A peak behind the curtain

Welcome backstage! I am going to show you the inner-workings of what it takes to create great architectural photographs. I'll go through some of my pre and post-production workflow which goes into every job I produce.

BEFORE

This is a single photo (frame); the building looks great, but we have a few visual distractions and the foreground is a bit dark.

AFTER

This completed image is a combination of 10 different frames 'stitched' together to create the final composite.

Post-production

In producing structural photos there are a lot of hours that I as the photographer will put into the production besides the day of the photoshoot. This includes all communications, location scouting and staging on the day.

I'm going to start with the post-photoshoot (post-production) workflow first because it is often the most misunderstood. It is easy to understand why most consumers believe that all of the imagery we see out in the world are a single 'snap-shot', this is because we take photos on our phones everyday. Click! Though over the last decade people are starting to become more aware of the work that occurs after the photograph is taken to make the image better and more interesting, i.e. Instagram filters, etc.

Take that one-step further, all commercial imagery has had significant amounts of editing/retouching hours added in to the production in order to deliver the final product to the client at a high-standard, then out to the world for you to see!


Compositing

This is a short excerpt of me compositing (stitching together) all of the photo frames together to begin creating the final photograph.

I am selecting/removing bits and pieces from each frame which I feel either add to or detract from my main subject.

Sunset Composite

This is another short excerpt of me compositing an image photographed at sunset. Check out those reflections!

As amazing as the cameras of today are, it is still not possible to create an image like this with a single shot when the dynamic range (the measured range of light between shadows and highlights) is too great, so we use exposure blending to capture all the details in a sunset or twilight photo.


Retouching

This part of the process is where I make the images look pretty. I add depth to really focus and draw the viewer's eyes on your hard work and then colour-grade the image to give it that final look and style. There are certain objects in the image that we might want to remove entirely or tidy them up (check out the traffic-sign in the below image), which we decide on together.

Because architecture photography largely includes having members of the public in and around the building, it is important that I as the photographer have a solid understanding of copyright law and know when it is appropriate and what permissions you need to obtain in order to have a person's face and/or a vehicles license plate identifiable in a photo. For this reason, I spend a lot of time making sure my subjects cannot be identified in order to protect my clients from potential lawsuits. This is done both in-camera and in the retouching part of the process.

This before and after photograph illustrates the importance of post-production in building photography. The first image is an 'okay' photo, it is technically accurate, but when we look at the second image it has visual interest, our eyes are lead through from corner to corner and our eyes get drawn to the building first and not the bright red traffic sign! The photograph now tells a story of the structure within its environment.


Pre-production

Pre-production is all of the work that occurs before the day of the architectural photoshoot. Whether you have sufficiently prepared or not at this stage can oftentimes either make or break a project. So it is very important we spend the time planning at this stage!

In order to help mitigate as many problems that we can before they occur, I use scripted workflow sheets which I send out to all clients once we have booked in our project together. This allows you to know exactly when it will happen and what is needed from yourself to help the project go like clock-work.

Location Scout

Here we get to plan the composition & lighting of our images and confirm a shot-list (images to be photographed).

During the location scout I spend time plotting the path of the sun throughout the day. This tells me what time of day will be best for each photograph on the shot-list, helping to schedule the day accurately and with no guess-work!

This was taken with my cellphone! during the location scout prior to shoot day and was used to confirm the composition to be used for the twilight photograph.

This is the final post-processed photograph of the building, boasting lovely straight vertical lines and showing off the beautiful sunset in the windows.


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Copyright © Kyle Pearce Photography. All rights reserved. E&OE.
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