Last week I attended an Architectural Photography course in London at the London College of Communication. The course was taught by Marcela Spadaro and Freya Najade from architectural photography studio NAARO. I entered this course having dabbled in photography as a hobby for years and without the full appreciation for the complexity and the technicality that goes into shooting architecture.
Call me naïve, but last Sunday I was under the impression that in architectural photography you want to take a photo of a building/structure as clean as you can get it, with minimal distractions and to capture entire spaces in one shot and on Monday I learnt how wrong I was. What Marcela and Freya taught me was that while everyone has a different style, your photographs need to be interesting. Essentially, you are documenting a space and telling a story.
But how do you tell a whole story about a building in five – ten photos? You need to decide what you want to focus on and ask yourself, what story are you telling? For example, are you telling a story of the details of the building, the light manipulating the space or one of people interacting with the space?
What I also found really interesting was Marcela and Freya’s camera kit seemed, to an amateur like me, ‘basic’. Essentially it was a camera, a few lenses (one being a tilt shift lens, which is amazing!) and a tripod. This is what they use to capture amazing photos any time of the day. They are not lugging around lighting kits and they don’t have bags and bags of items to carry around – it all fits into one camera tote bag that you can convert into a backpack. Simple.
Following the photographic documentation of a building you then enter the lengthy processing and retouching phase to create the final documentation of the building. NAARO’s workflow has been whittled down to an artform, it was so useful to hear first-hand what practising architectural photographers do and don’t do in the black hole that is Photoshop/ the Adobe Suite. One major take-away is how critical it is to make sure your vertical lines are vertical. If you haven’t been able to achieve this in your photographic documentation, maybe you’ve tilted your lens to capture the height of a building, then this can be addressed in the post-processing of that image. The vertical lines are crucial to a successful photo… Obviously there are exceptions to this rule, like if you’re going for a little more of an abstract shot.
Whilst their set-up seems 'simple', the ability to take photos using that kit takes a very high level of technical skill and patience, skill that I don't claim to have…yet. There is still so much more to learn; this course has given me a new-found respect for architectural photographers.
Below are photos from our visit to the Serpentine Gallery, London, to put our new found knowledge into practice...
The Serpentine Gallery.
Vanessa Rankin -
Marketing and Communications Manager