4 Tips for Getting Great Photographs of Architecture and Interior Design

Photography is one of the most important tools you can use to attract potential clients.

Although the photo shoot may not happen until after the work is finished, preparing for it from day one will help make the process much easier. Here, four pros share their tried and true tips for capturing their images.

1. Get Client Approval Early

Mention that you want to take professional photos of the finished project at the start, so clients will be aware of the commitment from the beginning. If they’re hesitant, a little education (and enthusiasm) can go a long way. Try explaining that the photographs will be used to help you grow your business and may even be featured in magazines. This can make clients feel invested in your efforts and even excited about the prospect of a small slice of design fame.

“At the beginning of every job, I always tell them how excited I am about the project and that I’d love to take photos at the end of the project so I can try to get them published in a magazine or to post on Houzz and my website,” says Annie Santulli of Annie Santulli Designs in Palm Beach, Florida. “No one has ever said no. In fact, they love the idea! They are very proud.”

2. Put Permission to Photograph in the Contract

Adding a clause to the contract is one way to get your clients onboard … legally, at least. A photo release in the contract, stating that the client agrees to have the project photographed and that the images can be used in marketing or advertising materials, is a great way to make sure there is no question about whether you have the right to take photos. However, maintaining a great relationship with the client is still the No. 1 priority. Even with a release in your contract, if the client is reluctant to let you shoot, being too pushy can lead to poor PR or ill will.

“Great photos are an amazing sales tool, so we always have a release as part of the design contract,” says Dave Marciniak of Revolutionary Gardens in Virginia. “Having those photographs can pay dividends, but at the end of the day, if a client is pushing back, we have to ask ourselves if it’s really worth burning that bridge.”

3. Find the Right Photographer

Finding the right photographer is one of the most important steps in getting great photos. “I can’t tell you how valuable a good photographer is,” says Frankie Castro of Square Footage in Ontario, Canada. But how do you know who the right photographer is for what you need?

“Getting a great photographer is a little like finding a designer. They can be really hard to find, but it’s worth searching until you get the right one,” Castro says. “We’ll look at their portfolio and see if the quality of their work matches with our style and brand.”

For Eugene Sakai of Studio S Squared Architecture in San Jose, California, reliability is one of the most important traits in a photographer. “With people’s busy lives, it’s hard to get a photo shoot on the schedule. So if the photographer can’t meet that schedule and you have to reschedule with clients, it’s a huge imposition,” Sakai says. “Showing up on time and doing the job as promised are at the core of what being a good professional is about.”

4. Use Your Network To Find Photographers

Looking within your community and asking for referrals are good. “If we ever need help finding a photographer, we’ll ask the Houzz community for suggestions,” Castro says. Another resource is the Houzz Photographer Network, which is made up of professional photographers who offer a special package for first-time clients.

“I love the Houzz Photographer Network. There isn’t another resource like it,” says Shannon Ggem of Ggem Design in Malibu, California. “I had been comparing my projects to other pros’ on Houzz and thinking, ‘My work doesn’t look like this.’ But after working with a professional photographer, I saw my work really does look like the work of other pros!”

Using your network to find a great photographer can transform the way your work looks and the types of clients you attract.

How To Work With Photographers

Depending on your needs, your interactions with the photographer may vary. Castro requests time for the client to clear out the space so it can be staged before the photographer comes to shoot. As an architect, Sakai will ask the photographer to take a few shots of the house from the same angle as the 3-D mock-ups, so he can show future clients how the project progressed from concept to reality. Understanding your business needs will help guide the photoshoot process.

“We don’t give our photographer a ton of direction. We know that he can take better photos than I could possibly direct him to,” Sakai says. “Don’t shortchange yourself by not opting for professional photography. You may think you’re saving money, but in reality, you’re costing yourself potential clients by not representing your work in its best possible light.”

What are some of your best tips for gathering great images of your work? Leave your feedback in the Comments section below!

This story was written by the Houzz Industry Marketing team.