Architectural photography is closely related to the genres of object photography , industrial photography and landscape photography . Architectural photography as a genre is as old as photography itself and was already chosen as a topic by the pioneers. At the same time, it is an important part of photography training.
Objects of architectural photography
The spectrum of objects starts with tree houses , gazebos and architectural models up to objects from the list of world cultural monuments . This means the illustration from mini formats to the Great Wall of China. There are also interiors in all dimensions, from the attic room to the football arena.
Motifs of architectural photography can be all types of buildings and real estate, such as public buildings, houses, sacred buildings, castles, palaces, ruins, functional buildings, bridges, traffic structures, towers, sports facilities, docks, dams and industrial buildings. This refers to the inside and outside views of these objects.
Categories and genres
Architecture is part of a cultural landscape that man has created. This results in a very wide range of objects with different requirements for the photo equipment to be used. The range of objects includes:
- individual architectural objects
- Architectural details
- Street furniture, street art, monuments, etc. a.
- Exterior and interior (exterior and interior views).
A number of varieties or genres are available for architectural photography:
- Overall aesthetic approach: the spontaneous photo as access to the object
- ideal approach: associations with the function or location of the building
- focusing approach: details are worked out
- integrative approach: embedding in the environment, people, panorama , contrasting elements, weather, etc.
- light-based approach: light situation depending on the season and time of day
- artistic approach: alienation, HDR , black and white photography, etc.
- perfectionist approach: strong post-processing when working for clients.
The interplay of shapes, colors, plasticity, light, shadow, and reflections can be implemented in a balanced, exciting or expressive way.
Areas of application
The professional applications are covered by trained photographs that specialize in the subject. Theoretical training, equipment and practical experience are essential for good results.
Architectural photography commissioned by architects
The most important client of an architectural photographer is the architect . Architects use these images as references to increase their own market value and initiate new projects. The architectural photo is the architect's advertising ambassador. The architect attaches great importance to the staging and effect of his architectural statements. This places the highest demands on the photographer's implementation. This area has the highest economic importance of all areas of application and the skillful staging often becomes art itself through the commission. The commissioned art "Architecture" becomes the template for the commissioned art "Architectural photography".
Architectural photography in the construction industry
In the design and planning phase , this includes the photography of models to represent the planned construction project. Today, however, architecture rendering is predominantly used for visualization. In the execution phase, the development process of a building is documented photographically on the construction site. After completion, the building will be documented in its current condition. In addition to the artistic and documentary depiction of buildings, the use of photographic methods in surveying technology is important. In particular, spatial measurement is possible through stereoscopic recordings.
Architectural photography in the real estate industry
For the real estate industry and builders, architectural photography is of great importance when it comes to selling or renting objects.
Architectural photography for companies and institutions
Architectural photography can be of great importance for institutions and companies. Often the point is to address the importance or the functionalities of a company. Interior shots of factory facilities can also be important.
Architectural photography for services
Architectural photography also plays a role in the catering, hotel and tourism industries when it comes to attractively presenting objects in catalogs or on the Internet.
Architectural photography as a target group topic for photo equipment manufacturers
Manufacturers of photo equipment find a broad field of activity in architectural photography for placing their products and services on the market. On the one hand, this relates to professional photographers with demanding requirements in terms of equipment up to the large format area, and on the other hand, to a demand from a large number of amateur photographers who devote themselves to architectural photography as a topic for city trips, excursions or trips in general.
Architectural photography for documentation
If buildings are listed , photography is important to document the state of construction. This applies to the entire building, but also to details. If buildings are to be demolished, photography can first record the object historically. Photography is also widely used when a building is to be remodeled or modernized. Special cases are the use of architectural photographs by architecture critics , building historians and historians or by the media or publishers for publications.
Architectural photography of abandoned buildings
Photography of abandoned and decaying buildings (so-called lost places) is called ruins photography .
Functions of architectural photography
In addition to being useful for architects and builders, architectural photography also has many different social functions:
- Educational function: Architectural photography makes buildings visible regardless of the location of the recipient and thus fulfills an educational function. The fact that many people are able to describe the Empire State Building in New York without ever having been there is, among other things, thanks to architectural photography.
