Your firm’s photo shoot is now complete…it was a great success. Now what?
Well, now it’s time for the post-production process to begin in earnest. It’s essentially the “digital darkroom,” and it happens between the completion of the shoot and final delivery of your professional architectural images.
Post-production is where great photos are perfected. Here’s how the process looks in 4 steps.
Step 1: Online Proofing Gallery & Image Selection
Post-production starts the second I cap the lens on my camera. First, raw image files are downloaded from my camera to my computer. The next step is to cull the massive number of photos down to a reasonable number of shots to choose from. I never want the client to feel overwhelmed with too many choices.
From here, I select an array of shots (called “proofs”) that are essentially straight out of the camera, saved with a little minor brightening and straightening. These are a client’s best project shoot images. Because I shoot hundreds and even thousands of photos at a time, this is a routine part of the post-production process.
Those proofs are then organized into a private viewing gallery, which will usually be available 2-4 days after a shoot. Within the gallery, you’ll have the ability to “select” your favorites and send them to me. How should you choose? The most important thing to consider is the composition of the photo itself. Things like power lines, dead grass, and visual imperfections will be corrected during retouching, more complex removals (like replacement of sky or drop-ins of pavement are examples of advanced retouching) if you choose to go that route. I’m always actively transparent with clients around changes to the scope-of-work as they make these decisions…no one likes surprises so I always get approval of change orders before we move forward.
The number of final shots you can choose is specified in our original contract; that number can range anywhere from three shots to fifty and beyond. Most of my projects average between 6-12 total images. Sometimes, in a huge compliment to my work, clients will want more photos than they originally planned once they see the proofs, so I always allow them to add more images mid-project at an a la carte price before we proceed.
Step 2: Image Retouching
Once you make your final image selections, it’s time for retouching. (If image selection changes happen after this point, they are made at the expense of the client). If a client needs any advanced retouching for unexpected conditions at the project site, or for any other reason, communication is key. First, I send a a client a PDF proof markup to get their final input on retouching preferences. This is an extra step – not every photographer does it – but I find it ensures my clients get back just the images they expect.
Any advanced or more complex retouching may be sent back to you with specific questions pertaining to the degree of retouching you want applied. It’s always important to preserve the most natural look and the integrity of the space when possible, but sometimes it’s not. That decision is a client’s to make and I’m happy to advise. Retouched images typically take 2-3 weeks to turn around to delivery. Rush editing is possible, but note that rush jobs have additional costs attached to them! From here, I resize the images for consistency and format of file types.
Step 3: Creation of Image Usage Licenses
Did you know that photographers hold the copyright to the images they shoot once they push the camera shutter? A client and any third party actuallylicenses images for use. This means that the photographer gives them “express written permission” to use them in a certain manner, and some photographers specify a duration of time along with the fees that go with their usage. I, personally, don’t set a duration of time on image usage for my clients. Once I create images for clients, they are theirs to use. (I prefer not to spend my time tracking and chasing down image usage renewal fees.) Licensing is an important part of how working, professional photographers earn a living.
A client and any third parties sharing in the final images will each receive their own license agreement document. Your license outlines when you need to check back in with your photographer for any unspecified or unique uses to be sure you have permission to use the photographs for that application.
4. Create Branded Content
After the images have been selected and perfected, it’s time to turn them over to the client. Two sets of images are usually delivered, one formatted in high resolution (TIFF) for printing and higher quality use, the other in a lower resolution, portable format (JPG), for web and social use.
I organize image files in a main folder along with my clients’ user license(s) and a “contact sheet” of image thumbnails. In addition, I provide an infographic I created specifically for clients that outlines usage dos and don’ts, for example, how and when photo credits are required. It’s an important tool to store in the image archive so as staff in your organization come and go, they quickly can understand how to use the images. This ensures everyone is on the same page in our collaboration together.
As a comprehensive set, these image files are quite large, so I use cloud software to zip the files up then send them over the web for downloaded. Once received, clients simply click and download them from a link and viola…we’re complete!
Now that you have your final images, go out there and start putting them to good use. Get that ROI!
What can you do with with your architectural images now? Here are 5 Ways to Market Using Your Existing Architectural Photographs