Architectural Photography Jobs
The architectural photographer is a stickler for perfection. It is one of the most unique careers in photography and presents its own set of very specific challenges. Architectural photographers, for one, have the task of photographing very large subjects on locations while faced with all sorts of technical difficulties.
However, when done well, the architectural photographer not only creates an image of record, but also creates an image of fine artistic merit. Many photographers have made fine arts careers out of their architectural photography.
Architectural photography is interesting in that is often a second-career choice for architects, or a first-choice for photographers who have the creative ability and technical mastery to create aesthetic photographs out of construction sites, office buildings, etc. In addition, architectural photography is one of the most lucrative niche careers in photography.
What the Job Entails
Working as an architectural photographer is usually a solo job with lots of technical equipment. Once commissioned to photograph an architectural landmark, building or residence, it is best to scout the location first. These means going to the site, taking note of any lighting effects and determining how and where you will shoot. A commission for a set of real estate photographs may require interior and exterior shots, so it will be important to determine when to go shoot and where.
Other jobs, like documenting the construction of a new office skyscraper will obviously be a months – or years-long project and you will again, have to determine the best means to document that construction site. In a way, every job is different and those differences lay in the type of work for which you are commissioned.
Architectural photographers do also find work in editorial publications that feature architectural design, interior design, commercial or industrial buildings, or residential buildings. Either way, architectural photographers should be able to photograph any type of structure, from inside and out, and from beginning to end.
Architectural: This type of photography concerns itself with the structure of a building. It is usually difficult because of the complexity of accurately reproducing an entire building in an aesthetically appealing way. This type of work is often commissioned by architects to highlight their work.
Interiors: Many photographers make a living documenting how others live in and design their own homes. This type of work is often done in collaboration with interior designers, homeowners, art directors, stylists and editors. Assignments can be found in such editorial publications like Elle Décor, Metropolitan Home or with publishing houses that feature the work of interior designers.
Residential: You could also specialize in interior and exterior photography for residential homes, condominiums and apartment complexes. Real estate agents, property owners, small business owners, interior designers, architects and business owners can commission this work.
Knowledge and Skills Required
Technical Mastery: This is one of the most technically challenging fields in photography, but it is also one of its highest-paying niches If you plan to become successful in this field, it is going to take more than a cursory knowledge of photography and a 35mm SLR. Some math skills are required. If you are familiar with “swings” and “tilts,” you are already ahead of the game. Knowledge of natural, fluorescent, and other types of interior/exterior lighting systems, as well as how to correct for them, is essential.
Specialized Equipment: This field also requires very specialized equipment. Practice of architectural photography will require, among other items: fish-eye lenses, telephoto lenses, panoramic lenses, high-quality small-, medium- and large-format digital cameras, etc.
Many architectural photographers have at least an undergraduate degree in photography, while others come to the field from architectural studies.
Architectural photographers are often freelance professionals who work from their own studios, so if you would like to get started in this field, intern or work as a photo assistant for an architectural photographer.
Earnings potentials for freelance architectural photographers are high. Average salary is $39,000. However, remember that with experience and a growing network of clients that earnings potential in this field are high.