- Information function: Architectural photography captures and transports information about a building, e.g. B. shape, color, architectural style, materials used etc.
- Documentation function: Architectural photography documents the condition of a building in the context of time. The condition of the building is thus comparable. It is only through the documentation of the building that historical observation and the formation of stylistic epochs become possible.
- Mediation function: architectural photography conveys the conceptual or artistic idea of a building. Architectural photography makes a building "legible" even without a description - its message can be experienced.
- Artistic function: The artistic component in architectural photography deliberately interprets a building differently from reality. The tools of photo technology and image processing are available to architectural photographers.
- Steering function: Architectural photography can direct the recipient's gaze to certain details or patterns, e.g. B. certain details are focused or lines, patterns and structures are worked out.
- Comment function: The architecture photographer comments on the architecture of a building. In doing so, he slips into the role of an architecture critic. He analyzes and interprets the building. The photographer can underline, interpret or abstract the architect's formal language.
- Supplementary function: Images from architectural photography are often used to enrich journalistic, commercial or high-profile texts with images.
- Inspiration function: Architectural photography provides visual templates as inspiration for new architectural projects. Both architects and building planners are inspired by architectural photographs.
- Value enhancement function: Architectural photographers are often commissioned to photograph buildings in their ideal condition. Architects use these images as references to increase their own market value and initiate new projects. Real estate agents and builders use them to add value to the building. Although the building fabric loses value over time, photography can suggest that the value is maintained or increased.
Sequence experience in architectural photography
Several photographs of one and the same building can lead to a sequence experience. The viewer perceives partial information (e.g. the front and the rear of a building) picture by picture and mentally puts the fragments together. This results in a chronological sequence of experiences with the object, similar to a sequence of scenes in a film.
Aspects of perspective
In architecture one encounters a multitude of verticals and horizontals, structural elements, reflections or unusual lighting conditions. The lines in particular result in imaginary " vanishing points " in the extension that have to be mastered. Perspective therefore plays a central role in the composition.
Methods for realistic reproduction of the proportions
In principle, given the equipment, there are three ways to achieve a realistic reproduction of the proportions:
- an elevated camera position,
- the correct distance to the object,
- the choice of a slight side view.
Details can now be found in the perspective rules.
When photographing architecture, a distinction must be made between horizontal perspectives:
- Frontal central view: You can see a flat facade (horizontal and vertical), but no spatial depth (diagonals)
- Slight oversight (" cavalier perspective "): You can see the facade (horizontals and verticals), and a slight spatial depth (diagonals)
- Greater oversight: You can now see less the facade (horizontals and verticals) and a strong spatial depth (diagonals).
So you have to choose between a 2D and a 3D impression. Ultimately, between a three-dimensional and a true-to-scale representation.
The same now applies to the vertical camera position (vertical perspectives), i.e. H. how high you start on the object. If it is a high-rise building, it will be difficult to find a true-to-scale image. These can only be found approximately at the height of the center of the building and then only with the necessary distance. The middle of the building is a thumb of thumb. You can try it from a neighboring building, with a slightly elevated position or with high tripods. Today an optimal vertical perspective could also be found with a drone camera, but this would be at the expense of the required exposure time.
Range of perspectives
The choice of horizontal and vertical perspective gives the final perspective.
The perspective of architectural photography is traditionally derived from the drawing . The central perspective used here is mostly from the point of view of a human observer moving around the building or from an elevated position ( bird's eye view ).
The distance to the object
A very large distance to the object provides a great overview; a very small distance to the object leads to distortions due to the lateral deviation. These distortions, the closer you get, are calculated as follows:
- At 15 ° lateral deviation (angle of view 30 °) the edge is distorted by 100%,
- At 30 ° lateral deviation (image angle 60 °) the edge is distorted by 33.3%,
- At 45 ° lateral deviation (angle of view 90 °) the edge is distorted by 7.2%.
In general, the size of the object results in a concrete distance to be preferred and this is calculated as a rule of thumb as follows:
- optimal house-viewing distance (in m) = 1.5 × width of the object (m) (if the building is wider than it is high),
- Optimal house-viewing distance (in m) = 1.5 × height of the object (m) (if the building is higher than it is wide).
