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What is Architectural Photography?

Since architecture is all about designing and constructing buildings, architecture photography is simply photographing the design aesthetics of buildings and structures. The buildings that we normally find in the metropolis areas are what we normally think about when it comes to architecture, but architecture is everything that involves the design and construction of structures. There are different types of subjects when it comes to architecture photography – it can cover tall buildings, bungalow houses, heritage sites, modern buildings, farm barns, bridges, warehouses, factories, and many more. Normally, architects and architectural firms who want to showcase their work are the primary clients of architecture photographers, although some property owners who would also like their homes featured or published can hire an architecture photographer.

Interior and Exterior

Architecture photography isn’t just about showcasing the façade of a building and its external features. It covers the whole building in its design entirety. Because architecture involves the interior features of a building, it is the same with architecture photography. However, this is should not be mistaken as a real estate photographer which focuses on the space rather than the design, although both photographers can include furniture arrangements or similar setups done inside the building.

Heritage and Modern Architecture

Architecture is also classified based on the era when it was built. Older buildings can be classified as heritage and newer ones can either have standard looks or have modern designs. Buildings created during different eras will have certain distinct features. These features also differ depending on the location of the structure. Most heritage structures in a given place share common characteristics while newer modern structures can have a more unique flair. Whether heritage or modern, architecture photography will depend mainly on the design elements seen in the building.

Industrial Architecture

There are buildings built specifically for industrial purposes and these can be good subjects for architecture photography. Examples of these structures include warehouses, factories, train stations, and airplane hangars.

Architectural Details

Architecture photography can showcase building designs as a whole, but it is not limited to show how a structure stands from the base to the rooftop. Architecture photography is really more about the design than the building itself. When it comes to design, an architecture photographer may highlight some of the details that make a building look aesthetically pleasing. It is not uncommon to see architectural shots of just a fraction of the whole building. Perhaps a wall, an archway, or some beams may be shown instead of the whole façade.

Other Infrastructure

Aside from the common buildings that we see, architecture photography also covers shooting buildings, walkways, arches, and other structures that serve a different purpose other than providing shelter or space. Highlighting the design of these structures including patterns and other design aesthetics is the priority with this kind of photography. Although things such as airplanes and trains are not considered architecture, some people may opt to hire an architecture photographer to photograph these vehicles if it will involve a lot of the surrounding buildings. A plane inside an aircraft hangar or a coal train in an old station may be better captured by an architecture photographer than anyone else.

Architecture as Fine Art

Architecture photography is mainly used to feature buildings in its entirety, but it can also be used for fine art. Building owners who want to have art pieces that showcase their own buildings can choose to have an architecture photographer shoot these kinds of pieces. Alternatively, fine art photographers can also do this.

by Pam Singleton
Pam Singleton

Tips for Architecture Photography


Choose the right photographer for your project

It’s very easy to get the wrong photographer for the job when it comes to architecture photography. You need to know whether what you need is a real estate photographer rather than an architecture photographer. Although real estate and architecture photography may seem to have the same subject, the focus is really different. Real estate photography is all about showcasing real estate for the purpose of selling property. With real estate photography, being able to capture all the spaces are of primary importance, shooting budgets are much lower and the aesthetics, although sometimes considered, isn’t as meticulous.

Architecture photography, on the other hand, focuses on the beauty of the design. It is aware of the smallest of details as it presents a property the best way possible, being careful with the quality of light, choosing the right angles, and including the right props. For selling space, get a real estate photographer -- but for showing art and character, get an architecture photographer.


Think about styling

Hiring a prop stylist isn’t a requirement for architecture photography, but there are instances when you might need one. If you want your images to be featured or published, an experienced prop stylist can add, remove, and arrange certain furniture or fixtures that help create a better space that the photographer can capture.


Clear the property

If you’re hiring a photographer to capture photos of your building or space, make sure that there are no other people that can interrupt your photographer’s work. Just imagine if there were other people roaming around the property during your shoot. It may disrupt a perfectly good shot or delay your project. Even if architecture subjects are inanimate, timing is still very important especially when it comes to natural lighting, which can change depending on the time of day.


