Three keys to taking a great bridge photo

The 2021 ASCE Bridges Photo Contest is open, accepting entries through March 15.

But what makes a great bridge photo?

Danielle Schroeder, an associate bridge engineer for Pennoni and a judge in the 2020 contest, offered last year the three things she looks for in a beautiful photograph of a beautiful bridge.

Photo Roberto Clemente Bridge, Pittsburgh
The 2018 Viewer’s Choice Award winner: the Roberto Clemente Bridge in Pittsburgh, photographed by Caitlin Girwood

1. Lighting

Maybe it goes without saying, but it’s probably a point so essential that it is always worth emphasizing.

“The word ‘photo’ is derived from the Greek word ‘phos,’ which means light,” Schroeder said. “It’s important for every photograph to be able to see the breadth of all that you’re looking at in an interesting way. And lighting plays a crucial role in being able to show that subject.”

Photo, South Grand Island Bridge, New York

The 2017 Historic Bridges first-place winner: South Grand Island Bridge in Grand Island, New York, photographed by Brendon Lutnick

2. Showcase different elements of the bridge

“Find unique perspectives and angles,” Schroeder said. “There are so many different parts of a bridge – there’s the superstructure, the substructure, as well as numerous components and connections that help the bridge span abutment to abutment.

“A bridge has a lot more going on than what you see just driving over it.”

Spoken like a true technical admirer.

Photo, Forth Bridge, Edinburgh
The 2019 HDR first-place winner: Forth Bridge in Edinburgh, Scotland, photographed by Carrie Crane

3. Capture the essence

This is probably the most nebulous, most artistic, most magical part of photography, right?

“There are so many different kinds of bridges – arch, suspension, cable-stayed just to name a few,” Schroeder said. “And the beauty of bridges is that even among the same type of bridges, each has their own diversity.

“Bridges are structures designed to connect people and places and are amazing accomplishments in their own right. Capturing the ‘why we need bridges’ makes an awesome photo … and I look forward to seeing how those who submit show this.”

Learn more about entering the 2021 ASCE Bridges Photo Contest.

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