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How to Capture Award-Winning Construction Photos

Award-Winning Construction Photos

How to Capture Award-Winning Construction Photos

There are few things more validating than winning an industry award. Gathering your team and clients together to mix and mingle during the cocktail hour is fun. You flush with pride when your name is announced during the ceremony. Walking through the crowd to gather your award and pose for a photo is a little awkward, but you are focused on that trophy. People congratulate you, and even though you try to be modest, you can’t help but be excited.

It is thrilling to win an award. It’s also good for business. Why?

  • Awards build credibility through being recognized by your peers.
  • You are identified as an industry leader.
  • Your client receives recognition through award promotions.
  • Winning is the ultimate kudos for you and your team.


As exciting as winning is, it can take a lot of work to enter. Submissions–winning submissions–take time and resources. Each competition has its own entry form with its own specific questions, guidelines, and rules. Most of them allow you to include attachments with your submission, including photographs.

Photographs are especially important for construction awards. “Photos tell a story,” remarks Donna DeMarco, executive director at Building Congress & Exchange (BC&E). Their annual Craftsmanship Awards put a spotlight on the men and women whose work makes up the incredible projects in the Baltimore-Washington region.

“Whether it’s showcasing impeccable craftsmanship or documenting the challenges and solutions on a project, photos provide significant insight into an award submission,” says DeMarco. “They also serve as an alternative for judges who are unable to visit a project on-site. The photos, which are also used by the judges who do visit the project in-person, help judges determine a score and ultimately the winner of an award. The photos may even capture aspects of the project that the judges who viewed in-person may have missed.”

Submission photos can make or break an entry. How do you get award-winning construction photos? Your first step is planning.

Planning Award-Winning Construction Photos

Remember when your teacher said they’d know if you wrote your paper the night before it was due? Judges are the same way. You can’t take photos of all of your sites the week before your entries are due. You may run into scheduling conflicts or inclement weather. You may not be able to photograph everything you need to effectively tell your story.

We suggest photographing your sites on a rolling basis. Schedule your photographer to photograph the site at strategic milestones throughout the project. Ask them to capture images with both marketing purposes and awards submissions in mind. The more comprehensive, the better.

“Think about telling that story from start to finish. You want to showcase all aspects of the project from the actual work being done, the people behind the work, the progress being made, and the finished product. Before and after shots are always welcome. Consider taking horizontal and vertical photos at different times of the day and from various angles. Provide high-resolution photos that can be used in marketing materials, which help your company stand out,” advises DeMarco.

It’s always a good idea to walk through the site with your photographer and highlight any special aspects. Overviews are important for showing the whole project, but detail shots will spotlight the unique elements. Feel free to work with your photographer through the entire shoot. While a  pro knows what looks best behind the lens, they will value having your knowledge and art direction, ensuring they get exactly what you want and need.

How Are the Photos Used?

“The photos are used by the judges to review the work,” says DeMarco. “They are also used in pre-event and post-event marketing materials. We look for engaging photos to highlight the work that we are honoring. In addition, we use still photos in video vignettes about the projects. These 1-minute videos are shown during the awards ceremony. Photos can also be used in our digital and printed publications.”

You can also use your photos for your portfolio, in your marketing materials, and to promote the award itself. If your photographer has done his job correctly, you will have a diverse and comprehensive photo shoot that can be used for virtually anything. Because of this, we recommend hiring your own photographer to capture your projects rather than relying on a partner or vendor to share their photos.


Copyright. That’s correct. If you use photos that someone else owns, you open yourself up to a lawsuit. It may feel redundant to have a site photographed multiple times, but it’s safer for you as you’ll have the usage you need to promote your projects. The last thing you want after winning an exciting award is to be met with a lawsuit worth tens of thousands of dollars.

You can always ask your photographer prior to the photoshoot if they offer any industry-friendly packages. They may be able to work with you and your vendors to get photos each of you can use. You should also talk to your client before the photoshoot. “Be sure to get the permission of the owner to take photos and let them know what they will be used for,” DeMarco recommends.

award-winning construction photography: Raven's Training Facility Dining Hall

Award-Winning Tips

Ready to get award-winning construction photos? Here are a few tips.

  • Tell your photographer you want to win an award. It may sound silly, but your photographer needs to know your usage. Documentation, marketing, award submissions–each purpose has its own type of photography. Better yet, send them the guidelines or recommendations from the competition before the shoot. They’ll keep it in mind while they move throughout the space.
  • Create a comprehensive shot list. Communication is essential for any photography shoot. Providing a list of spaces is vague, and you may not get everything you need. List the unique features (if any) of each space. If you aren’t able to do a walk-through before the shoot, schedule a quick phone call or provide a detailed list outlining the specific shots you need.
  • Figure out your “wow” factor. Collaborate with your photographer to develop your unique photo style. Some clients want dramatic lighting. Others want bright, friendly lighting. Color, light, composition–all of this matters and should be figured out prior to the shoot. If you don’t know or aren’t sure, ask your photographer about a spec shoot. Your creative team and the photographer can view the site and talk about what style and angles work best for the project.
  • Discuss usage. We cannot stress this enough. Assumptions have cost companies a minor fortune. When it comes to copyright, most teams cannot afford to ask for forgiveness.
  • Let your photographer know you won. We love it when our clients win awards and will happily promote their wins. Congrats!

“You don’t want to miss any aspect of your project, so sending great photos–all high-resolution and highlighting the remarkable work by the winners–transports the viewer to that location,” says DeMarco. Submit the best photos you can with your awards application. Your project, your team, and your client deserve it. While you’re making the slightly awkward walk to the podium, the award show guests will be clapping and whispering, “Wow. That’s gorgeous!” as they view your stunning project.

Interested in learning more about construction photography? Check out our guide, “A Marketer’s Guide to Construction Photography.