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4 Questions to ask yourself when hiring an architectural photographer.

These 4 questions to ask yourself will clarify your goals when hiring an architectural photographer. Marketing and branding are essential for becoming a leader in the AEC industry, and the right photographer gives you a strong foundation for your marketing.

A follow-up blog post will delve into what questions to ask prospective photographers when commissioning architectural photography.

Interested in what I do? Learn more here.

1. Define Your Budget from The Start.

We all wish money did not factor into our decision-making, but unchecked overhead is a great way to go broke. Factoring in the cost of architectural photography in your original project estimates ensures that you don’t have to cut into your profit margin.

One architecture firm I work with adds 5% to their initial fee. There are other ways to budget for photography, including having a yearly fixed budget, however budgeting in advance for individual projects allows for maximum flexibility, especially for growing firms.

How much you spend on photography will vary based on your goals and the specific project, but what is important here is that documenting your work and marketing your brand should not be an afterthought. Budget for it from the start!

A modern cabin living room.
Center Hill Lake House, for GILMC Architects

2. Determine Their Style

Architectural photography is an art. Every photographer has their own style and will capture your project from a unique point of view. Do you prefer a bright, ethereal look? Or clean, crisp colors? Or maybe a darker, moodier feel?

Study their portfolio to determine if they are the right fit for your firm overall, as well as the specific project. And sharing photos from other projects that reflect the feeling you want to be captured will give them a better idea of your preferences.

3. Can You Enjoy Working with Them?

When hiring an architectural photographer you want to be able to enjoy working with them. And they need to be good communicators. Loving their portfolio isn’t all that matters when doing business.

Photoshoots can be exhausting and stressful due to the intense decision-making, the physical exercise of moving furniture and gear, and the long hours. Being able to enjoy working alongside the guy or gal you hire makes it way easier!

Foyer of a commercial office building
Music City Circle Office Buildout, for Tuck Hinton Architects

4. What Is the End Goal?

Keep the end in mind when choosing a photographer. Are you submitting the project for an award? You need the best photos possible, and you should look for a photographer with a style similar to the photos from past winning submissions.

For important projects, 2 to 3-day shoots are not unheard of. It gives the photographer time to capture every image at the best time of day and allows them to slow down and nail their composition perfectly.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, do you simply need good photos of a small project to use on social media? Look for a photographer whose style aligns with current social media trends, and who may not charge as much. There is also nothing wrong with taking pictures yourself for a small project that isn't the highlight of your portfolio, but remember that the specialized equipment, skillset, and outside perspective of a photographer can be invaluable regardless of the project's importance.

At the end of the day, the only way most of the world sees your projects is through the photos or videos that you commission. Building brand recognition and becoming an industry leader, locally or globally, requires images that capture not just the spaces you create, but the essence of those spaces. Hiring an architectural photographer can be a big investment, but it is a worthwhile one.

Interested in what I do? Learn more here.

Look in January for part 2, 6 Questions to ask a photographer before hiring.


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