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Advice for commissioning architectural photography

Providing the best photography for our clients

Over the years we’ve provided a lot of stunning images for our clients to use in all sorts of ways to benefit their business.

In that time we’ve come across many factors that can make quite a difference in our being able to create these pictures, and have put together these notes that cover the sorts of information we need. Some we need to know before we can give a quotation, whilst other items are needed for us to carry out the work or are things that clients should ideally arrange as the project progresses.

We’ve a guide to our fees on our main commercial photography site.

Part of this goes into our preparation checklist before taking any photographs, and some of the information provided will also form part of the contract between both parties. The information here is for your guidance and should be read in conjunction with our standard terms and conditions.

Your photography requirements

For us to provide you with an accurate quote and to ensure that we are able to fulfil your brief, we need you to tell us:

  • The exact address/location of the site.
    We will use this information to identify the site via online mapping services, such as Google Maps (to enable us to determine sun angles, obstacles etc – as well as location). If the site is not yet on Google Street View, we need additional information (e.g. drawings or adjacent buildings or landmarks) that will enable us to identify the site and its position.
  • Your deadlines – when is the site available, when do you need the photographs
  • The function of the site/building/development.
  • The extent of the site/building/development – how many buildings are there, what is the extent of the landscaping, paths and roads.
  • What specifically do you want us to photograph? – if there are multiple buildings on site, do you want pictures of all of them? If not, please identify which buildings you want us to concentrate on.
  • How many images are you looking for.
  • Do you want internal and/or external shots, daylight and/or evening shots?
  • Will the location require additional lighting? Setting this up can add a lot of time to preparation and the size of the shoot, but can make a considerable difference to the results. Please give us a call if you’d like to discuss all the options for different styles of photography.
  • What will the images be used for?– for example, records of work, surveying or promotional material.
  • Are you planning to share the images with a third party? If so what will they be using them for.
  • Would you like us to make a visit to site prior to the shoot.

Information we need

Before we visit the site you will need to:

  • Give us your contact information – or the contact information of the person in your organisation who will have full responsibility for the project.
  • Tell us what state the site is in.  Is the site is still under construction, ready for handover or fully/partially occupied?
  • Decide exactly what you’d like us to photograph and tell us what you’d like us to concentrate on – are there any architectural features of particular interest – and what aspects of the site you feel are best avoided.
  • Contact the owner of the site and obtain full permission for us to go on site – please make sure we will have full access to the site (including parking and any security passes/clearance etc) and all aspects of  the build you’d like photographing (this may include obtaining permission from neighbouring properties or ensuring rooms/parts of the building are not locked).
  • Provide us with the correct contact information for whoever has day-to-day management of the site, so we can let them know when they can expect us. It’s also so that they in turn can advise any contractors, staff, residence or service users of our presence.

Is the location ready to be photographed?

Please bear in mind, presentation of the site is the client’s responsibility and while it may be possible to remove signage, obstacles and unsightly rubbish or graffiti in post production, we do charge extra for this service and it may not always be technically possible to edit the photographs in this way.

Before confirming a date for the shoot, you might first want to bear in mind the following:

Making sure the site is suitable for photographing:

  • Good light makes for the best photographs, and ideally we would prefer to wait for the perfect bright blue sky – excellent for both day and evening shots. Realistically of course, your deadline may not allow this, so we please ask you to have reasonable expectations based on your timescales, the time of year and weather conditions.
  • Obstacles – such a bins, cars, posts and personal items in gardens can impact the look of the image and while these can sometimes be removed in post production, please do bear in mind we do charge extra for this service.

To ensure the best possible image straight out of the camera, consider:

  • Is the site actually finished – or will there still be visible evidence of ongoing construction? If so is it worth waiting until construction is complete or choosing just a part of the development to be photographed?
  • Even if the construction is complete, is there still evidence of building works – including skips, portaloos, signage, scaffolding. Are you able to have them removed?
  • Has the site been handed over to the users and have they personalised the building – for example homes with bins or play equipment in the front garden, flower boxes in windows, obvious commercial branding in less than ideal locations, cars, trucks, lorries or engineering equipment parked in front of buildings. How much influence do you have over the presentation of the project once it has been handed over?

Tips for site preparation

What would make the site look more presentable?

In an ideal world, all photographs would be taken on completion and just before handover, when you still have some control or influence over the site. If this is not the case, consider the following:

  • Wait for photographs until the site has been cleared of all signs of construction.
  • Clear all the site of litter, graffiti, weeds and make sure all landscaping is tidy and attractive.
  • Are all the lights – internally and externally – working and fitted with the correct/same bulbs.
  • For interior shots – are the spaces clean and do you need to provide ‘props’ such as furniture, plants, additional ‘mood’ lighting.
  • If the site is in full use, should the photography be timed to avoid busy periods, such a shift changes, deliveries etc.
  • Consider the seasons – leaves on the tress, plants in flower, lush green grass or snow and frost can have a dramatic impact on the look of a photograph.
The 'Blue Tower' in Leicester

The right sky and lighting conditions (such as the sun angle) can make all the difference to an image.

If you need photos like this, please do leave time to allow for the weather in the UK…