Why Architectural Photography?

Table of Contents

Throwing a party

Do you find yourself attracted to clean lines and gorgeous shapes? Or are you like me, and prefer whimsical colours and unique design? I find it hard to pass by a charming door and not photograph it.

Photo by Marguerite Porto, Portugal

Photo by Marguerite Porto, Portugal

I  stop for windows, doors, funky shapes, and colors. Some may think architectural photography is bland or boring, but give it a chance! The parti pris, or organizing decision behind an architect’s design, can be fascinating if we dig in.

Photo by Marguerite Cascais, Portugal

Photo by Marguerite Cascais, Portugal

Architectural photography gives you a subject to photograph wherever you go. You will learn how home designs have changed from past to present to support their inhabitants and their lifestyles. Architectural photography helps you understand the economics and the geography of a location. My interest in this type of photography has grown since I came to Portugal.

How geography affects buildings

The houses in Monsanto, Portugal, were built very near huge boulders. The village seems to be inside boulders. I was confused as to why they did this. I went during the colder months, and I thought that boulders created too much shade. Some houses had their walls right on the rocks, and I imagine that they were pretty humid during the winter months. I probably wouldn’t give this too much thought if I weren’t interested in architectural photography.  When we look at how people live, we learn about their history. Traveling is more meaningful when we learn a little bit of history, geography, and the arts on our adventures.

Photo by Marguerite Porto, Portugal

Photo by Marguerite Porto, Portugal

Many of the buildings in Porto have tiled walls on the exterior walls. Some tiles feature beautiful flowers, while other tiles are a solid color. The houses sparkle on sunny days. A city guide told me that tiles are there for maintenance purposes, so the houses don’t have to be repainted every year. I don’t know if that’s true, but it sure makes the city stand out. Porto was the first place where I saw three-dimensional tiles on an exterior wall.

Architectural photography.jpg

Rainbow or whitewash?

Do you ever wonder why fishing villages paint their houses white? I read that fishing villages are white so that sailors and fishermen can see them clearly from the ocean.

Photo by Marguerite Alfama, Lisbon

Photo by Marguerite Alfama, Lisbon

Some articles state that people brightly painted their coastal sea homes so they could recognize it from the water. Other articles suggest the bright colors and the whitewash may have been to hide the quality of the building.

photo by Marguerite Beaty Faux painting on buildings in Ericeira, Porgugal

photo by Marguerite Beaty Faux painting on buildings in Ericeira, Porgugal

It was fun to investigate the questions surrounding the houses’ colors by the sea.  I found out that some areas prefer whitewashes and others colorful houses.  Many Caribbean islands have colorful houses; Greek, Portuguese, and Italian coastal homes are mostly whitewashed. I don’t have an answer, just more questions. Is it cultural? Economical? Aesthetics?

It’s all in the details

I went to a house in the Alentejo where one of the rooms had a tiny window up high near the roof.  While most of the rooms faced the street or the patio, this particular room faced the street. One local construction worker stopped them from making a larger window and told them a smaller window protected the house from the intense summer heat.

Many front doors in Portugal have a bronze hand on the door. Known as Fatima’s Hand, it’s a traditional knocker that is said to represent protection. Beautiful and charming.

Photo by Marguerite Beaty Elvas, Portugal

Photo by Marguerite Beaty Elvas, Portugal

Architectural photography helps you investigate a new place, document unique details, and appreciate different cultures. What details of a building catch your eye?


Build on your knowledge:

A Guide to Beautiful Architectural Photography Using Your iPhone

Masterclass Articles:  A Complete Guide to Architectural Photography

Architecture in Monsanto: How I WentBack in Time by Marguerite

Main photo by Marguerite Lisbon, Portugal

Marguerite Beaty, Blogger, Photographer & Artist

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