Category Archives: Coursework

Architectural Photography

It is paramount that I realise from the offset that part 3 is NOT architectural photography……..

With that in mind I feel I need to have a clear understanding of architectural photography and how this type of photography can be avoided.

Wikipedia defines architectural photography as:

Architectural photography is the photographing of buildings and similar structures that are both aesthetically pleasing and accurate representations of their subjects. Architectural photographers are usually skilled in the use of specialised techniques and equipment.

The first permanent photograph ever recorded was also the first architectural photograph as it included buildings. The photo was View from the Window at Le Gras by Nicéphore Niépce taken in 1826 or 1827.

Shortly after, photographer William Henry Fox Talbot began photographing buildings, and his image of a latticed building taken in 1835 is well known.

By the 1860’s architectural photography was becoming more and more established, and by the early 20th century photographers were using diagonal lines and bold shadows, paving the way for creativity to be incorporated into architectural photography.

Photographers then began to develop certain techniques to enhance their subjects such as perspective control, emphasising vertical lines, and using a deep depth of field.

Architectural photography can be both interior and exterior.

Interior photography tends to use both ambient lighting and interior lighting. Often additional lighting is used to improve subject illumination as the principle subjects rarely move.

With exterior photography, the available light is used more, and sometimes incorporates added ambient light from other buildings, street lights, or moonlight. There tends to be the inclusion of the surrounding landscape to enhance the compositions; such as flowers, trees, statues etc which help lead the eye to the subject.

Below are some interesting modern architectural photographs which, while inspiring, are examples of the techniques I will be trying to avoid throughout this section.


Exercise: Standard focal length

My favourite lens for portrait/people photography is my  50mm Nikon prime lens. This lens has been said to be a crucial part of a photographers kit, especially when it comes to portrait photography. The lens produces some of the sharpest images out of all my lenses.

Advantages of using a prime lens:

  • The main advantage for me is the image quality.
  • The lens is extremely light as it’s small. A great advantage if you’re shooting for hours and changing location. Heavy equipment can sometimes be a disadvantage after several hours.
  • The speed of this lens is significantly faster than others.

Disadvantages of using a prime lens:

In all honesty I didn’t find any major disadvantages from a technical point of view other than you have to move more and approach the subject as you cannot zoom. This can cause some discomfort for both the photographer and the subject.

The other disadvantages are:

Cost (it was one of the most expensive lenses i’ve purchased to date) and it means purchasing multiple prime lenses to cover several focal lengths.

With the fixed focal length it can mean you change lenses more frequently when on a shoot.




Exercise: Close & Involved

As a general rule I would not immediately consider a wide angle lens for people photography, unless it were street photography and I was trying to fit as much of the background in as possible. It’s a must have lens for landscape photography as you can fit so much more in.

It is important to be aware of the distortion caused by using a wide lens, and this distortion is predominantly apparent in the corners and sides of the frame. So with that in mind I would imagine it is best to put the subject fairly central in the frame, and also fairly close to the camera.

I’m very aware of not placing body parts such as arms, shoulders, chin, nose etc closer to the camera than other parts as this can cause distortion. Usually portrait photography is a flattering form of photography, so this is something that should be avoided.

However this technique can be used to create a dramatic effect. For example if you were photographing a boxer you may want to position him/her with their hands closer to the lens in order to make the hands/fists look larger.

Photographer – Garry Winogrand

Another photographer my tutor has introduced to me is Garry Winogrand. His work is a stark contrast to that of contemporary photographer Martin Parr (For link on Martin Parr post please click here)

Garry Winogrand (1928–1984) was born in New York, where he lived and worked during much of his life. Winogrand photographed the visual cacophony of city streets, people, rodeos, airports and animals in zoos. These subjects are among his most exalted and influential work.

Winogrand’s work resembles that of Vivian Maier (please see post here)

They both sought out the interesting subjects and opportunities on the streets of their respective cities in the mid 50s and 60s. Again, their work is simplistic and captivating.

Winogrand has an extreme talent of capturing expressions, something which I aim to improve on in my personal photography.

Here’s a few of my favourites from a huge archive of some of the best black and white portrait and street photography I’ve seen to date.

Winogrand captures people in the moment, going about their day, engaging in some sort of activity. Whether it be driving, having a natter in the park, or having a few cocktails. His laid back story telling style feel so natural yet alluring – thanks to his composition and impeccable timing.