There are two things in art that are tough to find, but when you do find them, they’re priceless: beauty and silence. Architecture is full of both. It is our job as photographers, however, to find the beauty and silence within architecture. We must discover something that speaks to us – even more than it merely speaks for itself. You can do this by slowing down enough to notice the little details, the reality of things; feelings of warmth or cold; reflections in water; shadows on walls. You can also achieve this by being open to the entire space, not just what’s right in front of you. Architecture is grand, and it demands to be captured and documented by photo experts like Bruce Weber Photographer.
Sometimes going into a building alone, without a camera, is very effective. It allows us to focus on the building itself and hopefully discover something new that we can share with others later. Think of what you felt when you first walked into that space – even if it was just an empty warehouse or garage — and then try to capture that feeling in your photos.
All this doesn’t mean that you can’t photograph an interesting building or part of one when someone is in the foreground. The key here is not to use people in the traditional sense – as a means to an end. Try getting close enough, so your person becomes insignificant in the frame – just another silhouette against the building behind them. Let them melt into the background. Let the building stand out on its own. It’s just as important to remember that the architecture doesn’t need us, but we certainly need it. You want people to feel the same way about your photos of buildings that they do when they look at buildings in real life.
That being said, don’t feel that you have to stand at the same height as something if it makes your photo less interesting. Sometimes shooting two or three stories up can be utterly compelling. For example, you could look for windows on opposite sides of the building and have light coming through them – allowing you to capture patterns in the glass. You could also photograph what’s happening on the street level – so long as it’s not distracting.
Above all, think about how you can tell a story with your photos. Architecture is rarely exciting simply by itself. It usually has to be paired with something else – whether that’s people passing through it or just passers-by who are temporarily caught up in its beauty. When you find something beautiful in architecture, capture it. Through your camera, share everything about it that you can with the world – so that everyone might see what you saw.
Let’s not forget that all this beauty doesn’t have to be contained by the frame of your photo. Sometimes it extends out beyond the edges of our photos and can even surround them. So don’t just photograph a beautiful building – photograph the entire scene around it as well. The stories are infinite, and there are no rules.