Choosing an Architectural Photographer
Posted on: 19/03/2015

Defining what an architectural photographer does is almost as complex as defining what an architect does. Architects cover and often specialise in different areas of architecture. From urban planning and infrastructure, to public buildings, churches, hospitals and schools, through to industrial, retail and office design. There’s also housing, and within that discipline, the design and construction of multiple-occupancy housing, prestigious individual properties, mass-market properties as well as more mundane items such as domestic extensions. They also combine technical expertise with creative ability.

Similarly, an architectural photographer might be photographing a large shopping complex one day and the following day shooting a boutique coffee shop in a small village; kitchen photography for an up-market kitchen retailer or an exclusive residence for an architect the day after. It’s the variety that makes my job so enjoyable. Plus the fact that I get to combine my passions: architecture and photography.

Whether or not you are an architect, if you think you need architectural photography, this post is intended to help you. It’s a short guide to help you get the best from your photographer and tips on how to choose the right commercial photographer. As always, if you would like to talk to me, I’m happy to answer any questions you may have regarding your project photography.

Knowing what you want.

Knowing what you need from your photographs is the first step towards achieving the best results. Surprisingly, new clients might understand the need professional photography but many don’t know exactly what they want. Your photographer should be able to help here and it’s certainly part of my service. Understanding your needs and agreeing the desired outcome before everyone turns up to take photographs makes life simpler all round.

This is why it’s so important to choose a photographer who is prepared to invest the time getting to know lots about you and your business. The best photographers will ask the right questions and they’ll be able to make suggestions about what might look good. Every photographer has their own style and it’s best if you find an architectural photographer whose style compliments the look you want. Hopefully, you’ll take a look at a few galleries and portfolios to find a photographer whose work you like.

Knowing how you’re going to use the photographs.

You should have a good idea of how you’re going to use the photographs. Thinking about how you might use the same photographs in the future is also worth considering. Most commercial photographers will quote for work based upon how you intend to use your images and for how long. (e.g. web, print or both). Understanding what usage rights your getting can avoid unexpected additional costs at a later date.

Personally, this is something that I like to discuss up front. Building client confidence and trust starts with clarity and openness.

Knowing how you’re going to use the photographs also helps in deciding how many photographs you need.  Where feasible, I like to visit the venue with my clients and agree a shoot-list. This visit helps to clarify the scope and range of the shoot and gives a better understanding of the space involved. The number of images and the time involved normally form the basis for quotations. It’s not unusual for me to supplement the agreed list with additional images as I am always alert to the unexpected opportunity for a great shot.

Understanding the licensing and costs.

To appreciate fees it’s useful to understand licensing.

When you employ a professional photographer it’s more than hiring someone to take photographs. What you are actually paying for is both the work involved in creating the photographs and the licence to use those photographs for an agreed period of time, in a specific way. The copyright remains the property of the photographer, as it does with authors, musicians and other artists. (Most photographers will charge a significant premium if you want to purchase the copyright).

Your quotation should be just that – a quotation. My charges are based upon the number of images you need and the work involved in creating those photographs, including the post-processing. Where commissions include travelling costs, accommodation etc., these are itemised and agreed prior to quotation.

Why choose a specialist.

All specialists make a considered choice to focus on one aspect of their chosen profession. It’s a good indication that they have a passion for that chosen field. It’s also a pretty good indication that they will have invested time and probably a significant amount of money in additional training and the most appropriate equipment to ensure expert results. They know their job.

The other clue to the value of hiring a specialist is what they don’t do.  Each and every aspect of photography has it’s own skills and techniques. Theoretically, the techniques to shoot wedding, portrait, sport or event photography aren’t that difficult to learn. Mastering each discipline effectively, to a point where the results are consistent and equally creative is a different matter. There are very few top sportsmen and sportswomen who are at the top of their game in more than one sport. Could you name a top sprinter who is also a footballer or a top gymnast who excels at swimming?

Beyond the experience and creative expertise of an architectural photographer is the investment in specialist lenses and equipment for interior photography and architectural work. These technical lenses and top-end cameras cost many thousands of pounds to purchase and keep up to date. Part of being a specialist is being able to share expert knowledge and creative advice on your chosen subject. It’s something most true professionals will be willing to do; certainly I am. Again, if you have any questions, please give me a call.

How can I help you?

My ultimate objective is always to capture inspiring photographs that define your talents… images that that just work.

I hope you have found this post useful and informative. If you wish to discuss your commercial photography with me please feel free to give me a call. I look forward to hearing from you.

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