Architectural photography is more than just taking photographs of a building-it is documenting the details and intentions of the designer in a new light.
Photographing the structure gives the viewer a sense of the structural scale as well as all its minute details. These qualities allow for a better mental picture to be formed that is larger than life.
In the modern age, architectural photography is not as niche of a field as it once was, and there are a number of famous architectural photographers even on Instagram. Access to a camera and platform are widely available to the general public, creating a flood of budding photographers.
If you are interested in looking out for big names in the world of architectural photography, both past and present, look no further. Read on to learn more about this field and a few featured famous artists.
With that, let’s get into it!
Who Are Architectural Photographers?
An architectural photographer has a vital role in the development of a building and in capturing the sense of the structure.
Architectural photos showcase the grand scale, as well as the emotions evoked when viewing the building. This form of photography is not simply just taking pictures; rather, it is an art form that conveys emotion by the means of architecture.
Essentially, an architectural photographer highlights the hard work of engineers, builders, and architects. They are artists just like other painters or composers, who use photography as their medium to convey their own unique perspectives.
Types Of Architecture Photography
Within architectural photography, there are a few different genres. These are classified based on the subject of the structure being captured.
By focusing on various aspects of the building, the photographer highlights different methods of expression. The exterior structure is a common theme in this field as it defines the character and personality of the surrounding environment.
However, photographing the outside of the structure is not always the case with architectural photography. There are other approaches to capturing the essence and emotions of a building.
Alternatively, architectural photographers do not always focus on the exterior of the building but the interior as well. The space that makes up the architecture is just as important as the external shell that houses it. Furniture and interior design are unique aesthetic choices that garner certain emotions. These emotions are conveyed by the artist to create specific scenes and compositions.
Another form of architectural photography comes in the abstract. There are photographers who pay homage to the architects’ efforts in designing the structure. Small details such as shapes and angles throughout the building are the focus of these pictures. While these details may not stand out right away, the attention given to them by the photographer is a compensation of sorts for their underrated presence.
Highlighting these small features or parts of the building at different angles can make for an interesting composition. These different approaches are what make architectural photographers so appreciated. They are able to see the world through a different lens that adds a new depth to a seemingly mundane environment.
What Makes A Famous Architectural Photographer?
Anyone can take a picture of architecture; then what makes an architectural photographer an artist and not some novice? Mainly in architectural photography, it is the feelings and composition of the shot that is so highly valued.
As with any artistic medium, there is no definitive method to capture these photos. Different artists have different interpretations and styles; that too is the case in architectural photography. Quality and emotions are determined by the materials and highlighting a specific feature of the building.
Depending on the location of the architecture, lighting, and weather conditions, a photographer can have various results. Natural and artificial factors play key roles in determining the quality of the resulting composition. Playing with and experimenting with these factors can help give different effects in the picture.
Additionally, there are other methods of rising up to fame in the world of architectural photography. Some artists have a background in architecture or photography that helps them capture unique shots. Their knowledge allows for a more in-depth perspective through the lens of a master.
Furthermore, those who have developed a unique style in framing photographs find success in architectural photography. For example, this can be in taking note of how the leading lines of architecture complement the surroundings or unique features and details. Every photographer will capture a structure with a different focus; highlighting what stands out to the individual helps to create a special shot.
Being involved in multiple projects and having an extensive portfolio is another beneficial aspect of architectural photography. Simply getting out there and continuously creating projects will help you become a familiar name; recognition goes hand in hand with consistency in any field.
Famous Names In Architectural Photography
There have been several noteworthy, famous photographers throughout the history of documenting buildings. These artists inspired the new generation to photograph architecture in a new light. They have created the basis of the art form of architecture photography.
Creating stunning images is no small feat, especially when the subject is idle. This is why architecture photographers constantly look for different ways to compose a shot. Additionally, this is why the best artists are so recognized; they are able to express themselves through the medium so well.
Around the world, the best photographers have paved the way for modern architecture photographers. This field has become famous because anyone can enter it, even with little to no experience, thanks to the trailblazers.
1. Berenice Abbott (July 17, 1898-December 9, 1991)
An early artist in the blooming field of architectural photography, Berenice Abbott is one of the pioneering members. She is recognized primarily for her New York City photos as well as her scientific interpretations.
Berenice did not always focus on composing photographs of buildings as art. She began by taking portraits of people and eventually moved on to architecture. Her New York City photos have become one of the classic collections of architecture photography.
2. Julius Shulman (October 10, 1910-July 15, 2009)
One of the more widely known names among architectural photographers is Julius Sherman. He was an American photographer who helped create this field, using a camera and buildings as subjects to capture emotions.
One of the most famous photos by Julius Sherman is of the Stahl House. This photo allowed him to gain recognition as a trailblazer in the field. His work became the inspiration for many to delve into this new field of photography.
3. Iwan Baan (Born February 8, 1975)
Iwan Baan is a Dutch photographer who is recognized for his unique style and approach in documenting architecture. His method to create a composition involves incorporating the environment of the building into the photo.
By including the building’s surroundings and people into the frame, Iwan is able to create scenes that are full of life. It is his belief that the architect did not intend for the building to be a rigid body. This is why he tries to add real emotion and feeling into the background of the images he captures.
By not having any formal training in the field of architecture, Iwan conveys his own perspective as a tourist to this field. The interaction of the everyday individual with architecture gives context to the environment and photographs.
While Iwan didn’t have a long career in photography, he has been awarded prestigious awards. One of them being the reputable Julius Shulman Photography Award. This is besides the recognition he is given as one of the most published photographers in the world today.
