May 02, 2017

Take Better Architectural Photos in Paris

Words + Photos : Erica Simas

Paris is a city of romance, food, culture, and rich history. Google “Paris,” and you’ll see it’s no surprise why so many visit this vibrant city. One of the things that will definitely stick in your memory is Parisian architecture. The amount of life that has been lived in and around those structures alone is captivating. Their beauty is just icing on the cake.

If you find yourself planning a trip to France anytime soon, make sure to follow these tips to get the best architectural photos possible:




Bring a wide lens

One thing you'll quickly realize in France is how you want to capture MORE. From tight streets to the interiors of cathedrals, a wide angle lens is a must for most of your photos. I found my Wide lens to be so useful that I hardly ever switched it out for a different focal length.






Shoot from different angles

Of course, you want to get a straight shot of Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower, but make sure to walk all the way around these iconic buildings. Especially with tall structures, there is more to see on opposite sides or even from directly below. Shooting from a different angle can give your photos a unique perspective. Try wandering down neighboring streets to get a more interesting shot from a distance or adjacent roads. You never know what interesting perspective you can create by simply walking around a corner.






Frame by nature

If you’re lucky enough to visit in the spring, you’ll find that Paris has a ton of beautiful trees and flowers growing in ALL the right places. Try composing your shot of architecture around foliage. And choose your plants based on what feel you want the image to convey. Here, I used dry tree branches to give me a sort of romantic yet eerie image of the Eiffel Tower, bushy green trees to give the perfect frame for a church steeple, and flower branches to delicately fill negative space while shooting the intimidating Notre Dame.






Don’t be afraid to crop

While showing the dramatic scale of an entire building is great, another awesome alternative is capturing a segment of a building. It gives more detail about the intricacy of Parisian architecture. Often times, if an image is too far away, a lot of those beautiful delicate details get lost, and it doesn’t quite do the structure justice. This is a good time to whip out your Tele lens or compose your image with a tighter angle. Not only does it bring out those details, but you can also capture some fantastic minimalistic compositions.








Leading Lines

When I come across a building, underground stations, or anything architectural, look for leading lines. Arranging the lines in your photograph can give your images more depth and dimensionality. Finding and composing for these lines will draw your viewer in, even more, to the main subject of the image. Roads, fences, bridges, doorways, shorelines, lights,  trees, and rivers are some of the many objects that can accomplish this goal.








Human element for scale

Photographing architecture doesn’t necessarily mean only capturing a building. Placing someone in your image will help you show scale. Looking at a photo of a building or structure can show its size, but it means nothing in reference to the size of our bodies. Human elements also pull the viewer into the otherwise inanimate photograph. If you want to take it one step further, some say that if your human subject is an unidentifiable silhouette, the viewer tends to psychologically picture themselves as the person in the photo.






France has a lot to offer. Paris itself can take a full week, if not more, to explore at a basic level. I highly recommend taking a day or two to also explore the outskirts of the city, if possible. The quaint villages nearby will surely create a love of French history.


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