Week #21: Architecture
To be shot and submitted between Sunday, May 17 and Sunday, May 24 (noon, Eastern)
“Architecture is the learned game, correct and magnificent, of forms assembled in the light.” – Le Corbusier
Simply put, Architectural Photography is the art of photographing a building’s interior or exterior, or an element of a building. It can actually be trickier – and more addictive – than it sounds. Buildings, especially older ones, are encrusted in so much detritus and urban flotsam that it can be difficult to see them afresh, as the architect intended. In that sense, it can take some imagination and investigation to find the most interesting and engaging angles or elements of a building. But once you start searching, you’ll start finding beautiful shapes, patterns, and lines all around you!
Keep in mind one of the biggest pitfalls of architectural photography – distortion. When you stand at the base of the Empire State Building and point your camera up, the image will show a very distorted building, with the vertical lines of the tower converging towards the center. Whereas early architectural photography tried hard to circumvent this limitation, more recent artists have strived to purposefully incorporate these distortions into their work, creating new and wonderful scenes. It’s up to you to decide if you want to be more faithful or interpretative with your shot.
Remember, your photo need not be just standing outside a building, snapping a shot. You can focus on a particular element – a door, the stairs, some tiles, windows, infrastructure – or even go more abstract finding patterns and shapes to document. This is your chance to play with lots of different angles and find the very best one.
Tips and Tuts for this week:
- Find lots of quick tips for all sorts of architecture, and plenty of examples, at this blog post.
- Look for patterns. Look for light. Step back. Get close. Look for natural framing. Look down. Look up. Go to a public space. Go to a private place.
- Trying to photograph a building, but finding too many passersby cluttering the scene? This nifty little Photoshop trick will help clean up your shot. You’ll want to use a tripod.Check out this quick video.
Extra Credit: Tell a Story
Although beautiful, architectural photography is often quite sterile, allowing the building to do the talking. As architect Julia Morgan said, “Architecture is a visual art, and the buildings speak for themselves.“
For extra credit, figure out how to tell a story within your shot. Provide some greater context – use models, or props, or an entire setting, to tell a greater story while also harnessing the powerful principles of architectural photography.
Remember, it is not necessary to work in this Extra Credit piece. It’s extra credit!