This guide is your essential resource if you're an interior designer, architect, or home builder aiming to enhance your work through high-quality photos and videos.
We understand that navigating the photography and videography process can be daunting, especially for newcomers to professional photography. That's why we've created this guide to simplify the design photography journey and enhance your clients' experiences. We cover everything from clarifying confusing aspects to establishing a standardized process, launching new projects, refining your communication skills, and meeting quality expectations for architects, builders, and interior designers. And there's more to come! Stay tuned for upcoming blog posts that delve deeper into these topics, offering actionable insights and tips to leverage visual media, showcase your work, and connect with your target audience personally.
If you're more of a person who likes to watch versus read, please watch our process video below!
What is copyright? Why does it matter within the architecture and Interior Design Community?
Short Answer: Ownership & creative control of physical and digital art.
Starting off the bat, we need to cover one of the most important things...Yes, I know copyright and licensing may be boring, but it's an essential step to understand, especially if you're a new client.
What is Copyright?
Copyright protects creators of art, like photos, videos, music, and other works.
It was created in 1976 by the United States Copyright Law and gave creators control over how their works are used and by whom. For example, if you take a photo, you become the copyright owner and have the right to choose who can use it and how. Suppose someone uses your photo without permission, like on their website or social media. In that case, this is called copyright infringement and can result in serious legal consequences, including fines and legal fees, which can be up to $150,000. To avoid copyright infringement, it's important to always ask for permission before using someone else's work.
This applies all over the creative world and is much more common than you think. Just think of social media and stock sites. On Instagram, for example, you can read the same information and usage of media in their copyright section here: https://help.instagram.com/126382350847838.
So, if the copyright is applied to the photographer, how can I use it as an Architect, Interior Designer, Custom Home Builder, etc.?
Short Answer: Licensing
This is where licensing comes in. When you receive your photos/videos from your photographer, you receive a license to use the photos/videos for your business purposes. In short, you’re purchasing the right to use the photo or video to market your company. It may not be something you think of daily, but as mentioned earlier, it's applied to many industries. Some examples include:
Understanding the basics of copyright and licenses is essential in knowing what you can and can't do with the photos and videos you work with. Again, when in doubt, always ask your photographer for more information!
The cost of architecture and interior media is a lot of money; is there a way to reduce the cost?
Cost-Sharing is a method that refers to splitting the cost of professional photography between multiple parties involved in the project. This, in turn, is one of the best ways to save thousands of dollars for an upcoming project.
Think back on ALL the businesses you worked with when building the home. You'd be surprised how many of those businesses need a set of high-quality photos for their marketing purposes. For example, a typical project may involve a home builder, general contractor, electrical contractor, plumbing contractor, HVAC contractor, flooring contractor, cabinetry manufacturer, appliance vendor, architect, and interior designer.
In most cases, here is a sample of our general terms when utilizing a Cost-Share.
For a hands-on example of cost-sharing, you can utilize my free cost-sharing calculator on AB Photo & Videos website here.
With every business being different, what are some common pricing structures in architecture and interior design photos and videos?
Short Answer: There are several pricing structures that you may encounter, with the most common being hourly rates, project-based fees, and day rates.
You'll see a wide range of costs for architecture and interior design photos and videos, ranging from $1,000-10,000 thousand dollars per project. This ultimately depends on the photographer's years of experience, the scope of the project, if a cost-share is applied, travel, assistants, unique equipment, if photos AND videos are required, and the types of licenses you need. But it’s important to remember that after working for months to years on your project - is it worth going for lower-tier media? Is it worth cycling through different photographers/videographers until you feel satisfied? Is it worth going through the struggle of doing everything yourself?
I ultimately can’t make that decision for you, but hiring an experienced photographer/videographer may be the most important investment in your brand and marketing material. It separates a project from the competition, helps win awards, provides avenues to be published, and builds your brand as a luxury leader from the ground up.
What's the difference between Architecture, Interior Design, and Real Estate photos and videos?
Short Answer: Everything! From the story, composition, lighting, mood, cost, equipment, and purpose.
