Photographing Architecture

Photographing Architecture

InfrastructurePhotos is a specialist architectural and construction photography firm  that has photographed over 400 buildings (+25 000 hours). We have have procedures and workflows that help capture the best images of your building. This article will give you an idea of how we operate and produce final images.

When commissioned to photograph your building, there are a number of things we take into consideration, i.e. it’s location, design, weather conditions,  sun path, heights of buildings in close proximity etc. Prior to the shoot, using sun positioning, we decide which are the best times to photograph exteriors and angles that work with for your building. We require our clients to complete a shoot preparation document, which sets out the client’s brief and expectations that guides us when photographing your building. This document is critical in managing expectations both ways. Each building is unique and once the brief is finalized our team starts the workflow preparation. A  flexible schedule depended on weather, time, shadows etc is finalized. Weather is a critical variable that InfrastructurePhotos has no control over, especially when it comes to photographing exteriors. Depending on the nature of the building, we also consider the best time to photograph the interiors. Best angles  are decided during the planning phase to ensure we maximize our time creating masterpieces for our clients. In most cases, apart from using VR planning software, and if feasible, we usually go to the site/building prior to the shoot to finalize the planning concept. With this approach, depending on the commission our photographers capture 10-15 images per hour. Conceptualization will continue through the shoot using the researched and planning information.

Once all the planning is done,  we prepare the photographic equipment suitable for the commission.  60% of our exteriors and all interiors are photographed on a tripod, as we reduce our shutter speed to ensure enough light is captured to bring out the best of the interiors. Often, interior spaces need to be cleaned and in public places like a shopping mall, standing trolleys would need to be moved and one would need to wait for the cleaning staff to move out of the frame in order to capture the best image. Due to these factors, interiors take longer to photograph as opposed to day time exteriors. Twilight exteriors are also photographed off a tripod to ensure there is no camera shake. At times exteriors are photographed with a shutter speed of 30 seconds to a minute.

Our photographers do not at any stage randomly go to a building and press the shutter button, hope for the best, then sit in the studio and sift through thousands of trial and error images to give the client. Our photographers take the time to understand the design intent of the building, the architecture behind it, the engineering intent and when we arrive at your building/site. Normally we walk around the building to get a feel for it before photographing, then we set up our gear (tripod, camera, filter and lighting), adjust angles, camera settings (we photograph in manual mode only which means aperture, shutter speed and ISO are manually set to suit mood and creative intent). We take time to conceptualize the ideal shots based on the brief provided. Once all set we photograph and move onto the next point.

Once complete, back at the office, images photographed in .NEF format often called “RAW file format” are converted to DGNs and the editing commences. Once completed, high resolution images in  JPEG or TIFF (lossless) formats go through a QA process and then sent to clients via Dropbox/DVD/ InfrastructurePhotos QA checked external hard to ensure data integrity. No image leaves InfrastructurePhotos without going through this rigorous process.

At no stage do we provide clients .NEF formats, as we are commissioned to provide the final product which is a blend of our experience, artistic flair, the .NEF and editing. Other reasons we do not give clients .NEF files are as follows:-

  1. We work in a competitive environment and a raw images contains our IP which includes settings to achieve our award winning images.
  2. This IP can fall into the wrong hands and be handed to our competition. In 2012 we worked on a project with a procurement manager who had a preferred company and requested “RAW”, re months later our commission was cancelled and the procurement manager  preferred photographer was appointed regardless of no experince in Infrastructure Photography. Fortunately one needs more than our shoot settings to replace us. Safe to say we were reappointed a few months later as the client picked up the discrepancies betweeen our work and that of the competition. What happened to the procurement manager is a story for another day.
  3.  When we are commissioned, we are paid to utilize our skills, creativity, experience to produce the final product which is an image in JPEG or TIFF formats. Without the experience and the process, there would be no finished product.
  4. Clients commission us to be able to be able to decide what is a good image or not.
  5. Loss of brand control
  6. Our brand reputation is on the line every time we hand an image to a client and editing is a crucial part of our process in ensuring the best results of the final product.
  7. We are hired because we are a team of talented specialist infrastructure photographers, our  style and because you loved our images on website, in our profile, on our social media accounts, professionalism, award winning images and reputation of delivering exceptional work. All these are final images that came out of our standard worflows and experience.
  8. Raw files are meant for editing and re editing.

We are passionate about architectural photography and we believe your buildings deserves to be photographed with passion. Photographing architecture successfully is team work with the client, whose support is required to finalize the brief which has to be signed off prior to commencing, ensuring the building is clean and in top shape to be photographed and also ensuring that items like lights and illuminated signs are working. Clients are also responsible for arranging the necessary permissions and ensuring that security is aware we are coming.

We look forward to photographing your project in the near future. 

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