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How do I get Started in Architectural Photography?

By Carol Francois
Updated: Mar 02, 2024

Architectural photography is a specialty field that has developed to meet a need for detailed photographs of buildings, bridges and other architectural features. This type of work is normally done by professional photographers and is a great starting point for anyone new to photography. There are four steps to getting started in architectural photography: purchase your photographic equipment, create a portfolio of architectural photography, get your images published, and find clients who need architectural photos.

Architectural photography requires specialized equipment. In addition to a high quality digital camera, you will need a telephoto lens, portable lights, and a tripod. Investigate purchasing two or three different telephoto lenses, as this will allow you a greater degree of latitude in your photographs.

Purchase and install a high quality, professional photo editing software. Take the time to learn how to use all the features of the software. This type of photography often requires detailed close-up pictures and enlarged images. Low quality software will not be able to provide the level of detail required. A skilled photographer can create excellent architectural photography anywhere in the world. It is not necessary to be in an exotic location.

Create your own portfolio over a period of three to six months. Start with large background shots of well-known buildings or landmarks. Work on creating the right framing, lighting, and focus. Over time, revisit the same sites to get closer images of special details. Reframe the same building by taking the picture at a different angle or time of day.

Once you have developed a series of photos, review them with a critical eye. The most important skill in photography is ruthless editing. Remove anything but the perfect photographs from your portfolio. Remember that the key image you want to leave the client with is quality and not quantity. Five stunning shots are much better than 20 shots ranging from good to excellent.

Send your very best photos to an architectural magazine, website, or newsletter for use. Consider collaborating with a freelance writer to create a finished piece with photos. Create a website and publish your best photos on it. Add the website address to your business cards so that potential clients can see your work.

Send a brief brochure of your services, qualifications, and website to the architectural firms in your local city. Many of these firms need to provide examples of different architectural effects to potential clients. They also hire photographers to create a portfolio of work that the firm has done.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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Discussion Comments
By anon204475 — On Aug 09, 2011

I would say one wide angle or an ultra wide angle lens would be more useful than three telephoto lenses unless specialising in details and close ups.

What is really the essential tool is a wide angle tilt shift lens allowing you to correct perspective. This would be my absolute minimum but for professional architectural work I have around five of my favorite lenses in my kit bag, of which the telephoto is used the least. Like I say, it depends what you're focusing on, I suppose.

By anon111725 — On Sep 17, 2010

You truly have no idea of what you are writing about. I shoot architecture professionally and use a telephoto lens only for detail work. The three lenses I predominately use are the 24 TSE, the 17 TSE, and the 45 TSE in that order. You need tilt/shift or at the least shift lenses unless you are shooting a technical camera.

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