Architectural photography is a diverse and intricate field. We can get technical and give insight from behind the lens, but we’re not going to do that in this post. Instead, we asked eight experts in different fields to give us their insight on architectural photography and their tips on succeeding with your next photography project.
(It’s a long one, but it’s so worth it).
Not all photographers are created equal.
When advertising an apartment community, we need to be able to connect with a prospective resident with our websites, brochures, and many times, in non-verbal ways. Today’s renters are making decisions on their mobile devices and for us, this means grabbing them with the best photos. In searching for an architectural photographer, we look for someone who is passionate to capture the details of our communities. We make it a point to focus on three separate categories when shooting an apartment community – exterior, common areas, and interiors. Finding a photographer that understands the correct time of day to get the perfect exterior shot but can also capture the spaciousness of a 1 bedroom apartment is difficult. Not all professional photographers are created equal when advertising your apartment. Getting the perfect shots of an apartment sized bathroom takes real talent, patience, and skill.
Steve Margerum, Cove Property Management
Find someone who has “seen the movie” and be clear with your needs.
In looking for a photographer, I look for someone experienced in my area of expertise, which happens to be commercial real estate. I want someone who has “seen the movie” and does not have to gain experience at my time or expense. In hiring a photographer, I want to know four things: experience in my industry, estimated time to do the job, estimated cost, and when the work can be completed. For me, those are the “big four” questions to ask.
Make sure you are clear as to what you are trying to accomplish, what are your needs. Sometimes photography is needed for a financing package. Sometimes it is needed for leasing and marketing. Sometimes it is needed as part of a presentation to attract investors. Make clear to the photographer the intended use of the images.
Robert Manekin, JLL
Look for a photographer that is creative and understands that it’s all about the lighting!
Some of the qualities that I look for in a photographer are the ability to think outside the box and of course, creativity. When photographing a building or structure, there are so many dynamics that come into play such as orientation of the subject in relation to the position of the sun, the time of day the subject is photographed, and the time of year. It’s all about the lighting!
A few questions you can ask: 1. Ask to see some recent examples of their body of work. 2. Do they engage in any other type of digital media? 3. What’s their favorite thing to photograph? 4. Are they flexible as to what days and times they can be available to photograph?
Ronnie Brouillard, Kinsley Construction
Get technical with your photographer.
When discussing our particular job requirements for a commercial or residential photography session, we usually outline what we are looking for in more than a list of questions. We discuss angles, subject matter, time of day, obstacles, final use of the photography, and the overall marketing strategy.
It is important to know your subject matter in order to work successfully with a photographer. You must understand your property’s positive attributes as well as its challenges in order to produce the best results. We have developed checklists for our residential teams to prepare for a photographer visit, and we ensure communication with our property managers on commercial sites to ensure the center and its tenants are ready for the shoot.
Belinda Torres, Continental Realty Corporation
You are your best advocate. Get hands on.
Go to the photo shoot. You know your firm’s brand, your audience, how you will use the photos, and the story you’ll want to the pictures to tell. You’ll also be there as another set of eyes to make sure some obscure item, such as an untidy bookshelf or uneven window shade, is not the focal point. (You want to direct the viewer’s eye to the best part of the building or space first.) When there, be sure to look at the view through the camera lens, too, to double check all of the above. If your photographer doesn’t like you to tag along, find someone who does. There are lots of them that do. Taking good photography is just like a successful design project. It comes from knowing what you want to achieve, a vigilant attention to details, and working with a photographer who enjoys collaborating with you, the client.
Diane Stahl, Rubeling & Associates
Capturing the craftsmanship of a building is important (but so is photograph usage).
Look for a photographer who will create an image that portrays the project in a positive and beautiful manner to enhance the true design and craftsmanship of the building or constructed feature. Easy access to photographs and unencumbered use of the work is very important to the client. Find out who owns the photographs and ask the photographer if they have been published.
Ken Wingate, North Point Builders
Photos of your work are your best sales tool.
For Interior Designers, photos of our work are our best sales tool. I think a common goal amongst design firms is to have our work published. It’s so important to work with the photographer and develop a shot that is magazine/website worthy. It’s a good idea to study publications and see the composition of why you are drawn to a particular photo, then discuss it with your photographer to you both understand what you are trying to achieve.
Jackie Bayer, Emerald Hill Interiors
It pays to have good quality photographs of your work.
Project photography is the only method of conveying your firm’s capability to potential clients without making a site visit. It pays to have good quality photographs of your work. Look for a photographer who understands how to translate the built environment to a two dimensional image using the right perspectives and lighting in the images. We also look for someone who is capable of post-production work to bring out the best in each photograph.
Elle Ellis, Ammon Heisler Sachs architects, PC
Want to see more tips from experts? Learn a few photography tips from marketing directors and gain insight from graphic designers.