So you want to take photos of buildings? Where do you start?

I’m going to approach this guide as if you’re my friend and you’ve come to ask me what camera you should buy for architectural photography. We’re assuming here that you don’t have any experience with photography. The first thing I’m going to tell you is to not worry too much about having the biggest or best camera. In the words of one of the world’s most well known commercial photographers Chase Jarvis, “the best camera is the one that’s with you.”

What is more important at this stage is to focus on the techniques that are going to improve your images the most. Why? Low quality equipment with good technique trumps expensive equipment that you can’t use.

That said, you are going to need a couple pieces of essential equipment to start, and as your skill level increases you’re going to want to know what to acquire next. So let’s get started.

The absolute bare bones kit

When you first start taking photos of architecture you don’t actually need to buy a hugely expensive array of photographic equipment. What you need to learn more than anything else is to just keep your camera still.  That’s because architectural photography often deals with low light scenarios like twilight shots and interiors. Both require your camera to take longer exposures (Sometimes minutes) and if your camera moves in that time you will end up with camera shake and blurry images. So your absolute bare bones kit for architectural photography is

  • What ever camera you have. Iphone, point and shoot, DLSR. It doesn’t matter at this stage
  • Tripod. Get one that can carry your type of camera. Small camera equals small tripod, large camera equals large tripod.
  • Remote Trigger. Not all cameras support remote triggers, but if yours does I suggest you get one. They allow you to trigger your camera without touching it directly, which reduces the chances of you shaking the camera during the shot.

And that’s it. The simplest kit you can possibly get for architectural photography.

It’s worth saying that this equipment principle of camera, tripod and trigger is the setup I used when I first started architectural photography and I still use it today. My camera is bigger and my tripod is stronger, but this principle setup is unchanged. Next week we’re going to look at key features when choosing your first camera for architectural photography.