Most firms have taken their own images of certain projects and also have professional architectural photography images from other projects. What’s the best way to utilize both DIY vs Pro architectural photography images without looking “hodgepodge” or worse, damaging your brand reputation?
(Friar Architecture: Blending PRO images with DIY shots in their portfolio.)
Know When DIY Will Do
As much as it pains me to say this, not all projects require a professional. Where your firm is in its growth trajectory has a lot to do with how much time and money you’ll be in a position to invest in professional images.
Projects with very simple interiors full of cubes and conference rooms, for example, might not make the cut. For firms where cookie-cutter projects make up a foundational revenue stream, the aesthetic value of those completed projects may not be all that interesting. If a firm works on eight projects a year, maybe only two of them are “key” enough to justify the help of a professional architectural photographer. Key projects will either help you land more new work, or get more exposure, like an industry award win.
The more “professional” your DIY shots look, the easier you can get away with incorporating them. Ask yourself, are any of my in-house photographs…
- Blurry, either from movement or just a lack of focus
- Too dark or muddy to even tell what the subject even is
- Too bright (“overexposed”), washed out
- Oddly angled, or featuring a mysterious subject (that’s buried in the shot)
If the answer to any of those questions is a begrudging yes, then that image has to go. Unprofessional images do your brand more harm than no images at all. Trust me.
(Distinctive Tree Care: Using key PRO images accented with smaller DIY shots.)
Buying Time with Better DIY Shots
Learning to take better do-it-yourself photos is one way to close the gap between the shots taken by your team and those composed and captured by a seasoned pro. I fully realize most firms, particularly those investing in professional photography for the first time, will need to slowly build up their collection of pro shots to work around both budget and long design/build cycles.
If only a few of your DIY images make the cut, it’s worth the time to go back and reshoot a handful of key images. When you do, keep in mind the two photographic elements that make the difference between ho-hum iPhone shots and strong imagery: composition and lighting.
Reading up on how to balance exposure, what time of day to shoot, and on how to frame a shot can vastly improve your DIY results. You’ll notice a difference immediately when you hone these skills.
Phasing in Professional Architectural Images
Professional imagery should always be given your brand’s most prime real estate. Your very best shots should always make first impressions for your firm, from the hero banner on your homepage to the cover of your brochure, they need to “wow” visitors. Remember, professional architectural images speak volumes about your firm’s values.
From there, the key to integrating your DIY photos with your professional images is continuity. All your images should be roughly the same resolution and size, have similar compositional feel, with balanced lighting, exposure and subject focus. There should be harmony in a “body of work” that visually tells potential clients the story of why they want to partner with your firm on their next project. Your audience shouldn’t notice large swings in appearance.
Think of your photos as an extension of your brand. Once your brand is well established – your marketing aesthetic is set and your clients will instantly recognize you – professional images are crucial to communicating that identity. Great brands are cohesive; they tell the same story in a variety of ways. Your successfully completed professional photography project should do the same.
Almost every business can benefit from better photography.
Let’s talk about which project will make the biggest impact for you.