Thursday, February 3, 2011

What do the photographs in your ads say?

I'm not sure who said it first, but I love to old adage, "A photograph is worth a thousand words".

I'd like to ask you, "What are the photos of your projects saying?".

For Home Builders: Whether its online (according to The National Association of Relators, 87% of all home buyers, and 94 % of buyers aged 25 to 44 years, used the Internet to search for homes), or in print, home buyers will start the home buying process by looking for homes to go see. They'll be comparing price and photographs of similar homes. The ones with the better photos will get the first visits.

Is your photography is saying things like:

"My house is too dark for you to walk through in the middle of the day."

"I can't build a house with walls that aren't falling over."

"I don't care enough about my product to hire someone who knows how to show off my product in it's best light" (pun intended).

Architects, when you show your bid sheet, portfolio, or website, is your photography saying similar things?

What I like my photography for my clients to say is, "Ooo, let's go look at that house!", or "This Architect really knows his/her stuff", or "That's some really cool furniture. It would look great in my living room".

Simply put, my business is getting more business for your business.

We accomplish this by incorporating the latest in digital technology with our skills in post production. Add to that the lighting and composition experience we've gathered over the last 23 years, while shooting 1000's of projects all over the country, and you'll get superior photography everytime. From retail stores in Chicago, to Salons in Orange County, CA, to resorts in Hawaii, and from homes in San Fransisco to Salt Lake City, we've enabled our client's photography to say good things about their product.

So, whether you're a Home Builder, an Architect, a Management Company, a Commercial Builder, or a supplier, I'm sure you'd like the photography of your product to say to your perspective clients, "Dang, they're good".

Give us a call to discuss what you're looking for in your next project. We promise you'll get "Dang, they're good"!



Monday, July 19, 2010

Every once in a while....

Every once in a while, a photographer will get an assignment that will really excite him (or her).

Architect Melissa (Missy) Brown of Denver, CO presenting me with such a project earlier this winter. Todd, her brother, had asked her to design a tree house for him to use as a retreat. Obviously as you can see from the picture, she agreed.

In the foothills, just west of Denver, Missy used a hillside next to Todd's driveway to build the tree house. By building on what she learned at a TreeHouse Workshop in Washington state, Missy added her own personal design and used as much reclaimed material as possible.

When I first scouted this with her, I wasn't sure just how we were going to shoot it. It was January, it was cold, and it had just snowed. It wasn't finished yet either, which didn't help much. However, there was enough done for me to realize that if I could overcome the technical issues of lighting, we could have a ton of fun shooting it. I did, and we did.

We were hoping to get Missy enough images for a nice article in a magazine. We ended up with plenty, 11 interiors and 23 exteriors. All of this from a 10'x14'x14' tree house. Not bad. Not only did we get her enough for an article, we also got her connected with a publisher for the article.

Additionally, we will be using one of the images from the shoot for the 2010 Denver Parade of Homes magazine cover. I brought the images into a meeting to show the publisher for the story, and the committee ended up liking one of the shots for the cover. They needed a neutral home for the cover and thought "Why not?". Needless to say, Missy is quite excited about it. Me too to be honest. I've had many projects published, but there's just something about this one that makes it special.

As you can see from the images, it really was a ton of fun to shoot. The main problem was getting the ambient light usable without blowing out the windows. I'm not a fan of that look, it's too "Better Homes and Garden" to me. We accomplished this by placing a large Chimera soft box on a tall stand, just outside the window on the right side of the tree house. We then put a silk over the inside of the window to further soften the light. After establishing that, it was a matter of placing grids and smaller soft boxes as needed. Obviously, for some of the shots, we had to remove the silk. But for the most part, that worked very well for us. We shot both with the Nikons and the Mamiya with a Phase One digital back. Image sizes range from 28MB to 65MB. Plenty big enough for the end uses.

