In one sense architectural photography is much the same as most commercial photography. It’s about identifying a purpose, (this doesn’t need to be complex) and producing a set of images that fulfill that purpose.
Architectural photography is a balancing act between the aesthetic and the purely illustrative.
First and foremost a photograph has to look good. It has to draw the viewer’s attention and be worthy in some way, enough to seduce the viewer into dialog. Once again this doesn’t need to be complex, the viewer comes with his or her own personal experiences, knowledge and perspective.
This often means producing a ‘package’ that combines two stories. One of physical features, such as materials and design features and one of the non physical. The non physical could be to portray aspiration, ambition, success, it could be cosy, cutting edge, modern or tasteful or have a culture or business bias.
Clients often favour one or other the other, a Construction company is likely to prefer the former, whilst a City Council may favour the latter.
Once I have an outline brief I’ll normally visit the site on several occasions, at different times of the day and evening to ensure I can get the best light.
Buildings and structures often look their best aesthetically at dawn or dusk and the features are often best illustrated in the daylight. Daylight shots are best at the beginning or end of the day, a blue sky and a bit of sun really helps. Given that a professional photographer gets all the technical bits right, lighting is still paramount.
I avoid HDR photography if possible however if I do use this technique I do it with subtlety, the sense of reality and believability has value.
Interiors are slightly different, good natural light and daylight bulbs are ideal but indoors there are techniques and lighting that can be used when conditions aren’t perfect.