Architectural Photography: Overcoming Common Challenges
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 8 min read


Architectural photography is a world of creative possibilities, filled with shapes, lines, and stunning detail. Yet, like any form of photography, it comes with its unique set of challenges. In this blog, we explore how to overcome some of the common challenges in architectural photography—you'll find practical advice, tips, and techniques to enhance your shots and bring your architectural subjects to life.

How to cope with bad weather

One of the challenges in architectural photography you may stumble upon is bad weather. It's a bit like the unruly cousin that shows up uninvited to a family event. But don't let it dampen your spirits or your shots!

Firstly, embrace it. Rain, snow, fog—they can all add drama and a unique atmosphere to your photos. Imagine capturing the reflection of a grand old building in a puddle, or the mystery of a modern skyscraper shrouded in fog. It's all about seeing the potential in the situation.

Secondly, prepare for it. Invest in a good camera rain cover. And remember to protect yourself too—a wet photographer is not a happy photographer. Consider waterproof clothing and sturdy footwear.

Lastly, plan for it. Check the weather forecast before you head out. If the weather doesn't look promising, consider visiting an indoor location. Many buildings have impressive interiors that can offer plenty of photographic opportunities.

Remember, the key to overcoming challenges in architectural photography, such as bad weather, lies in your ability to adapt, plan, and see the potential in every situation. With these tips under your belt, you're ready to brave the elements and capture some truly unique shots.

How to deal with too much light

Now let's talk about another common challenge in architectural photography — too much light. Yes, you heard right. While light is a photographer's best friend, too much of it can create harsh shadows, overexposed areas, and loss of detail. But don't let this put you off; there are ways around it.

One of the most effective ways to deal with too much light is to shoot during the 'Golden Hours' — the time shortly after sunrise or before sunset. The light during these hours is softer, warmer and more diffused. This can add a magical touch to your photos, enhancing the texture and detail of the buildings.

Another strategy is to use a neutral density (ND) filter. Think of it as sunglasses for your camera. It reduces the amount of light entering the lens without affecting the color of the image. This allows you to control the exposure in bright conditions and avoid overexposed shots.

Don't forget about your camera's settings. Lowering the ISO and choosing a smaller aperture (higher f-number) can also help manage bright light conditions. Remember, it's all about balancing the light to bring out the best in your architectural subjects.

So, the next time you're facing the 'too much light' challenge in architectural photography, remember these tips. With a little preparation and the right approach, you can use light to your advantage and create stunning architectural shots.

How to overcome lack of access

One of the more frustrating challenges in architectural photography you might come across is lack of access. You've spotted a stunning building, but it's on private property. Or maybe there's a fantastic angle, but it's from a spot that's off-limits. So, how do you handle this predicament?

When it comes to dealing with private properties, communication is key. Don't be afraid to reach out to the property owners. Explain your intentions and ask for permission to take photographs. You'd be surprised at how often people are willing to cooperate when approached respectfully.

Alternatively, consider using a telephoto lens. These lenses can help you capture close-up shots of architectural elements from a distance. While it's not the same as being up close, it's a great workaround if access is limited.

Another strategy is to seek out public vantage points. This could be anything from a nearby hill to a tall building. These spots can offer unique perspectives and help you capture captivating images despite the access restrictions.

Remember, every challenge in architectural photography is an opportunity for creativity. By exploring different solutions, you can turn the lack of access from a roadblock into a chance for unique and compelling shots.

How to handle photographing tall buildings

When it comes to architectural photography, capturing the grandeur of towering structures can be a mighty challenge. You may find yourself struggling to fit the entire building into the frame, or perhaps it's difficult to portray the true scale of the structure. So, what's the solution to this towering problem?

Investing in a wide-angle lens is a good starting point. The wider field of view can help you fit the entire building in your shot, even when you're standing relatively close. But remember, wide-angle lenses can distort images, making straight lines appear curved. If that's not the effect you're after, you might need to correct this distortion in post-production.

Another approach is to photograph the building from a distance using a telephoto lens. This can compress the perspective and help emphasize the scale of the building. However, this might require you to find an appropriate vantage point that's far enough away.

You can also consider incorporating elements in the foreground of your shot to give a sense of scale. For instance, a person or a car in the frame can help viewers grasp the true size of the building.

Navigating the challenges in architectural photography — like photographing tall buildings — requires a combination of the right equipment, a touch of creativity, and a dash of post-production magic. But with these strategies in your toolkit, those towering structures won't seem quite so daunting!

