s a Cyprus architect, your potential clients are more likely to see photos of your work than visit your buildings in the flesh, so whether you’re looking to build your architectural website or just showcase your portfolio on social media, the photos of your designs need to be on point. This is particularly the case during an era where visuals are everything. What follows below is an extensive blog post to help you identify the good architectural photographers in Limassol from the bad. Let’s jump straight in.
Architectural photography skills in Limassol
Architectural photography in Cyprus, nevermind Limassol, is very niche. It requires a specific set of technical skills and equipment that are not always relevant to other types of photography, and this means that good architectural photographers do not grow on trees, particularly on a small island such as Cyprus. For example, while many types of photography have scope for creativity—indeed, it is often encouraged—architectural photography requires a certain degree of faith to true form. There is no scope for distortion of straight lines and composition must always remain faithful to maintaining vertical lines. In other words, the building must be accurately represented and there is limited to no margin for creating an artistic impression. In short, the architectural photographer is there to showcase the architect’s precision to detain, function and form, and not to demonstrate their own creativity with a camera.
So what does this all mean in practice? Firstly, it means that an architectural photographer needs to have (and know how to use) the right lenses. Due to the curvature of camera lenses, it is well-known that distortion—bending of straight lines—in an image is almost unavoidable. Unless, of course, the photographer uses a zero-distortion lens. This is the first type of lens that one should find in the architectural photographer’s camera bag. These lenses are rare, they cost a huge premium and have little use outside architectural photography. As a result, very few photographers have them in their arsenal, which is why it is always important you vet your architectural photographer by asking them whether they indeed own one of these lenses.
The second type of lens one should find in the architectural photographer’s kit is the tilt-shift lens (see image further down below). This lens has several particular uses, but for the purpose of this post I shall focus only on two of them.
Firstly, they allow the photographer to shift the perspective of the camera relative to the building. This is particularly useful, as it allows the photographer to avoid the dreaded result of a building looking like it is about to fall over. To demonstrate what I mean by this, have a close look at the images below.
On the left, the image has been taken with a normal lens without any type of shift. Notice how the buildings are “leaning” backwards. This kind of result would not reflect particularly well on the architect who is responsible for designing a structurally sound and safe building. In the second photo, the lens has been shifted, which allows us to see the buildings in their right form and, more importantly, do justice to the architect’s work. Notice how much more imposing the building looks in the second image!
The second type of use case for a tilt shift lens is maximising field of view without having to compromise on what can and can’t make it into the shot. For example, say you are in a kitchen and you want to show the tabletop from a person’s perspective. You fix the camera on your tripod in a position above the tabletop looking straight ahead, but now you can’t see the floors. If you lower the tripod, you will lose the human perspective of the tabletop from above. However, by shifting the lens further down the sensor, you are now able to capture the floors but without losing the top-down perspective of the tabletop.
Another important technical skill is the appreciation of symmetry and also the ability to spot and capture leading lines. This is a method a good architectural photographer in Limassol will use to draw the audience’s eye to a particular point in the photo. They are able to achieve this by composing the image to “focus” on lines within a specific area. To give a very basic example that everyone can relate to, imagine yourself standing on a train track in a field, looking straight down the tracks (see image below).
The two rails “guide” the eye down a path that leads further “up” the image. This same type of effect can be applied to architectural photography. For example, lining up the walls of a corridor or the sides of a building (see image below).
Finally, in the absence of a brief from the architect, an architectural photographer in Limassol should always be on the look out for areas of emphasis. This could be anything from a dramatic view to an interesting piece of furniture or unusual features in the building construction itself. These things further add to the story of the building, so it’s always a good idea to showcase them.
Planning architectural photos
While many types of photography can be called “run and gun”, architectural photography is anything but. It often requires a lot of planning, and decisions need to be made about how to best showcase the building or interior in question. One must always consider the relationship of a building and its environment and as a result consider some important questions. For example, what is the weather forecast on the day of the shoot? In what direction does the sun set and rise, and at what time? When is the building most busy, or most quiet? Buildings are not just eye-candy—they are built for humans—so it is sometimes a good idea to include humans, which is why asking this question can be important. You may want to capture the building or interior when it is most lively, but equally, depending on the client, you may also want to capture it when you will cause the least amount of inconvenience to others. Some architectural photographers also work with interior designers, as the daily form of the building—which may be optimised for function—may not align with its best possible presentation. An interior designer can help an architectural photographer physically re-arrange the space to present it in its most inviting perspective. They will also adapt their staging to whatever the use case is. For example, a home may be styled to be more cosy, while a clinic may be more minimal and clean. They might also make suggestions to animate it so as to make it even more inviting to humans. For example, when it comes to homes and real estate, they may suggest to bring an animal to sit on a couch or chair, or if there is a fireplace, they may light it. Some architectural photographers even go a step further and bring humans to these type of photoshoots in order to help create a connection with a particular audience. This makes the space feel more habitable and familial, providing an instant sense of humanity and helps to tell a story.
Natural light, although usually preferable, is not always ideal for an architectural photographer. You never know what mother nature may throw at you, which is why I mentioned above it’s always a good idea to look at the weather forecast ahead of the shoot. Many architectural photographers prefer to shoot during dusk and dawn, as the conditions during these hours often provide atmospheric and colourful lighting effects. It should be emphasised though that the twilight period is quite short, so the architectural photographer typically only has a few minutes in which to capture the perfect shot. This is another reason why I said earlier in this post that planning is critical.
However, it would be wrong to suggest that sunrise and sunset are the only times of day that outdoor photos can be taken of buildings. The build-up of clouds on a more gloomy day can act as a giant diffuser for the sun, casting a soft light on the building without the appearance of harsh, blown out highlights. For some architects, these kind of conditions may even be desirable depending on the mood and feeling they want to evoke from their audience.
For interiors, there is much greater scope to use artificial strobe lights to supplement natural conditions. It may be desirable to highlight certain features of the room or building which are not illuminated, therefore making it necessary to flash a strobe light in that particular area. These frames can then be carefully incorporated into a final composited image in Photoshop, where the architectural photographer creates a blend of natural and artificial light that work together to provide a polished image, showcasing the interior in its best possible form and highlighting the architect’s skills.
Skilled post-production and editing
As I have alluded to in the beginning and throughout the course of this post, the architectural photographer’s job does not end on the day of the photo shoot. Many hours are spent and many coffees are consumed in the process of refining, retouching and editing of architectural photos. Most architectural images are often a composite of several frames—sometimes as many as 100—taken at different exposures, at different times and with different lighting conditions. By blending in multiple frames with both natural and artificial lighting, they are able to achieve the best possible outcome for the architect. This process requires exceptional knowledge of Photoshop, which is the go-to software for architectural photography. In addition to compositing, the architectural photographer will also use the opportunity to take out anything from the image that is visually unappealing or distracting to the eye. For example, TV cables and ugly vents on walls and ceilings in a hotel room. Additionally, colours can be enhanced or changed and the photo can be selectively sharpened.
Architectural photography in Limassol
If you’re looking for an architectural photographer in Limassol, Nicosia or Paphos, do contact me here as I would love to hear more about your project. I apply many of the techniques I have discussed in this blog post and have had the privilege in recent years to learn from renowned LA-based architectural photographer Mike Kelley. As you have probably already gathered, a great deal of work goes into capturing the perfect architectural photo and I work tirelessly for my clients to achieve the result they are looking for. Architectural photography is extremely nuanced, and it takes attention to all the subtleties I have mentioned in order to go from what otherwise may have been an average picture to a shot that will truly capture the imagination of your clients. Get in touch with me here.