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Architectural Photography Post-Production

Architectural Photography

What's so hard about Architectural Photography?


When I tell people I'm an architectural photographer I often get a blank stare that expresses something between pity and cluelessness. I think it conjures up some vague image of Frank Lloyd Wright and Columbo. Most people probably know as much about architectural photography as I did when I started back in 2012.

Back then I managed several vacation rentals around my home town.  And one thing I knew about marketing was the most important element to booking a vacation listing is having killer photographs.  I checked around and found I would have to pay a really good professional architectural photographer thousands of dollars to photograph my vacation rentals to a quality that was a step above the competition.

So I was the first to ask myself that question: What is so hard about taking a picture of a room?  You stand there and "click" right?

I figured the only real difference between my I-phone photos and the pro's photos was having a nice expensive camera that was big and bulky.  So I promptly went out and bought a $1700 Nikon that looked sufficiently big and bulky and proceeded to snap photographs of each house.  There was only one problem.  The photos I took with my nice expensive big and bulky camera sucked.  I learned in about 20 minutes that there is apparently more to it than meets the eye.

So how do you make a photograph go from "eh" to "Kazaam!!"? What can you expect from a really good architectural photographer that you wouldn't get from standing in a corner with your Iphone or hiring your friend's brother-in-law who took Photography 101? The real answer to that question is a four hour discussion.  Don't Worry! Some bullet points about architectural photography and architectural photographers you might not know are listed below:

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The Bullet Point Difference

  • Good architectural photographers have thousands of hours training and experience

  • Thousands of dollars spent on education

  • Extensive experience and training in advanced image editing software including the expensive and momentously complicated Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom.

  • $20,000+ worth of equipment goes along to every photo shoot

  • Equipment Includes multiple luggage bags filled with the best cameras and lenses, lighting equipment like strobes, speed lights umbrellas, soft-boxes, spotlights, gels and filters, tools, stands, tripods, drones, tablets and laptops and a hundred little tricks and tips, tools and trade secrets

  • Good architectural photographers might spend 12 hours in a day shooting a property and end up with only 8-12 fantastic images

  • Architectural photographers might spend an hour or more staging for a single image, and might spend another hour or two waiting for the lighting to be perfect for that shot

  • Many magazine-quality architectural photographs are really a composite of many ultra high quality photographs taken at different exposures and settings and times of day, blended together in a complicated and time-consuming editing process to harness the best light, the best accents and shadows and textures, the best exposures and white balance and aperture of every part of the photo into one amazing image

  • A single image of a room element may be culled and composited from 100 or more base images

  • The difference between an "okay photo composition" and a "wow! photo composition" can be as little as a quarter-inch

  • Architectural photographers often employ assistants to help with everything from lighting to moving furniture to staging to cleaning windows and floors etc.

  • In portrait photography often only one part of the image (the person/people) is in focus and thus needs to be tack sharp, perfectly positioned, staged and lit. By contrast in architectural photography the entire photo has to be perfect, in focus, perfectly lit, positioned, and staged.

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