Capturing architecture when you travel

Architecture, apart from the natural landscapes, make up a big part of the whole travel experience. Small improvements in your architectural photography can make your travel photos all the more enriching and memorable.

Architecture has a universal appeal because wherever we travel, we encounter architecture in some form. Different architectural styles leave you in awe for different reasons. While the grandeur of old remains may leave you spellbound with its classic allure, the contemporary cuts of a modern marvel may stretch your imagination no bounds. Wherever you are traveling, be it a family holiday, a friends trip or the typical business travel, you can always enjoy architectural photography on the go. Architecture, apart from the natural landscapes, make up a big part of the whole travel experience. Small improvements in your architectural photography can make your travel photos all the more enriching and memorable.

  • Research your subject: Knowing the history or significance of your subject is crucial to capturing it the meaningful way. If required, hire a guide or better still do some prior study on Google to learn more about the monuments you are likely to encounter.

  • Understand light: Since you are going to visit one location probably only once in a single trip, plan your visit so that you get a good light on the subject/ monument. If you happen to pass by more than once, try capturing it in different types of lights. Remember prefer side or front lighting bring out the best details.
  • Explore with shapes: While straight leading lines emanate ruthless modernism, contours and circles speak of care and concern. Experiment with perspectives such as symmetry kaleidoscopes and whole versus parts. A classical building may appeal in a wholesome capture whereas a stark modern building may come out better in a quirky one-fourth crop.

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  • Choice of the lens: Architectures can be of varying kinds, so it is great to have a lens that captures the close crops as well as the wider angles. A range in the lens of 28-300 mm works well to click entire buildings as well as parts. If you can carry more than one lens, opt for an ultra-wide angle or fish-eye lens, it can give you dramatic wide-scapes of the subject in its surroundings.

Wide Angle

  • Get into the details: Most photographers believe that architecture photography means shooting entire buildings. This is absolutely not true. The idea is to add an element of surprise and dramatism. For this, focus on the details and elicit a unique viewpoint.
  • Add context: Often, building photographs lose meaning for lack of context i.e. time, place, situation etc. Make your viewers ‘understand’ and appreciate the photo by pictorially weaving a story. For example, if clicking an igloo, it’s great to include some habitat around to give the architectural piece a more real context.


  • Explore with techniques: A host of technical equipment will help you control the lighting or angles in your architectural photographs.

Long exposure photography: Explore with long exposures on your tripod and bring out amazing colours or create a thrilling sense of motion.

long exposure.jpg

Use of ND Filter: This controls the level of light that enters your lens, helping in bright conditions by preventing highlights from blowing out.

Diffused flash: Indoor lighting is challenging because natural light is not sufficient. You can experiment with a diffused flash to add some lighting, however, be careful to not make it appear “artificial”.

  • Exude dramatism: Presenting architecture on digital film is all about “catching the eye”. Think up new representations of the ordinary. Photos that exude a raw dramatism, enrapture the audience, leaving them in wonderment.

  • Add a degree of abstract: Intrigue viewers with the abstract, especially for modern architecture. Pay attention to unusual looking forms or play around with the core defining element, adding an abstract angle in the frame. A photograph is abstract if it tickles the imagination of the viewer and sets him or her thinking.


  • Process Panoramas: Some scenes such as the vastness of architectural ruins are best presented in panoramic views. Check if your camera comes with a panoramic format, or stitch together several frames into a single photo by using software. For example, while shooting a beach resort in the Maldives, have the luxurious villas on one end and pristine blue ocean sprawling alongside.

Ritesh RamaiahThe internationally acclaimed photographer Ritesh Ramaiah’s advice will definitely prove handy in this matter.(See his photos) He says, “For any architecture, its scale is really an important factor to be highlighted. A simple trick of adding human figure does so quite wonderfully.” Apart from that, he also told that adding reflection in the of the monument makes the photograph look fantastic. Many of the European countries several architectural structures are on the banks of rivers. Also, the smooth surface of the streets creates a nice reflective surface. Utilising these two elements will surely make the reflections in photographs look awesome!

Last but not the least, be willing to invest time in studying your subject from different angles, in different light situations. While you may be tempted to shoot the renowned facades of a monument on the first visit, patience and observation are the recipes for great architectural photography. A keen eye for the lesser known, hidden marvels presents the perfect unique shot!

About the author:

Rhucha Kulkarni is an entrepreneur, a wildlife lover, a photographer, a traveller and a writer. She loves juggling different hats and currently leads jungLEADz, her wildlife travel venture.

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