Buildings and architecture make fantastic subjects for your iPhone photography. Their bold shapes, patterns and lines are perfect for creating high impact images. But if you don’t get the composition right, your photos can end up looking messy and unappealing. So how do you compose amazing photos of architecture? Well that’s exactly what you’re going to find out in this tutorial where I show you ten simple yet powerful composition techniques for creating mind-blowing iPhone architecture photography.
Shelley Kennedy – iPhone Photo Masters Student
1. Look Up
Phillipa Frederiksen – iPhone Photo Masters Student
Creating “look-up” shots of tall buildings is one of the most powerful ways to capture them with your iPhone. It’s also very easy! Just stand close to the bottom of the building, then point your iPhone upwards.
Shooting in portrait orientation is usually the best option so that you can fit everything into the frame, especially if the building is very tall like the one above captured by Phillipa.
With this kind of shooting angle the vertical lines on the building will converge together the higher they go. This is great for exaggerating the height of the building and creating a sense of depth.
Pay careful attention to where you position the lines in the photo. It often works best if the lines start at the bottom corners of the frame so that they lead your eye all the way through the image.
Shooting upwards is also a great technique for photographing building interiors. Always look up to see if there’s anything interesting above you, especially in large buildings.
Chris Baird – iPhone Photo Masters Student
More often than not you’ll find interesting shapes, lines and patterns on the ceilings that will look amazing in a photo. I love the curves, patterns and contrast that Chris has captured in this image.
2. Shoot From A High Perspective
Evelyne Sieber – iPhone Photo Masters Student
Another good perspective to shoot from is high up, looking down onto the scene below. This works particularly well inside buildings where you can shoot directly down a stairwell or over a balcony.
Spiral staircases are amazing subjects for this kind of shot. Their sweeping curves draw your eye gently down to the bottom of the scene, creating a fantastic sense of depth.
If possible, try to capture a person in the scene, just like Evelyne has done in the photo above. This adds a focal point and sense of scale, as well as a wonderful storytelling element.
3. Shoot Straight Ahead
Luis Fernandez – iPhone Photo Masters Student
While it’s always a good idea to explore different angles, sometimes shooting straight ahead is the best option.
If you spot a building with an interesting facade, try to find a vantage point where you can capture the front of the building from a straight-on perspective.
This might involve getting to a higher vantage point, such a bridge or the balcony of another building. Try to shoot without tilting your iPhone upwards, so that the lines don’t converge toward the top of the photo.
Buildings that have lots of windows, like this one captured by Luis, make great straight-on facade shots because their repeating patterns create a really strong visual impact with an abstract quality.
4. Capture Symmetry
Jeremy Searle – iPhone Photo Masters Student
Symmetrical compositions are incredibly powerful. They instantly catch the eye, even from a distance or when viewing the image as a small thumbnail on Instagram.
Buildings and other architectural structures such as bridges are the perfect subjects for symmetry shots because they’re often designed and built to be symmetrical.
To create a perfectly symmetrical photo, ensure you stand directly in the middle of the structure so that one side of the frame mirrors the other. Use the lines within the architecture to help you line up the shot.
Turning on the grid in the camera app will help you align everything to ensure perfect symmetry. You can turn on the grid by going to Settings > Photos & Camera > Grid.
5. Use Leading Lines
Lolly Kakumani – iPhone Photo Masters Student
Leading lines simply means any lines in the scene that lead your eye into and around the image.
These lines help to create visual flow in your photo by drawing the eye from one part of the frame to another. They can also add depth if they lead from the foreground to the background.
Buildings are full of lines that you can use to this effect. Look out for any lines that you could use in your composition, such as vertical lines on a building’s facade, curved and sweeping lines of a spiral staircase, or parallel lines of a long corridor.
When composing your shot, experiment with different shooting angles until you achieve a composition where the lines draw the eye into or around the image.
It’s usually best to have the lines starting in the corners so that the eye is drawn diagonally through the frame. Lolly has done a great job of this, using the lines to lead your eye from the bottom right corner to the top of the image.
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6. Use Framing Elements
Janet Cashin – iPhone Photo Masters Student
A framing element refers to something in the scene that can act as a “frame” around another part of the scene. Windows, doors and archways will make excellent frames in your iPhone photos.
Simply stand inside the building or on one side of an archway, then include the window, door or arch in your photo. Ensure you have an interesting scene through the frame, such as the gravestones in Janet’s photo above.
Using a framing element channels the eye through the frame, drawing the viewer to the scene beyond. This adds depth to the image and helps to create a stronger focal point.
7. Include Negative Space
Leslie Baker – iPhone Photo Masters Student
Negative space refers to the empty space that surrounds your subject. Many people are afraid to leave too much empty space in their photos because they think it will make the picture boring.
But it actually has the opposite effect. Including lots of negative space creates stunning minimalist images like this one taken by Leslie.
The lack of competing objects helps to draw attention to the main subject. This technique also has the added advantage of removing any distracting foreground elements such as a busy street.
To create minimalist photos of architecture, the best option is to point your camera upwards so that you just include the top of the building against lots of plain sky. Of course, the more interesting the top of the building, the better.
8. Fill The Frame
Jude Dundas – iPhone Photo Masters Student
Another very effective composition technique is to get close enough to fill the entire frame with the details of a building – or several buildings in the case of this excellent photo by Jude.
This is a great technique when you’re photographing a busy urban scene because it allows you to eliminate the surrounding distractions. Every inch of your frame will be filled with just the detail you want the viewer to see.
Sometimes you might not be able to get close enough to completely fill the frame. If this is the case, just get as close as you can, and then you can always crop away the edges in post-processing.
9. Create A Sense Of Scale
Andrea Ross-Greene – iPhone Photo Masters Student
Including an object of a known size will help to create a sense of scale in your images. It’s often difficult to tell how big a building or other architectural element is in a photo, unless you have something to compare it to.
In this photo by Andrea, the inclusion of the lamp post and the person on a bicycle shows you just how big the sculpture above them is. Without these objects, it would be very difficult to get an idea of the size of this architectural feature.
So whenever you’re photographing architecture and want to emphasize its vast size, always look around for other objects such as people or vehicles to include within the scene.
10. Include A Human Element
Evelyne Sieber – iPhone Photo Masters Student
You’ve just seen that people can be used to add a sense of scale to your photos, but there are many other reasons to include them in your architecture photos.
Adding a human element helps the viewer to connect with the image. It’s almost as if they can imagine themselves within the scene.
A person adds a strong focal point to the scene, giving the viewer a place to rest their eye. It also creates a softer contrast to the hard lines and shapes of the architecture.
A moving subject will add energy to an otherwise static scene. And finally, including a person in your photos can help you tell a more compelling story.
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