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11 Inspiring Architectural Photographers You Should Know

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Architectural photography is beautiful to look at. It’s also easy to get into and does not need expensive equipment to take. You see architecture every day—where you live, your school, or your workplace. But taking photos of what most people walk past without noticing and turning it into art can be a challenge.

What makes a great architectural photographer is how they represent those buildings. In modern buildings or ancient ruins, no two people see the same space in the same way. Some shoot long exposures on DSLR, some snap on their iPhone. The photographers on this list all have a way of seeing the art in a building’s design.

architectural photography: The empire state building under constriction
©Berenice Abbott – West Street, 1932

What is Architectural Photography?

It’s exactly what you think—pictures of buildings. Some photographers focus on pattern or texture. Others use block colours and clean lines for minimalist art. Still, others document the growth of a city skyline or create a typology of images. They all fall under architectural photography.

architectural photography: Minimalist view of three houses against a white sky by photographer karen vikke
©Karen Vikke

11 Architectural Photographers You Should Know

To inspire you, here are eleven of our favourite architectural photographers of all time. You will find photographers in various eras. And not everyone featured on this list was active during the age of Instagram.

Berenice Abbott

Berenice Abbott first became a famous photographer for her portraiture during the 1920s. Under the tutelage of Man Ray, Berenice photographed people in high-class social circles. She returned to New York in 1929 to find the skyline was changing. So, she devoted herself to capturing it. You may not know it, but you will have seen some of her work. She made stunning high contrast black and white photographs of New York during the great depression.

architectural photography: 1941 Grand Central Station in Black and White with Sunlight Streaming through the Windows by influential architectural photographer berenice abbott
© Berenice Abbott – Grand Central Station 1941

Julius Shulman

Shulman’s photograph of the Stahl House (1960) glamorised the modern California lifestyle. He was key in promoting modernism. His work has tracked architectural changes throughout Los Angeles for 70 years. As his work featured buildings and inhabitants, it shaped views of Californian life. The Stahl House has since appeared in more books, advertising, and movies than any other.  In 2004, he photographed Frank Gehry’s stunning design for the Disney Concert Hall.

architectural photographer julius shulman's fancy 60's house with a swimming pool in LA
© Julius Shulman – House Case Study #22

Lucien Hervé

Lucien Hervé portrays space, texture, and structure in a way not seen before. Many consider him one of the great architectural photographers of our time. His influence shows up throughout modern architecture photography. And, his personal story is as fascinating as his photographs. Germans capture him during WW2. He escaped and earned a medal of honour from the French Foreign Legion.

Black and white photo of shadows cast from stairs and a pilar as an architectural photographers example of form and light
© Lucien Herve

Hilla and Bernd Becher

Hilla and Bernd Becher spend 40 years documenting industrial architecture. They presented their work as typologies—grids made up of photographs of the same thing. It is only when we see them together that the differences stand out. Water towers, blast furnaces, and factories feature in their award-winning work. They also founded the Dusseldorf School of Photography. In doing so, Hilland Bernd mentored a generation of world-class photographers.

architectural photography: A black and white typology of nine water towers in a grid from bechers
© Becher – Water Towers

Hélène Binet | @binet.helene

Héléne Binet found her love of architectural photos growing up in Rome. Unlike most other modern photographers, she works only on film. Her high-contrast images have earned her work with the world’s top architects. She also finds beauty in the form and texture of historical buildings and statues.

architectural photography: Monochrome geometric image of a building from helene binet
© Helene Binet

Zsolt Hlinka | @zsolt_hlinka

The symmetry and balance in Zsolst Hlinka’s architectural photographs evoke hidden depth. He looks for geometric shapes and repeating patterns to add interest to his shots. His series ‘Urban Symmetry’ uses cutouts of the buildings along the river Danube. In them, he mirrors one half and then places it on a background of complementary colour. His award-winning pictures have been exhibited all over the world.

architectural photography: Symmetrical image of two building facades from zsolt hlinka
© Zsolt Hlinka

Jeanette Hägglund | @JeanetteHagglund

Jeanette Hägglund has an incredible eye for colour contrast and the use of negative space. Her inventive use of framing highlights shapes not seen when viewing a building as a whole. She groups work into typologies as she shoots around the world.

architectural photography: Colourful geometric house jeanette hagglund
© Jeanette Hagglund

Karina Castro | @karinacastrophotographer

Milan based Karina Castro uses architectural photography to promote conversations about socio-political issues. Her images track scientific and technological advancement in the world of sustainable energy. Her use of colour, form, and scale have led to published features on art, tech, and the human domination of the earth.

architectural photography: Sea based solar farm from karina castro
© Karina Castro

Carol Highsmith | @carol_highsmith_america

Carol Highsmith has donated her body of work (42,000 photographs) to the US Library of Congress. Since 1980, she has documented landmark architectural works in all fifty states. In doing so, Highsmith has encapsulated the modern way of American life.

architectural photography: Lit up Lemonade Stand fro carol highsmith
© Carol Highsmith

Kerstin Arnemann | @kerstinarnemann

Kerstin Arnermann started as a portrait photographer in Malta. After attaining success in many prestigious competitions, she turned toward architecture. She describes herself as a fine art photographer rather than an architectural photographer. Her long exposure photos are architectural photography at its most beautiful.

architectural photography: Black and white skyscrapers from kerstin arnemann
© Kerstin Arnemann

Karen Vikke | @vikkeview

Danish minimalist Karen Vikke shoots only on her iPhone. Her clean lines and use of negative space give weight to the architecture within her photos. As a self-taught photographer, she challenged herself to take a photo every day. The result is an Instagram feed packed full of colourful shapes and textures.

architectural photography: Minimalist colourful houses from Karen Vikke Instagram
© Karen Vikke

Conclusion

Success as an architectural photographer isn’t about photographing what other people see. It’s about showing others how you see the world, in shapes and lines, shadows and tones, or big blocks of colour and space. Architectural photographers give others a unique insight into the beauty of a space.

Architecture photography provides endless opportunities to be creative. Explore the artists here and take what you have learned to the streets.

Do you want to learn how to capture photos to rent and sell properties at higher prices? Check out our Picture Perfect Properties course!

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