…all photographers should know how to photograph two things: the nude and architecture…”. After this is accomplished, any subject can be attempted.

Ralph Gibson


Photo by Richard Hulbert

“Photography is a constant struggle between the search for an honest and true documentation of reality and the inevitable interpretation, distortion and hoped for enhancement of reality. The search is noble, but the inevitability is likely certain . . . and either goal will, thankfully, remain elusive.”  Richard Hulbert  2010


I recently attended an evening lecture at the Vancouver Photo workshops on  “Photography with an Architectural Attitude” with Award Winning Architect, Urban Designer and Photographer Richard Hulbert.

I left the evening feeling inspired and wanting to try all the little tidbits of information that I had learned.  Two things that really stuck for me and is so true about my journey through photography is that ‘photography should be something you love, it should be fun.” and that  ‘You learn most by doing and secondly by teaching’

I have been a self taught photographer and I truly have learnt by doing, now I want to learn by teaching by sharing with you some information that provided me with some ah-ha moments 🙂

Richard Hulbert believes in the notion that “buildings are like people,” and that an ideal photograph is like “a room with an inviting entrance, but with no obvious exit.”


Photo by Richard Hulbert

When Richard describes how ‘Buildings are like people’ he is talking mainly about  composition.  For example he describes how windows and doors are like peoples body parts, i.e. you don’t want to crop their joints off.

He discussed 5 Basic Principles of Architecture and Urban Design :

  1. creating a sense of depth on a 2 dimensional surface – how to portray 3 dimensional space in a 2 dimension image, this is done mainly by the use of depth cues
  2. depth cues – are visual tricks you can exploit to enhance the sensation of distance in your photographs.
  • space – i.e. using lines to enhance the feeling of space
  • shape
  • line – use leading lines
  • tone – i.e. distant objects look lighter, the brain interprets this tone change as distance
  • color – colors in foreground appear to be more saturated and darker in colour while the background colours look lighter
  • rhythm or patterns
  • movement – see where the movement is coming from

        3. perspective – longitudinal plane – using lines to lead the eye to a distant spot to enhance the feeling of space     

        4. object layering and overlapping – including something in your image that represents the foreground, middle ground and something which indicated distant objects       

        5. up/down position – horizon – Placing the horizon high in the frame, for example, accents foreground details and enhances the sense of distance

Richard explained that most photographs contain a “subject” within a setting or background. The cool reality is that Buildings and Urban Places are both subjects and settings. He asked the audience to think about all of the images that we had taken or will take in the future that contain buildings as the featured subject or as backgrounds to a myriad of other photo subjects … like people, for instance.


Photo by Richard Hulbert

Richard recommends shooting with a wide angle lens for architecture, with raw imaging and shooting with a bigger depth of field which means having aperture at a setting of f8 or f11.  He also enjoys using the HDR technique which helps to expose for the indoors and outdoors, he believes that this will help give the viewers ‘a sense of the indoor and outdoor relationship’.

I have always been interested in architecture and in recent years the HDR technique but attending this lecture inspired to get me back out there to try some more HDR photography.  I have given myself a bit of an assignment for this weekend and I look forward to sharing the finished project with you all (secretly hoping to knock the socks of you 🙂

The Vancouver Photo workshops have an array of courses and workshops on offer as well as evening lectures such as this one.  For more information please visit

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