Architectural photography: How to plan an architectural photo shoot. 

 May 7, 2015

By  Pascal Depuhl

Architectural photo shoot – planning out all the details

Recently I had the opportunity to create a series of architectural photographs of this beautiful building for an architect friend of mine. She’s created this stunning house on one of the islands on the beautiful venetian causeway that connects Miami with Miami Beach. Check out how this image is created from the initial scout, to the photo shoot and through post production in this series. Today we start with the planning part of the shoot.

Architectural photograph of the Dilido house
The Dilido house photographed for a South American architect on a recent architectural photo shoot.

Architectural photography is about lines and light

Photograph taken of the front elevation during scouting on Cadrage app We need to show long lines” the architect tells me. She right, after all she’s designed this beauty and understands all the intricate details of the house better than anyone. Capturing her vision, that started on a drawing board, begins with a visit to the house. I insisted to meet her at the house were going to photograph, since I want to see what she’s passionate about. So the week before the shoot I meet with her at the house, with my iPhone (and a couple of cool apps) to get to know the house. Primarily it’s about her vision, but I also need to see where the sun will be, since we’re not just chasing long lines. We’re also here to catch the light.

A dichotomy: immobile structures and a sun, that doesn’t stand still

You used to have to be part astronomer to be able to calculate the path of the sun, today there’s an app for that. I use an app [nextpage title=”next page”]

called sun seeker, I shows me an overhead view of where the sun is throughout the day overlayed onto a map, as well as a 3D path that is projected on the actual scene you see on your iPhone.

Sun Seeker map view
Sun seeker map view
Sun Seeker 3D overlay
Sun seeker 3D view

Knowing where the sun will be is going to dictate you’re shooting schedule on the day of the shoot. In this case, I knew that the front elevation had to be captured in the evening, which meant work would start a few hours before sunset.

Director's viewfinder overlay
Got to be wider then 25mm.

The plan is to photograph separate exposures for sky, house lights and the sun once it rises. Throw in a few strobes to light up the facade of the house and you’re looking at a few layers in your final file.

Finally you need to pick your focal length. Again there’s an app that can help called Cadrage. It does more than this, but I like to use it as a quick digital viewfinder – it won’t show anything wider than a 25mm, but it allows you to get a good idea.

This post is a part one of a series of articles, letting you come behind the scenes. Step onto my set as I am create mind changing visual content for my clients. Next week I’ll take you behind the scenes of the actual architectural photo with photos, videos and show you some tips and tricks! Stay tuned …


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Pascal Depuhl

Miami product photographer, video producer, cinematographer and chief mindchanger at Photography by Depuhl I love to share the knowledge I've gained over the past two decades. Catching light in motion.