Updated: Apr 11
Using top-notch photography and video is one of the most effective ways to let the world know that you are a high quality company. Whether you are a builder, contractor, interior designer, architect, or in the hospitality industry, professional photographs and videos are two of the most important investments you will make. They are a direct reflection on who you are, and set the tone for how you want a prospective client to view your company.
But how do you go about hiring the right photographer or videographer? How do you prepare so that the process goes as smoothly as possible and produces the best photographs and video?
Here are a few things that can help you.
Finding a Good Photographer or Videographer
As you search for a photographer or videographer, perhaps through the internet or word of mouth, first check out their portfolio. Look at their work to see if it looks professional—do you like it? Remember too that the portfolio you will likely see, whether online or in printed form, will be only a small representation of their work. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, but like their work, ask to see other samples they might have that would be more in line with what your needs are.
Perhaps more important, make sure their vision aligns with yours. Do they bring out features or moods in their work that you would like to see in yours? Is their style something you enjoy looking at? Is it edgy and bold, classy and sophisticated, or sleek and modern? And which do you prefer? If you react positively to their work, there’s a good chance you will be happy with the end results. With videography, communicating your vision will guide the entire project, from the pacing of the video and camera movements to the music and graphics.
Also, make sure they specialize in the type of photography/videography you need. Architecture and interiors is a very specialized niche. These photographers possess singular skills and unique equipment, and are very different from a photographer who specializes in weddings or portraits. Just as a sushi chef and a grill-master both cook and prepare food, and may be equally talented, each is a master in their respective areas.
Consider their personality, and whether it is someone who is easy to work with. Are they patient and do they actually listen to you? Do they seem genuinely interested in your project? A good photographer will not be overly-sensitive and will be receptive to your ideas and concerns.
Identify Your Needs
In order to get the results you would like, it is important for the photographer/videographer to also understand your vision. Consider what features and concepts you would like to highlight. What reaction would you like to get from someone seeing the images/video? And how do you plan to use the materials: marketing to clients via website or portfolio, entering competitions, in-house documentation, etc?
Ask yourself which areas or features of your project you consider most striking or noteworthy. Are there some elements you’d rather leave out? How will you use the photographs/video? Communicating as many details as possible with your photographer will help him/her focus on producing exactly what you need.
Budgeting: Try Sharing Costs
Photographers run the gamut with pricing and how they work. In this business, you usually get what you pay for. You may be able to find someone that charges bargain prices, but they are often either inexperienced, don’t take the time necessary to make stellar images, or don’t specialize in the kind of work you need. You’ll want to take your time and fully vet a prospective photographer to make sure you’re getting the best representation.
A common practice for saving on budget is cost sharing. A licensing surcharge is added (typically around 30%) to the total cost and is then divided among interested parties. This is a great savings, as licensing photos after the shoot is completed is always more expensive. The reason for this is that the original client has taken all the risks: arranged and coordinated access for the photoshoot, perhaps made arrangements in their schedule to be at the photoshoot for hours at a time, hired landscapers, cleaners, stagers, etc., possibly roped off parking, among many other preparations. There’s even the risk of not knowing if the final photographs or video will turn out as they hope; however, someone coming in after the fact has the advantage of seeing the finished product.
Here is an example of how cost sharing works:
Creative Fee + licensing + post production for 15 photos = $2000
Cost sharing with 2 parties:
$2000 + $600 (30% surcharge) = $2600
Divide that by 2 parties, and it’s $1300 each
Cost sharing with 3 parties:
$2000 + $600 + 600 = $3200.
Divided 3 ways is only $1067 each party, almost half of the original estimate
It’s good to have plenty of leeway time, if possible. High-end photography and videography of interiors and architectural structures takes time. Factors such as weather can affect it, as well as the season in which the shoot takes place. Talk to your photographer about these things, and be sure to ask for an estimated time of completion.
Finally, enjoy the process. If you have taken time to plan ahead and communicated with your photographer, you can look forward to a completed project in which all parties are pleased with the results—which is the way it should be. Many projects can take a year or more to complete. After pouring that amount of effort, time and talent into your project, it's a great feeling to have highly polished and professional material to show for it.