Location, Location, Location!

I had a nice question about my architecture photography from a Twitter friend, Mark Tipping, about whether I research my buildings and/or locations before going on a shoot. The simple answer is “no”. However, I felt I needed to expand on the answer and decided that a blog post might be more useful.

Most of the time I already know the location and the buildings I want to visit. I don’t often photograph an entire building; I’m more interested in the little details and how they all interact with one another. Once I’ve reached the location I wander round looking at what I might like to photograph, taking into account the light. Once that decision is made I’ll take an overall shot of the location or building(s), which I will then go and study using the LCD on the rear of the camera, usually over cup of tea – the most important part of the decision process! This allows me to visualise what the image I’d like to make. Sometimes I can see a building and know immediately what I want to photograph.

Geometricality Study #0

This is one of the test images from my most recent architecture shoot. It almost immediately presented exactly what I wanted.  Once I’ve got the basic idea I go and make the images. And here’s my favourite from this part of the shoot:

Geometricality #5

And sometimes you have to think on your feet! One of the ƒ50 Collective members – of which I’m part of  – John Meehan, recently sprung an interesting building on us at one of our Collective Sunday Coffee Mornings – an excuse (not that we need one!) to drink coffee, talk photography and then go out and make a few images. John took us to Liverpool 1 and one of the car parks where there is a quite superb staircase just begging to be photographed. After taking the scene in, I quickly found what I wanted.

Spiral #2All images © Tony Harratt 2015 – Salford Quays & the Lowry Gallery (top two) & Liverpool 1 (bottom)

Much of the points I’ve made above apply to many other photography subjects, notably landscapes, seascapes, cloudscapes and so forth. A top tip is that you should always arrive early at your location, scout around for the best composition and light before even thinking of setting up for the capture. Don’t be afraid to wait for the right light. And don’t shoot the first thing you see. With practise you’ll soon know how to read the light and make exactly the image you want to.

Another little tip is that you should always try to get the image you right first time. This takes even more practise. Yes, you could take 100 images, one of which might be spot on. But you’ve got another 99 images to go through. Believe me, it is better to get it right in-camera than spending hours in front of your computer trying to decide which image to select and process. The less time you spend in front of your computer, the better your photography will be because you’ll be able to spend more time honing your camera skills, not your software ones.

Having written this post, I can tell you that I’ve actually set myself a real challenge! I don’t want to say too much about it but it will involve photographing ten buildings, 80 per cent of which I’ve never seen before, in just four hours. The results will appear here on The Fuji Freak.

Finally, Mark – and anyone else who pops by to read – I hope this helps! Please feel free to comment or ask questions.

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