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The Art of Architectural Photography Editing

Oil painting of a man
The Third Watch, oil painting

Just as in these oil paintings I did a few years ago, editing a photograph is an art form.

In the case of architectural photography, it is important to portray not only an accurate and impressive picture of the structure, but also its environment. It needs to be in its best light, make use of its best angles, and it needs to evoke an emotional response.

oil painting of a woman
To Breathe Again, oil on canvas

The finest cameras however, cannot capture the vision completely, even with external lighting and modifiers. For one thing, spacial depth is missing once it’s translated into a 2 dimensional photo. That’s why a photo of a person in front of a tree can appear as if the tree is growing out of their head if they’re directly in front of it; we can sense the space in real life, but the photo flattens it and makes it look odd.

There are many things like this to be aware of when taking photos. But much of the magic (and often most of the time spent on a photo) happens in editing architectural photography.

Twilight photograph of pool and custom house

Before Editing

Twilight photograph of luxury custom home and pool

After Editing

I typically blend multiple layers of photographs together, while also adjusting color casts, tweaking colors and contrast, and removing distracting elements. But it’s not just technical improvements. I constantly zoom out and study the photo as a whole and look at it like a painting. I work in subtle but important embellishments, always staying as accurate as possible, yet giving it more mood or focus.

Detail of luxury kitchen photograph

Before and After Editing

More and more as I edit one of my photographs, I feel like I’m working on a painting. This makes me enjoy the process even more, especially now that I don’t have as much time to paint as I would like.

Successful architectural photographers not only have a great eye and vision, but they are also artists. When it comes to the important elements of post production and editing, like a good painter, they know how to engage you in the work, and how to make it look stunning, even as they make it look easy.

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