On Shoot Day


Real Estate and Architectural Photography


Lesson Info

On Shoot Day

Whether you're shooting any of those little sub-genres that I mentioned before, I think the same principles apply. Be on time. Drives me up a wall when people are late. I try to always be five minutes early. Five minutes early to me is on time. And your clients will notice, even if they're late they'll appreciate you being there and it's just simple professionalism, and again, I've hired assistants, I've hired stylists, I've hired anyone, people who wanna meet me for lunch and they can't get there on time, I sit there like this, I'm like, "C'mon" it's just business. Simple thing, people overlook it and it's being lost because it's so easy to send a text say, "Hey, I'm five minutes late, I'm stuck in traffic". Just be on time in the first place. Dress nice, people judge whether or not you like it. Every time I shoot, with rare exception, unless it's a client I've known for a very long time, collared shirt, dress shoes, not dress-dress shoes, something like this, nice pants, I make sure ...

I'm clean, take a shower that morning. I'm telling you, people will judge. When you go into multi-million dollar houses looking like a slob you will not get invited back to multi-million dollar houses whether or not you think it's fair, it's just a fact of life. You need to delegate tasks and you need to own it. If you guys have watched Peter Hurley talk about head shots, he says the photo is not done until you own the photo. I feel the same way, if someone asks you a question don't sit there like, "(mumbles) I don't know if the couch should go there or there", just make a decision. "The couch needs to go there, let's move it. If it looks bad we'll move it back", that's the end. People are counting on you, they look to you to have confidence and display, the idea at least, that you know what's going on. Set a shot schedule, again that goes back to preparing. Come with a schedule, say, "The sun's gonna be in the right spot at 11 o'clock, so we're gonna do two interiors, then I'm gonna get an exterior, then I'll come back in, do the rest, and then we're gonna do the twilight", and make sure you have someone there who's keeping you on track. Whether you're shooting real estate, and you have an hour to do it, or you're shooting architecture and you've got two days to make five photos, make sure you have a schedule. When you can, take your time. Whenever I set up the tripod I know that that photo was a reflection of me and my work, rushing it does no one any favors, ever. If you were early you wouldn't have to rush, if you had a schedule you wouldn't have to rush, so all these things can kinda set you up to take your time, make a great photo. When you're done thank everyone, always. They're the ones who are giving up their time to help you make your job possible, so the homeowner especially, hand shake, look em in the eye, "Thank you so much for letting me turn your home upside down", be funny about it, be kind to them. They're the ones who are staying home from work or whatever to make sure you don't break their $1,000 china vase. Designers and architects who probably pain-stakingly coordinated the whole thing, stylists, real estate agents, if you don't have a key for the lock box they have to come out and meet you, "Thank you for coming out, sorry, I'm sure you were busy. You always are, at least you say you are. Thank you for coming out." And like I said, we have the best job of anyone there, so act like it, thank everyone, be kind. So how much of the, 'cuz you said you're dictating where couches go and things like that. I would see that as more like an interior design thing, 'cuz I have no idea where to put that to make the photo look or to make the room look its' best. How much of that do you do and how much of that do you outsource to stylists and interior designers and stuff like that? I try to get the designer to be there of course when possible, because he or she has the final say, but there are a lot of things that, and most designers will understand that it might not look good when you walk in and put the camera down. It's like it's a two dimensional medium, we're taking a three dimensional scene and translating it. Things get flattened out, depth is lost, we have to move and shuffle, so I try to keep the essence of the design in the photograph, but sometimes things have to come out. A lot of the time I'm shooting very busy scenes. I tell people, for real estate especially, take out half of the stuff in your house and a week later go back and take out another half, because you want to make it as simple as possible, but again, when you have a stylist and designer they're going to hopefully understand that. I've worked with some very adamant designers who say, "Nothing can move, it is perfect the way", and I'm like, "Okay, you got it, if that's what makes you happy." But you have to tell them, "Look, we're gonna have to move some things so it looks best, and we might have to move the plaid pillow away from the striped curtain to create..." You know the rules, you can't have, unless you're goin nuts. So you have to be there and communicate with them, but stylists, it's their job to know how to fold things to make it look lived in, because there's kind of an art to it, you can't just throw it there and like, "Oh, okay, it looks done". There's a certain look and feel and they know it and so you try to delegate some tasks to them. Does that answer your question in some capacity? Maybe I'll follow it up from EG Orrin and five other people; "Do you work with a stager, rearrange yourself, or shoot as is for interiors?" or I'll rephrase it, how do you decide whether you need that? You said earlier that you might include that as part of your bid if you feel it's gonna be necessary. Do you decide? Does the client decide? Again, like with anything, there are thousands of ways to shoot any room. When I'm on location, for example, and I get there and I see a couch is just awful, I will suffer and I will move it myself because I know it will make the photo so much better, but sometimes the client will say, "Look, it's unfurnished and we need to have things done, I want it to look a certain way." Okay, we need a stylist, I'll hire or you can hire, but when I put in the bid with the stylist I'm gonna do a little markup on it because I'm arranging it all, I'm dealing with it, I have to deal with it when the fall out inevitably happens. You have to make a judgment call and communicate with your client, but if it's a real estate shoot or some kind of shoot where I'm there alone I have no problem with squaring things up, coming around, framing it up within reason of course. Try to stay to your schedule, don't get too carried away. There is a point where you're missing the forest for the trees.

Class Description

Photography is commonly used to sell, document, and advertise buildings, homes, and spaces – join Mike Kelley for an introduction to the fundamentals of real estate and architectural photography and how it can bolster your photography business.

This course will debunk common myths about architectural photography and share best practices for working with real estate agents, architects, interior designers, commercial clients, and editorial outlets. You’ll learn about the best approach to photographing any subject, whether you’re representing it realistically or embellishing its features. You’ll also explore lighting, staging, and infusing your unique style into your shots. Mike will also guide you step-by-step through the process of capturing an architectural image – from planning to shooting to editing to client delivery.

If you’re ready to gain a more sophisticated understanding of the architectural photography principles all the pros know, this is the course for you. Whether you want to learn more about breaking into this growing market, or add more advanced skills to you own photography, this is the course for you.


a Creativelive Student

Enjoyed this class. Took it to learn more about architectural photography because I know little to nothing about that area of photography. I feel Mike gave a solid introduction in the how-to's of getting into this business, offered some good outside sources, gave good supporting personal stories. Would have liked to lean more about balancing light color and to be referred to some outside sources on learning more about that. Overall, I feel this was a solid intro to architectural photography.