In amateur photography, these challenges are compensated for with (super) wide-angle lenses, which is, however, always at the expense of realisticness due to the distortion. Professional photographers who want to sell their work have to address these issues with a variety of strategies and equipment in order to achieve the highest level of realism and proportion.
Perspective and technology
The implementation of perspective in the photographic representation encounters some phenomena that are undesirable:
- Lens flaws : Usual optics have optical flaws in the sense of pillow-shaped and barrel-shaped distortions. Although such images can be quite attractive (e.g. with a fisheye lens ), they are usually undesirable as a cheap effect or disruptive in photogrammetric work (for measuring buildings). "Distortion-free" lenses are difficult to manufacture, especially in the wide-angle range, with single-lens reflex cameras, as these are not symmetrical, but retrofocusing due to the free space in the oscillating mirror. These optical errors can either be corrected during the analog enlargement process by an exact calculation of the optics or by means of electronic image processing.
- Converging lines: Converging lines are a normal perspective effect that is stronger the closer you are to the object. A vertical or horizontal edge of the building should be shown parallel to the image field boundary. If the film plane is not parallel to the vertical and / or horizontal lines of the building, these will "fall" and / or "flee" . In the case of vertical lines, this creates the impression that the structure optically "tilts backwards" and thus creates an unreal impression of the proportions. Conventional small and medium format cameras with fixed lenses must be kept exactly horizontal to avoid these effects. This limits the design options. This can be remedied by high tripods and above all a higher camera position, bellows cameras with which Scheimpflug's rule is applied, shift lenses , the adjustment options of the large format camera or view camera or the rectification with electronic image processing.
- Degree of detail : In many cases, a sharp image of the entire object or of areas that are not parallel to the film plane is required. Ways to do this are sufficient stopping down and the adjustment options of tilt lenses or the use of a large format , medium format or full format SLR camera with a tripod.
The light factor
For good architectural photos you need time to study a building at different times of the day, in different lighting situations and to find an optimal situation. Extreme light-dark contrasts often occur in urban canyons, which overwhelm the dynamics of some cameras. This then requires a contrast compensation. Frequently encountered mixed light situations require a white balance . In RAW mode photographed shadows and highlights can be optimized in post processing. Modern architecture uses light as a design element in a sophisticated and effective way. This is divided by glass facades that reflect the sun and sky in all shades. In addition, many buildings are artificially illuminated. There are three very different approaches: daylight recording (morning or afternoon), blue hour and night recording .
Choice of camera
Due to the required degree of imaging, large format, medium format or full format SLR cameras with tripods are used in professional photography.
Choice of lens
Choosing a lens with the right focal length is therefore very important in architectural photography. In general, there is a choice between zoom and fixed focal length lenses. The amateur takes light heartedly to the zoom lens, because it allows him to select exactly the image section that results in a certain camera position. The criterion is flexibility. The professional will always rely on high quality fixed focal lengths because of the light intensity and lower lens errors (e.g. with regard to distortion or vignetting ). Maybe also to the relatively expensive shift lenses, as a compromise, if other camera positions cannot be taken. The amateur will prefer wide-angle lenses because they can take pictures of the entire object with small object distances. The professional opts for a natural impression: a normal 50 mm lens is perceived as natural in architectural photography because it corresponds exactly to our viewing habits. In general, all moderate focal lengths are to be preferred: light telephoto lens, light wide-angle lens or normal lens. Different conditions apply to indoor shots, as the object distances make stronger wide-angle lenses necessary.
Choosing a fast lens with a f / 1.2, f / 1.4 or f / 1.8 light intensity is recommended because they give you more leeway. This is all the more true for recordings in the evening, at night or indoors. High ISO settings with values above 800/1600 should be avoided in order to keep structure and texture visible.
In general, the objects of architectural photography are static, unmoving, one can say "frozen". You can and should allow yourself a lot of time to prepare for the recording. Therefore, longer exposure times and high f-numbers are possible for an image that is as sharp and detailed as possible. For architectural photography, attention to detail is extremely important. For this reason, the larger the image format, the better. Large format cameras are better than medium format cameras, followed by full format SLR and FX SLR.
