HOW to choose a camera for Arhchitectural Photography & the best ways to practice.

The first time I took a night shot with my new Canon, I was astounded. I had little idea the difference the cost of your camera would make regarding lighting. A good camera will pull light from the smallest sources and make it bright as day. All you need is a steady hand, a sense of adventure, and a little bit of stealth to catch small moments.

When I was first getting into photography I asked a good friend what camera to buy. She told me to get the most expensive camera I could afford. Such good advice! Certainly you need an eye for composition, that is number one, but to take your talent to the next level, your equipment makes a big difference.

The sensor on the camera and the quality of glass on your lens; these things determine the crispness of your photos. If your composition is good, the next step is to update your equipment.

My advice. Find a photographer friend and ask them what they like. I still ask my friends and peers for advice when it’s time to upgrade, and there is always another upgrade. If you don’t have a friend, get on Instagram and start following people who do the kind of work you do and send them a direct message. You’d be surprised how willing people are to share information about their equipment. Or get on the phone with a sales person at B & H and ask questions. The B & H support team is really incredible, they are typically photographers themselves and can give you advice about all the brands. While not totally unbiased, (typically photographers pick a brand and stick with it) their advice is far better then if you were to contact Canon or Nikon directly.  Before you spend a bunch of money on equipment, find out if it is something, 1. you enjoy 2. you have time for, and 3. you some have talent with. Photography is an art form of composition, lighting, and timing. Not everyone has an instinct for it, but you can learn it. If you can answer yes to these questions then yes, buy the most expensive camera you can afford. It’s a tax write-off. I’ve paid for my cameras over and over because of the quality of photographs. If the answers are no, it may be better to hire someone to do this work for you.

Some ideas for how to practice:

1. YOUR OFFICE:

If you are a builder or designer your projects are the obvious choice for practicing. Your office is a perfect case study. This gives you an opportunity to look at your space through other eyes. Take photos of details like paper on the desk, the tools you use everyday, the people in your office.

2. YOUR PROJECTS:

Photographs of your projects being built, the craftsman bringing a design to life. The more photographs you take, the better you will become. It’s amazing how little things like electrical cords, clutter, and distracting objects that you don’t normally notice become glaring in a photograph. With time you’ll start to notice them before you take the photo. Photoshop can do amazing things, but it’s always easier to unplug the coffee pot than to try to erase it later.

3. YOUR VACATION:

Commercial architecture is particularly excellent practice because it is usually in show-ready condition with people milling about. Take photographs of your family walking through the space. Street photography is also a great way to start whether or not you want to take photos of people. Architecture, landscape, people, lights, action: it’s all there. Night photography is particularly good practice because you begin to understand the edges of shutter speed and aperture as it pertains to light on manual.

4. YOUR FAMILY:

Have a party at your house with excellent food and drinks. You are looking for how people ineract with the space, take pictures of hands, feet, and groups interacting with the textures and materials of your design (granite, tile, wood).

Marketing for custom homes & landscapes is best done by capturing the feeling you get in a space. Take photographs of hands on the wood, feet in the grass, the back of someone walking through the garden with their hands reaching for the leaves of an apple tree. These are called hero images. Your client is the hero and the feeling you want to portray is that thing your client most desires. You know best what it is: satisfaction, accomplishment, family unity, peace, calm, balance, security.

Play with timing and light, take as many pictures as you can and you’ll start to find your zone of genius.

These photos were taken in Cadiz, Spain. There is nothing as mysterious as taking the night bus to paint quiet conversations with light.

Cheers, Melissa

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