12 Steps to an Architectural Image – Step 1: Walk Around

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While there are often great differences between one building and another, their size, their shape, the surrounding landscape, there is a series of steps that must be taken in documenting any of them that’s consistent from one to the next.

Before setting up the camera to make the first shot on an assignment to photograph a building it’s absolutely necessary to walk around it, look at it from every conceivable angle with an eye to determining what its most important elements and components are.  When shooting a relatively small house, the options may seem limited, however, until you’ve actually walked up and down the street you really won’t know.  The house with the high hedge running along the edge of the property may be virtually invisible from the sidewalk, but be quite clearly seen from across the street.  If you don’t do the reconnaissance you won’t know.  And don’t stop at the obvious, dig deeper.  Good walking shoes are essential.  If the building is on the edge of a hillside in a canyon the best angle to view it in its entirety may be from the adjacent hillside.  Be ready for this with a longer lens than you think you’re going to need.  By the way, generally speaking the taller the structure the wider the effective radius around it that will need to be covered.  In the case of mid- and high-rise buildings this will often mean getting in the car to explore possible vantage points.  Sometimes the best view is the one from across the freeway on the dead-end street that you didn’t even know existed.

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