Architectural photography of super tall buildingsThe China Resources Tower Shenzhen, China Architect: KPF

The most critical aspect of a successful architectural photograph is the composition. In addition to composing the elements of the photo in the scene, the composition should enhance the focus on the subject. Additional elements in the photograph should support the design and focus of the composition.

I was working in Shenzhen last year and I spent some time exploring the new China Resources Tower designed by KPF. It sits on a bay with a large park with walking trails surrounding its southern exposure. I walked the entire trail and decided that this angle was the was the one I wanted to feature. Unlike other views along the trail, this closeup really showcases the China Resources Tower. Composing the shot up close with a wide angle lens accentuates the height and scale of this building.

Let me offer my thoughts on why this photo works. First the tower dominates the photo. The surrounding mostly rectangular buildings contrast nicely with its curvilinear shape. The dark water in the foreground and the dramatic sky contrast with the silver hues of the building and help it stand out. I chose to set the tripod in the water to further isolate my subject. The curved stair steps on the left lead your eye to the tower, and their curved shape rhythmically supports the curvilinear lines of the tower’s design. I would not add, change, or delete a thing in this photo (well, maybe I could delete the rope barriers above the steps they should be black chains).

Composition is the most critical element in designing an architectural photograph.

Paul Dingman is an architectural photographer living and working in China and Asia. He designs photographs for architects.