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Portfolio Pictures

Lesson 9 from: Real Estate and Architectural Photography

Mike Kelley

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Lesson Info

9. Portfolio Pictures

Lesson Info

Portfolio Pictures

I'll just kinda go through here, and I can kind of... We can do images and I'll give my thought process and people can ask about them, if that's fine with you, if you wanna do one question per picture or something. So these are some of my portfolio pictures, and I just wanna talk about who the images were for, how I lit them, how I styled them, why I did it a certain way. This is for an architectural company called Blue Homes, and the assignment here was to kind of show the indoor/outdoor nature of the space. As you can see, I didn't go to 17 millimeters and show everything. You know, I'm missing half the house over here and half the house over there. But what we wanted to focus on was the lifestyle, the living, the feel of the house. We wanted to show that it's a permeable house. You can go indoors and outdoors and you can do all kinds of great things. And so I kind of framed it in such a way that your eye was drawn all the way through, and it's a very exacting, specific composition, ...

but I think when you're shooting architecture, you really need to nail these kinds of things, and, you know, that is what's important, is bringing, like, an element of kind of, like, deliberate perfection in your compositions to make the eye move in a certain way through the photograph to show the viewer everything that's important. So as, I mean, your eye bounces around. It goes to the fire, it goes up here, it goes through the house, you see the guy sitting there. You know that it's an indoor/outdoor space, you can go all the way through. And that's all down to the composition. And again, we had a lot of staging going on. We had stylists here. Like, this blanket, they fiddled with the blanket for 20 minutes. Like, I don't wanna be doing that, you know? I'm glad I was paying someone to deal with it. But I think it added a nice little touch. We staged the guy up there. We got the chairs in the right place. So there's a lot more going on than initially meets the eye. This is the same location during the day, and again, generally the same concept. We wanna frame the picture in such a way that we kind of create an emotion and we make it seem like, you know, we're not just at 17 millimeters. We're not trying to show everything. We're trying to make the viewer feel like they can walk in right now and experience this, you know, they feel the breeze, they can sit down, it's light, bright, and airy. They basically get all of the essence of this interior in this one photo, and I don't need to take five super-wide shots to get the same point across. And again, as you can see, I really love these very stark, one-point perspective compositions where, you know, the horizon is dead center, the vertical lines are dead center. I think it really helps draw the eye through. This is a tourist center in the very far east of Iceland, and the architect, the intent here was to show it as one with the landscape, and he wanted to really focus, while you're there, on experiencing the landscape. So this is what you see when you walk out onto the back, and it's obviously built in this great glacial valley. And so we set up and arranged everything to kind of focus the eye not so much on the architecture, but on the architecture in the setting. So instantly your eye is drawn out into this awesome fjord. You get the moody clouds. And it's like, you know, the architecture's kind of secondary and understated compared to the whole scene. And again, this is the same place. Again, I'm doing that one-point perspective to kinda set up these horizontal lines to kind of mask the building in the landscape. So any questions about those photos, or... Well, we've got some just general photos, or questions, if you're okay. Cool. First of all, one from ltlily16. Do you do a scouting trip before a shoot for an architect or interiors client? At what, and at what point in the process do you if you do? Again, the answer is it depends. I generally don't unless it's a very exceptional project. I used to do it much more often, and the reason I stopped doing it was there were three or four times where I would schedule a scouting trip with a new client and never hear from them again. I don't know if it's just because they didn't like me or they didn't like how I scouted or what, or they ran out of money. So what I do now is I'll do a scouting trip for anyone who's serious, and my policy is that it's $ for me to come out and scout a location, but that $300 is deducted from the final bill. So if you're serious about the job and you think you can benefit from a scouting trip, I will be glad to come out and do it, but don't waste my time if, by not shooting the project. And at this point I feel like I've shot enough things that I can really handle any situation. In a perfect world, I would love to come scout everything, but I don't wanna drive an hour and see that it's something I could easily shoot, no problem. And designers and architects are very attached to their work, of course. They've worked on them for months, in some cases years. So it's their baby. They want to know that everything's gonna go right on the day. But sometimes it's just not a big deal to shoot certain spaces. So that's the answer. It's gotta be something, like, crazily spectacular, and in that case it's still, you know, I try to CYA with my $300 fee, which I do refund. Great. Colin is wondering, so just in general, which segment of the market is best to target? What is the least hassle for the most money? (laughter) Realtors, architects, et cetera. That's the million dollar question, right? I mean, it depends on your personality. I think photographers fall into three categories. There are photographers who are only in it for the money, which I think is insane, 'cause there are easier ways to make more money. There are photographers who really enjoy art but also wanna make money at it. I think I'm in that category. And then there are photographers who are okay with living in a van shooting the landscape and not taking a shower for three months solely for the art. And it's a spectrum. It's not three distinct categories, but there's a spectrum, and I think you need to find out where you are on that spectrum and kind of, you know, figure out what you wanna shoot appropriately. I figure if you wanna just see, if you see photography as a means to a business and that's it, I would just go high-volume real estate, you know? Because you can hire a bunch of shooters, you can take some money off the top, you can do it yourself. You can shoot 10 properties a day. I know guys who own businesses that shoot 50 properties a day and they have 20 shooters in, you know, Los Angeles or San Francisco or major metropolitan areas, and they're just making money hand over fist. But there's no artistry involved. And if you wanna create artistic pictures, I say interior design/architecture, because you're there for the whole day and you might make five or six pictures the entire day, and you really get to put a lot of labor of love into it. And, of course, there's a big payday, but it's a lot of work. It's hauling gear, it's hauling lights, it's obsessing over little details. And if that's your thing, I say go for it. And then again, if you just wanna be the artist in the woods, do personal projects, and then people will hire you to do that, but it might take a lot longer for you to get to the point where you're being hired to shoot exactly what you want. So that's my long answer to that question.

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Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

Mike Kelley is fabulous, so many aspects of his work would make for great classes! I hope Creative Live brings Mike back for many more classes. He's a great communicator with lots of info presented in his class with understandable instructions. . . not that you'll leave the class being able to recreate his amazing images! Although he is very generous in the knowledge he shares on his great techniques. Only issue was not being able to hear/view most of the class as the "live feed" kept cutting out, which was so frustrating. So, I'm purchasing the video. Hope to see Mike in more courses! Excellent!

Victor Zubakin

Firstly this course should be renamed to just Architectural Photography. There's very little information here about shooting real estate photography. Mike Kelley is more of a fine art architecture photographer and the techniques he shows are not really relevant for real estate photography. Kelley's well-known for his blue hour shots and with these he often sets his camera up for a few hours and documents the changing light to later blend into one image. His work is very Photoshop intensive and each photo could require a few hours post-processing in PS. Real estate photography generally requires a complete house to be shot in less than an hour and delivered to the realtor in 24-48hrs. The course is more of interest to those wanting to shoot high-end architecture or interior design projects. Kelley gives some great tips on the business side - how to do marketing, attracting new clientele, how to maintain a healthy relationship with your clients, what to do when things go wrong. Kelley also discusses what gear he uses including the very useful tilt-shift lenses, geared head on his tripod for fine control, shooting tethered, and also some of the lighting he uses. The course features a photoshoot that Kelley did of a historic theatre, and he discusses the techniques he used to capture the images as well as how he processed them in Photoshop. The course was enjoyable & informative, and Mike Kelley is an engaging & fun presenter, with a laid-back style.

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.

Student Work