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Stunning London architecture photography for amazing architect David Dixey

My simple 5 step shooting process as a commercial architecture photographer working with Architect David Dixey

Working as a commercial architecture photographer means working alongside architects. I can’t say property, buildings or architecture interested me much until I picked up a camera. Only when I started to practise commercial architecture photography did I start to appreciate a building’s design, layout and functionality. This blog is about a project I did for architect David Dixey. He contacted needing architecture photography for his blossoming architecture business.

This project was based in South East London.

Upgrading your house or flat can be a great way to add value to it. It takes work, money, time  and can be inconvenient.  But done right it can create lots of extra space and add a considerable value to it.

Some architects like a before and after set of images to showcase how their work has altered a property. Others are content with just the final images. It’s personal preference and sometimes down to budget too. As an architecture photographer I have to work to clients needs, values and what they can afford. All businesses need to cut their cloth accordingly.

commercial architecture photography for client david dixey

1. Work to the client’s brief.

When I work with clients whether they are architects, developers or simply managing the property its essential that they provide me with some kind of brief. I want to take stunning architecture photography images for my client and their work. It’s not going to look too good if I’m shooting the wrong wall or highlighting a feature that was there previously. So the first thing I do before I’ve even set my gear up is look at the brief on location and work out, if it’s not already obvious, what the new work is. In this case the occupants were still in the building so I could ask them a few extra questions however in some cases I’ve had a quick chat with the client over the phone to ensure I’m taking images of the right stuff. Much better to sort this out at the start that to have regrets later.

architecture photographer

2. Plan the shoot.

Once I understand and can relate the pre shoot brief to the on site situation it’s time to make a quick shoot plan. This can alter depending on internal and external light and time of day.  Nevertheless it’s good to have some kind of order to work to. Sometimes clients are keen to have light streaming in through the windows but this can cause issues.  The brightest parts of the image can be overexposed and look unnatural. Most commercial architecture photographers prefer a slight cloud cover and then take the images using HDR or shoot using bracketing. In this way it’s possible to incorporate into an image areas that might otherwise be too bright or too dark. Part of the work of a commercial architecture photography is learning how to do this properly.

I’ve found on most projects there is a natural order to shoot as I’m working through the property.

london building photographer

3. Architecture photography is ALL about light.

Now I’m not one of these commercial architecture photographers who believes architecture photography is all about light …..but…….it is indeed all about light. The more I work as an architectural photographer the more amazed I am by the capabilities of the human eye. Cameras are incredibly smart machines but they are still quite dumb also. The human eye will make natural adjustments to the different amount of light as we walk in and out of rooms and also from inside to outside.  However a camera sometimes needs a few tweaks. It’s also not always good at combining different light sources. Part of commercial architecture photography is learning how to work with a variety of colour temperatures. This ensures that tungsten light doesn’t conflict with fluorescent light and natural light.

london building photography

4. Shoot the architecture photography from inside out and outside in.

As this was an extension it was important to capture some images inside and out. To look at the project from the inside out and also from the outside in. It was also possible to take some images just as the light was starting to fade too. This allowed me to capture the artificial lights incorporated into the garden design which would not have shown up during daylight. I might have a brief but I still need to imagine how a client wants their work to look. My experience as a commercial architecture photographer is that its even more important how a client’s target audience will view the images. 

architecture photography image for architect david dixey

5. Great post production

Modern cameras are great and like all architecture photographers I do my best to get the composition as spot on in shot as possible. In general the more care devoted to the in camera shot then the less time required for editing.In carpentry they say measure twice and cut once to avoid mistakes. In architecture photography they could come up with something similar. Set the shot up and then check it a second time before pressing the shutter release.

An image should not include anything that’s not meant to be there. This can include furniture, plants, clutter or even people. Even after taking all this care there are times when I miss things. Sometimes it only becomes obvious  that something isn’t quite right when I view the image on a large screen

Whether I have got the composition perfect or not part of my job as an architecture photographer is post production. After any shoot the images still need processing to ensure they are of the highest quality.

Editing the project meant making sure all the vertical lines were aligned and sometimes a slight rotation of the image too. Then I needed to adjust the exposure, brightness, tones, colour temperature and work out exactly where to crop some of them.