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Author Topic: Current state of architectural photography  (Read 6992 times)
Harold Clark
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« on: July 18, 2013, 09:40:43 AM »
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I am based in the Toronto area, and most of my work is architectural. A recent marketing effort to attract new clients has revealed some interesting trends in the way architects market their services.

Probably a third of architects don't have websites, which is a surprise. Of those that do have websites, many maintain a high standard of photography of completed projects. An increasing number, however, have gone the DIY/snapshot route or are using CAD illustrations which I guess don't cost anything. The quality of most of these DIY photographs is quite frightening, and I think would cause many potential clients to run the other way upon viewing them.

While many industries have gone the cheap/low quality route since the inception of digital photography, I was under the impression that architects, being concerned with aesthetics and visuals, understood the importance of good photography to showcase their projects. This appears to be changing however, at least in this market. This can't be driven by local economics, Toronto has the highest number of large projects under construction of any city in the world, real estate is booming ( at least until now ) with a small starter house selling for over half a million. I am curious as to the state of architectural photography in other markets, or if this is just a local phenomenon.
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Walt Roycraft
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« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2013, 01:44:38 PM »
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I also make my living shooting architecture, since mid 1980's.
Since the 2007 crash (down turn) things have been difficult to say the least. Lots of DIY and even some not doing anything at all.
I will say that this last month has shown promising activity. A few new clients have booked as well as some old ones calling again.
I called on someone who was my largest client for years and they dropped off to nothing, and they want me to start shooting some of their stuff again.

So I cautiously am optimistic at this time.
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David Eichler
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« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2013, 08:47:33 PM »
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I am based in the Toronto area, and most of my work is architectural. A recent marketing effort to attract new clients has revealed some interesting trends in the way architects market their services.

Probably a third of architects don't have websites, which is a surprise. Of those that do have websites, many maintain a high standard of photography of completed projects. An increasing number, however, have gone the DIY/snapshot route or are using CAD illustrations which I guess don't cost anything. The quality of most of these DIY photographs is quite frightening, and I think would cause many potential clients to run the other way upon viewing them.

While many industries have gone the cheap/low quality route since the inception of digital photography, I was under the impression that architects, being concerned with aesthetics and visuals, understood the importance of good photography to showcase their projects. This appears to be changing however, at least in this market. This can't be driven by local economics, Toronto has the highest number of large projects under construction of any city in the world, real estate is booming ( at least until now ) with a small starter house selling for over half a million. I am curious as to the state of architectural photography in other markets, or if this is just a local phenomenon.

I think this applies to interior designers as well, who, one would think,  should also have a strong interest in showing their work to its best advantage. In any case, are these architects to whom you refer ones who were previously commissioning high quality photography and then stopped doing that? In any case, I know that marketing budgets may be tight for smaller design firms. However, even when that is the case, one would think they would at least want to commission a few high quality photos to make some kind of decent statement. Instead, what one finds is large amounts of amateur photos that make it very hard to judge the quality of the designs and materials.
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louoates
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« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2013, 05:30:29 PM »
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Here's another case where the "easy-as-point-and-shoot" thinking seriously degrades their product:  Golf Course Photography.  The savvy courses use pro shooters and get breathtakingly impressive beauty shots of their property. You'd think that the course competitors would realized how many rounds of golf are arranged based upon web searches. Yet they continue to use quick snaps with a point and shoot or cell phone camera without even basic post processing work. The resulting awful result seems oblivious to the management of those golf facilities.

To take it a bit farther, there is a golf course management company that purports to help golf courses drive more business their courses through all sorts of marketing tools. They even design the web sites for them -- using the same crappy pictures they were using before. Huh It was so incredulous to me that I contacted that company and suggested some sort of referral program to local photographers who could dramatically improve the web site appearance for those courses. It was like talking to a blank wall. The marketing person I spoke with had absolutely no concept of the most basic selling value of a good golf picture. The response was "we just do the marketing". Huh

I sympathize with pro shooters who still get this kind of response from otherwise intelligent business people.
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Alan Klein
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« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2013, 07:34:35 PM »
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Bad photos are across the board in many industries.  My wife an I had been looking for a home.  You can't believe how many bad photos the Sellers put up on their site  It shows the home terribly so you just skip it on the internet and go onto the next.  You think that the real estate companies would go back and shoot some decent photos.

Of course some real estate companies do a great job in this area but the amount of dark interior photos in particular caused by bright exterior lighting from the window screwing up exposures are amazing.
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EduPerez
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« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2013, 04:05:33 AM »
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Bad photos are across the board in many industries.  My wife an I had been looking for a home.  You can't believe how many bad photos the Sellers put up on their site  It shows the home terribly so you just skip it on the internet and go onto the next.  You think that the real estate companies would go back and shoot some decent photos.

Of course some real estate companies do a great job in this area but the amount of dark interior photos in particular caused by bright exterior lighting from the window screwing up exposures are amazing.

I have never understood how someone in the business of selling houses can give so little value to the images in their catalog. How is anybody supposed to get interested in a property, if it looks like a cavern in the photographs? Not even the most basic "tidy up the room, turn the lights on, and get a proper exposure"...
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Walt Roycraft
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« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2013, 07:52:53 AM »
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I have never understood how someone in the business of selling houses can give so little value to the images in their catalog. How is anybody supposed to get interested in a property, if it looks like a cavern in the photographs? Not even the most basic "tidy up the room, turn the lights on, and get a proper exposure"...

