The Value of Good Commercial Architectural Photography. A good well composed and lit photograph with the subject matter in sharp focus can make a really good impression on a prospective client, similar to attending an important business meeting in a smart suit, ironed shirt, polished shoes and a well knotted tie. Any prospect is likely to look first at the images on the website or in the brochure of the supplier he is considering doing business with, a poor photograph may create a poor first impression and may even cost a commission. Not only photographers are keen to make this point, web designers such as Clicky Media advise their clients to obtain high quality and relevant imagery: “Virtually everything in our lives is driven by appearance initially. Whether it be choosing a new phone, a new house or a company to provide a service to you, we all start to build an impression, based on what we see initially.”

“Quality” in terms of Commercial Photography can be defined as “putting a business in it’s best light”, in the commercial world the architectural and construction industries are fairly unique in that it’s almost impossible to put a sample of work in a show room to impress a prospective client. One of only a handful of ways of showing a prospect the type and quality of work undertaken is through photography, an architect will typically benefit from having images of recent projects on his website and in his brochures, another potential use is to hang canvas or framed prints of past projects in an office or boardroom so that visiting prospects can instantly see what the firm is about.

A poor photograph will show a business in a poor light and potentially deter prospects from becoming clients whereas a good image can help convince prospects to become clients. So what are the requirements of a good architectural photograph?

  • Composition, the subject is well placed in the frame and in the case of architectural subjects, consideration of surrounding buildings, infrastructure, vegetation and the like.
  • Lighting, much architectural photography is dependant on the sun as its sole or main light source, the ability to predict when the sun will be ideally placed can be determined by solar path prediction.
  • Mastery of the technical aspects of focusing a camera, controlling perspectives, understanding how a lens will transfer an image onto film or digital sensor, the impact of focal length, controlling light with filters and/or photographic lighting and editing/finishing the image.
  • Recording the image in sufficient technical quality that it can be reproduced at the desired viewing size without degradation.

These days, almost everyone owns a digital camera of some kind, some camera owners literally just point and shoot others take the time to consider factors such as lighting and composition. Professional architectural photographers will have the most appropriate equipment for architectural subjects and the their style/technique, the ability to get to the location at the best possible time and the skill and experience to get the best out of their equipment. Also with architectural photography some highly skilled post processing may be required to bring out the best in the images, this is another skill the professional will bring to the project.

In conclusion, it’s always best not only to hire a professional photographer but to hire a specialist professional photographer. A portrait photographer will know how to pose a human subject to make them look their best, an architectural photographer will know how to capture line and form in architecture and how best to light the various building materials. To finish, a quotation from Red Adair, “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur”.