Architecture Photography

Lecture & workshops – How to take better model photos

I recently took some time off work to go up to the University of Bath to run a series of lectures and workshops with the idea of showing 1st year Architecture students how to take better model photos. We split a year group of 88 into four groups of 22 to enable a smaller group for the workshops. It meant that I had to repeat the lecture and workshop four times but enabled a far better experience for the students.

Rather than just cutting to the chase and giving a brief idea of how to shoot models, I prepared a 35 min lecture on a few wider topics. Firstly the idea that you should take more photos and perhaps try a 365 project as well as why it’s a good idea to have another way of seeing through a passion for photography. Then a bit of a recap of who’s who in the Architectural photography world followed by a discussion and critique of some of their images including understanding the language and rules of photography and how you might then break them. After that we discussed what a bad model photo would look like along with what a good model photo would look like along with a few top tips of how you might go about achieving this.

I tried to stress that you didn’t need all the gear to do some decent photos and that a £3 hot shoe mounted spirit was the best investment you could make along with a tripod.

Taking better model photos, University of Bath

We then followed up with a review of a series of books and the photography contained within. Some architectural, some purely photographic and some that spanned both. Most of them seemed to enjoy this bit and seemed to have a good appreciation of them too. I was hoping to install an idea of critique of the images they see in these books as well as on sites such as Dezeen and ArchDaily. I’m going to do a list of the main ones we talked about soon with links to Amazon which I’ll update this post with. We then had a coffee break and began to set up the practical session.

Taking better model photos, University of Bath

Each group of four had a tripod, a black background to install and a piece of white and black foam core. Whilst the lighting wasn’t amazing they all got the white balance right, got the camera level and set about shooting their model. The white was to bounce light in and fill in shadows and the the black was to modify any reflections or reduce glare.

Taking better model photos, University of Bath

We talked about elevational shots and getting low down into the model rather than being higher and looking down as this is unlikely to be a viewpoint you would ever experience if it was a building. Once we’d spent some time with everyone’s model we went through some basic editing tips, including discussing the benefits of RAW processing, in this case Lightroom with some basic Photoshop work after.

Taking better model photos, University of Bath

The whole experience was great but thoroughly exhausting and I kind of bored of the sound of my own voice after a while. Hopefully we can do it again next year.