There is a certain beauty in creating something that looks effortless to the untrained eye, but that really involves solid strategy and effort.
In professional architectural photography, great images involve being eye-level with your subject (which can be easier said than done when you consider that your subjects may be tall monuments, multi-level office buildings or highway bridges). Often this means using some mode of elevation, whether it be a ladder, a lift bucket, drones, aircraft or other methods.
Architectural photographers map out their plan to get to higher ground, and this elevation – though subtle – is an investment with amazing returns. It’s a laid-back magic. Viewers know when good images are pleasing to them, but don’t know exactly why.
Why does elevation work so well? It helps the perspective of the shot stay in line. But that’s not to say that getting high up is an instant, given benefit to your photo. If you are still too low, it’s ineffective. And it’s definitely not a case of “the higher the better.” Too high and you lose the connection to your subject. There is an architectural photography elevation sweet spot, where verticals and horizontals align easily.
(Plus, as a bonus for this photographer, elevation is fun.)
Other elements are at play here, too. You’ll also notice that in the PRO image the photographer backed up to get more of the scene around the structure, giving it context. The puffy-cloud blue sky adds a dramatic, interesting backdrop to a custom-built home.
In addition to the DIY shot (below) being photographed from at ground-level, it was shot at the wrong time of day. Though half of the front facade is lit by the sun, there are shadows in all the front windows and doorways, dulling the overall impression.
The moral of the story is: There is something to be said for being a grounded person. But a grounded architectural photographer can miss out on impressive results at higher elevations.
Already working with a pro? I hope your firm’s experience is always a beneficial one. It only helps all of us in this business. If it’s not been favorable, I hope you’ll give another expert a fresh attempt at a positive outcome.