Review: Architectural Photography by Adrian Schulz

Rocky Nook’s new book Architectural Photography by Adrian Schulz provides a comprehensive update to architectural photography techniques in a digital age. My original introduction to this subject was a book by Norman McGrath called Photographing Buildings Inside and Out. Norman in years past had reservations about calling his craft “architectural photography” – but not Schulz. His 2nd Edition (2012) of his original 2009 printing of Architectural Photography leaves no one in doubt that he has mastered his craft, his tools and his ability to convey this mastery in the written word

Schulz starts out with a review of modern architectural photography, starting with a very brief history of photography, then a definition of the types of architectural photography. My only reservation about the entire book is that I believe he left out one key type of architectural photography, but I admit my bias in this statement. He lists documentary, postcard, vacation, advertising and artistic types… but the omission I see is the type of architectural photography I do – photographing building products in architecture with the specific idea of representing the products to architects for inclusion in their future projects. Maybe this will be covered in the 3rd edition.

The chapter on camera technology is about as up to date as you can make a printed book – and is current as of the first months of 2012. Many different camera systems are discussed rationally, and with strengths and weaknesses noted. Most architectural photographers fall into two categories today: first, those still shooting view cameras and film; and second, those who are shooting high-resolution digital cameras. The first group is declining quickly, as film gets harder to come by and less easily processed. The second group is quickly growing, as camera sensors get larger megapixel counts, and lens technology for D-SLR’s improves.

Shooting techniques is discussed with the desired result being to redirect the eye of the photographer in ways of seeing… after all, photography is really about seeing what others pass by or miss entirely. It talks about light, and shadows, and how a photographer will craft his image to use both to his (and the building’s) best advantage. I picked up a couple of new ways of thinking about architectural photography that I had never quantified. One was Schulz’s statement about focal length of lens: “A good rule of thumb for choosing focal length is: As short as necessary but as long as possible.” (page 129) 

In post-processing, the author discusses ways in which to maximize the digital image through the use of software. Many examples are given with clear illustrations. The discussion on why architectural photographers should be shooting RAW captures is nicely laid out. A few specific software tools are mentioned, but most of the techniques can be done with any professional level editing program

For anyone in the field of architectural photography, this is probably a “must-read” book. For anyone not in the field but wanting to break in, read this book and find a mentor working in the field. Preferably, Adrian Schulz.

Architectural Photography, 2nd Edition
by Adrian Schulz
Published by Rock Nook
ISBN: 978-1-933952-88-8 (paperback)