Hi. I’m Heather Conley and I love the work I get to do for my clients on the projects they design, build and manage. Architectural photography is the only work I do. Below you’ll find answers and resources specifically created to address the most common questions I get from my clients in the industry about hiring and working with a pro like me.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
|1. How does the HCP process work?|
My process follows six steps from initiation of discussing your project details through wrap up and getting feedback on the level of satisfaction after we’re complete from my clients. To see my process in detail, click here.
|2. How long does a photo shoot take?|
Overall, a single-site project, can take between 6-12 weeks. But let’s break it down. From initiation of the scope-of-work discussion through proposal approval (approx. 2-4 weeks). Once the deposit is paid, we move on to booking and planning your shoot (4-8 weeks) followed by choosing final images, retouching and delivery (8-12 weeks). I created a cool infographic here if you want to see the timeline broken down.
|3. How can we save money on our next photo shoot?|
Below are a few options here that create more opportunity to secure more quality, visual representations of your firm’s work.
- Cost sharing with project partners
- Advanced planning, scheduling and self-preparing shoot locations
- Hiring locally
- Bundling shoot locations (for multi-site projects)
- Fewer, quality project views
Check out my blog for related articles or download the free tip sheet from
my website here.
|4. What do you need to get started on a project proposal?|
I’ll need a detailed shot list; location details for each project site; building orientations
(for exterior shots); your budget figure (yes, we need to talk about it), and a delivery
deadline, whether flexible or firm. I have a 5-step process in one simple infographic, have a look at it here.
|5. How does your booking and availability work?|
Location work is generally seasonal (based around favorable weather when exteriors are involved). My busiest months begin in May, when the leaves emerge, and end in November, when they fall. During high season, it’s best to contact me as soon as you know there’s a key project coming up, even if it’s months away from completion.
I want to be here for my clients. Keep in mind that the proposal process alone takes at least two to four weeks, depending on how quickly your firm makes final spend decisions. It’s always best to plan ahead.
I book shoot dates with clients once a proposal is approved and their deposit is secured. Based on access to the project site and availability on either side, we book a main date and a rain date for each shoot location. Both dates are held equally. I book interior projects and select winterscape work in the off-season. My returning clients always have priority in my booking schedule.
|6. How do you price your projects?|
Architectural photography projects can be priced two ways, by the project or by day rate. Most of my proposals are priced by the project, as the client and I work to a hard budget number. This method is the best way to know exactly which image views, how many shots are needed, and how much time it takes to achieve desired results.
Check out my article “How Much Does a Photo Shoot Cost?” here.
|7. Do we need a shot list?|
A shot list helps my clients consider the most critical spaces of their project and how the story we’re telling will come together to align with their vision of a project(s). It provides clear direction that drives the photo shoot time and project pricing. I’m happy to advise on shot lists when they ask for my help, especially around ways to help keep a project budget on track without cannibalizing the project story or “must have” images.
|8. How early should we contact you before our project completes?|
The earlier the better. And not just for my sake; it makes for a more pleasant experience all around! Advanced planning always gives clients time to make decisions without being pressured to fit too much into a compressed timeline, and yields better results. Why not put a milestone in your Gantt chart to contact your photographer 90-120 days in advance of project turnover? Boom, it’s already done; you’ve set an auto-reminder. To read more about this simple step you can take, click here.
|9. Who owns the project images?|
I own the copyright for them and give my clients permission to use the images predicated on certain conditions and applications. This common professional photography arrangement is called a “license” for image usage.
Per industry standards, there is always a fee attached. It generally allows my clients to use the images across most of their marketing and communications needs. I include a single user license with each client project.
Additional licenses for third parties can be purchased at a percentage of the shoot cost. Occasionally clients prefer to buy out a copyright for a higher cost, buying the photographer’s copyright ownership and using the photos outright.
|10. What happens after the photo shoot?|
Within three to five days after the photo shoot the “best of” image proofs are posted to a private, online gallery for review and selection by the client. One round of basic retouching (light balance, perspective control, cropping and color continuity) is included with each project. Advanced retouching (removals, repair work, additions, composites or extensive bracketing/image stitching) may be needed if there are unexpected circumstances at a shoot location, for example, and do require additional costs. (See FAQs to learn more about management of change orders, here).
