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6 Questions To Ask An Architectural Photographer

This is a follow-up article to the previous blog post “Questions to ask yourself when hiring a photographer”. You can read that here.

Once you have your needs straightened out and have prequalified the photographer based on their style, it is time to decide if the photographer is the right fit for your needs.

west lobby of the Henry B Gonzalez Convention Center
West lobby of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center

1. How Long Before I Get the Edited Photos?

Not knowing when you will receive the edited images is frustrating, especially if you have a deadline for an awards submittal or a bid. A good photographer will keep you in the loop after the shoot.

In this industry, the turnaround on editing and delivering images is typically one to three weeks; but every photographer is different. If you are on a deadline, get a “delivered by date” written in the contract to make sure everyone is on the same page.

2. Do You Offer Cost Sharing?

Chances are, you already know that cost-sharing photography saves you money. Cost-sharing works by charging a discounted licensing fee for each additional party, then splitting the total cost of the photoshoot between all parties. The savings potential is huge, and it reduces the inconvenience for your client who only has to prepare for one photoshoot.

Parties who might want to cost-share include the building owner, interior designers, landscape architects, contractors, consultants, engineers, product manufacturers, and more. Not all photographers handle cost-sharing the same way, so make sure to get the details upfront.

3. Do You Carry Insurance?

Everyone even slightly related to the construction industry knows to triple-check that subcontractors have insurance. If something goes wrong, insurance is the difference between a minor inconvenience and a major headache. Photographers are subcontractors too and should have professional and commercial liability insurance.

Overhead view of a modern 2 story deck with infinity pool
The Waterfall House, Nashville, TN photographed by Andrew Keithly

4. How Many Photos Will I Get?­­

Architectural photography takes time, a lot of time. Creating a few images that perfectly capture the essence of your project is better than receiving lots of mediocre images. Most of the time there will be a pre-agreed number of images in the contract. But some photographers don't specify how many images they will create.

Don’t assume a photographer will deliver a certain number of photos, always ask.

5. What Could Cause the Price to Increase?

Architectural photographers will submit a written bid that includes project details and a breakdown of the fee. Some photographers charge by photo, some charge a flat day rate, and others charge a variety of fees for individual costs associated with the shoot.

Regardless of how they structure the cost, most architectural photographers will make sure you know exactly what you are paying for. But it is still wise to ask what would cause the price to increase, such as extra editing or additional images, to avoid surprises down the road.

A good photographer won’t add fees unless the scope of work changes significantly, and they will make sure you know what the scope of work covers.

6. What Are the Licensing Rights?

Architectural photographers, like all artists, keep the original copyright and license the right to use the images to you based on your needs. They generally don’t include advertising usage or exclusivity, which is why architectural photography is friendlier on your wallet than typical commercial photography.

There are near-universal standards for image licensing, but you should always read the contract. Usually, architectural photographers will give you a generous license that covers most uses except advertising. Credit is typically required, especially on social media and editorials/awards submittals.

But sometimes those rights may expire after a few years, or there may be a region-of-use limit, or separate fees for digital and printed use just like in regular commercial photography. So always make sure!

Last Thoughts: Architectural Video

If you want to stay relevant in a changing world, consider asking your photographer if they can produce videos. It is easy to think that video production is complex and expensive. Yet video can be an incredible tool for your marketing, and frequently costs no more than photos.

The top 3 reasons video marketing fails are poor production quality, an unclear message, and ineffective distribution. I use professional gear, a proven message framework, and provide distribution guidance to ensure your video project is a success.

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