Question To Ask Before Hiring an Architectural Photographer

What To Ask Your Architectural Photographer

What To Ask Your Architectural Photographer

There are plenty of good reasons to hire an architectural photographer, but the most important one may be this: people buy with their eyes first. Architectural photography is a beautiful example of the saying that perception is reality. As an architect, the images you choose to promote your services must work on two levels – as singular representations of who you are, and as marketing tools that help you increase sales.

Your goal when hiring an architectural photographer should be to find someone who will create images that not only look great but cause the viewer to get caught up in the beauty of the space. Images use for marketing are about creating a sense of desire in the viewer and the best architectural photographers have the ability to tell a story that people want to be a part of.

Architectural Photography: What to Ask

The world of architectural photography is as diversely populated as any other creative field. For marketing purposes, it pays to know that the photographer you’re hiring is skilled in the area you need. Interior design, residential space, industrial locations, and scale modeling are just some of the categories that require professional expertise – and often specialized equipment.

The photographer you choose should be able to understand and then execute your particular design ideas, both visually and verbally. Architectural photography can be a lengthy process, with days that start before dawn and run until after dusk. You can make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible by asking the right questions before you sign the contract. Here are ten interview questions to ask a photographer you are considering

  1. Describe your approach to architectural photography. Are the methods deliberate with a production team of assistants and stylists or is it a faster "cinéma vérité" style? How do you handle a project where the homeowners are present?
  2. Are you comfortable with a collaborative process? If you want to be an involved party, look for someone who embraces that concept. And keep an open mind towards someone who works in other fields in addition to architecture – she or he can bring a unique eye to the shoot. In a recent interview, Janet Bloomberg, a partner at Kube Architecture indicated she was in favor of the idea, saying “That range of experience really enhances their aesthetic view of the spaces.”  
  3. Can you do “two or more shoots” at once? If you want to capture images for both the completed design and furniture or finishes, ask upfront. Some photographers see it as efficient, while others may feel taking too many unique images will be time and cost prohibitive – and outside their capabilities.
  4. Do you own your own equipment? If the photographer has to rent lenses and lighting gear, that can increase your budget.
  5. What information do you need from me before setting up the photo shoot? Many photographers have checklists they’re more than happy to have you follow.
  6. What is the turnaround time for images in after the shoot? Raw images should happen quickly but post-production processing in Lightroom and Photoshop can take considerable time. It’s extremely beneficial to have a production calendar in place that includes delivery times post-shoot.
  7. What will be the resolution of my images? Resolution matters for printing, cropping, and display size, so be sure you know what you’ll be getting and ask for images to be sized for print and the web. For the web ask for images that are 2200 pixels at the longest length, 300 dpi and a file size of 300kb +/-.
  8. What is your post-shoot process? Ask if retouching, color adjustments, and the number of rounds of revisions that are included. Also, ask if the photographer will compile a portfolio of edited and sequenced images for you.
  9. Do you scout the location before the shoot? Large production photographers who prepare a preliminary shot list are worth their weight in gold, saving you time and money. If the photographer is more Cartier-Bresson than Richard Avedon than scouting the location may add unnecessary expense. 
  10. Do you charge for travel expenses?

Final Thoughts

Other factors you’ll want to consider before hiring include professionalism and compatibility with your style. The relationship between the architectural photographer and the client is a balancing act between intention and technical and artistic skills. But it’s a relationship worth pursuing if the result is seeing your firm’s work represented in the best light.

Remember that great photographs are not taken, they are made. The bottom line is this, if you want photographs that invite the viewer in by beautifully capturing the character and artistry of a space, hiring an architectural photographer is the path to choose. Together, you’ll create images that prove to be invaluable when marketing your services.

Need advice on architectural photography? Give a call. With forty years taking images of architecture we can help.