Each type of business has its approach, style, and techniques, whether for a commercial building, residential home, hotel, investment property, or landscape project.
Starting with interior design projects, the focus is on telling the story of the space and highlighting its design elements. A professional interior photographer will carefully take photos to create an atmosphere that shows the space's unique features. They may use artificial light to enhance the mood and bring out textures, colors, and shadows. Interior design photographers target architects, interior designers, and custom home builders looking to showcase their interior projects. The visual style is usually natural, clean, crisp, and sophisticated, with an emphasis on the design elements of the space.
Architecture photography is similar to interior design photography but focuses more on showcasing the design and construction of a building. It aims to communicate the essence of the architecture and its context, capturing the building's exterior, interior, and surrounding environment.
Real estate photography differs greatly, focusing on showing a property for sale or rent. The goal is to capture the entire property rather than creating a story of the space, construction, or design elements. Real estate photographers typically spend only 1-2 hours on-site, using artificial light to make the space as bright as possible so buyers can easily see the floor plan, space, and general lighting. The target market for real estate photography is mainly real estate agents and clients looking to showcase their properties. The visual style is typically bright and well-lit, emphasizing the property's space and flow.
The most important thing to remember is that each industry has its target market, so each business must adjust its visual style and approach to attract its ideal client.
Congrats! You've now decided it's time to hire your photographer/videographer. But what should I do now?
Short Answer: Plan as much as you can in advance.
First things first: Before you even think about capturing photos and videos of your design project, the best way to ensure you get the exact type of media you need is by following an in-depth pre-production process. Not every commercial photographer does this; however, I find it to be one of the most powerful ways to keep everyone on the same page.
The pre-production process below is what we practice at AB Photo & Video. Starting by defining:
What do I need BEFORE speaking with an architecture and interior design photographer?
Short Answer: Perform a Self-Business Evaluation
Asking the right questions before reaching out to a photographer is key to successful collaboration. Every business should take a moment to reflect on the quality they need for their images and how their current business is doing. It's important to know the purpose behind using the photos, whether for marketing, branding, advertisement, lead generation, or publicity. Before reaching out to a photographer, decide if your business is ready to invest in high-quality work and what's more important - quality, time, or affordability. These considerations will help ensure that the project requirements and timelines are met, leading to a successful and satisfying outcome for everyone involved.
What types of questions should I ask my photographer?
Short Answer: Process-oriented questions.
When first speaking with a photographer, it's important to have a clear understanding of the entire process, from start to finish.
Some of the most important questions to ask to include licensing and copyright details, the pricing structure and what's included, the planning process, what is expected of you, the on-site process, the post-production process, the delivery of media and in what format, and the photographer's style and approach to capturing the perfect shot. By asking these questions upfront, you'll have a clearer understanding of if they are a good fit and what to expect. This can be a savior as it can help avoid surprises or misunderstandings during the project.
You can view and download our questionnaires for free in our "Resources" section of AB Photo & Video's website.
Do I need to bring design elements to a photo or video shoot?
Short Answer: Yes!
To make your interior design photoshoot truly stand out, it's important to bring along a few key items that will help add that extra touch of realism and style to your images. Here are some of the items that every interior designer should bring along to a photo or video shoot:
You can view and download our styling kit for free in our "Resources" section of AB Photo & Video's website. For direct examples of items that have worked well for past photo and video shoots can also be found in my kit here: https://kit.co/abphotovideo/architecture-interior-styling-kit
How do I differentiate our photos and videos from the competition?
Short Answer: Share your Story!
Example Storyboarding Exercise from AB Photo & Video
When it comes to architecture, interior design, and custom home building, telling a story through photos and videos is a great way to tell the most important elements of your design.
This story-driven approach is about showcasing your design skills in an engaging and meaningful way. The structure we like to follow at AB Photo & Video comes from the Documentary Film Industry, where we focus on capturing:
Using a story-driven approach, you can create an emotional connection with your audience, show the value of your work, and make a strong impression on magazine editors.
