Guide to a Successful Architectural Photoshoot

Architects and Designers invest a lot of time and money in capturing images of their projects. Understanding the value these images have for (them and their teams) their marketing teams, is key. Photographs are instrumental in pursuing their next contract, publication, award entries, or even social media post.

For me, the secret behind a successful photoshoot is a combination of creativity, technique, teamwork, and thoughtful planning. This is an insight into how I approach and coordinate my photoshoots.

I usually divide the process into 5 interconnected and important steps

The Creative Brief and Walkthrough

Understanding the clients’ direction, objectives and input is a key piece of the puzzle.

I like to talk to the client to get a better sense of the project, understand what they are trying to achieve, the particulars aspects of the project, their challenges, and their successes.

Briefs come in different shapes and forms. 

  • An architect might have a marked site plan with rough angles.  
  • A restaurant designer can have renderings to show the before and after. 
  • An interior designer generally likes to generate the shot list while walking through the house.  

When possible walking the space is a key component of the briefing process as it allows me to get a feeling of the space. While going through the property with the project manager/ architect/ designer, etc is where I start to get the inspiration, understand the light, the aspirations of the clients and last but not least I also understand the possibilities and challenges of the space.

This process narrows down the client’s and user’s specific needs. I refer to users because there might be several users with different needs for different applications.

During this walkthrough process, I’m able to answer any questions. Here are some that I find very helpful.

Security & Access

  • How do you access the property  
  • Is there security on site
  • Where are the controls for the lights  
  • Are there tenants to talk to 
  • Do we need additional insurance
  • Who will represent the client during the shoot

Equipment  & Crew

  • Assistants, how many do I need
  • What kind of equipment would I need
  • Do we need a lift for a higher advantage points
  • Storage room for equipment.
  • Drone possibilities

Scheduling

  • What times of the day are best
  • Dates, not so good dates
  • How long will the shoot take
  • Timeline to follow

Styling

  • Is the property ready
  • Landscaping, ready
  • Do we need a stylist
  • Do we need to move furniture around
  • Cleaning requests, windows, decks, etc
  • Building Maintenance, light bulbs, light controls
  • If we are shooting a restaurant, do we need to set the tables
  • do we include People/ no people in the shots

Answering all these questions, help me be better prepared for the photoshoot. This way, once I am there, I can concentrate on what’s really important… Capturing incredible images.

miami architectural photographer Moris Moreno
Miami Cancer Institute – ZGF Architects

Location

Another important part of the walkthrough is to learn where is the project located and it’s orientation. For me this is one most important elements of the walkthrough,  understanding the light and nature around it. 

This is vital, as I use the light to bring texture, depth, and life to any project indoors or outdoors. Light creates mood and character.

Architects and designers spend a lot of time studying the lights, the windows, the positioning of the building, the materials, and the colors & textures. As a photographer, I like to take advantage of that. Understanding the light allows me to successfully tell a 2D story of a 3D space.

Parties and Users

As I mentioned before this is a team effort where everyone involved needs to be on board. Here is where the Usage rights come in handy. There are many key players in a project: the architect, interior designer, engineers, contractors, homeowner, etc. who probably will like to use the images. By including them in the initial bid everyone can benefit from splitting the costs of the photoshoot. It reduces the cost per user and makes sure everyone is involved and informed.

There are cases where the parties involved are part of the initial bid, other times they want to buy the rights after the shoot or simply want to buy individual images. In either case, having everyone involved helps ensure the success of the shoot. 

Estimate and terms

Once all the questions have been answered, the angles selected and the users aligned. I create an estimate that will detail the project and fees.

My standard licensing agreement includes at least 10 years of usage rights for the following: website, social media, editorial, corporate promotion, trade competitions, trade magazines, and trade shows.

Any other use of the images by the client or additional third party shall require a separate license.

Post-production and Delivery

Every project is unique and requires a distinctive post-production process. During my photoshoots, I think ahead of what’s needed, so when I’m in front of the computer, all the elements (the windows, sky, the highlights, etc) are ready to compose the final image.

Almost everything is possible to photoshop, but there is nothing like a quick onsite cleanup or furniture tweak that can save a lot of time and money in post. 

I take the time to compose every image to make it great in camera so the post-production work is more about enhancing than correcting.

Once the shoot takes place, I provide the client with a secure proof web gallery for image selection and comments. 

Depending on the project, I generally take around 2-3 weeks to deliver the final edited images via a digital link for direct download.

Seattle architectural photographer Moris Moreno
Regalia – Charles Allem Interiors
Seattle Interior design photographer Moris Moreno

Interior design photographer Moris Moreno
Regalia – Charles Allem Interiors
Architectural photographer Moris Moreno

Case studies – Photoshoot day

Every project is so different from each other, that I wanted to share a collection of different projects in several categories:

Click here to explore a bit more of the back story, how I approach my photo shoots in terms of planning and coordination.

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Moris Moreno is a professional architectural photographer specializing in commercial and residential architecture, mixed-use, institutional, interior design, hospitality & retail photography.

786.355.0229

[email protected]