ARCHITECTURE + INTERIOR PORTFOLIO PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS
1. Resolve to photo-document your projects well.
If it's worth designing & building, it's worth documenting. If it's a remodel, don't forget before, progress and after shots. Renderings no matter how photo real, do not carry the same message as photography. Photography conveys that a design project has been BUILT !
2. If you want your portfolio & website photography to look professional, hire a pro 'architectural photographer'.
BUT NOT JUST ANY PRO. Hire someone who specializes in architecture + interior design photography. Look carefully at their portfolio and pay particular attention to their interior work. Beautiful dynamic composition and consistent elegant lighting is what you are looking for. Don't just look at their website featured homepages. Ask to see image galleries of entire projects comparable to yours. An average photographer can sometimes capture compelling images of a dynamic project on a good day. Look more deeply. A great architectural photographer is able to make a modest or difficult to photograph project look great and make a great project SOAR. Choose well. Their talent, vision & style will reflect on you and yours.
3. If money or lack thereof is an obstacle to hiring a pro, consider hiring a pro to strategically shoot the ESSENTIAL IMAGES.
In movies, they are referred to as 'THE MONEY SHOTS'. In a magazine, they might be the 'COVER SHOT'. These are the IMPACT IMAGES you will probably feature on your home page slideshow or main gallery page. It might be a dramatic blue twilight exterior or a golden morning sunlight washed interior ... These shots require careful timing, thoughtful composition, skillful lighting, artistic styling & subtle post production to create the 'WOW' images that will get you noticed. (on your website home page, social media or blog, etc...) If a picture is worth a thousand words, what's an awesome picture worth? A few great photographs will serve you much better than a hundred mediocre images.
4. If you can't afford professional photography or really want to do it yourself, then by all means, use your own talent or perhaps a gifted amateur on staff.
Photography of your work, even if it's less than professional grade is better than no photo documentation at all. Architects and designers are visual artists after all. Shoot, Process and Edit your photographs carefully and get objective feedback. Sometimes a camera image shot at the right moment looks great on your camera display...but not on a larger screen. Successful architectural + design photography is much harder to achieve than facebook 'selfies' or quick captures of cute animals with an instagram filter. Generally, the photographic composition and lighting should elevate the Subject without drawing attention to itself or the photo process you use.
HERE ARE SOME BASIC DIY TIPS:
a. Observe natural light and photograph your project at those times of day that most flatter your subject. This includes interiors that might be infused with early morning or afternoon light.
b. Use a tripod & (generally) level your camera to avoid 'tilted buildings & converging vertical lines'. When necessary, use a perspective control 'Shift lens'.
c. Minimize visual clutter. Less is more.
d. Consider what your central focal point is when establishing your camera angle? (Are you looking at a wall or a window?)
e. Consider (selectively) using people in your shots to offer human scale and presence. But make them peripheral so they don't become the primary focus.
f. Staging & styling is very important. Don't be afraid to move objects and furniture when necessary to improve composition. Use accent colors to move the eye around the image. Remember that bright spots attract the eye and use that to your advantage. (flowers, pillows, art objects)
g. Cameras & Lenses- The camera model is probably the least important element in achieving a successful photograph. But a good camera will allow you to manually control your exposures via aperture and shutter speeds. You will need a good wide angle lens or wide zoom lens. *24mm is a good starting point and a very useful focal length for interiors. ( 24mm equivilent when used on a 35mm style camera) Remember, wide angle lens exagerate & distort the size of foreground objects. Don't get too close to tables or other objects. Longer telephoto lenses compress space. You can use that to your advantage...to make a large space feel more intimate for example.
h. Aperture...Use a smaller aperture size for greater depth of field. (generally f 11 or smaller)
i. Pay attention to the details... Observe the way foreground elements or objects overlap or intersect with the background. Is it pleasing & natural looking? Small details can make all the difference.
j. Post Production: Using Instagram style filters or HDR programs may be really appealing...at first. But, it may make your photos look synthetic or feel gimmicky. Be consistent in how you process your images to make your portfolio projects feel natural & coherent.
k. Practice. Successful architectural photography is the result of thoughtful planning, staging, appropriate timing (for natural lighting, weather & season, etc..) and experienced camera work, composition, skillful supplemental lighting skills & clean digital image processsing after the shoot. It is challenging but rewarding. Like any skill, it requires a committment of time, an investment in equipment and applied creative energy to excel.
5. Plan to photograph your projects and include it in your project schedule & budget.
Let your clients know early on, preferably in writing in your contract, that you intend to photograph their project upon completion. (usually after they have moved in and furnished it) Be realistic about the time required for a photo shoot. Interiors in particular, take time to light, style and shoot; You may need to shoot very early and after sunset to capture twilights shots. Think hour(s) and sometimes more than one day depending on the scope and importance of the project. It is difficult and sometimes impossible to photograph or even access projects after much time has passed. (Ownership changes, wear and tear to interior furnishings, etc...) Be proactive and consistent. It is an investment that will pay dividends over time.
6. Expose your project portfolio with each project to build your brand over time.
Submit your completed project photography for awards & publication. Post your project photos on your Website to keep it fresh. BLOG about your projects and include photos linked to your website to build SEO. Include the photos in your EMAIL Blast Newsletters that you use to inform your tribe . POST & SHARE photos of your recent work and accomplishments on your Social Networks to followers, clients, friends & colleagues via Linkedin, Facebook, Houzz, Pinterest, Twitter, etc...) PRINT your images on postcards or brochures to showcase yourself and share your newest completed work with opinion leaders and important business associates, clients, etc. Receiving a quality print piece in the Mail is rare and will make an impression. PUBLISH your work in (print or online based) local, regional, national or international magazines that are matched to your project category, style & subject matter. Publishers and bloggers are always looking for new content & ideas. This is an excellent way to build your brand awareness & increase your SEO. (Search Engine Optimization) Use your imagination. Be seen.
7. THIS IS YOUR LEGACY!
Your portfolio represents your Design Ethos, your Quality & Craftsmanship & your Accomplishments. Excellent photography of your built work will give you a career edge that will help you to compete for new CLIENTS & better PROJECTS. Remember, this isn't just your job or even your career. It is your life's work, the fruit of your passion and YOUR LEGACY. You will never regret having outstanding photos of your best work in your portfolio & on your website. Indeed, you will regret it if you don't.
All Photos ©2013 Daniel O’Connor
1. Resolve to Document your projects well!
2. Hire a Pro!
3. Pro or No...Just Shoot It!
4. Plan and schedule photography for all your projects!
5. Expose and share your work to build Your Brand !!!!
6. Document your built work to document Your Legacy.