Career Advice from 5 Top Architectural Photographers

Career Advice from 5 Top Architectural Photographers

In February we launched The List – a selection of 90 finalists from our 80,000+ community of PhotoShelter members. Throughout the year we’ll be highlighting each of The List’s 18 categories, and this week we’re featuring the architecture and interiors photographers – don’t miss their photos on our Instagram page.

Here, we talked to them about what makes their approach unique, why they love architectural photography, and they even offered some career advice. Check out these amazing photographers from The List.

Feature photo by Keith Isaacs

Laurie Black

“I can enter a space and quickly find the strong and interesting views, from over-views to vignettes. I also have a keen sense of style, and am very comfortable styling a location on my own. I use a sophisticated palette of natural and added lighting to bring life and dimension to my photography.”

What career advice would you give your younger self?
“Never assume that you have this profession mastered. Over the years, I have constantly found myself learning new things about photography, and I don’t think that will ever stop.”

Primary location: White Salmon, Washington

Photo by Laurie Black

Nour El Refai

“I’m originally an Architect, and I’ve been working as an architectural photographer for more than 12 years in the Middle East and North Africa regions.”

What career advice would you give your younger self?
“Invest less time on checking new gear and comparing different cameras or lenses. Instead, practice more, expose yourself to new experiences, take more calculated risks, and try new techniques more frequently.”

Primary location: Cairo, Egypt
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Photo by Nour El Refai


Keith Isaacs

“My goal on a project isn’t only to create photographs – it’s to capture magic. I believe that each building and space has its own unique energy. The way light and shadow transform the physical world throughout the course of the day is one of the most wondrous occurrences that life has to offer each day. Great architecture captures and harnesses light, purposefully redirecting it in ways that enhance the human experience.”

What career advice would you give your younger self?
“Don’t be so hard-headed about specializing. Don’t compare yourself to other photographers, and trust your style and vision – it’s what makes you unique and what makes the creative process fulfilling.”

Primary location: Raleigh, North Carolina
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Photo by Keith Isaacs


Meagan Larsen

“I provide my clients with photography that not only accurately depicts their spaces, but catches the viewer’s eye. My images are clean and full of light. Clients value my work because I am responsible, quick, consistent, and flexible. Most importantly, I love what I do and that drives me to always create good work.”

What career advice would you give your younger self?
“My advice to my younger self would be to have an open mind about what I shoot, because I found my passion in a place where I least expected it. Now, even when I think I won’t like a particular genre, I try to be open to it because I never know what I will unexpectedly enjoy. Also, get as much knowledge about running a business as you can. I was lucky enough to be given this advice from a photographer who regretted not studying business in college, and I added a business minor to my schooling – it absolutely paid off!”

Primary location: Northern Utah

Photo by Meagan Larsen


Andre Nazareth

“Architecture was my professional choice at age 17, and photography has been an intense part of my life for the last 15 years. Interest and experience in these two areas now complement the expertise of acquired techniques and a careful look at architectural interpretation.”

What career advice would you give your younger self?
“When you are hired to photograph a new location, get as much out of it as you can. Even if it’s for client work, see how you can use the opportunity to shoot for your personal portfolio, too. Use every job you can to build your portfolio.”

Primary location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Photo by Andre Nazareth


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There are 2 comments for this article
  1. robert leger at 6:53 pm

    That post was kind of vacuous….if you really want to give “career advice” which is how you label it……then give something that’s meaningful….

    Anyone can do architectural photography ….there are how to books/classes/videos… TS lenses, strobe kits…EASY…..etc etc..

    But what one can’t do easily is have an ‘in” a hook.. …More pertinent advice might be on how to get the opportunity to shoot for commercial clients/architects/industrial property holdings ……TO BEGIN WITH….get it????

    But here’s the reason it’s NOT there…..surprise…You usually have to know someone…….the other generic photo technique stuff anyone can do….

    I saw one first sentence of one of the contributors….ok…a former architect…so i have that one….The rest…..where did you go to school, where did you get the money for promotion, who did you know in marketing for one of the architecutural firms…You need to know someone…

    Almost ALL the posts here relating to architectural photography are presupposing that somehow you can get access to photograph a commercial or gorgeous space and then now only….OK…..Now how can i do this better….haha….Stupid……You just don’t get to shoot that kind of stuff -it’s protected turf….. impossible without a rep or connections to begin with or major SEO (which costs money)…Without these types of things you can’t even get started….The photography , the bodies, the lenses is BS..That’s the easy part…anyone can do….especially on those types of professional non- real estate shoots where you have the time and external help….assistants, art directors, property managers/reps…..etc. How about the other stuff….Who did these people know? You gotta have an ‘in……

    If you don’t get permission to do interiors, ( you won’t without help) then you will never have a chance to build a portfolio to show ….no portfolio to show = you never get any serious work…..

    You have to know someone…..If you have money for a rep, google ads, or school connections, or spousal/ family contacts, or some other type of leverage to get into beautiful interiors, then you’ll never be an architectural photographer…All the tech stuff can easily be learned…gear can be purchased..leased….it’s really quite easy….what you don’t get is THE CHANCE….I have never met a successful photographer in my home town who is entirely self – made….Look into their background….it’s always something or someone they knew …..even if won’t didn’t admit….doesn’t mean there might be a few somewhere but…

    The hard part is connections…you either have….most dont’….that’s why in some large markets only a few people do architectural photography ….A few get all the jobs- keep getting all the jobs, and no one else gets a chance to even start…..not even pro bono…100% -just how it is…This is a fact – i know what i’m talking about ….or at least in Boston….Grow up please guys..Learn about the field…..If you’re offering content on a niche please ask for input from all photographers…not just the lucky ones…..they will better suited to tell you the ins and outs….

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