Experienced and amateur photographers alike can do well to photograph architecture. The intricacy of angles and fretwork, the lines and spaces of fine design can present challenges to depth-of-field and composition in ways that no other subject matter can achieve. Indeed, some of the finest photographers have made their living off of architecture across the world, recording and interpreting various textures and finishes in fine marble, detailed granite, and cedar cladding. Whether you prefer macro or micro photography, these ideas are sure to make you aware of some of the nicest buildings to photograph.
Greek Revival architecture is grand and stately, with columns and multi-storied buildings. Corinthian, Doric and Ionic columns are usually the choice for this structure. The low-pitched roof of these buildings serves as further emphasis to the columns, and pilasters, often with pediments, will grace the doorways. Aside from the decorative doorway, the rest of the openings are somewhat understated. There is usually a wide cornice band around the roof. In the original Greek architecture, this was often carved marble. In Greek Revival, it is often cedar cladding that has been coated with enamel paint.
When photographing Greek Revival structures, steeply angled sunlight, either at sunrise or sunset, will give the most comprehensive glow to the length of the columns. If Corinthian columns are present, the capitals will have a leaf design. For pure architectural impact, clean the capital thoroughly, and even touch it up with fresh matching paint. Bring your own lighting to highlight the carving. For artistic expression, leave the capital as is. Typically, the more weathered it is, the better. Peeling paint, a chipped design, and erosion can create a lovely work of art.
Almost in a 180 degree turn of style from Greek Revival, you have French Country. The building materials, floor plans, and just about everything else is different. Here, you will have steep, hip roofs that make a strong statement architecturally. The cladding of houses in French Country style are usually stucco, brick, or native stone, rather than wooden cladding. This gives you much more visual interest when looking at detailed photography. This architectural style is used for everything from small farmhouse to fine estates.
Generally, this style of house is asymmetrical. This gives it the “added onto” appearance that is typical for many small homes. The owners appear to have added on rooms as they can afford it, or as their families have grown. The overall effect is rustic charm and welcoming spaces. There will be curved arches, and rather than Doric columns, you’ll find soft lines, with subtle curves at the eaves.
Rather than the low-rise roof of Greek Revival, you often find abundant attic space with second floor rooms within the roof. Thus, a two storey French Country building will look much more cozy than a two storey Greek Revival.
These two architectural styles, alone, will give you a multitude of studies in contrasts, colors, line, and textures.