8 Things to Consider When Hiring an Architectural Photographer

Do you have a home, office, building, or venue that you want to have professionally photographed?  There are a number of things that you should think about and consider when hiring an architectural photographer.  I hope these few tips will be helpful for you.

 Interior Architectural Photography by Kevin Medlin of CX Photo Works

Interior Architectural Photography by Kevin Medlin of CX Photo Works

  1. The Photographer’s Approach:  Will the photographer meet with you to discuss your goals, what you’re looking to accomplish, and how you plan to use the images?  It’s always best to begin with the end in mind, in order to put together a strategy and plan to meet the needs of the client.  Creating a shot list with the photographer will help ensure that everyone is on the same page, and clarify expectations.
  2. Styling & Tidying:  Who will perform any needed straightening, or cleaning of the space or venue in order to have a more efficient and effective photo shoot?  And, who will provide the styling:  furniture placement, pillows, flower vases, bowls of fruit, and other details?  These small touches will make dramatic differences in the final image.  Some photographers may have stylists that they can pull in on a project (for an additional fee).  Also, the importance of vacuuming, mopping, dusting, cleaning, and removing streaks and smudges can’t be under estimated.  The smallest things can stick out like a sore thumb in a photo, and they’re much easier to move or remove in advance, than in Photoshop.  Make sure the photographer has considered these things, or even included them in the estimate.
  3. Scouting:  Will the photographer scout the home, space, or venue in advance?  Time of day, angles, and existing lighting can all make a big difference.  A photographer that will take the time to understand the conditions will be better prepared to address challenges and approach the project in a way that will show it in its best light.
  4. Quality & Characteristics of Photography:  What is the photographer’s style?  Most photographers have a look or style.  Generally that style has some level of consistency.  Therefore, when choosing a photographer it’s important to consider whether or not their style is in line with the needs and vision that you may have for the project.  
  5. Time:  A home can take a day to photograph—maybe a half day for one or two rooms.  A larger venue may take even longer.  A skilled photographer is not just going to snap a picture, but will work to identify the best angle(s), bring in additional lighting, or even composite multiple images together, adding accent lights to key focal points one at a time.  Such an approach and techniques take time, and will result in much more appealing results.
  6. Cost:  An architectural photographer may charge between $1,000 and $3,000 per day.  A price like that often includes the creative fee (i.e., the fee for the actual photographic work); the cost of any assistant(s); and digital corrections, retouching, and processing fees.  Such post processing may add anywhere from $30 to $90 per image to the total cost of the shoot.  You may consider hiring younger photographers looking to build their portfolios.  They may charge less as they work to grow their client base and build experience.  Additional assistants, styling, equipment rental, or travel may increase the final costs.  
  7. Image Delivery:  Photography for a home may include anywhere from 8 to 20 images.  Image counts for other spaces or venues may vary, therefore it’s important to agree upon a shot list prior to the shoot to make certain that the number and type of images get captured and delivered.  As for delivery, these days images can be easily transmitted via email or via such services as Dropbox or via FTP, making it very simple to download images via the Internet.  When images are needed for use on web sites, having the photographer provide images in various sizes and formats to fit those specific needs should be considered (i.e., smaller file sizes load faster on web pages).     
  8. Ownership:  A photographer typically retains the copyright for the images.  Clients typically purchase usage, or a usage license that outlines such things as length of time, location(s), media, and specific uses.  Usage license fees often vary based on distribution:  magazines that are seen by millions command greater usage fees than those seen by hundreds.  

CX Photo Works’ experience in this area is growing, but we have the skills, discipline, and professionalism to help make your next architectural photo project a success.  Contact us so that we can discuss your goals, and learn more about what you’re trying to accomplish.

Advertising Photography Mt Dew Cliff Climber On Spec

I had an idea/concept for a guy hanging from a cliff, that ultimately morphed into Mt Dew (on spec) advertisement photography shoot.  All of the elements of this composite image were captured by me:  I scouted and captured the cliff in Shades State Park in Indiana; the bear was captured at the Indianapolis Zoo; I used my roof, and a vine cut from my back yard to get the perspective, angle, and lighting right for the climber; and snapped the Mt Dew shot as well.  I pulled it altogether in Photoshop:  matching color, saturation, luminosity, and adding some light streaks to bring the final image together.  

