For a detailed overview of architectural photography, please start at our Architectural Photography – An introduction page.
What is architectural photography used for?
Architectural photography has many uses, including (but not limited to…) creating images to support sales of real estate, to support business acquisition, to provide documentary evidence, to create fine art images of the built environment, to promote travel and tourism.
Real estate sales
Take a look at real estate sales portals. Most property advertisements are supported by images of the property on offer. Some, indeed many, of the images you will find do not really contribute anything to marketing the property to achieve the vendor’s sale price. Other images, particularly on the more expensive properties, have been taken by professional photographers and the difference is clear to see: good composition, no perspective distortion, good lighting, great camera positioning, no tacky dropping in of obviously fake skies, or non-existent beautiful vistas seen from windows (this last point is much more common than you might think).
Whether interior or exterior images, they can all be categorized as architectural, but some are fitter for purpose than others. For more on what architectural photography actually is, take a look at this article.
And then there are the estate agents. The more mature of these recognize the value of engaging a professional architectural photographer. Quality images support sales and marketing, and achievement of target sales prices. But they also add much more value by supporting the agent in getting their next prestigious listing, and the next, and the next…
Architects, design studios, and developers are among the client base that may use architectural images of previous projects, both interior and exterior, to support business acquisition. Images may find their way into print portfolios, advertising and promotional materials, reports etc. Photographs may also be printed and gifted as wall art. Promotional material such as calendars also make use of images and support business acquisition activities.
To learn just how valuable architectural photography can be, I strongly recommend reading Balthazar Korab: Architect of Photography by John Comazzi.
Architectural photography can provide a documentary record of the construction and/ or refurbishment of a building. Images are often used to provide evidence of project progress to support payment claims.
Images may also be required to confirm a state of disrepair.
It is important to note that the photographer should make minimal adjustments in the post-processing of documentary images. The images should represent the as-is situation. Manipulation of the images may lead to a distorted truth.
Documentary images are also used to document change. This image of Villa 31 and Burj Khalifa in Dubai was taken after the villa occupants had vacated, and before the demolition of the old housing estate to accommodate modern housing.
Fine art images communicate the artist’s interpretation of the subject. The photographer may use various tools to create his/ her vision. The use of long exposure times is a common approach, as we can show the effects of cloud movement across the sky, creating a sense of motion. Where water flows past a building, be it a river or man-made flow, a slow shutter speed can smooth the flow, creating an atmosphere of serenity. Take a look at my fine art images to get some idea of how you might introduce your own ideas to an image.
Also, take a look at this previous post for a definition of fine art photography.
Travel and tourism
This might not immediately seem like a use for architectural photography, but it is perfectly valid. Think of places like the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, or Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Images of iconic architecture draw tourists to these cities year-round. New, unique images that can help attract visitors will always be in demand. Tourism bodies, travel magazines, event companies, theatres, may all find use for such images. The hotel and leisure industry also uses architectural images; imagine what it would be like to try and book a holiday with no idea what the hotel looks like.
So, what is architectural photography used for? Anything you can think of really. Put your imagination to work and see if you can find other uses…
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