For as long as I can remember, architecture has been my interest in photography.
Before becoming a photographer, I worked as a designer. I’ve always had a great appreciation for architecture and what architects do. I love thinking about the tools in their bag when I shoot buildings. It could be a simple application of a beautiful material, a playful means of connecting two spaces; or just a way of adding natural light to a space. All of these things can influence the way people engage with a building – and that is what I try to think about when I am shooting.
In this article, I will walk you through my relationship with Fujifilm gear and architectural photography. I hope you enjoy it!
Why did you choose Fujifilm cameras?
I used to shoot with Canon gear, but found myself missing out on so many opportunities because I didn’t want to carry a big & heavy DSLR around with me. I first invested in a FUJIFILM X10 to use as my pocketable point & shoot, and for holidays. I was amazed at how nice it was to use and how great the images that came out of it were – particularly the colours. The first two shots on my portfolio website are actually from that little camera, and they more than hold their own against my other shots from the bigger X-T1 and X-T2 cameras.
There are a tonne of reasons why I enjoy using Fujifilm; but the tactility of the cameras and how intuitive they are to use has to be at the top of that list. I love using only the dials and aperture rings to change all of my settings. It forces you to create connections in your mind between exposure, aperture and shutter speed a lot more than simply diving into digital menus on a screen. It transformed my photography and knowledge in a way that continuing with Canon gear wouldn’t have – I’m sure of it. I now only ever shoot fully manual and it has become like second nature to me.
The other main reasons I love using Fujifilm gear are the size, weight and cost. I love how small and unassuming my X Series are. People are much less aware when you are shooting than when I had my Canon – it has enabled me to capture more natural and real moments.
For the same cost and weight of my Canon 7D and a 24-70mm lens, I picked up a FUJIFILM X-T1 and 3 lenses. This really opened up my opportunities to create different kinds of shots that I couldn’t have done before. Carrying these lenses around allowed me to look at architecture differently – they improved my documentary and analysis of a space.
What lenses do you use the most?
I often shoot a space 3 times round with a different lens each time. Even if the space is quite small, I still mount my XF50-140mm at the end and re-evaluate. It helps you focus in on the details, materials and textures that will have been so important to the designer’s decision making.
Generally though, I use the XF35mm f.1.4 as I believe it has the best quality and least distortion of all my lenses. If I am stitching a few files together in post to capture a particularly wide or tall building – this is my go to lens. Although, I do have the XF23mm f.1.4 too for those shots where 35mm is a bit too cropped in. I really hope that Fujifilm releases a tilt shift lens for architectural photographer’s like me soon, though!
I use the XF10-24mm f.4 for interiors and expansive exterior scenes. This really is a great lens that allows me to do a huge amount of the architectural work I take on. I tend not to extend it further out than 14mm because I think it makes the images look too wide. I don’t like having a super-wide look to my images; it makes them look fake to me and stops the eye from focusing on the details that matter.
Do you have any tips or tricks you could share with us?
I like to get a sense of human interaction with the buildings in the frame. I believe that capturing people in the frame helps to connect the viewer with the scene, not only in terms of scale, but also on a human level. It helps people imagine what it would be like to be in the scene themselves.
A visual tool I go to quite often is shooting things front on/flat. I like to do this as it abstract things into almost 2 dimensions. I believe it can create a really honest and simple representation of a building or a scene. Some people may say that its easy to just shoot straight lines everywhere, but I think there is a purity to shooting this way that sometimes cannot be beaten.
I also like to play with geometry and form in my images. Maybe it’s an influence from my days as a designer – who knows? I often like to set up a really symmetrical and almost perfect composition; but then wait for a moment where something like a passing person or bird can just break that grid nicely. I think super perfect and clinical photography can get boring quickly. I like to add another element in to throw things off slightly and create a much more visually interesting image.
How do you go about post-processing?
With post-processing, I try not to edit the images too much. I generally up the shadows and blacks whilst reducing highlights, whites and contrast on most of my images. It’s hard to give advice on what I do in post because each image is different, but I would say I do this to most of my images. They’re fairly small tweaks in both directions, but they help the image look a bit less harsh and more like what your eye sees. In general, that is what I aim to achieve in my edits – a visual proximity to what the human eye would have seen.
Where is your favourite place to shoot in the UK?
In the UK, my favourite places to shoot are brutalist developments in London. The Barbican and the South Bank really inspire me when I’m there with my camera. I have photographed both areas many times but always feel new inspiration with each visit.
To see more of Felix’s work, visit: