Compositions ​used in architectural photography

Photography is about envisioning, imagining and recreating, all that can be seen, and sometimes that which cannot be seen. While technique and equipment are important, the importance of creativity and an eye for beauty cannot be impressed enough. That’s what composition means – the thought process that goes into making the best of snaps. When it comes to clicking architecture, composition gains more importance due to the unique interplay of structural elements and negative spaces. A composition has the potential to make or break an architectural image. Here’s what to keep in mind while composing an architecture shot.

  • Rule of thirds: The rule dictates that if you divide a frame into thirds (or into nine equal parts), your subject must align with the four intersection points. If the subject is linear, it should be placed along the intersecting lines. Research says that these artefacts following this rule scientifically appeal to the human eye. This is because the rule creates a more “balanced image” i.e. the human eye tends to view the intersection rather than the centre portion.

Rule of two thirds

  • Leading lines: These are line elements that direct the viewer’s gaze to a particular direction, or to infinity itself. Leading lines create an unusual depth or shallowness, they lend a visual flow to your image. Urban landmarks such as buildings have abundant leading lines. Make sure you select the ones you want to portray predominantly to create the desired effect.

leading lines

  • Curves and spirals: We often tend to see buildings in their entirety. Try to break up the visual spaces into blocks, and focus on independent curves and shapes. This will lend a new angle to your train of thought. Blending leading lines with curves creates a phenomenal effect- sharp and soft at one go.

curves and spirals

  • Symmetry: Architects love symmetry, whether it is the perfectly symmetrical Taj Mahal or the towering Eiffel tower. So does the human mind- we love patterns that we can predict. Capturing symmetrical patterns, be it huge arches or small murals is soothing to the soul. The anti-thesis effect can be achieved by putting together a mishmash of leading lines and curves ones to give a sense of disruption or ad-hoc. The Sydney Opera House is a resplendent example of the communion of lines and curves to create an architectural marvel.


  • Abstract: Patterns within patterns- look for them to create fascinating abstract perspectives. Composition need not be limited to depicting meaning, it can be open-ended and abstract, left to the viewer to interpret. Think out of the box, delve deep into the forms that make up a building or space, and you will get answers for abstraction.


  • Negative Space: This is the empty space that can be used well to highlight a feature. Look out for negative space backgrounds for entire buildings or parts and bring out an unlikely stance of the subject.

negative space

These are the basics of composition which will help you capture the man-made modern and archaic marvels well, be it landscapes, buildings, palaces or anything else. However, as the expert photographer, Ritesh Ramaiah points out, these rules aren’t set in stone. They are to be used as guidelines. In the end, what matters the most is to trust your instincts because your instincts are always going to lead you to capture the beauty in the best possible way.

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.

2 thoughts on “Compositions ​used in architectural photography

  1. Truly upon point – your audience would be wise to follow your guidance relating to this.
    Thank you so much

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