Next is the important step of getting client input on retouching preferences. Once that is complete, the chosen images are final and move into retouching. The general timeline for retouching to delivery is two to three weeks. Rush delivery can be requested in advance; additional rates apply.
|11. What do you deliver at the end of our project?|
Via digital download, clients get both high and low-resolution images for use across marketing, digital media communications, and industry awards; a digital contact sheet with all images as a reference; and a single-user license, included in the cost for each project. Lastly, an infographic guide on how and where to use images around the topics of photo credit, editorial, print, etc.
|12. What is your payment process?|
The total cost of a photography project is split into two equal payments. The first payment is due upon booking shoot dates, the second payment is due 30 days after the first shoot date occurs. Any change orders are always approved in writing by clients before the final payment due is adjusted, or followed by an additional payment before image delivery. Payment is via secure online credit card or ACH/bank account, or a mailed check. All deposits are non-refundable.
|13. How do you manage change orders?|
I believe in transparency. Any change orders are always brought to a client’s attention
before I proceed with the work. I get approval in writing for all changes, which are applied as an adjustment to the final payment due, or on additional invoice before final image delivery.
|14. Do you guarantee your work?|
It’s important that your AEC photography projects with me are a positive collaborative experience. Part of this collaboration is providing fair, upfront pricing and transparent communication. With many in the AEC/CRE industry utilizing me as a trusted advisor, I do not take this privilege lightly. I value my clients and strive to ensure we’re aligned every step of the way.
Project pricing: The work on planning clients’ projects begins long before the photo shoot itself. After initial client consultations, I do my due diligence to ensure the pricing quote is solid in terms of time, resources needed, and retouching work. If the scope of work should change, I will provide a change order in writing so there are no surprises.
Change orders: I don’t perform additional work without clients’ approval. Clients are always the decision-makers leading the charge in every project, whether it concerns the photo shoot, project site conditions, or image retouching.
|15. How do you qualify and hire a pro arch photog?|
It’s a great question I get often. I wrote an article about it here.
|16. What is cost-sharing and why should we use it?|
Sharing costs just makes sense, and is common practice across the AEC industry. It’s a solution I suggest often to clients. It means all parties with a vested interest in the project or property — such as a general contractor, architect or developer, for example — get more photography for less money than it would cost them to hire a photographer solely on their own. Photography cost-sharing agreements offer all parties the same high-quality set of deliverables, at substantial savings. To read more about how it works, click here.
|17. When should we consider a site walk through on our project?|
In addition to putting an architectural photographer in a better planning position, a walk through 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. Read my article here to learn when a site walk through is most valuable.
|18. What is a day rate vs. project rate?|
Day rates are the creative fees, or the cost of doing business, to hire a photographer to photography your project. The day rate does not consider the post-production costs of image handling, gallery proofing, retouching/advanced retouching, and final preparation to delivery. Those costs are most often additional. Day rates are very open ended, typically the minimum time to show up and shoot is 4 hours, or a ½ day rate. So, if you hire a photographer for an 8-hour day, they will shoot as much as possible in that 8 hours, then you will choose how many images you’d like, with the fees associated. The more images you choose, the more the associated fees for retouching and post-production will go up. They are relative to one another.
Project rates, on the other hand, are a total cost for the project from start to finish — including travel, expenses, pre-production costs, creative fees to photograph, and post-production costs (retouching, etc.).
The main difference between the day rate and the project rate is the project rate is driven by the shot list. Read more in the article I wrote about it here.
|19. How do you know it’s time to hire a pro architectural photographer?|
Do-It-Yourself (DIY) architectural photography seems like a great idea at first: save some bucks and get your company marketing exposure without the cost of a professional photographer, but what your DIY habit is likely doing is costing you money in terms of your firm’s image and promotional stance, read more here.
|20. What type of photo shoot is right for your project?|
An architectural photo shoot can have many layers. The simplest additions, layered upon the rest of the logistics, add complexity. I never say anything is impossible — access to the site, a detailed shot list and the artistic vision are the main drivers when it comes to pressing the shutter, in the end. But I like for clients to be educated and empowered, and to know what to expect when they embark upon a shoot. Read about examples of photo shoot configurations in an article I wrote here.
|21. How do you budget for pro architectural photography?|
Ours is a visual industry. And more and more AEC & CRE firms are realizing that professional architectural photography drives their marketing, because they’re seeing results. I suggest three things to establish when it comes to architectural photography decisions within a marketing budget that will help your firm get the most out of professional architectural photography, read about it here.
|22. How much can you shoot in an 8-hour day?|
The short answer is, it depends. There may be 8-hours in a traditional work day or construction site shift, but the sun isn’t always working in our favor. Click in to this short video that breaks down when to photograph in the right conditions.