In architectural photography, it’s not merely about taking pictures. It’s about seeing—the light, the line, and the life of buildings. An expert with any camera, including the one in your pocket, learns this through practice and patience. The photo below was shot with my IPhone.

1. The Role of Light

Light matters most. It shows the building’s true face, soft at sunrise and sunset when the world seems right for a moment. Photograph buildings when the light is low and long—this is when shadows tell their part of the story. For buildings facing west, the late day is best. For those facing east, morning does justice.

2. Scouting and Planning

A good shot comes from knowing where to stand. You scout, watch how the sun moves, and plan when to return. Tools help—apps and maps—but your eyes tell you more. You find places where the building looks right, where its lines feel like they’re where they should be.

3. Setting the Scene

A building has edges and curves, and your job is to line them up. Turn on the grid on your phone; it will guide you. Look for symmetry, patterns—they make strong photos. Don’t just stand there—move around. Low angles make buildings loom; high angles lay out their place in the world.

4. The Use of HDR

HDR helps when light fights you, blending light and dark into one photo. But respect the tool—overuse makes a photo less like what you saw and more like a mistake. Use it to bring details back to the shadows and highlights, keeping things real. Your phone may have HDR capability, or check out the Camera+ or HDR Max apps.

5. Facing Challenges

You’ll face bad weather, people, cars. Sometimes, you wait them out. Other times, use them. A colorful bus in motion can show the life around a building, not just the building itself. I often include people to give scale and purpose to a space, such as this shot of the Downtown Salt Lake City Library.


Capturing architecture is about more than images. It’s about feeling the space and sharing it. With your phone and these thoughts, you can take photos with truth and maybe something more. Remember, it’s not about having the best camera; it’s about using what’s in your hand and using it well.

Phone Photo by charlesdeluvio on Unsplash