How to work around obstacles in the shot

Picture this: you have your camera all set up, ready to capture a stunning building, when suddenly, a tree, a lamppost, or a crowd of people appears in your frame, ruining your perfect shot. These are common challenges in architectural photography, and they can be a real pain in the lens.

The simplest solution might be to move your position or change your angle. But sometimes, this isn't possible. So, what can you do?

One trick is to use these obstacles to your advantage. Instead of seeing them as annoyances, consider how they could add depth, context, or interest to your image. For example, a tree might frame the building beautifully, or a bustling crowd could bring life and motion to the shot. Turn the challenge on its head and make the obstacle an integral part of your composition.

When it's impossible to incorporate the obstruction creatively, there's always the option of removing it in post-production. Tools like Photoshop's Clone Stamp or Content-Aware Fill can work wonders in erasing unwanted elements.

Remember, challenges in architectural photography, like obstacles in the shot, aren't always roadblocks. Sometimes, they're opportunities in disguise. With a bit of creativity and editing prowess, you can turn these hurdles into highlights.

How to manage reflections in glass buildings

Let's reflect on another common problem in architectural photography—managing reflections in glass buildings. There's nothing quite as frustrating as setting up a perfect shot, only to find the glass facade reflecting everything but the structure you want to capture.

But don't worry, there are a few tricks you can use to minimize or even exploit these reflections. The first one is timing. Shooting at different times of the day can drastically change the way light interacts with glass. Early morning or late evening, when the sun is low, can result in less harsh reflections.

Another approach is to use a polarizing filter. These handy tools can reduce glare and reflections, making the building's details more visible. They can also deepen the sky's color, adding a dramatic touch to your photos.

Lastly, consider using reflections creatively. They can add a unique, abstract quality to your images, turning an ordinary building into a work of art. Reflections can be a mirror into a different perspective, offering a new way to look at familiar structures.

In the end, managing reflections is all about adapting to your circumstances and using every tool at your disposal. It's these kinds of challenges in architectural photography that make the process so rewarding when you get 'the shot' right.

How to capture architectural details

When it comes to challenges in architectural photography, capturing intricate details of a building can often feel like trying to find a needle in a haystack. But with a few handy tips, you can shine a spotlight on those hidden gems.

Firstly, let's talk about equipment. A good zoom lens can be your best friend here. It allows you to get close-ups of the details without physically needing to be close. For example, a gargantuan gargoyle perched on top of a cathedral or an intricate sculpture integrated into a building's facade. A zoom lens enables you to capture these details from a safe distance.

Next, remember to experiment with angles and perspectives. Don't just stick to eye level—look up, look down, move around. Sometimes, the perfect shot of an architectural detail is waiting for you in the least expected place.

Finally, don't forget about lighting. Natural light can make details stand out or hide them away, depending on its direction and intensity. Midday sun might wash out fine details, while the warm glow of the golden hour can emphasize textures and shapes.

Remember, it's the small details that can make a big difference in your architectural photography. So take your time, explore, and let those details shine through in your work. It's another challenge, sure, but overcoming it is part of the fun, right?

How to consider the role of people in architectural photography

When you think about architectural photography, people might not be the first thing that comes to mind. But guess what? They can play a key role in bringing life and scale to your images. The challenge, of course, comes in figuring out how to incorporate them effectively.

First off, people can provide a sense of scale. Have you ever looked at a photo of a massive building and wondered just how big it really is? By including people in your shots, you give viewers a reference point—they can compare the size of the building to the size of the people, helping them to grasp the true size of the structure.

Secondly, people can add a touch of dynamism and vitality to your images. A bustling city scene or a lone individual wandering through an ancient ruin can evoke emotions and tell stories that the architecture alone might not be able to convey.

However, there's a flip side. People can also be a distraction, especially if they're not adding anything to the scene. So, it's all about balance. Ask yourself if the people in your shot add or detract from the story you're trying to tell.

So, next time you're out on an architectural photography adventure, remember to consider the role of people in your shots. They're not just bystanders—they're part of the story, the scale, and the soul of your images.

If you're looking to refine your architectural photography skills and overcome common challenges, don't miss the workshop 'Editing and Publishing Photography Projects' by Benedetta Ristori. In this workshop, you'll learn valuable tips on editing and publishing your architectural photography projects, helping you to stand out in the competitive world of professional photography.