All architectural photography shots are not created equal.
Perhaps you’ve heard the commercial photography terms for shot types like hero shots and mood shots. They have similarities, for sure, and both involve a creative eye and solid composition. Both types of images play off one another well and serve as a vehicle to complement one other in your project shot list; both help to communicate your project in original ways. But for the architectural photographer, hero shots and mood shots serve different purposes for clients needing to tell a story.
Hero shots are more complex, dramatic images than mood shots. They are the ones that deliver the visual ohhs and ahhs. Due to their technical complexity, hero shots are more expensive to create. For maximum impact, they can be taken early in the morning or at dusk, so dramatic lighting better accentuates the architectural elements of design and space, offering AEC industry clients more bang for their buck in terms of visual value.
Delivering impact beyond the scope of the lens or a single frame, hero shots are created by placing multiple exposures and/or individual shots together to form a single, iconic, bold image. This high-dynamic-range technique is achieved by bracketing or stitching shots together to deliver a client’s image without barriers of scope.
Where hero shots, as the name may indicate, tend to get more acclaim and notice (Superman was a Metropolis celebrity after all), mood shots are essential for their supportive and artistic role in telling a visual story, but also serve as the name of an architectural project’s standard shots.
While hero shots instantly make a big impact and get people talking, true “mood shots” empower the architectural photographer to give clients more; as shoot time allows, more opportunities to work their own individual expression into the project story. It’s interesting and creatively challenging to see how a trained photographic eye views a construction site or new building with unique angles, perspectives and strong composition. Although mood shots may be a standard image, the mood aspect of the same opens up space for the photographer’s perspective.
Mood shots and hero shots offer clients a very comprehensive approach to cover the artistic range of a project, and as mood shots can often be less labor-intensive, a typical professional architectural photography project can be generally well covered by them. Hero shots, as we already mentioned, can also be more difficult opportunity-wise, with lighting, timing and other factors, in addition to budget considerations.
When supplying a client with shots, the 80/20 rule often applies: a client’s must-have shots make up the bulk 80 percent, and the photographer shoots 20 percent purely creatively for “themselves”as time on-site allows. This is the fun part (for us), and when it’s time for clients to choose their final shots, you add them to the offering. Providing clients alternative perspectives of their projects is a win-win. It’s common for my clients to purchase creative shots in addition to their must-haves. It’s another way a good pro photographer offers clients more value.
In the end, telling the story about your project is the key drive of a solid, experienced photographer’s list. From there, the types of shots, the project location’s flexibility, and your budget will help guide you collectively to the just the right mix of shots.
Hero shots and mood shots go together like Batman and Robin. One supports the other. They are a killer combo when suitable to a completed architectural project. Both offer a range of creative expression, storytelling and end-use opportunities, and should be on the list when collaborating with your chosen architectural photographer.