Incorporate Photography into Your AEC Marketing Processes


We all know photography is the best way to tell the story of a project in your marketing efforts, yet many times it moves to the back burner. While your marketing or project management team may have a soon-to-be completed project on their to-do list, by the time someone calls to schedule a photographer there may not be availability. Or perhaps the short window of opportunity for website-worthy photography is gone.


For all these reasons, it’s important to make project photography a firm-wide priority. Here are four tips on how to do just that.


Add to Project Procedures

It's more than likely your firm has a checklist for project closeout. Be sure to add photography as a key task to include at different milestones along the way. When photography is part of the process, your project manager and marketing team can coordinate to schedule photography. As the occupancy date draws near, schedule interior and exterior photography shots before the project is overrun with “stuff” cluttering the design intent. Don’t forget that “in progress” photos can be crucial to telling the story of the project, especially for infrastructure and construction projects.


Include Photography to Your Budget

Things tend to happen when we’ve allocated dollars. Annually, your marketing staff should review the projects that are likely to need photography in the coming 12-month period and assign a dollar amount for each. You should include and approve a contingency amount for projects that pop up, but having the projects as line items in the budget will help keep them top of mind.


Create and Communicate Your Shot List 

Once you have your project list and budget, your marketing team should be able to coordinate from there. They will work with your project manager/team to formulate a shot list. It can be very helpful to do a walkthrough of the project with the project manager and photographer (shot list in hand) so you can capture intent. If that isn't possible, be sure your project manager can be explicit about the firm's needs and the photographer can do their job well. Here are some items to consider:

  • Identify your purpose for the photos (award submittals, website, proposals).
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • What is the focus of the photography? What are you trying to communicate to your audience?
  • Which perspectives of the building and site do you need photographed? Ground-view? Aerial? Up close?
  • What orientation would like for the photos? Portrait? Landscape? Both?
  • Which parts of the project would you like photographed?
  • Do you need pictures of certain processes? If so, how much time does your photographer have before the opportunity to capture those images has passed?


Your photographer needs to be scheduled well in advance. Your marketing staff will need to collect and give them all the necessary information such as addresses, names, and phone numbers of contacts (they may need to contact your client for access to the building, property, or construction site if you or your project manager is not going to the site with them). Be sure to plan ahead. Establish what times are best for the photographer to be on-site, and listen to their insights and needs. Collaborate with them as you would with any partner to ensure that their best work shows your best work.


Coordinate With the Whole Team


Do you have team partners (subconsultants, contractor, subcontractors) who may wish to share photography costs? Sharing photography minimizes calls to the client and building occupants.


BONUS TIP: After the photoshoot, offer the professional photos to the owner. A framed photo makes a wonderful gift for their new building.

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