How an Architectural Photographer Conforms to and Breaks the Rules of Good Composition

If you’re an architectural photographer, then you see everything through the lens of your camera.  You can’t help thinking about whether the things you come across in your daily life will make good photographs.  The basics of composition are always with you.  You’re constantly taking photos with your eyes in which you keep trying to create a balanced image.

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Balancing Color

This idea of balance is a complex one and can be applied to colors as well as silhouettes.   In terms of color, you create a balanced photo by making sure that no one part of the photo is too heavy in terms of color.  For example, if you were photographing a vibrant sunset but the bottom part of the photo was full of dull colors because the sun was setting over a patch of earth, then you would have a lopsided photo.  But if you were photographing the sun setting over water, then the reflection of the sunset would likely make sure that the bottom part of the photo was also equally vibrant.

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Balancing Silhouette

In terms of silhouette, the idea is to make sure that no one part of the photo is too “busy.”  If you’re photographing a living room, for example, you wouldn’t want to push all the furniture over to one side and have the other side be a blank slate.  Even if the colors of the furniture and the colors of the wall are equally vibrant, you’ll still have too much going on on one side of the photo and not the other.

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Breaking the Rules of Composition

Sometimes, however, it helps to break the rules in some way.  You can create distinctive photographs which are not completely balanced, which break the rules of symmetry but are beautiful all the same.  The Western aesthetic is to keep everything balanced but the Japanese aesthetic is about asymmetry and fully capturing the beauty of that one thing, whether it’s a great view from a window, a gravel path leading up to a door or a striking piece of vintage furniture.

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