Mt Dew Cliff Climber concept composite components, and final image.

Photo Composite of Downtown Indianapolis, IN

I had the idea to create a photo composite of some of the marquee buildings in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana.

Downtown Indianapolis Indiana

In order for the final image to work, I knew that I needed to do two things:  1) capture the images at about the same time of day, and 2) to capture the images from approximately the vantage point.  Therefore, I hustled downtown one morning, and intentionally captured the images from a south-facing vantage point.  I also captured some images of the bricks, sky, canal, and street that I knew I would need to use to pull the various components together.  In hindsight I would have paid a lot more attention to the edges of my components, and to where I would cut them off and make the transition.  That said, I pulled them all into Photoshop and cut out each component, and then warped them a bit to give a more whimsical look, and then added a sun flare to add some drama.  

Travel Photograpy at Oak Alley Plantation in Louisiana

On a trip down to New Orleans we had a chance to visit Oak Alley Plantation (http://www.oakalleyplantation.com).  There were a number of other visitors there enjoying the day and touring the estate.  I only had a minute to capture this image without folks walking up and down the main walkway.  I did significant retouching in Photoshop to remove a number of dead leaves from the walkway and the grass to clean it up and remove the distractions.  I also dodged and burned the trees in order to bring out the texture and add depth to the image.   

Oak Alley Plantation, 3645 Highway 18 (Great River Road) Vacherie, Louisiana.

4th of July Photography in Indianapolis IN

I was just out shooting again, here in Indianapolis, for the 4th of July.  I'd seen other images online of the Indy fireworks from this same vantage point, so I wanted to give it a try.  There were a number of photographers who had picked out the same spot on the bridge by the Indiana State Museum, over the White River Canal.  I've already had a few folks contact me about purchasing prints of this image, so I decided on a 14 day trial on Smugmug (http://cxphotoworks.smugmug.com/).  If you're interested in a print of this, please contact me at kevin@cxphotoworks.com, especially if my Smugmug trial is over--I'd love for you to have a print.  As for post production, I did composite 4 different exposures together to really fill out the fireworks and their reflection, not to mention remove a couple of distractions.  

4th of July Fireworks in Indianapolis Indiana over the White River Canal.  (Image is lightly watermarked w/ my "CX".)

Photo Composite & Manipulation: Lion on Jeep

I was anxious to make a new composite image, and do a little photo manipulation in Photoshop.  I like to continually push myself to learn more about my craft, so that I will be better prepared to apply these skills to commercial and advertising photography assignments.  I looked through the images that I had, and pulled out a lion (shot at the Indianapolis Zoo); an image from the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, CO; a shot of a dry lake bed from Grey, TN; and a Jeep (Willys, I believe) from the War Bird Expo, here in Indianapolis.  Here are the elements I used, and the results are below that.

 Photo Composite Elements:  Lion; Jeep Willys; Garden of the Gods; & dry lake bed.

Photo Composite Elements:  Lion; Jeep Willys; Garden of the Gods; & dry lake bed.

I had a few key challenges:  lighting, perspective, and some missing lion parts.  I had to take the dry lake bed, retouch it, then duplicate it multiple times so that I could squish it into a perspective that would match the Jeep.  

The light direction on the Jeep was the primary lighting perspective that I had to work with (light from the left and behind).  This wasn't the lighting that was on the lion, so I had to do a bit of shading to make it look similar.  The lighting on the Garden of the Gods was usable, once I flipped it over.  

The lions right paw was chopped off in the image, so I had to duplicate her left paw, and make a right paw out of it.  

Shading had to be considered.  I had to shade the Jeep where the lion sat, and copy over the shadow of the Jeep from the concrete to the dry lake bed.  

