focused around the subject of "design." 


Architectural photography is more than meets the eye. Each area of photography has its own "rules" and "industry standards" that play an important role to the end result. Whether it's portraiture, food photography, commercial product photography, or deep sea photography, each class has its own trick and tips, which is why photography is so fun and unique.

So what are some standards and tips for exterior architectural photography?

  • Always use a tripod. Possible exception: when you're shooting a "creative" architectural photo in good lighting conditions.
  • Always use a high f stop (aperture) to guarantee focus, like f/8 or higher. Keep your ISO low.
  • Turn on all the property lights. Especially at dusk and dawn. Example: every room of the house, outside lamps, in the pool, etc. 
  • Use a wide angle lens. If you can get around this, go ahead, as it means less distortion, but be mindful that zoom lenses compress the background, and you may also need to leave extra room for post editing.
  • Polarizing filters help with lots of sunlight. It's like a good quality pair of sunglasses for your lens - helps you see all the details, colours, and reduces reflections. Use a lens hood.
  • Use the "live view" mode on your camera to see a sample of how the photo will look. Don't take the photo in this mode, but use it to set up your shot. Use the rulers to straighten your camera and the image.
  • Make sure you take the picture so as to compensate for Photoshop edits. This means capturing the whole building, and leaving extra room to "straighten" your building in post. Straighten your buildings in Photoshop if they are not straight - unless of course, the building was designed to be curvy. Keep it true to the architect.
  • Use multiple exposures on your tripod to get the best dynamic range - highlights, midtones, and shadows. Note how the sun hits the building. Mask the layers in Photoshop. The photo will reveal what we would see with our eyes. Cameras don't always pick up what we see "exactly." Note: NEVER Change your f stop when using this method. It affects the entire photo.
  • Keep things tidy. Example: If there are parked cars, make sure they're out of frame (unless they serve intended purpose.)
  • Time of day is important. What's the best time to photograph the property? Note how the sun hits the building. Be aware of your positioning when shooting into the sun, try to put the building between you. 
  • When shooting, look for leading lines, symmetry, repetition, and dynamic tension - keep an eye out for fun elements of design that enhance the photo. These are more apparent in shooting creatively.

Examples of creative exterior architectural photos:

Photos taken by Antonio Garcia. Find him on Instagram here.

We hope these tips help serve you in the architectural realm of photography! 
Whether you use a professional DSLR, or a high quality mobile device, think through these tips when taking your next shot.
Have fun out there!

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