What Should I do on-site with the photographer
Short Answer: Work together to find compositions, try new things, style the property, and ensure the photo is exactly as you want! This is the fun part though so after going back and forth with the pre-production and planning process, it's finally time to get on-site and utilize all the prep-work.
Can you just fix this in photoshop?
Short Answer: Yes you can, but 99.9999999999999% of the time, it’s way easier to adjust something on-site.
What may take 30 seconds on-site may take hours to fix in editing. So as a rule of thumb, take 5 minutes on-site to fix/adjust something vs. taking 5 hours fixing/adjusting the same thing. Remember, editing is more than half the battle!
So, below you can find an example of the post-production process for a small bath photoshoot that was recently completed with Interiors by Popov.
Video editing is a unique beast of its own when compared to photo editing. They may seem similar, but that is far from the truth. Instead of editing each photo individually, you are now doing a set of photos to create a fluid film, documentary, brand promotion, website video, etc. Below is an example of the post-production process for videography.
As a client, you don't necessarily need to know the ins and outs of the editing process. But, understanding it from a high level can benefit everyone from a communication standpoint. I mean, just look at all those cuts!! (Each one represents an individual composition or frame).
How do I receive the content after a photo and/or video shoot?
Short Answer: Cloud Storage/Delivery Services.
This may seem like a simple step, but sometimes it can be not very clear if you've never worked with a photographer or videographer in the past.
In short, you can expect to receive your finished media through items such as:
At AB Photo & Video, since we provide both photo and video content, we find it best to utilize services such as DropBox. This allows our clients to receive a custom link that will provide downloadable zip files. This way, we can organize and structure the downloadable files ahead of time for you!
How do I get published with photos and videos?
Short Answer: Plan ahead, research specific publications, and pitch YOUR STORY
Getting published as an interior designer is an excellent way to showcase your work and gain recognition in the industry.
To increase your chances of success, it's essential to plan and do your research before the photo or video shoot. Capturing your property for a publication is very different to capturing for your website, portfolio, advertisement, etc. Some ways to help you start is by:
For great resources on DIY PR, I highly recommend checking out Amy Flurry’s book, Recipe for Press, and A Design Partnerships free blog posts. Each goes deep into these topics and shares examples of how PR can be utilized for many designers around the world!
I’m not affiliated with either party. Just sharing the love of what I’ve found to be helpful!
How can I effectively use our newly licensed photos and videos?
Short Answer: Create long-form content, divide and conquer, and connect with other businesses.
This is one of my favorite topics, as it's where a ton of value can be created.
Imagine you receive a set of 5-10 design photos and publish them on your website as a portfolio piece. Yes, you have an incredible portfolio item, but can you utilize it in other ways to help make it visible to more high-end clients? Absolutely…think of internal and external methods such as case studies, social media posts, brochures, press releases, magazine features, advertisements, trade shows, email marketing, gifts, sponsorships, and the list goes on and on!
Imagine creating a full project documentary showcasing the entire design and build process. This provides a great opportunity to break down our footage into smaller pieces, such as teaser trailers, social media reels, and supplementary behind-the-scenes content. Now think of all the ways you can now split that single video! This can be in the form of mini trailers, social reels, and extra behind the scene content that would help generate buzz around the full-length video. What would normally be one video can now be broken into five or more individual pieces!
So, explore the potential of generating extended forms of content by planning, knowing what shots are needed for what, and creating your media empire with many high-quality works of art!
Congrats, and thank you for making it through this guide!
There is so much to unpack. However, remember that you can always come back and refer to any of these sections at any time.
The entire process can be overwhelming at first. So, I hope this all-encompassing guide lays a strong foundation for you and your business. From planning for weather conditions, creating shot lists, and communicating on-site to showcasing the final results to the world – following these tips will help ensure that every step goes smoothly no matter what project is being photographed or filmed!
If you are in the Greater Seattle Area and are curious about working with us on your next architecture, interior design, or custom home project, set up a free call with me over at AB Photo & Video by following the link below!