4. Carol McKinney Highsmith (May 18, 1946)
Carol McKinney is another well-known figure in the industry. She traveled the States and photographed not just buildings but landscapes and lifestyles. Her work is incredibly solid and has a variety of photos documenting the life of 21st Century America.
As an American architectural photographer, her work was eventually recognized by Congress, who acquired her project. This project in total had over 1,000 photos and images, becoming the most extensive digital collection at the Library of Congress. It highlighted not just the life of America but the buildings and architecture that populate our surroundings.
5. James Austin (June 4, 1940)
The Australian photographer, James Austin, is a well-known figure among architectural photographers. Beyond images of architecture, James also photographs fine art around the world.
Furthermore, James was a freelance photographer who traveled extensively, especially in France and Italy. His portfolio variety has allowed him to feature in reputable publications. Additionally, he was made a Fellow by the British Institute of Professional Photography from 1977 to 1991.
6. Wayne Thom
Born in Shanghai, Wayne has an incredibly extensive portfolio as an artist. He has built up a number of projects and awards that span more than five decades, taking pictures in North America and Asia.
Additionally, he featured alongside the late and great Julius Shulman. His work is truly one to admire in the international architecture photography scene.
7. Wolfgang Georg Sievers (September 18, 1913- August 7, 2007)
Wolfgang is a German-born Australian who has a truly unique perspective when it comes to taking images of architecture. He served as an aerial photographer for the German Luftwaffe in the Second World War. Furthermore, he also served in the Australian Army from 1942 to 1946.
His history of service in the armed forces allowed him to see his surroundings and the various architecture through a different lens (so to speak). After serving his time in the Army, he eventually established his own photography studio.
After setting up the studio in Grosvenor Chambers, Wolfgang dived into working as an architectural photographer. His projects include works in various countries such as Portugal and Australia.
8. Andrew Prokos (1971)
Andrew Prokos is another notable name in the world of American architectural photography. He focused not only on architecture but fine art as well.
Over his career, Andrew has garnered the attention of the world. His project titled “Niemeyer’s Brasilia” has won numerous accolades in the international scene and was published in 12 countries. It is safe to say that his career served as an inspiration for many around the world.
9. Frederick H. Evans (June 26, 1853-June 24, 1943)
Frederick was a British photographer who is known for his platinotype method of capturing images. The attention to detail of the buildings is what helped him become internationally recognized.
French and English cathedrals are two favorite subjects in his photos. By passionately documenting these buildings, he paved the way in showcasing these structures in a new light.
Frederick was a passionate individual who prided himself on his work. Beyond just a photographed representation of the structure, he wrote about it as well. Presently, his projects are a valuable source of information in capturing the feel and emotions of a design.
The Modern Architecture Photographer
Today, the world has changed with the rise of social media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest. An architectural photographer can be anyone with a phone and internet connection. By uploading their posts to this platform, they can gain an audience and acclaim.
Of course, these individuals can be self-taught photographers, architects, or master photographers. Beginning a journey in this field is as simple as creating a page and post of architecture. There are no distinctions online, simply the images and the emotions conveyed are enough.
With new photographers emerging on a regular basis, you can find your inspiration from a number of sources. Here are a few notable names coming up in the world of Instagram architecture photography today.
1. Kerstin Arnemann
Based in Malta, Kerstin is a German photographer who focuses on long-exposure pictures. She leaves the shutter exposed to create a beautiful image that is mainly in black and white.
Focusing on monochrome photographs, her work brings out attention to the structure, texture, and lighting in the images. Her method is akin to that of the unique style of an artist while creating a painting. These monochrome projects have given her a name in the world of photography.
2. Mihai Florea
With the use of the monochrome method in photography, Mihai has won critical acclaim in the field. Hailing from Melbourne, this artist uses a balance of light and composition when framing up a shot. His photos give a tactile sense of depth by working with varying degrees of black and white shades and textures.
While these images may be minimalistic on the surface, they are able to convey a lot when given a second look. The different layers of the structure, as well as the surroundings, create a complete image of the buildings.
3. Julia Anna Gospodarou
Julia is another photographer who has won many awards for her photographs of architecture and fine art. She is based in Athens and has a background as an architect that helps her frame shots in a fresh way.
Abstract details of the buildings are a focus for Julia. Architects are able to see the building from a different perspective, knowing the ins and outs of its design process. By noting these details as an architect, her photos have an elevated quality to them.
Furthermore, her images evoke a sense of scale to the viewer even if it does not focus on the architecture as a whole. Her passion for architecture and photography is reflected beautifully in her work, creating scenes of modernism in detail.
4. Arnaud Bertrande
Arnaud is a newcomer with a meteoric rise in the world of architectural photography. His use of digital photography allows him to express his imagination with a unique approach. All his photographs are framed carefully, and despite being a self-taught photographer, he is able to create high-quality photographs.
Hopefully, now you are a bit more aware of the “who’s who” in the world of architectural photography. Whether you are a researcher for architecture firms or simply appreciate interior designers, this field has something for everyone.
These images are not just photos; they transport the viewer to the location itself. Materials and lighting, as well as the environment’s atmosphere, all come together in the pictures to convey an emotion.
Appreciation of these frozen moments in time is a beautiful art form. Even a regular Instagram post is a freeze-frame of a time gone by and all the emotions attached with it. Taking it in is the least we can do to acknowledge the rapid, onward march of humanity.