March 15th, 2011

8 Tips for a Successful Architectural Shoot

Posted in architectural photography, featured by Fernando Gaglianese
Sheraton University City Hotel at Twilight

Sheraton University City Hotel at Twilight

The AIA provides an exhaustive checklist to help their members prepare for photography. The list was compiled with help from ASMP and is definitely worth reading if planning a large shoot, with a lot of interested parties. This list is our executive summary – a “greatest hits” of what our past experience shows are the basic, most important points.

1. Make a Shot List

As it is with most pursuits in life, good photography depends on good planning.

If you provide your photographer with a list of specific rooms and areas to be photographed, it will help him or her better plan for the shoot and provide an accurate cost proposal.

Calvary Church, Souderton, PA

2. Discuss photos’ ultimate use with the photographer

How the images are to be used will have an effect on the scope of the licensing, and on the licensing cost.

Also, the ultimate uses of the images will affect how the photographer chooses to create each image. For example, photos intended strictly for web use may need to be shot in landscape mode and may not need the exact detail of a photo meant for a large display print.

Huntingdon Valley Country Club Exterior

3. Determine if the building is ready for photography

The shoot may have to wait until all construction or renovations are completed. Additionally, for exterior photographs it is best to shoot when the landscaping looks best, and when there is no scaffolding visible.

Private Residence, Elizabethtown, PA

4. Provide the photographer with an on-site contact

This person may be in charge of the facility, the building’s engineer, or the manager or owner of the business. The contact should be familiar with the building and be able to balance the photographer’s needs with the building’s occupants’ needs.

It is essential that the photographer has this person’s phone number and that they be able to talk ahead of the shoot to make arrangements and learn about where to park and, if the shoot includes interiors, how to move gear into the building. This person will be invaluable if during the shoot it becomes important to be able to turn certain lights on and off.

Hiway Theater, Jenkintown, PA

5. Make sure the occupants know a photographer is coming

This is a specific issue for office or retail space. When the photos are commissioned by the building owner or management company, it is important that they inform their tenants and obtain tenants’ permission for photography of their space.

Sang Kee Restaurant - Sheraton University City, Philadelphia.

Sang Kee Restaurant - Sheraton University City, Philadelphia.

6. Provide a site plan.

Buildings are like people; they look their best when light flatters their features. We use as much information as we can get from our clients ahead of time to identify the best time of day to photograph a given building. Site plans, satellite images from Google Maps, and information from people familiar with the location are all helpful.

Wellington Apartments, Hatboro, PA

7. Plan for a scout or walkthrough with the photographer

The walkthrough, and ideally a separate scouting day, will answer any questions that could not be answered with site and floor plans, or discussing the location over the phone. Also, scouting allows the photographer to pre-visualize possible angles, lighting, and identify things that may have to be moved in or out of each shot.

Justison Landing, Wilmington, DE

8. Determine if props are needed

When the space is either unoccupied or recently constructed, the interior will often be a series of empty rooms. While it may be appropriate to photograph an empty warehouse as is, a completely bare living room or bedroom is not likely to sell any condo units.

Warehouse Interior


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