An architectural photographer is a photography professional who specializes in working with built spaces, which can range from temples uncovered at an archaeological dig to parking garages constructed last week. These photography professionals may choose an area of specialization such as retail, commercial, residential, or interior architecture, and they can perform a wide variety of tasks in the course of their careers. Depending on the nature of an architectural photographer's work, he or she may produce works of art, informational photographs, or promotional materials.
Architecture is itself an art form, and documenting architecture requires special care. Like other photographers, architecture photographers are familiar with the principles of photography, including issues such as light levels, focus, texture, and various printing techniques which can be used to produce different looks and feels. They must also think about issues like how to frame their images, and the moods they hope to evoke with an image.
In some cases, an architectural photographer may be hired to take images for the purpose of documenting an architectural project. These images can include before and after photos of a site or building under renovation, along with detailed images which depict the outside and inside of the building. These images must also be placed in context, forcing the photographer to think about how much to include in each frame, and whether or not it may be necessary to take aerial photographs as well. This type of work can also include photographing architectural models, and the images may be used in promotional publications for the building or architect, portfolios for competitions, or informational packets provided for governments and people interested in the project.
Architectural photographers can also be retained by an architect or interior designer to take photographs for a portfolio. These images emphasize the artistic nature of the project, and they may be works of art on their own. An architectural photographer can also photograph buildings for art exhibitions, treating the images as artworks, and these images can also be collected in photography and architecture books.
Some architectural photographer training can be provided in art schools with photography departments, and students may find it helpful to intern with an experienced architecture photographer to learn more about the day to day work in the field. Some students also take coursework in architecture to deepen their understanding of the structures they photograph. Others may pick up architectural photography skills naturally, developing a portfolio of architectural images which can be used to solicit new clients.