Learning Through Equipment

When people first started asking me to teach them about architectural photography my instinct was to talk about equipment. I wanted to talk about the camera and the types of lenses they should use. I wanted to talk about tripods and remote triggers. I wanted to talk about polarizing filters, mega pixels, and dynamic range.

But there a couple problems with this approach.

The first problem is that it assumes that you have all of this equipment. But as a beginner you’re never going to have everything. It’s just too expensive and you won’t know what to do with it anyway.

The second problem is that it railroads you into an approach that says you need highly specialised and expensive equipment to create architectural photography. This traps you into thinking that only professionals can create meaningful images. That just isn’t true. I’m not suggesting you can create the same images, but it’s important to understand that you don’t need to be the same to be effective. A point i’m going to keep making in this blog is that it is about being different, not about keeping up in the technology race.

That said, I learnt architectural photography through equipment. So I don’t want to sound like I’m saying that this is not a valid approach. It absolutely is. And it definitely has the advantage of the “new toy incentive.” Photographers get a big rush when they get a new piece of equipment. It opens up new opportunities and this will encourage you to get out there and shoot more. But when I think of a classroom of architects wanting to learn architectural photography, I have come to conclusion that learning through technique is a better approach.

Learning Through Technique  

Learning through technique, as you might have guessed, focuses on technique rather than equipment. It is all about how you use what you already have. For architectural photography it’s about the time of day you shoot, keeping your camera still and knowing a few tricks like creating panoramas, adjusting the blues in skies and framing the shot well.

When you approach architectural photography from this angle you realise that you can create some stunning images from cameras you would have previously laughed at. Even an iphone is capable of creating share worthy images if you know what to do with it.

At some point of course you will want to experiment with new equipment. That’s natural and these two techniques are not mutually exclusive. It’s not an either or scenario, they work in parallel and we’re going to be sharing from both camps in this blog.

The take away message of this post is that equipment should not be your barrier to learning architectural photography. Anyone can start learning with the camera they already have, even if that’s your phone camera.