When a professional architectural photographer is coming out to shoot a site you’ve designed or constructed, there are only a handful of reasons you shouldn’t team up for a walkthrough, and myriad reasons why you should.
Think of a walkthrough as a sort of architectural site analysis, or an orientation at a new school.
Rather than be surprised or distracted from their studies on the first day, an orientation makes a student feel comfortable. They get to learn about the place and its challenges and strengths. They see — firsthand — the new school’s mission statement in action and what is required of them as a student. There is no element of surprise — or at least it’s minimized — so a student can perform to the best of his or her ability.
In addition to putting an architectural photographer in a better planning position, a walkthrough is also basis for an accurate and comprehensive project proposal.
There is far less guesswork involved if the architectural photographer has walked the site; observed site preparation and staging needs; and taken some sample shots. And a walkthrough with the client makes for a better client/architectural photographer relationship overall; you are both seeing the site together, albeit with different perspectives, which you can both discuss and understand. A walkthrough means you are alerted right away to any potential issues that could delay a shoot. If there are any problems —or if there are just ways to better prepare the site — it’s better to have that information sooner rather than later so you can plan accordingly and discuss options. This is especially helpful when tight project-turnover windows are a factor.
A walkthrough also helps you better understand what you are getting for your money with architectural photography.
When is a site walkthrough — or two or three — most valuable?
- If it’s a key project for your firm and needs architectural photography to properly promote it
- When there is a complex story to tell, such as a long build period that features new or innovative methods, or a community, client or organization’s back story that is important to consider before shooting the project.
- When the shot list has complex details, with artistic features and specialty or innovative materials and technology. (For example, an old mill converted into loft apartments featuring an underground self-parking garage with a conveyer belt for cars.) Getting a pre-shoot look at something unique like this will better help a photographer understand the approach and time involved.
- When the shot list is extensive, with more than six to eight photos, requiring multiple site visits over weeks or months. An industrial park, retail center or larger property with multiple buildings might require eight to 10 shoots over a period of two to three months is one good example.
When can a walkthrough be skipped? In very few cases, the work won’t be worth the payback of scheduling time, meeting up and touring the site. Your photographer can help you make this decision and should propose a walkthrough only when it’s necessary.
For instance, maybe the project has a modest, fixed budget, and the site is an hour or more away for both parties, which would incur additional expense. Or the photography shot list is small, simple and straightforward, and there’s just no need to overcomplicate things with a visit. In some cases, especially in the corporate world, the site might be under heavy security, and the process of getting clearance is cumbersome and lengthy. It can be equally beneficial to get some DIY shots from the property or project manager as the site nears completion.
So, if a site walkthrough is in your future, how can you set up your professional architectural photographer for walk-through success?
- Allow enough time. An hour or two is plenty; additional visits can be added depending on the size of the project.
- Get a clear understanding of the visit cost. Some architectural photographers have a walk-through rate with some, or all of the cost being credited back if you award them your project, others may not charge at all. Be sure and ask so there are no surprises.
Remember that great architectural photography is needed to properly amplify and market the hard work you do in the field. An educated client is key in helping an architectural photographer best achieve stunning visual results, and stunning bottom-line results for their AEC or CRE business.
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