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Nuts + Bolts #18: More Than Meets the Eye: The Value of Architectural Photography

When you have a great project with equally great photography, the possibilities - and the pay-offs - can be endless.

By Brad Feinknopf
June 19, 2018


Editor’s note: This is the 18th installment of Nuts+Bolts, an exclusive ArchNewsNow series to provide A/E professionals with practical tips for a more successful, profitable practice.

 

 

Perhaps more than anyone, architects are acutely aware of the power of imagery. Throughout their education and into their practice, it informs, shapes, and influences the way they experience the world, as well as their work. Short of physically visiting a site, photography – in all its contemporary formats – is really the optimal way to experience a structure.

 

So, it is perplexing that many architecture firms view documenting their work more as an indulgent expense or afterthought, rather than a necessary part of the design process. A plausible explanation for this may be due to confusing advertising with marketing. The former conjures anxious feelings at some firms; a likely holdover from the days when studios were forbidden to promote their services. The latter, however, is an essential piece of a modern business plan.

 

While hiring a photographer can be expensive, there are four persuasive reasons why the cost should be factored into the project budget – and not added on later:

 

·        Good photography can help generate new commissions. No surprise here: Potential clients use the web as a means of scanning and screening architects for their projects. When someone visits your website, you have one chance to grab their attention. It’s the first handful of images – and these images alone – that will either compel the viewer to delve deeper into your portfolio or click to someone else.

·        Good photography can help your firm win design awards. Jurors for AIA and other major competitions make their initial evaluations solely on visual material. When compiling entries, jpg and tif files offer great (and economical) adaptability, as they can be easily cropped and manipulated to show a project to its best advantage.

·        Good photography can help get your work published. Over the years, I’ve spoken about the importance of imagery to numerous editors at prominent architecture and design publications. They all say the same thing about reviewing story submissions: “The first cut is made entirely based upon photography. If the photography isn’t good, we move on. If the photography is good and the project looks interesting, we look deeper.”

·        Good photography can help tell your story to the right people. Depending on the audience you are trying to reach, different photographic formats can give extra impact to your work. Where still photos capture a moment, videos can tell a tale that unfolds in time and space. Drone footage, which can traverse large sites from multiple angles, can be a convincing medium with developers. Stop-motion photos, with their visible, yet abstracted depiction of people moving through a building, can appeal to owners and operators of commercial, office, hospitality, and even healthcare facilities who love to see plenty of foot-traffic activity in their properties.

 

These four points convincingly converge in a brand-building return on your investment. A good project with great photography will often go much farther than a great project with poor photography. And if you have a great project with equally great photography, the possibilities – and the pay-offs – may be endless.

 

 

Brad Feinknopf heads Feinknopf Photography, an internationally recognized architectural, interior, and commercial photography studio based in Columbus, Ohio.

 

See also:

 

Nuts + Bolts #17: The Dismissal Luncheon (or Breakfast)

If your boss asks you to join him or her for breakfast or lunch during a period of uncertainty and there is no specific agenda, beware. Something is afoot. He or she may want to drop the boom and do the deed in a controlled setting away from the prying eyes of the office staff.

By Stanley Stark, FAIA, LEED AP

 

Nuts + Bolts #16: What's in a Name?

Branding can be a bit of a foreign concept to established (and even to newer) architecture firms. Here are some central takeaways from a firm rebranding itself after 40 years in practice.

By Guy Geier, FAIA, FIIDA, LEED AP / FXFOWLE

 

Nuts + Bolts #15: From Adversary to Partner: Managing Relationships in Construction Projects
Three core practices to help keep the peace while keeping a project moving forward.
By Lisa Anders, LEED AP / McKissack & McKissack

 

Nuts + Bolts #14: Start Me Up: Taking Cultural Cues From Our Tech Sector Clients
Why can't the rules (or lack thereof) of start-up culture apply to an AEC firm?
By Christian D. Giordano / Mancini Duffy

 

Nuts + Bolts #13: Safe Harbors: A Case Study on End-game Strategies

A new way of dealing with ownership transition that can benefit some principals who face difficulties in achieving successful exits.

By Peter Piven, FAIA

 

Nuts + Bolts #12: Hiring Interns for the Summer? What You Need to Know
Architecture and engineering firms engaging unpaid interns can avoid liability in connection with their internship programs by meeting six specific requirements.
By John Balitis

 

Nuts + Bolts #11: CAPitalizing on Culture Change 
How candor, authenticity, and provocation (CAP) can create a firm culture that drives thoughtful, positive, and creative change.
By James Crispino, AIA, NCARB

 

Nuts + Bolts #10: Charting a Course from Career Bewilderment to Career Betterment 
Be curious, be adventurous and, when necessary, be assertive.
By Stanley Stark, FAIA, LEED AP

 

Nuts + Bolts #9: The 80/20 Architect: How to Spend Wisely by Investing in Your Clients

Focusing on your top clients can increase your confidence, stability, and profitability.

By Steve Whitehorn

 

Nuts + Bolts #8: Best Friends Don't Make the Best Partners 
For the successful partnership, it's all a matter of balance.
By Michael M. Samuelian, AIA, AICP

 

Nuts + Bolts #7: Leveraging Your Passion 
Principals already know what they love to do. It is learning to let go of the other, more mundane tasks that they find difficult.
By Steve Whitehorn 

 

Nuts + Bolts #6: Changing Habits: The Secret to Successful Time Management 
Some practical steps to make time for business development when you've been avoiding it or aren't sure how to fit it into your day-to-day practice.
By Donna Maltzan

 

Nuts + Bolts #5: Why Mid-Sized Design Firms Should Hire a Director of Operations 
Hiring a DOO has the potential to significantly increase revenues while creating an environment where designers design, not manage!
By Michael Bernard, AIA, and Mary Breuer

 

Nuts + Bolts #4: Spring into Growth Mode: Organize Your Process to Maximize Your Potential 
Internal organization, clearly defined workflows, and a focused approach to the things you do best will put you on the right track to long-term growth.

By Steve Whitehorn

 

Nuts + Bolts #3: Focus on the Future: Keys to Steady Growth in a Slow Recovery 
Business forecasts are looking brighter, but steady, measured growth is still your best strategy for success.
By Steve Whitehorn

 

Nuts + Bolts #2: You Can't SELL If You Can't TELL 
You talk all the time but are you communicating clearly? Use your words effectively to build your influence.
By Tami D. Hausman, Ph.D.

 

Nuts + Bolts #1: Mission Possible: Increase Your Value Without Lowering Your Fees 
Fact or fiction: Lowering your fees makes you competitive? You decide.
By Steve Whitehorn

 



(click on pictures to enlarge)

Johnathan Ward

Photography ©Brad Feinknopf/OTTO

Shot after dark, the screen-like façade assumes new detail and dimension (Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroupJJR: Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, DC).

Photography ©Brad Feinknopf/OTTO

A single pedestrian introduces scale, action, and angularity to the composition (Zaha Hadid Architects: Eli & Edythe Broad Art Museum, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI).

Photography ©Brad Feinknopf/OTTO

Siting and context become clear from the vantage point of a drone (ikon.5 architects: Collegetown Terrace Apartment Buildings, Ithaca, NY).

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