Brooks Pro Tip: How to Take Better Architectural Photography

February 13, 2013 Russ McConnell General, Brooks Pro Tips, Photography 2 Comments

If you’re photographing an exterior or interior of a building, there’s one very simple thing you can do to improve your architectural photography: add a foreground element.

Most amateur architectural photos have nothing in the foreground to create depth; a foreground element can act to create leading lines that attract the viewer’s attention.

For an exterior shot, first look to see if there is an item in the foreground such as an tree, shrub, or perhaps some type of landscaping or sidewalk that can be used to lead the viewer.

The shot below was done for the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa and is used extensively in their advertising as a signature shot.  I struggled to find a foreground element until I backed up across the bridge and was able to use the bridge itself to lead the viewers into the scene.  This was a great solution to creating depth, considering the bridge literally leads patrons of the spa to its doors.

architectural lighting tips

For an interior shot, the foreground element can vary, but it is often a piece of furniture or even a houseplant. Even a person or people in the foreground can work if none of these items are available. I've even been known to hold the small branch of a tree or shrub (or houseplant for an interior) in the foreground with one hand while taking the picture with the other.

In this interior photograph below that I created to advertise El Capitan Canyon, a resort boasting well-appointed individual cabins, the breakfast elements were added to create depth and add some much-needed color.

architectural photography tips

In all cases, you must be careful to only add elements that feel logically like they could be there. If this is done correctly, you will be amazed at what a difference this can make not only in your architectural photography but in most all of your images!

Russ McConnell is a faculty member in the Professional Photography program at Brooks Institute. See more of his work at


Anu February 28, 2013 at 11:05 PM

Congratulations Karen, such a great ambassador for a woefdrnul sport. You will do a great job as Team Captain for Team GB, and now share the role with some real legends from our past. Well done from Simon Jane and Oscar xxx

Suman Mishra February 17, 2013 at 10:35 AM

Thanks for the tip, the pictures are beautiful.

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