When it comes to capturing a company’s AEC or CRE project or property — a competitive marketing strategy — what’s the best way to find a good photographer? What research should be done? Are there steps your firm can take to create the foundation for a great collaboration?
There are certain good bits of advice to use when paying anyone to do work for you — whether it be a pet sitter, auto mechanic or accountant. With professional architectural photographers, who are tasked with making your AEC projects shine, those core rules still apply, but there are some nuances that are unique just to commercial photography.
These guidelines can help ensure you enjoy a positive, productive experience with great communication and value the whole way through. Whether you’re looking to hire a pro for the first time, to shop someone new, or bring on an additional resource to support your growing firm, here’s what I suggest:
Ask around. Who do your colleagues, associates or partners use for their AEC photography? Word of mouth is a powerful influence. More and more, influencer input is of the greatest value in today’s business circles. Ask about their experiences.
Check out the photographer’s work. This could be online, on another architecture firm’s website, or at the news of an industry design-award win. Does the photographer you’re researching specialize only in architectural photography and projects like yours?
Set up a meeting. Ask the prospective photographer how their process and pricing work. Even better, bring them in for an interview. Let them know if you’ve had any bad experiences with photographers in the past, or if you have any particular concerns going forward. This gives the photographer a good vantage point to begin his or her relationship in working with you, providing whatever adjustments, assurances or transparencies that are needed. (I work very transparently, and feel that my clients deserve and appreciate it.)
What do their clients say about working with them? Don’t be afraid to ask for references, or to reach out to firm principals, upper management or even business development and marketing contacts who have worked with the photographers you’re considering. It’s an opportunity to shore up your impressions and get valuable feedback.
Do a test run. Find a small project in your firm where you can use the photographer and get to know their style, attention to detail and quality of deliverables before hiring him or her for a larger project. This way, less is at risk on that first shoot.
Let your fingers do the walking right over to Instagram, to see the latest samples of their projects, to get a peek into their personality, and possibly see some behind the scenes imagery. Do you like what you see? Do you like the photographer’s approach to visual storytelling and content?
These steps will help ensure a mutually beneficial collaboration, the result of which is beautiful imagery showing the world your firm’s vision, capabilities, and ability to deliver results with a strong portfolio of results.