I struggled with this for a long time, and then it came to me. Builders, realtors etc know what the structure looks like. Especially the builder. They know their house looks fantastic. They have seen it daytime, nighttime and everything in between. So when they look at their crappy photos they took themselves they don't see the photograph, they see what they know the house looks like. Like a model who is drop dead gorgeous but in their minds some see a photo of them and think how fat they are. People see photographs differently then we do.
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Rob C
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« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2013, 11:59:11 AM »
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I have never understood how someone in the business of selling houses can give so little value to the images in their catalog. How is anybody supposed to get interested in a property, if it looks like a cavern in the photographs? Not even the most basic "tidy up the room, turn the lights on, and get a proper exposure"...


The problem here, on Mallorca, is that many estate agencies have collapsed. The main surviving player is a German firm selling luxury homes with a huge magazine catalogue to match. With very good photography.

It’s also a legal mess with houses. The government has introduced new regulations that require you to provide an insulation certificate, at your cost, if you seek to sell. You are expected to have the property double glazed etc. which sounds a splendid idea, until you accept that the buildings mainly consist of single hollow brick walls, not double-skin walls. This means that in summer the heat comes in and in winter all your heat goes out, keeping the grass and shrubs alive. If the walls are unable to retain heat, what’s the point of spending, literally, thousands on glass? The percentage of glass surface area is minimal.

But hey, it looks like the gov. is doing its best to help the building trades! That they are simply putting yet a further form of taxation on property movements is totally missed… And they hope to kick-start the housing/holiday home economies! Hey-soos!


I'm interested in boats, but as the Fairlines and Sunseekers are all pretty much standard kit boats, not much seems to happen with them regarding snaps - and snaps is what the brokers or the crews or the owners provide. It seems to me that only the really bespoke yachts are worth the trouble/expense of a shoot and a dedicated catalogue. Life at the top probably continues apace...

It also appears to be the case that more and more boats have not ventured from their moorings this summer. If August is dead, God help the industry, because the season ends in September.

Rob C
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David Eichler
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« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2013, 05:00:38 PM »
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Although the subject matter is the same, as it is commonly practiced, real estate photography is not the same as architectural photography, at least when real estate agents are the clients. Real estate agents often have different stylistic requirements than architects, and time and budget constraints of typical real estate photography assignments will tend to limit what a photographer can deliver. Of course the state of the real estate market will have an affect on architects, which in turn will affect architectural photographers.

I really wish people would keep discussions of real estate photography separate from those about architectural photography.
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KLaban
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« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2013, 08:05:41 AM »
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I really wish people would keep discussions of real estate photography separate from those about architectural photography.

This is the problem with fora, folk seem keen to make a connection, often any connection.

Ask about the Afghan situation and the chances are someone will comment that they make damn fine sweaters.
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Rob C
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« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2013, 12:46:14 PM »
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This is the problem with fora, folk seem keen to make a connection, often any connection.

Ask about the Afghan situation and the chances are someone will comment that they make damn fine sweaters.


In the 60s, it was their jackets, à la waistcoat!

;-)

Rob C
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Rob C
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« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2013, 12:50:05 PM »
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Although the subject matter is the same, as it is commonly practiced, real estate photography is not the same as architectural photography, at least when real estate agents are the clients. Real estate agents often have different stylistic requirements than architects, and time and budget constraints of typical real estate photography assignments will tend to limit what a photographer can deliver. Of course the state of the real estate market will have an affect on architects, which in turn will affect architectural photographers.

I really wish people would keep discussions of real estate photography separate from those about architectural photography.



Thanks for converting something posted with the best of intentions into amateur trolling.

Rob C
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David Eichler
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« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2013, 01:30:32 PM »
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Thanks for converting something posted with the best of intentions into amateur trolling.

Rob C

I did not mean trolling, as I understand the term, just digressing, a common occurrence on Internet forums, and something I wish would happen a lot less often when the the original post is a serious one. I can understand how some people who are not that familiar with the genres of real estate and architectural photography might sometimes conflate them, due to the same subject matter, but the OP did specifically refer to architects as the subject clientele in his post, and said nothing about real estate agents or real estate marketing.

I did not mean that I thought the comments regarding real estate marketing are malicious or are not serious points, just points unrelated to the subject at hand.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2013, 01:44:03 PM by David Eichler » Logged

JoeKitchen
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« Reply #13 on: July 26, 2013, 09:10:28 AM »
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IMO, I think that this market has taken a hit from the recession just like every other market.  But with that said, everyone always wants the best, they just may not be able to afford it and need to sacrifice quality in order to stay alive.  Just keep on doing great work charging well for it and not compromising your quality.  Eventually there will be a large amount of architects who hired crap photographers when times were bad that will make the decision to hire the good photographers. 

Personally I just signed a 15 project assignment with an architectural firm that falls into this category.  Things are changing. 
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Joe Kitchen
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"Photography is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent moving furniture."  Arnold Newman
"Try not to be just better than your rivals and contemporaries, try to be better than yourself."  William Faulkner
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