I have a little mental checklist i go through when i pass a building that catches my eye. So I hope this will help others look at different styles for shooting architecture.
This is the Price Waterhouse Cooper building and, as you look up near the entrance, you are clearly reminded of Batman! Think about this feature and whether you need to frame in on it or that it enhances the whole building. Can you shoot against the sky?
Notice this is Cambodia? That’s because I shoot in London and it’s definitely a challenge. Don’t be discouraged though, surrounding buildings often provide a contrast that will contextualise your building; out of place or the opposite?!
I was literally 15 feet from the building, restricted by roads and walls. Look for geometry in a single building face.
- Are there intersecting lines in the features and fixtures?
- Symmetrical or seemingly random window placement?
- How does the sky reflect off this building’s facia?
- Is there a contrasting object like a sign or lamp post in the scene that would complement the rigid geometry of the facia?
I’ve said this before, but shooting skyward is effective. Reflective buildings will contain more detail where there is a bright day. Some cloud will provide texture. Try to line up the prominent edge or facia with the frame. If it helps, fall back on golden triangles and thirds for framing. The building’s lines and geometry should be respected, so wonky levels won’t be tolerated!
Okay, there’s a building in my vanishing point, so this example isn’t a best fit. But the concept is sound. Shoot leading lines into the distance. Train tunnels and corridors, spiral stair cases. We’re talking about buildings here, so is there a repeating geometry or line? It doesn’t have to be the span of the structure, but can be on a wall or a single walkway. I can well imagine a sky scraper will entail shooting to the sky – don’t be dull though, so compose and frame well to make a simple scene grandiose and appealing.
Recap: Single Feature, Entire Building, Facia, Leading Lines, Sky and Vanishing Points.
So, hopefully you have a little to work with when you pause as you walk past a building!