No matter the amount of experience you have as a photographer, buildings are often the best subjects for your craft. Architecture, after all, is a testament to human creativity. Every monument or skyscraper has a story to tell and photographers active in this niche can capture a building’s historical, social, and cultural value.
Whether you are an amateur or an established professional looking to venture outside your comfort zone, taking photos of the world’s greatest architectural masterpieces would be a good start. It’s only a matter of choosing which of these landmarks are worthy enough to be in the frame of your camera. Here are a few of the places you will need to see:
The Parthenon, Greece
Let’s start with one of the best examples of Classical architecture. Considered the cradle of Western civilization, Greece is the site of many beautiful temples, acropolises, and other stone structures that have stood the test of time. Among these, the Parthenon stands out because of its unique (and sometimes described as unusual) structure.
The precisely detailed columns were hand cut and the structure itself is designed in such a way that it forms a curve. When seen from afar, the columns create the illusion of a straight line. The Parthenon is a favorite among tourists and photographers. If you are planning to shoot the Parthenon, you can go there as early as 8 AM when it’s least crowded. For more scenic shots, wait until sunset so you can take stunning orange-tinged images of the structure.
La Sagrada Familia, Spain
Churches are always amazing to look at and architectural photographers visit places like the Notre Dame in Paris and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. While every church has unique structural characteristics, Barcelona’s La Sagrada Familia shows what human creativity is capable of producing. Designed by Antoni Gaudi, the church is known for its eccentric structure comprising complex shapes and details.
Gaudi didn’t live to see this project finished as the Spanish Civil War delayed its completion. Construction is ongoing but engineers expect that it would be finished by 2026 to coincide with the artist’s 100th death anniversary, but reaching this target is expected to be delayed as well. Even if it’s still partially completed, La Sagrada Familia is a feast for the eyes — and lenses. The church is a thing of beauty from the inside and out, so be sure to capture the structure from as many angles as possible.
Brooklyn, New York City
The Big Apple has lots of attractions that are ideal subjects for newcomers to architectural photography. There is the Chrysler Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Empire State Building. If you think these landmarks have become a cliche, you might as well travel to Brooklyn where there is a high concentration of beautiful brownstone row houses. Situated in recognized historical districts, these buildings add to Brooklyn’s reputation as a more relaxed alternative to the noise of Manhattan.
Neighborhoods like Bedford Stuyvesant, Prospect Heights, and Fort Greene are the best places to find brownstone buildings dating to the mid-19th century. Because of their numbers, these structures are best captured in a group. The pictures are taken during autumn when the reddening leaves amplify the turn-of-the-century charm of these iconic buildings. You can also make the most of your photoshoot by capturing the row houses along a sidewalk.
Barbican Estate, Great Britain
Aside from the Bauhaus style, Brutalist architecture has cultivated renewed interest lately. A far cry from the elegant and sophisticated pre-modern building designs, brutalist buildings are iconic because of their minimalistic appearances evoking an emphasis on scale and decoration. A good example of an iconic brutalist landmark is the Barbican Estate.
Comprising nearly 2,000 structures, the complex is a prime example of Brutalism at its finest with concrete houses and buildings formed into repetitive geometric shapes. If you are into modernist architecture, then the Barbican Estate is filled with breathtaking views blending nature and engineering into a spectacle. Take shots of the waterfall at the Barbican Gardens or get a worm’s eye view of the frighteningly stunning Lauderdale Tower. You can also take views of people enjoying coffee and conversations in the equally amazing Barbican Terrace.
If you are planning to become an architectural photographer, any building can be your subject. Still, if you want to take your skills to the next level, consider these iconic places and many more around the world that are waiting to be captured!