The amazing river valley backdrops of Glenora. The historic buildings of Whyte Ave and Strathcona. The eye-catching impressions of Rogers Place and the Alberta provincial legislature. As an Edmonton architecture photographer, there’s no shortage of inspiring sights to find around the city and I love to see how engineers, architects, and contractors are pushing the city forward with each new project.
Why hire an Edmonton building photographer?
When you want your building in Alberta’s capital city to look its best, you should reach out to a professional architecture photographer in Edmonton. Renderings are useful to engage the community and generate interest in an unbuilt project, but there is no substitute for a specialist, who only shoots the built environment, to document what you have created after years of hard work.
Making a building look great in a photo is about more than the hardware used, too. It means blending together knowledge of composition, lighting, and timing. It means drawing out something bigger through the use of small details.
Documenting a building and its intended use requires not only the big picture, but its various interactions. These photos must show how it interacts with its environment, how humans and nature respond to it, and the interplay of dozens of intricate details that can’t be seen when the entire façade is represented in one image. It would be like trying to describe West Edmonton Mall in a word – yes, it’s a mall, but that one word doesn’t do it justice; what makes it unique is the location, the variety of retailers inside, the proximity to adjacent development, and so many other factors that could become boring if I spend too many words on its description.
In a similar way, the story of each project I document becomes clearer with each additional frame captured. However, there is also beauty in restraint. My mission is to make a statement without saying a word, so my clients can maximize their impact with viewers. Whether good or bad, your images are speaking volumes about your brand.
Benefits of a commercial exterior photographer in Edmonton
If you’ve ever bought anything online, you know that the first thing you do is look at the pictures. That’s because great photos (and videos, of course) are the key to generating interest in buying behaviour. A commercial space with dark, unbalanced, or inaccurate photos won’t get much traction. But here in Edmonton, commercial photographers like me can take that same space and make it shine.
If you’re looking for proof, take a look at my portfolio of exterior photos.
The benefits of hiring a specialist is that I see the same place with fresh eyes. For businesses, post-secondary institutions, sports centres, office towers, and public facilities this effect is clear: foot traffic, walk-ins, free buzz, and organic shares anywhere that photos or videos are found.
The difference between exterior and interior photography
I’m often asked if there’s a difference between skillset of interior and exterior photography for Edmonton businesses. Well, they both involve specialized knowledge of best practices, lenses, and light – but other than that, they need different approaches.
In the summer, for example, Edmonton’s northern location means there’s a nice long “golden hour” – that time in the morning or evening when the sun hangs low and paints the sky with rich auburn tones. Every Edmonton exteriors photographer – from a professional like me to the person snapping a selfie at a K-Days booth with their friends – loves this effect. Especially when you can get a wide shot of a glass façade, like the Stantec Tower, or the simple inviting warmth of a home on an Edmonton residential street. For exterior photography I tend to pack light; just my tripod and lenses so I can walk around the structure and surrounding city blocks, looking for the best compositions at different times of day.
But obviously, it doesn’t work the same for interiors, where the light generally casts sharper shadows and focus zones are much closer. If you see me carting around lights, reflectors, and diffusers, I’m probably on my way to an interior shoot.
What to look for in an Edmonton architectural photographer
If you want to end up with the best combination of quality, quantity, and satisfaction, here’s what to keep in mind when searching for a commercial or architectural photographer in Edmonton:
Always check for a strong portfolio
The first thing any experienced photographer does is make great images. However, the second thing we always do is start showing them off to the world. If you visit a website that you found on a business card tacked to a bulletin board, and the domain is dead or there are no images to speak of, I hardly have to explain why that’s a red flag.
Once you’ve landed on someone’s portfolio, start looking for evidence that they have the experience needed to meet your vision. Just as the construction industry is made up of specialists (you wouldn’t hire an architect who only designs single family homes if you want an office tower), so too is the creative industry.
Architectural photography is a highly specialized field with unique equipment, travel requirements, and timelines that are not considered in other creative niches. If a photographer’s portfolio consists of only residential spaces (or families, headshots, pets, landscapes, etc.), then they will need several years of focused (pun intended?) performance before they can earn the trust of commercial property developers, architects, designers, and contractors. When years of hard work by dozens or hundreds of people will be distilled down to a handful of images, it’s easy to see why consistent results from any architectural photographer are not optional.
Once you have established that you’re working with someone who has the experience you need, take a closer look at their portfolio, and decide if their work connects with you. I don’t believe the photographer’s style has to match the space (a unique approach might yield serendipitous beauty), but their style should resonate with you. It’s unrealistic to expect a photographer to recreate the style you saw in a magazine if they don’t have something similar in their body of work. Making sure you both align from the start is always recommended. And speaking of that…
They should listen to your needs
While you’re coming to a pro to get their expertise in commercial photography, they also should be taking notes on what you want as an end result. For example, if you clearly state that you need a dozen night-time shots of your building from the street, with examples from their portfolio, and then they come back with a couple daytime shots from the roof, that’s not helpful to you. If you explain the shot list but they start objecting to the views that you need, that could be a sign of the dreaded “creator’s ego”.
Some back-and-forth is generally healthy in the creative process, but it’s one thing to make suggestions and it’s another thing entirely to veto compositions all together. So, if you’re getting the sense that they’re going to go rogue on your project, that may be a headache waiting to happen later.
Discuss expectations and image licensing beforehand
This point can’t be stressed enough. Always discuss rates and expectations beforehand, including delivery formats, production requirements, and usage rights. The most common question is: how much does architectural photography cost?
Since each project has its own unique parameters, it’s more informative to understand what impacts the final cost. The most common variables that will influence the cost are the number of images needed; time of day they should be made (dawn, daylight, twilight, dusk); how the images will be used (social media, publication, website, print, advertising); how many entities will use the images; and what local/provincial/national travel is required to reach the building. A true professional architecture photographer in Edmonton or anywhere else won’t hesitate to give you an up-front estimate or pricing model in writing once the scope of the project is clear. All the details and inclusions should be listed, waiting for a sign-off. If a verbal quote seems too good to be true and they insist they’ll “sort it out after, no big deal”…well, their only photo should be of you, walking away.
Contact an Edmonton architectural photographer today
Ready to get your business, office, restaurant, or other building looking its absolute best? I’d be thrilled to help you do it. Reach out today to learn more and get started on a stunning set of new images and videos!