Seeing the Abstract in Architecture

January 15, 2019

Of all the creative forms of art, architecture is the only one that lasts the longest. Ancient civilizations that have disappeared from the face of the earth had their architecture left behind for later generations of humans to discover. So in short, architecture is the only evidence that proves the existence of civilization even after it’s long gone, and that makes it special for many reasons other than its expiration date.

Architecture in Qatar

Qatar is home to some of the most remarkable and iconic architecture in the region and this list is only getting bigger every year. One such architecture that demands attention resides at the heart of Doha city, and that is the Museum of Islamic Art. This location has been my favorite since I got my first digital camera years ago. Despite the simple design language which mostly comprises cubes, MIA (Museum of Islamic Art) seems to have a limitless amount of secrets that reveal themselves every time I visit the place with a camera. And that has kept me going back to MIA over and over again. There are thousands of photos of MIA available online and most of them are wide-angle shots that capture the entirety of the building. To keep things from getting boring, I wanted to try a different approach and focus on the details that make up this iconic landmark. Forms, shapes, lines, patterns, texture, and interplay of light and shadow give character to architecture. With that in mind, I conducted a photo walk titled “Seeing Architecture” on Jan 9, 2019, in Doha, Qatar at the MIA. The participants were asked to compose their shots that highlighted the details in a simplistic and abstract way. Here are some of the shots taken by the participants:

The photo walk gave the participants a chance to look at architecture from a new perspective. By eliminating color and keeping the focus on details, the underlying beauty and the visual language of the architecture were brought to light.

Abstract Architecture Photography Tips

Here are some tips that would help you capture the characteristics and features in an architecture:

  • Take your time, slow down, observe with your eyes while leaving the camera aside, and move around.
  • Pay attention to shapes, forms, angles, lines, patterns, repetitions, textures, and symmetry.
  • Light and shadow work together to create powerful contrast and add dimension to forms. The importance of capturing the two in a harmonious composition is key to beautiful abstract architecture shots.
  • Shoot during late afternoon (before the golden hour) to get strong yet directional light that adds dimension and depth to shapes and forms.
  • Symmetry is visually interesting so look for it and try to capture it as perfect as possible.
  • Asymmetry can be visually captivating as well. It can be captured in an artistic way if you balance your composition. Like juggling, composing different elements within a picture frame is a balancing act that gets better with practice, so keep practicing to shoot asymmetry and work on your composition skills in general.
  • Try to keep the verticals straight and avoid distortion during shooting. But if are unable to avoid it, then try to correct it in post-processing.

Below are some examples to help you get the most out of these tips.

The complete series of images from this photowalk can be seen on my instagram: hammadiqbalphoto

Behind the Scenes

As always, a wonderful group of shooters took part in the photo walk despite being a work day. Some of them even took a few hours off from work to be able to join.

Group selfie after the photowalk
Stay Connected

If you would like to get updates regarding future workshops and photo walks, please follow me on the following social media channels:

Instagram: hammadiqbalphoto

Facebook: Hammad Iqbal Photography

Hope to see you in the future. Keep shooting!