While this blog focuses on the creative side of architectural photography, from time to time, it’s important to talk about gear. We think gear should be secondary, a tool to further your creative vision. Know your gear well enough that using it becomes an afterthought and you can focus on creating images.
Architectural photography as we teach it (as opposed to commercial photography) requires very little equipment. We tend to shoot handheld most of the time, even inside. Let’s review what you need:
ANY camera will do. We mean that. We’ve had workshop participants with phones and point-and-shoot cameras. If you’re a little more serious, any modern DLSR or mirrorless camera is fine. There is no need for high resolution or fast shutter speed. If you’re shooting a lot of interior locations at high ISO, a camera that handles high-ISO noise well would be a plus.
We recommend a telephoto lens (70-200mm full-frame) and a mid-range lens (24-70mm full-frame). A wide-angle lens (16-35mm full-frame) is useful for interiors, to capture large spaces, ceilings, and staircases. The lighter the lenses, the better. You do not need f/2.8 lenses. f/4 lenses are more than enough for architectural abstracts. It will save you money and back pains!
Specialty lenses, like tilt-shift lenses, fisheye lenses, and Lensbaby, can be interesting to experiment with for architectural photography. They allow you to play with perspective, distortion and more.
A good bag is paramount if you’re going to spend several hours shooting. A backpack provides better support. We recommend the Mindshift Backlight.
A lot of great indoor locations (like museums) do not allow full backpacks, so a messenger bag can be a good second option. We recommend the Everyday Messenger Bag by Peak Design.
When shooting abstracts, we tend to spend a lot of time carrying our camera and shooting up (buildings, staircases, ceilings…). A good camera strap helps to provide good support. The neck strap that comes with your camera isn’t great for that. We recommend shoulder straps by Peak Design and Black Rapid.
As you can see, we don’t bring a lot with us when we shoot. Gear for architectural abstracts should be minimal to give you as much creative freedom as possible.
What gear do you like to bring when shooting architecture? Let us know in the comments!