The Photographic Process
When you see my work, I hope you recognize the attention to detail I invest in each photograph I make. The details are very important to me, and the processes I describe here contribute to my production of the highest quality images I can make. These processes take time, experience, and care, and that’s the value I bring to your project. There is no way to get the results I deliver other than by the investment in time, the experience, and the dedication I bring to each photograph.
For exterior photographs I scout the location ahead of time. I evaluate the light and shadows cast by the sun and how they either enhance or diminish the important architectural and design elements throughout the day. My goal, of course, is to enhance the architecture and design, and my scouting trip provides me the information I need to do that. At the end of scouting, I know at what time of day and from what angles I want to make the final photographs.
For interiors, I typically perform scouting for larger projects to make a plan for the primary compositions I want to photograph. I also like to pay attention to where the light and shadows are falling from windows to schedule different areas for photography at the optimal time of day.
When I arrive at a location, I explore it and make a few test images. I use these images to help me determine the best composition--or set of compositions--for the space. Once I settle on the composition, I set up the camera and begin to evaluate everything I need to do to make the photograph work from that location.
Staging and Lighting Plan
At this point I start staging the furniture and other items that are in the scene. My goal here is to simplify as much as possible so that the architecture and design of the space become the primary subjects of the photograph.
I also begin to evaluate what kind of light I want to add to the scene. I plan what I’m going to light, where I’m going to place lights, and what kind of lights and light modifiers I will need to use to achieve the desired result.
Sometimes it turns out that natural light is all that’s needed. I only add light for specific reasons when necessary.
Identify Problem Areas
I now evaluate the scene in a different way. I look for any problems--such as strong reflections--that I need to deal with. I look for anything that jumps out in the frame and draws my attention away from the architecture and design. If I find problems like these, then I develop a plan for correcting them.
I now set the camera for the final composition. I evaluate the composition to look for anything I need to exclude or include. I also evaluate the feel of the composition--does it feel right? Is it balanced? Does it need to be shifted slightly in one direction or another or have the perspective changed at all? These are very difficult characteristics of a photograph to describe, and it really is just a feel. When you look at a photograph, if it feels off in some way to you--that’s what I’m correcting here. It should feel right--that’s the only way I can describe it.
With the final composition fixed, I now evaluate the scene through the lens and make any final changes to the staging. I might make minor shifts to the furniture or to the placement of items on tables, for example. These are usually very minor changes I make so that everything looks good in the camera.
I make several exposures to capture different levels of light. For some projects, such as exterior twilight photographs with production lighting, this activity is an involved and time-sensitive process.
The on-site production process yields a set of raw digital files for each of the compositions I captured. During post-production I process my digital raw files into a final photograph. I blend multiple exposures together to obtain an optimal result. I perform this blending manually so that I have full control over the process and so that I get a very natural result. My goal is to create a photograph that accurately represents the feel of a space.
During post-production, my attention to detail shifts into high gear. I remove any distractions that either were impossible to remove on location, or which I may have missed during staging. Examples include air vents and electrical outlets, flaws in wood, blemishes in stainless steel, etc. Depending on the scope of the project and how the photograph will be used, I can spend anywhere from a few minutes to several hours grooming a photograph to perfection.
Take a look at some of my before and after examples to see the benefits of post-production.
That’s my process in a nutshell. As I work, I welcome your involvement and input throughout the process. Making architectural photographs is hard work, but it’s a lot of fun too. It also involves a lot of problem-solving. I enjoy working with my clients so they feel involved in the project, and I value your input as well. My goal is to deliver to you the best photographs possible, so I never discount the suggestions of the people I’m working with. Everyone has something to offer, and if your ideas improve the photographs, I will listen and incorporate them!