I pulled it altogether, balancing out color, hue, saturation, and luminosity.  I added in a sun haze from upper left, and added lights on the Jeep to try and help bring more harmony to the composite image.  All in all, I think the image came together quite well.  Had I shot the images with this particular end in mind, I would have shot them differently, but given what I had, it worked out.  

 Photo Composite:  Lion on Jeep (final image)

Photo Composite:  Lion on Jeep (final image)

Just Out Shooting Photos -- Baby Bunnies

We have baby bunnies in our yard. They are about 8 days old. We had to ward off some preying crows (yes crows) shortly after their birth. You'd almost think that we were starting a zoo around this place. At least with the hawk gone for a few weeks, while he heals-up, they'll have a fighting chance. They are so cute--I must say.

 Photo of baby bunnies by our house.  Photograph by Kevin Lee Medlin, Indianapolis, IN.

Photo of baby bunnies by our house.  Photograph by Kevin Lee Medlin, Indianapolis, IN.

Good First Impressions with Great Website Images

Make a great first impression!  It's so important these days for businesses to have high-quality images on their websites.  A website is a company's virtual storefront, and many potential clients will get their first impressions based on a website, and the images on it.  

A&D Hydra-Clean, a family-owned business in Indianapolis approached me looking for some great images that would better represent them, for use on their website, and for other marketing efforts.  I was excited to have the chance to work with such a client, and to help them make a better first impression.  

 Marquee photo from our commercial photo shoot with A&D Hydra-Clean in Indianapolis, IN.

Marquee photo from our commercial photo shoot with A&D Hydra-Clean in Indianapolis, IN.

Collaboration & Pre-Production are Key

For a commercial photo shoot to be successful, collaboration and pre-production are key.  Aaron Wilson (owner), and Tricia at A&D were great to work with.  We sat down, and thoroughly discussed the images that they were looking for, and how they might be used.  We put together a full shot list, a prep-day plan, and a shoot-day timeline so that everyone would understand what was needed and what to expect.  There was also a considerable amount of thought, and planning put into figuring out how to best capture their marquee shot:  a photo that would show their whole team, most of their trucks, and much of their equipment.    

Another big consideration for Aaron and A&D was minimizing they team's down-time.  When they're not on the job, their customers aren't being served, and they're not making any money.  We were going to need to stage their trucks, equipment, and pull the team away from jobs to make the photo shoot happen.  Therefore, it became all that much more important for us to put together a solid production plan to make the best use of everyone's time, and to get the team back out on the job. 

For those of you who might be considering enhancing your company's website by upgrading your images, strongly consider working with a photographer that will work with you and collaborate to determine the best photos and the right strategy to bring it altogether. 

The Commercial Photo Shoot

I've put together a more comprehensive write-up on my A&D Hydra-Clean Photo Shoot which includes more about the planning, some behind the scenes (BTS) photos, and a selection of some of the final images.  Again, if you're looking for a photographer, consider someone who will take the time to listen to your needs, and will work--well in advance of the shoot--to make sure everything comes together on the day of the shoot, so that you get the kind of images that will make a great first impression.  

Interested in Great Images for Your Website?

If you'd like to improve the images on your website contact me.  I'd be glad to talk with you about your project, and help steer you in the right direction.

Just Out Shooting -- JW Marriott Indianapolis

I decided to get up early this morning, and do an architectural photography test shoot.  I got up at the crack of dawn, bundled up, and headed downtown to the JW Marriott in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Yes, it was cold.  It was a quick shoot, without any advance scouting, but I'm pleased with what I was able to get in such a short time.  I ran three of photos through Photoshop:  doing some retouching, dodging, burning, sharpening, and a few other tweaks to draw interest towards the JW Marriott.  Here are the results.  

 JW Marriott Indianapolis Indiana 1 of 3

JW Marriott Indianapolis Indiana 1 of 3

 JW Marriott Indianapolis Indiana 2 of 3

JW Marriott Indianapolis Indiana 2 of 3

JW Marriott Indianapolis Indiana 3 of 3