To increase this even further, the use of a tripod is always recommended. Due to the dimensions of a building and the often short distance (super) wide-angle lenses are often the right choice. If details are objects, telephoto lenses can be used to work out structural elements.
The architectural photo is always more than just a picture of a building. On the one hand, the designed architectural photo follows the lines and arcs given by the architect, on the other hand, it is only a good photo if it shows the building in a new context. Often the point is to visualize spatial relationships.
The following are a few aspects to consider in advance of an architecture recording:
- Exploration: Perspective is one of the most important factors in impact. Therefore you should try different camera positions before taking a picture and study the object carefully. This results in a desired composition and perspective.
- Available light: The available light also plays an important role in terms of perspective. Due to the movement of the sun, certain perspectives are more useful in the morning, at noon or in the afternoon.
- Mood: Of course, light also has a decisive effect on the mood and plasticity of the image. Hard light is often encountered at noon and creates strong light-shadow contrasts that can be disturbing. These effects are reduced in the afternoon and morning. Recordings at the blue hour can develop a special attraction. The sky, as a contrast, has a decisive effect on the overall impression. Light reflections are also important.
- Spatial effect: wide-angle lenses enhance the feeling of spaciousness and provide dynamism, but can also distort the natural proportions. Converging lines can also increase the dynamics of the image - this makes the building appear more powerful.
- Proportions: perspective, focal length and distance are decisive for a natural representation that reflects the real proportions.
- Reduction : A black and white photo draws attention to lines, tonal gradations and structure.
- Scale: People, trees or road elements can clarify the scale.
- Objective: You have to decide whether you want to pursue an artistic approach or whether you want to work as realistically and proportionally as possible.
- Distortion: Within certain limits, undesired distortions in the recording or errors in the lens in digital image processing (post processing) can be reduced.
- Post: The digital image processing (post-processing) offers enormous potential to enhance the image quality. One can discuss whether and to what extent image processing undermines the authenticity of photos. In any case, Photoshop & Co. are a blessing for architectural photography. In the past, you needed a heavy view camera and its adjustment options in order to produce images without falling lines despite the camera being swiveled upwards. Today you can do this with a few simple steps after recording with programs like Photoshop. The possibilities of a shift lens can also be expanded with it.
Gallery for photographic implementation
Architectural photography is the subject of professional and amateur-oriented competitions. Examples include a .:
In essence, well-known architectural photographers define themselves either as freelance artists or as commissioned artists. Here are a few famous or distinguished photographers:
- Berenice Abbott
- Janie Airey
- Kerstin Arnemann
- James Austin
- Ivan Baan
- Bernd and Hilla Becher
- Arnaud Bertrande
- Hélène Binet
- Jack Boucher
- Zooey brown
- Marcus Bredt
- Sergio Castiglione
- Robert Conrad
- Hans-Georg Esch
- Frederick H. Evans
- Mihai Florea
- Brigida González
- Julia Anna Gospodarou
- Fernando Guerra
- Andreas Gursky
- Roland Halbe
- Florian Holzherr
- Hufton and Crow (Duo)
- Werner Huthmacher
- Thomas waiter
- Michael Kenna
- David Leventi
- Rut Blees Luxembourg
- Eric de Mare
- Carol McKinney Highsmith
- Robert flour
- Adam Mørk
- Stefan Müller
- Richard Pare
- Bas Princen
- Andrew Prokos
- Tim Rawle
- Christian Richters
- Friederike von Rauch
- Josef Schulz
- Marcus Schwier
- Julius Shulman
- Wolfgang Georg Sievers
- Ezra Stoller
- Wayne Thom
- Pierre Trémaux
- Iwao Yamawaki
- American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP)
- Association of Independent Architectural Photographers (AIAP)
- International Association of Architectural Photographers (IAAP)
- Association of Photographers (AOP).
- Bundesverband Architekturfotografie eV (BVAF)
There are two legal arguments against taking photos:
- the copyright of the architect (photography as a reproduction of the architect's work requiring approval, Section 2 Paragraph 1 No. 4 UrhG ( Copyright Act ), Section 16 UrhG) and
- the right of ownership to the property including the resulting domiciliary rights, § 903 BGB .
