Buildings can be awe-inspiring in their design, size and detail. Historical, modern, abandoned, tall, small: they all tell a story about a place and the people in that place. Taking dramatic and artistic photographs of buildings can help you share your impressions of architecture with others.
Choose your camera
- Use a point-and-shoot camera or phone camera. Using a point-and-shoot or phone camera can be convenient but can also be limiting in terms of the versatility of your photography. Point-and-shoots are certainly cheaper (although prices for DSLRs are becoming more reasonable). They are lighter and easier to carry. They have a fixed lens, so you do not need to worry about deciding which lens to use or carry around extra lenses. Everything in a picture taken with this camera will be in focus. It can also be difficult to capture light, especially if you are taking nighttime photos.
- Use a higher-end DSLR camera. A DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera will give you more flexibility and adaptability in taking photos of buildings. You can manipulate focal and lighting settings. They have interchangeable lenses and have faster shutter speeds. They are also more durable, intended to withstand variable weather conditions (shooting in cold, heat, dusty conditions, etc.), and they should last longer than a point-and-shoot camera. These cameras range widely in terms of price, with cheaper DSLRs costing $200-$500 and high-end ones costing $10,000 or more.
- Try a 35mm film camera. While traditional 35mm film cameras are less common today, passionate photographers may still choose to go with this medium. Film cameras have better control over lighting, and color and light work better together. There can also be a grainy feel to 35mm photographs, which can add a more natural, textural feel to the pictures. One of the downsides to 35mm film is the added expense of working with 35mm film: you need to buy film, typically with 24 or 36 exposures per roll, and you need to develop this film.
Choose your lens
- Use a wide angle lens. A wide angle lens has a short focal length and has a wider field of view that is more akin to how the human eye sees. A wide angle lens can capture immense landscapes and buildings within one photograph. They often, however, often result in distorted photos, with vertical lines bending somewhat so that the full image is accommodated within the frame.
- Use a fisheye lens. A fisheye lens provides a broad view, from 180 to 220 degrees. The result is extreme distortion of the image. This type of lens does not represent a building accurately but instead provides a dramatic, artistic effect, particularly in pictures of buildings with symmetrical lines (one half of the picture mirrored in the other half of the picture).
- Use a telephoto lens. Telephoto lenses allow you to take pictures from far away. These can be useful when taking pictures of buildings because you can be far enough away to see the entire building in the picture, but then you can zoom in to frame up the photo. This type of lens can also help minimize distortion and bending of straight lines. Telephoto lenses are highly sensitive to movement, so using a tripod or somehow stabilizing the camera is necessary. 
- Try a tilt-shift lens. Tilt-shift lenses allow the photographer to manipulate depth of field and perspective. These lenses move the lens’ center of perspective away from the actual center. These can allow for wider photos, such as panoramas, and straighten vertical lines that often can get distorted in pictures of tall subjects like buildings. Tilt-shift lenses can also create interesting miniaturizing effects. These lenses can be very expensive ($2,000-$3,000), and similar effects can be reproduced in some photo editing software programs.
Attach your camera to a tripod. This will ensure that your picture does not turn out shaky or blurry. This is particularly helpful when taking a photo in low light or at night. If you don’t have a tripod available, you can steady yourself against a tree or lamppost, or prop your camera on a ledge to keep it still.
Carry other necessary equipment. Be prepared with other equipment you might need. Depending on the location, you may find you’ll need other things to help you take good pictures. If you are taking pictures of an abandoned building, for example, bring a flashlight. A good backpack or camera case can keep your equipment organized and easily accessible while keeping your hands free to handle your camera.
Timing Your Photograph
Choosing Your Composition
Explore the building’s exterior and interior. Take some time to find unique angles and details before settling on the precise focus of your photograph.
Ensuring Good Lighting
Shoot outdoors. Use natural sunlight to light your building. Taking pictures in the early morning or late afternoon removes the harshness of midday sun and provides softer lighting to illuminate a building’s details.
Taking the Picture
Be patient and double-check your subject and settings. Wait until birds or pedestrians have left the frame before snapping the photo. Check to see you have the correct aperture, focus, and exposure. Take a deep breath and press the shutter.
Review your picture. Take a look on the camera’s LCD screen to review your photo. Make minor adjustments to settings, lighting, and framing, and take several more photos, adjusting each one.
Keep track of your settings. Write down the camera settings and lighting conditions in a small notebook so you can see how different settings produce different effects.