Architectural Photography 101

Architectural photography is significantly more complex than it may appear to be. If your goal is to get “Architectural Digest” quality images, it requires an "artistic eye" to recognize the various vantage points that will showcase a property best, using quality photographic equipment and mastery of a specialized photographic technique known as HDR (High Dynamic Range). HDR is a photographic technique that involves "bracketing" -- shooting the same image at various exposures which are later composited into a single, tonally balanced edited image. There is a lot more involved than just owning a nice camera, snapping away randomly and hoping you get a few good shots out of it. Talent, the right equipment, technical skills and Photoshop expertise all have to come together just right to produce quality images.

Taking all of that into consideration, it puzzles me why so many realtors and property managers treat their all-important real estate photos as a weekend DIY project. I find myself telling them, "The iPhone is a remarkable device, but it's not going to produce professional quality real estate photos!"

When budgeting for architectural photography, it’s very important to recognize all of the hours of work and expertise that are required to produce professional quality images. For example, a typical 3 bedroom, 2 bath house takes me at least 2 hours to photograph, plus about 4 to 8 hours of Photoshop time. If there are a lot of view windows to composite, it may take much longer. Yet, when I speak with realtors for the first time, they often assume the photography will take only 45 minutes, with no consideration of the Photoshop/post-production time, so their photography budget reflects that misconception. I'm hoping this quick lesson in architectural photography will help to educate my future clients about the work I do and they'll adjust their budgets accordingly.

 

 BEFORE. Multiple exposures are shot to capture the proper lighting for exterior and interior.

BEFORE. Multiple exposures are shot to capture the proper lighting for exterior and interior.

 AFTER. The multiple exposures are combined, the vertical lines straightened and the overall exposure and light levels are corrected.

AFTER. The multiple exposures are combined, the vertical lines straightened and the overall exposure and light levels are corrected.