In special constellations, the building occupant's personal rights or security aspects, e.g. B. in military systems.
For photos of buildings, the so-called " Paronama -free" applies . According to § 59 UrhG, the taking and subsequent dissemination of such images is generally permitted. This rule applies to outdoor shots. The image recordings must be taken from a publicly accessible location (a street is the public traffic area including the lane, sidewalk and cycle path). In fact, this means that the use of tripods, ladders, drones, helicopters and recordings of neighboring buildings in this regard can lead to objections.
Pictures from inside a building are generally only permitted with the consent of the owner. He can freely agree with the people who enter his property whether they want e.g. B. are only allowed to take photos for private or commercial purposes, whether they are allowed to take photos with or without a tripod and flash and whether they have to pay a fee for this permission. Written permission is recommended.
This also applies to buildings that are intended to be open to the public, such as museums, church properties, castles, concert halls, etc. If events or other public events that are worth reporting take place in the buildings, press freedom and the respective state press law can provide a means for press photographers free access, provided that the photos serve to inform the public.
However, if an author deals with the architecture of a building, including the interior design, scientifically, even if it is only in a popular science, he may depict an exterior or interior photo of the building under discussion for this purpose in his article or book contribution. This results from the copyright restriction of the right to quote , § 51 no. 1 UrhG.
Restricted right of use in architectural photography
In addition to the simple and exclusive right of use (regulated in Paragraph 31 ff. UrhG), the restricted right of use is particularly important for architectural photography. The law defines the extent to which the image material may be used by the client (architect / client) in certain media or publications.
The following categorization corresponds to the work recommendation for architectural photographers issued by the Bundesverband Architekturfotografie eV (BVAF) and provides guidelines for content-restricted use:
- The client uses the images for his own purposes: With this right of use, the image usage is determined on the client's native marketing channels. These channels include: your own website or presentations, specially organized exhibitions or your own printed matter such as B. office brochures or a work monograph.
- Use on social media or web portals: While the control of the channels from 1. is subject to the client (he has media sovereignty), this is not the case with social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram or external platforms. Social media channels and online portals, on which image material is presented to a community, ensure that the images posted (architectural recording) can be used indefinitely while the profile is being created by agreeing to the terms and conditions. Obtaining the appropriate usage rights from the photographer is therefore important for social media profiles such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter as well as for architect profiles on web portals such as architektur.de or baunetz.de.
- Architecture Awards / Architecture Day: If an architect takes part in an architecture award or in the “Architecture Day” organized by the Chamber of Architects, this is usually communicated in advance by the award promoter or organizer. A media mix can be created for marketing, e.g. B. the use of image material in organizer brochures, on the organizer website or in press releases on external portals.
- Editorial use of the press / book publication: Publishers who want to use architectural photographs in publications usually have an economic interest and use the photographs to add value to their own publications. Since the copyrights lie with the photographer, the correct procedure for a publisher is to ask the photographer himself about the use of his images and to license them correctly. A request from publishers to clients, however, is only correct if the client has acquired the corresponding extended rights of use. The same also applies when internet blogs request images from clients.
- PR article / corporate publishing: In contrast to category 4, this is about the intention of the architect. The questions of whether the architect pays for the placement of the image material and whether he would like to place the images in third-party advertising publications play a decisive role. The licensing of images for use in PR articles is absolutely necessary if they are not created by an independent editorial team or are only published by publishers if the client pays for the publication. In the field of architecture, this applies to the media: Cube, Architektur Nord, Bauwelt (e.g. “In conversation”). The same applies to a company's corporate publishing magazines.
- Exhibitions and trade fairs that are curated by third parties: While architecture awards (category 3) focus on the architect's self-marketing, events curated by third parties are particularly useful for third parties themselves. Provides z. B. an architecture museum or a real estate fair from the works of an architect, so this serves to attract visitors and thereby generates added value for the organizer himself.
- Use of images by companies and trades involved in the building (project partners): Since these project partners do not have a direct contractual relationship with the architectural photographer, they may not publish the images in their own or in external media without obtaining or acquiring the rights of use. It is advisable to forward the request to the architectural photographer, who then gets in touch with the company or trade involved and separately agrees the rights of use.
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