Every site for an architectural photography shoot is different and I’m forced to overcome unique challenges to get a specific final image. These challenges are specifically why I believe a professional architectural photographer should be brought in to capture the project for people to experience. It’s my hope that my narrative along with the before and after photo will help you feel more confident in my ability, teach you what challenges we overcome, and pull back the curtain to the process of creating some of my architectural photography work.
This kind of series for the site came about this weekend as I was contacted to grab a few last second helpful images for a client to include in a proposal for a new project. The landscaping had been installed the day before and if I could grab a couple images it would help them out. As an aside, I was about to hit up the western fair market, but I jumped on the photos because I had been excited to see this Fire Station 99% completed. This was a very interesting moment for me, but I’ll talk about that later in more detail.
Challenges on Challenges
Arriving at the site of the No. 11 Fire Station, here in London, I immediately saw my first few challenges for these quick photos: the landscaping was installed, but some construction elements were still around the building too. I’m all about trying to keep images as authentic as possible because I believe this is important for trying to keep the architecture as the subject instead of an advertisement for computer software aka photoshop. I don’t want people to even bring up Photoshop, period. That doesn’t mean I don’t use it. Sometimes I spend a lot of time on images, these included here in this post required me to do more editing that I expected but we’re not talking sky replacement or creating a scene you’d never find if you visited in-person.
So. The challenges. Can you spot them from this image of the site?
No worries! What you can’t see is that there water on the pavement just above the sidewalk. You’ll see it in the before and after image better. Also, the recycling container is blocked by the big signage and the garbage bin was out of the scene to the right. But, man, that porta-potty, signage, and all that glass.
I knew these were just quick photos; however, I want to help clients win. I’ll shoot in a few weeks once everything is fully done, but I wasn’t about to phone in anything.
What was required to overcome challenges?
For the final images of No. 11 Fire Station, I required on-site work and off-site editing work.
I was limited to what I could personally move, even as buff as I am. What I moved was the orange equipment by the door, a bucket for cigarettes, and the large blue-bin. As for the shooting, I used my 16-35mm FE and it was wide enough to get in front of the porta-potty and big sign. I had to be strategic with the viewpoints to not include obstacles and save me time in post-production as best I could.
In post-production, I had to overcome the challenge of water on the pavement, signage in windows, weird reflections, reflections of the porta-potty and tiny sod issues since it was just laid.
Architectural Before & Afters
With the challenges presented, I believe these 3 images came out great! For each image, I bracket raw exposures, but the dynamic range of the Sony A7II is usually so awesome that I end up editing through only one – especially with daytime exterior images. I sent Ryan 3 images, so I’ll show them here too. I’ve cropped the before and afters to be a ratio of 16×9 and the before images have items physically removed already.
Front Facing Before & After
Left Side Before & After
Right Side Before & After
More Before & Afters for Architecture Images
Hopefully, you notice that the images are cleaned up, but they still portray a real-life condition to them. I had to get tedious with some reflections in the glass, but not eliminate them.
I’d love to hear what you think of this idea for as an architectural photo series and document some of my processes.
I hope this kind of series could also help other people interested in architectural photography.
If you have any questions or ideas that could improve these articles, I’m completely open!
More before and afters are on the way.