• Christian J Anderson

How to Hire an Architectural Photographer

Updated: Dec 8, 2021

When it comes time to photograph a portfolio worthy project, it is best to get portfolio worthy images. Although it has become easier for designers to shoot their own work, it is not recommended. Just as it is preferred to hire out parts of a design to specialized contractors; it is best to hire an architectural photographer to photograph a series of images that best represent the project. Houzz asked a few architectural photographers across the United States for guidance on How to Hire an Architectural Photographer.

What kind of photographer do you need?

There are many different genres of photography, and with each type, they bring their own set of challenges. Houses and buildings present a complexity in terms of lighting, staging, perspectives, and distortion; it important to hire a photographer who specializes in them. It isn’t advised to hire an “all-around” photographer, as they typically don’t have the experience to provide a quality service.


There are two types of photographers that specialize in photographing homes: architectural photographers and real estate photographers. What is the difference?


Real Estate Photographers photograph the entire home in a minimal amount of time. Their goal is to document the spaces of a home to give a potential buyer an idea of what the property looks like. Generally, they do not touch or move anything and capture the listing in any condition. Real Estate photographers are inexpensive and usually fit several sessions in one day.


Alternatively, if the goal is to capture the character and emotion of the space, choose an Architectural Photographer. Their goal is to determine the best approach, think about the styling, and position furniture to best complement the perspective of the camera. A lot of thought and time goes into creating each image, delivering the best result.


Choosing the photographer who’s right for you.

It is always best to view a photographer’s work to determine if their style matches the character of the project. Photography is a form of art and each photographer is going to develop a style that is different than another. Feel free to ask a photographer to see their latest project to see if they are consistent with the quality they provide.


How long will it take, and what will you get?

Typically, a photography sessions takes a full day. However, depending on the scale of the project could only take half a day or consist of multiple days. By providing a photographer with the number of photos required for a project, the amount of styling, if needed, and the time of day, an accurate estimate of time can be achieved.


It is best to ask a photographer what a session consists of. In regards to myself, I photograph the home capturing the requested images as well as additional options. When the photos are being taken, the client will have the chance to preview the shots as they are being made on a laptop. For proofing, I slightly touch-up the images and then provide a link for digital selection. Once the images are selected for purchase, the final images will be processed and delivered.


Who will style the shoot?

Generally, photographers will do minimal styling during a session. If major staging is required, it might be beneficial to hire a professional stylist or interior designer to complement the rooms or property. In most cases a photographer will find a composition for the image, and adjust any furniture, decor, or anything else to compliment the scene.


Why would anything need to be adjusted if the space is already staged?


Though the staging may be appealing to the human eye, a camera can only see in a 2D plane and sometimes require adjustments of the scene to create an attractive photograph.


What will it cost?

Freelance photographers rarely charge by the hour, this is because much more time goes into a full project before and after the photo shoot (onsite). For example, a photographer’s fees will be based on the creative fee, production fee (what is required to photograph the project), and the license terms varying on the usage of the images. When negotiating with a photographer it is a good idea to know what is needed from the session and how the images are going to be used.


Who owns the photos?

According to the Copyright Act of 1976, the photographer owns the image as soon as the shutter is released. The copyright of the image takes effect immediately, regardless if the image has been registered with the copyright office. Otherwise, the only way to transfer the copyright of an image is if the photographer, physically, signs over the rights. When discussing the project with the photographer it is a good idea to know the intention of the images. This way, a license agreement can be negotiated for the usage of the images.


Check out my previous post about Copyright and Licensing.


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