Consider night photography

Architecture photography can include night shots. There are properties that look more pleasant at night due to its surroundings. When there are distracting elements during the day, photographers can make it look better by shooting at night, especially if there are lights available.


Create a shot list

It is always best to have a shot list ready. It ensures that you get all the photos that you require and it assures you that your architecture photographer won’t forget the list of images you want. This is beneficial to both you and the photographer as it saves you time and helps to avoid mistakes like shooting the wrong area or your photographer forgetting what you want to include. This will save you from a lot disappointments normally associated with pursuing architecture projects without a shot list.


Give your photographer time to process the shots

Don’t rush your photographer to give you the photos next day or by the end of the day. Architecture photography doesn’t work that way. Give yourself ample time for the project and this will give your photographer enough time to work on the photos as well. This will result to better processed photos instead of something that was rushed.

Since architecture photography is a meticulous craft, your photographer will have your images processed in such a way that the slightest distractions like cables, phone lines, and unwanted glares are cloned out of the image. Lighting effects and other processing techniques can also be applied to the photos for better appeal.

by Pam Singleton

How much do Architecture Photos cost?

There are many things that affect the cost of architecture photography. All of these factors fall under four main categories – the photographer’s creative fees, production fees, licensing fees, and other production expenses. These four can be used to determine the total cost of your architectural photography project.

Creative Fees

Architecture photographers normally charge by the day. The daily rate ranges between $1000 and $3000 depending on the location and experience of the photographer. Shorter durations are possible depending on how many areas in your building you want photographed. The fees are more expensive than real estate photographers because architecture photographers spend more time at your property and they focus on showcasing the beauty of the architectural design.

There are photographers who specialize on specific types of architecture. For example, heritage architecture photographers tend to just focus more on old houses and buildings and may charge higher than general architecture photographers.

The photographer’s experience and network connections may also affect his fees. Especially for clients who want their space to be published, some photographers charge more for their service because it can give their clients a better chance to be published. Since these architecture photographers have published photographs, they already know what specific editorial channels are looking for in an architectural photograph.

Production Fees

Aside from the professional fee of the photographer, other production fees are involved in architecture photography. These include photographer assistant fees which cost an average of $200, processing or image editing fees which average $50-70 per image, and lighting equipment rentals which average $600 depending on the requirements of the shoot and the needs of the venue. Photo output would normally range between 10-20 images for a 2 to 3 day shoot.

Creative and production fees are sometimes already given at a package rate. Also, architecture photographers may at times scout the area beforehand to get a better estimate of your requirements so they can give a more accurate cost approximation.

Licensing Even if you hired a photographer to shoot your property, the copyright still belongs to the photographer. Of course, you may be able to use the image for your company’s promotional purpose. Selling the photograph itself, however, requires additional permission from the photographer. Unless otherwise stated in your contract, copyright of all photographs will remain with the photographer. If you want the full rights to be turned over to you, it is common practice for photographers to charge higher creative fees. Other Production Expenses Depending on your output requirement, other expenses may be incurred. For example, architecture photography of homes will sometimes require certain props which can be rented or purchased. Prop stylists are also sometimes necessary to showcase room designs better. Hiring one would, of course, increase your production cost. If you choose to hire a photographer from another location, you need to shoulder the cost of travel of the photographer, the assistants, and their needed equipment. These are just some of the other expenses you may need to consider.

Find a Architecture Creative near you!

SmartShoot brings the power of professional photos and videos.

We help businesses and individuals find and collaborate with professional freelance photographers and videographers. Our creatives have delivered over 80,000 projects around the globe.

An example project

20-30 Architecture Photos

An affordable architecture shoot will include 20 - 30 images that are editable and publishable on your company website and that can be used for other promotions. Be sure to include information about the number of rooms, square footage or property size and desired time of day for the shoot.

Suggested Price: $750

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