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How to Hire an Architectural Photographer

Hiring the right architectural photographer can help save a lot of time, effort, and money. Let's see how to hire an architectural photographer.
Madhushree Kelkar

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Keep the building "photo-ready" even before the shoot begins in order to finish the photography session as per the schedule.
Many construction companies require an architectural photographer to take photos of their buildings and projects for marketing and publishing purposes. A family may also hire an architectural photographer to click a memorable pic of their ancestral home, or to click a house which is to be put for sale on the market.
In order to visually attract and interest customers in the project, it is essential that an architectural photographer clicks professional images. However, you must know how to hire the right architectural photographer in order to get stunning photos within your budgetary constraints.
You must personally interview them on individual basis. Try to visit their studio and understand the equipment, resources available with the photographer to help in decide whom to hire.
It is always a good idea to get referrals. Do not forget to check the previous work of the photographer. Apart from this, check online reviews about his service. Here is a list of things to consider while hiring an architectural photographer.

Check photo credits in magazines

To choose the right photographer, refer to architecture, furniture; interior decor magazines, catalogs and brochures. So, the one who has clicked the images will be credited (at the bottom of the page). Such images speak about the photographer's skills and aesthetic sense. You can contact the magazine or use Internet to get in touch with the photographer.

Check online reviews

You can read client reviews of photographers on various websites like Yellowtrace, BBB, Hunter Kerhart etc. Such reviews will provide an insight into the actual work experience of the photographer and not just his photos.
If a photographer has a 'not-so-good' BBB rating, you will also be able to read about the complaints registered against him. The last thing you would want is to hire an unprofessional photographer who does not respect schedule and deadlines.

Ask for referrals

You can ask friends and family members who have recently hired a photographer to click images of their property, for recommendations. If you are looking for a photographer who can click your property for a "for sale" advert, you can ask your real estate agent for recommendations.
Getting referrals will enable you to get firsthand information about the creative and organizational strengths and weaknesses of the photographer. You can also call up photo editors in magazines for their recommendations.

Check with photography associations

You can visit the Association of Independent Architectural Photographers website for award-winning photographers. Also, the International Association of Architectural Photographers website gives recommendations and the American Society of Media Photographers site to find a photographer. Going through these will help you pick the right photographer.

Verify the expertise of the photographer

Usually, organizations hire different photographers for various photography needs. This is because, if a photographer's forte is outdoor shooting, using him for indoor shots is not advisable.
Some photographers have a knack of bringing out the beauty of a traditional building by utilizing vast landscape-like shots. Using them for a commercial photoshoot of the building is not advisable. Hence, it is important that you know exactly what kind of photos you are looking for so that you can hire a photographer accordingly.

Should be able to work with lights

If a photographer tells you that he can 'fit' the expenses within your budget as he only uses natural lights, then hire someone else. While photographers use both natural and special lighting, at times it is best to work where both are balanced. For a night view of the building, hire a photographer who works well with lighting to get the desired effect.

Look for relevant experience

If you want to place a property ad in a magazine, ensure that you hire an architectural photographer who has prior experience in magazine spreads. Look at some of his earlier work, and you will know whether this is the right man/woman for your photoshoot.
Photographers whose work gets published often have the right contacts, and they can even get your building's photos and editorial in a high-end magazine, where it will make all the right impact.

Manages equipment well

Many times, photographers do not visit the venue beforehand and are not aware about the equipment requirement. Sometimes, they may require the help of a trolley to get the best picture, or a powerful camera to get a panoramic view of the building.
However, photographers who come unprepared often end up postponing the shoot at the last minute, and thus, escalate the cost. Hence, you must hire a photographer who has a list of equipment that he will be sourcing, or knows exactly what additional help will be required at the location.

Low cost may mean low quality

This is the industry where low costs do not certainly add up to high quality and service. Quality of photography will be directly dependent on the amount you can pay. You can hire someone who will understand your need and work out a plan within your budget. If you hire someone who promises to deliver superb photos for cheap, you may end up getting conned.

Check availability in case of urgent need

Most photographers work as freelancers and in case of an urgent assignment, you will have to check their availability and then decide. In such situations, it is always better to hire someone, you have already worked with, rather than going for a new photographer.
The benefit of working with a known photographer is that he will deliver exactly what you expect, because he will be in a better position to understand the need of the company. Prepare a list of essential shots needed so that you can concentrate on the exact requirement.

Hire an understanding photographer

It is essential that you hire a photographer who works according to your schedule. Many times, especially right before the launch of a building, photographs are required for commercial purposes. At times, it becomes impossible to shoot the building in natural light, and you have to wait till the crowd has cleared.
Try to find a photographer who will understand all these constraints, and will be ready to work accordingly. Also, you should feel at ease when dealing with the photographer. So, hire someone who does not throw tantrums and has excellent work ethics.

Rights to use

Contrary to popular belief, making a one-time payment to the photographer does not mean that you will have complete rights over the photograph. Remember that the photographer has copyright over the photos.
Suppose, your photographer shot the building for a magazine spread. You will have to seek his permission to use it for any other purpose like printing it in a brochure, publishing it in a print ad, using it in a film, etc. and pay him for this.
So, you must hire a photographer who allows you to use the photo for all purposes for a certain period of time. Anyway, once the importance of the building has faded, you may not require it again. Remember that while a photo is credited for published photos, you may stop him from putting it on your marketing collateral.

Total cost of hiring

Hiring an architectural photographer will cost you anywhere between USD 2,000-10,000 a day, depending on the type of photography and experience of the photographer. The photographer will tag along an assistant and you may have to pay him about USD 300. Photos taken for marketing and promotional purposes are relatively cheaper as compared to editorial ones.
You may also have to source things like trolleys or even helicopters if needed. You will also have to pay for travel and accommodation, if venue is away from the city. Many photographers charge separately for editing and touch-ups. Also, he must give you all the high-resolution files and thumbnails of the raw photos and the edited ones for your record.
Remember that it is essential to hire premiere photographers to interest customers in your building by merely looking at the photos. Also, you can negotiate with the photographers if you plan to hire them for other projects. Now that you know how to hire an architectural photographer, ensure that you look at his experience and credentials before finalizing.