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Zander Bastedo's picture

Starting My Architectural Portfolio

I recently decided to pursue architectural photography, but assuming I'll have a hard time getting work if I don't have a portfolio. So I went wandering around Atlanta yesterday and got these. Really happy with a couple of them. Any thoughts?

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William Hunt's picture

Hi Zander. Are you using a shift lens to straighten up those verticals or are you doing it in software? My initial thought was of how well your first image would work in black and white with high contrast. My second thought (and this always seems to apply when photographing buildings) is that it is often helpful to identify the particular quality/physical property that piques your interest in a building and then focus in on that property/quality in abstract isolation. And then treat that as your subject material exclusively, abstracting further as you go.

Zander Bastedo's picture

Thank you for the feedback.
Unfortunately, I won't be able to afford a shift lens for some time, so I'm forced to do it in post. That will be my next big purchase though.

I definitely agree with what you're saying, and do attempt to focus more on the abstract sometimes, but I was afraid of pushing too far into the fine art realm. Is that a real concern? If I'm trying to book jobs as an arch photographer, do potential clients appreciate the abstract?

And thank you regarding the first picture! I do have a b&w version, but I'm not sure if I'm happy with the processing yet.

Lawrence Huber's picture

Nice photos.
What is your market?
The Architect?
Building owner?
Just abstract art?
As an Architect you should ask me about it if for me.
Same for the owner.
Good luck.

Zander Bastedo's picture

Thank you! I am definitely wanting to work with architects, builders, owners, etc.
I like doing some more abstract stuff as well, but not really trying to pursue that career-wise.

Lawrence Huber's picture

Good to know.
Just pointing out what I as an Architect expect.
Good luck and your work as art is good.
Also be sure if selling the art you have permission of the building owner.

Zander Bastedo's picture

Thank you for the advice!

joemalone's picture

Hi Zander, have a look at Martine Hamilton Knights architectural photography, she's one of the best in the UK in this subject area, and I think you'd find it useful to see how she approaches this. She also runs a photography training school. I've known Martine for a few years now, and whilst not my subject area, I was always very impressed with her work.

Zander Bastedo's picture

Thanks for the info, I'll definitely check her out!

Indy Thomas's picture

Hi Zander, the images are fine but IMO you need more images of complete buildings. I would also add that a days ramble leaves you at the mercy of whatever light and atmospheric conditions are present.

Details are always welcome as examples of the architects attention to certain features and how they resonate artistically but in the end images of the complete building are the meal ticket.

I would look to see striking buildings in your area by looking at the websites of local architects and lists of architecturally significant buildings in your area.

Keeping your eyes peeled for interesting buildings helps.
I would also give consideration to the time of day you are shooting. As you know, that will make a dramatic difference in the mood of the structure.

Look at the websites of architectural photographers and see what others are doing as that is a general indicator of what is selling.
Keep practicing and learning. Cull your photos brutally. This becomes easier as you get better and have more stuff to discard. Practice by setting projects to photograph a specific building. Almost anyone will do as almost any sort is what one gets hired to do. Take a ton of pictures and you will learn a lot about scouting, prep, scheduling and PP.
Then you need to know how to bid a job. Don't think in terms of dollars per hour. Take a business class at the local Community College if necessary. That will make you more money than any camera.
THEN if you choose to do this as a business or side gig you need insurance, permits business licenses etc.

After you feel fairly confident, start cold calling architects, builders, designers etc.

I would note that most of them are likely working with a photographer already. No problem. Keep a line of contact open and check back to show your work periodically. Your enthusiasm and persistence will pay off.
Also remember that despite the heroic buildings some of these people work on, their budgets are surprisingly small for photography.

Lastly, keep in mind that beauty is in the eye of the checkbook holder. Attitude that bespeaks arrogance and "my way or no way" is the direct road to failure. Many projects are mundane but all projects are worthy of your best efforts. Note that some of the greatest names in architecture built a lot of forgotten buildings yet those buildings paid the bills.

In my 40+ years in the business nice guys with average skills get the jobs. Jerks with mad skills don't.

Michele Discardi's picture

I like the vertical lines here. As other said, keep looking at great architectural photographers (mike kelley from here or tom harris or simone bossi). You could probably immediate see that on these photos, sky tonality and white point are really off market. The composition indeed they're good for me! keep working man