When developing a shot list for a professional architectural photography project, AEC decision-makers should not shy from showcasing their capability with past accomplishments, but at the same time, they should be thinking long term.
It’s also key to know who your clients are, what they need, and how these project images tie into your firm’s marketing and brand-messaging goals.
Shot lists are a visual representation of not only what a firm is capable of doing in terms of value for its clients, but also a chance to target new, future clients. There are smart ways to make your shot list as comprehensive and cost-effective as it can be.
To begin, look at your AEC firm’s most current, while considering some past projects. Get input from a trusted team member: a second set of eyes on the task is always helpful.As you look back on projects, keep in mind that going back to a project you did more than 3-4 years ago can make things more challenging logistically, with the client or the public having taken possession of the space.
Once your key projects are chosen, figure out what else is needed to make them shine and get you the most value for your investment. For example, if your firm wants to design or build more K-12 private schools, ramp up that trove of images.
Determine if there are project partners — even other businesses — that may want to add shots to the list and go in with you on the overall cost. For instance, perhaps your firm designed a hospital, and the facility needs updated shots for its annual report. They may be willing to share in the photographer’s fee and get their own license in order to have quality imagery in their publication. Another way to save on cost is to choose projects located near one another.
It’s extremely helpful to figure out which of your clients are most accommodating for a photo shoot, they will be best suited to support you at every step in the process. Some clients may be a better fit than others in terms of helping to stage the site, move vehicles, or coordinate landscaping days, site access and security, among other things. They need to want the shoot to be successful almost as much as you do.
Determining the project’s primary and secondary views are the next step, more easily accomplished with a walkthrough.
Consider the kind of story you want to tell about your firm’s capabilities and successful projects. What is the level of complexity with this story? In other words, is there a back-story to include that enriches your firm’s brand, as well? How can that be best communicated, visually?
At this stage, you want to also consider the end use for the shots, and finesse the plan accordingly. You may want to capture images during the winter months, or at night, to add drama. Featuring design details, complex materials or certain finishes make great selling points. Would overall sweeping views be more appropriate? How about mood shots or artistic elements, to drive home the project’s purpose?
A good professional architectural photographer can better guide you through these decisions, and considerations on what shots are best for web-banner sizes, vehicle wraps, tradeshow graphics, or other specialty media.
It isn’t necessarily about getting a lot of shots, but more about getting strategic, quality shots. Otherwise, your AEC firm’s credibility could risk being watered down with shots showcasing poor lighting and composition — clients don’t usually stick around online or give you a second chance when this occurs. In contrast, a handful of great, well-executed images yield more ROI long term about who your company is and what it’s capable of delivering.
An experienced professional photographer will collaborate with you to create a shared vision that aligns with your brand message.
For example, a commercial real estate firm once contacted me, looking to photograph nine senior-living properties with 20 shots at each location. But I soon discovered that the company’s budget and timeline didn’t sync with the amount of work it would take to do the project.
I suggested shooting all building exteriors —each unique — but then looking at where there was redundancy. For instance, if the dining rooms were all similar we may not need to shoot every one; or if we could capture two or three variations of community rooms to cover the range, it would be a fair representation.
This is a great example kicking in with some ninja project management skills, and bettering the collaborative planning process to meet client’s goals — on time and within budget.
If I can help you your team develop strong project shot lists, I welcome the opportunity to get started. Contact me today.