Did you know that there is a difference between architectural photography and real estate photography? While both types of photography look similar at first glance, there are some major differences between the two styles. Here are 3 differences between architectural photography and real estate photography:
1. Licensing Terms are Different
Licensing are rights granted for use of photographs that are owned by a photographer. The cost of licensing depends on the use of the photographs, including the media that will display the photos (print, online, billboard, etc.) and the duration of use (6 weeks, 6 years, etc.). Licensing is important because it protects the creative and intellectual property of the photographer and keeps costs low for the client. In most cases, it is far less expensive for a client to “rent” photographs rather than to “buy” the license outright.
For example, a real estate agent will use photos of a house only for the duration of the home’s listing—which is generally a short period of time. Real estate agents typically only use photos of the home online on websites like Trulia, Zillow, MLS, etc. Once the home is sold, the license for use of the photos expires. If they choose to run a print ad or a billboard using a photo of a listing, this will affect the licensing terms and a different rate will apply for each additional use.
An architect or commercial builder will use their photos for marketing purposes for a longer amount of time. For example, an architect can choose a 7 year license agreement for photographs of a project because they expect to have group of newer projects to showcase in their portfolio within the next 7 years. Architectural usage is normally broader in use and can include anything from their website to international publications.
2. Number of Photos Delivered is Different
Another difference between architectural photography and real estate photography deals with the number of photographs delivered to the client. More photos does not always equal more value (more ≠ more).
A real estate agent will get photographs of the front of the house, kitchen, living room, master bedroom, master bathroom, other bedrooms and bathrooms, laundry, yards, and any other key features of the home. The exact number of photos delivered to a real estate agent varies depending on the size and features of the home, but it typically ranges between 12-30 photographs. Any less, and a potential buyer might not get to see all the aspects of the home. Any more, and potential buyers zone out because there are too many photos to scroll through.
On the other hand, an architectural or commercial project might only want to focus on the key features of the building or their favorite aspects of the project. This number is completely up to the client and depends on their planned purpose for the photographs. Typically, architectural photography will not include photographs of all the rooms of a building because the architect is not going to need all these photos for their marketing purposes or portfolio. Architects tend to have a few broad photographs to show the big picture and supplement those with detail photographs displaying unique designs and craftsmanship.
3. Time Spent on Photos is Different
The time spent onsite and post production is different depending on the type of photography.
For a basic 2000 square foot home, it generally takes 1 to 1.5 hours to shoot all the rooms of the house. Our main focus for real estate photography is to capture the main elements of the home and accurately represent the property to potential buyers. Far too often, we see photos of home listings where the front yard looks like it’s a full acre, only to see that the yard in real life is 18’ x 20’. Or we’ll see photos where the walls look slanted like in a carnival fun house. An excellent real estate photographer is able to capture the home in its best light, without being deceptive or “wonky.”
In architectural photography, the photos are more focused on key design elements. This can be an entire room or a close-up shot of an interesting design feature. The duration of the shoot varies depending on the shot list and the time involved in preparing the scene. Props, staging, and waiting for very specific times of day are common on these high end shoots.
Post production for real estate is much quicker than post production for architectural work. the focus of our real estate post production is to realistically portray the space for the prospective buyer. Yes, we make it look as great as possible but, ethically, we don’t want to “touch up” the property to the point it is no longer recognizable. In architecture, however, we will spend a greater amount of time touching up the photographs. Because many codes and regulations placed on architects’ designs for public spaces (think fire alarms, exit signs, and HVAC vents) don’t always match the aesthetics of the building, we remove anything the client does not want to represent their brand. A single architectural photograph may take several hours in post production.
Which type of photography to choose?
If you’re unsure of which type of photography you need, architectural or real estate, contact us here and we can help. There are some projects that might be able to fall in either category and we can advise you on which has more benefits for your project. A key thing to remember is that not all real estate photographers are architectural photographers, and vice versus. Each field of photography is specialized, which is why Steven Short Photography is so unique since we specialize in both. Take a look at our portfolio here and see for yourself!