Overall, we spent a bit over one full day there. I also went back in the morning after the main shoot to get some nice A.M. light on the exterior. With post production included, we have about 24 total hours invested in the shoot. We decided to give Missy a great rate because of the uniqueness of the project. I haven't done that in about 10 years. That's how special this one was.

As you can tell from the image on the left, it even has a great little front porch to enjoy the morning coffee and paper. The only thing missing to make this totally habitable would be running water. I guess that could be included in the addition?

Although Todd and his wife were planning on using it for their own little retreat, Todd does admit that in all likelihood, his kids will end up getting more use out of it than they probably will. I wish I had something like this growing up. Heck, I wish I had something like this now that I am grown up.

To see more of our work, check out Moss Photography.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What should your shooter do for you?

This entry is a direct result of a recent conversation I had with a friend who works at the corporate level of a company that owns a large number of apartment complexes here in Denver.

She recently had her marketing company shoot a new clubhouse that they had just finished. They used the photographer they have used before, in order to keep things consistent in advertising. That makes sense.

The problem came about when she described the photographer's process. The story got worse the longer it went on.

Apparently, this guy won't move cords, replace bulbs, and move furniture to get the shot he needs. It is up to the employees to do all of this before he gets there, or while he's there. Hey, if that's the way he wants to do it, so be it. He was scheduled to come out last Friday to shoot, so the complex had someone from the staff there to help him. He canceled because he said he was "overbooked". He rescheduled for Saturday, and so did gal who worked at the complex. You guessed it. He called Saturday, canceled, and rescheduled for Sunday. On Sunday, he called and wanted to reschedule again. The gal told him if he didn't come then, don't bother. Last Sunday was Mother's Day, and she is a mother of two. That makes three days of inconvenience for that lady, and the complex in general. This is ridiculous. Its people like that who give commercial photographers a bad name.

It got me thinking about another photographer's website I once saw. She had a list of things that the clients need to do in order to make the shoot go smooth. Some of the things were good ideas (cleaning, fresh flowers, etc.). Some of them were ridiculous (moving cords, changing light bulbs to lower wattage, etc.).

The main thing going through my mind during these two instances was, "What are they paying the photographer to do?".

Obviously, expertise it the main reason for hiring a professional photographer. Both of the shooters in question are what I'd call competent. I've seen worse. But where does their professionalism go when they're on a shoot?

It is our job to do everything in our power to make the shoot a success. Moving cords, changing out light bulbs, and moving furniture, are all things that should be part of the job. We carry a case with about 45 different wattage light bulbs. We tape up cords in order for them not to be part of the shot. We move furniture constantly to make the shot. I don't understand why some others don't. Granted, the shooters in question are both lower cost shooters, but come on.

Remember, cheaper isn't better. Photography needs to be looked at as an investment in your company. Value must overrule cost. Spending $400 +/- (which is what the shooter in the first scenario charges) for a day of photography may look cheap, but what is the value? Spending about 3 times as much (close to my rate for apartments) may look expensive, but what is that value?

People these days look on the web for apartments or homes before they go physically to the property. What is going to drive them? The photography! Bad images will chase away perspective residents. By saving the $800 on this property, the client had to inconvenience the employee for three days, and will end up with competent photography (maybe).

Also, will those images drive people to come look at your property? If saving the $800 on the photography costs you even one resident, how does the value of that savings sound now?

My friend is going to contact the account manager of their marketing company to let her know what went on, and her dissatisfaction of the entire process.

I wonder if I'm going to pick up a client out of this? Hopefully.

Take a look at the photos in this post. Mine are the second set. Which do you think will draw the most visitors to the properties?


Friday, April 2, 2010

Why I do what I do...

With the economy in general, and the building industry specifically, these days it's always nice to get a gig shooting nice design. This was the case last month when we were able to photograph the new lobby of the Denver law office of Jacobs Chase for Sarah Hornfeck of Ronan Design Group. (Sarah is designing her website at the moment, so if you just get a landing page, check back later.) Sarah is one of those designers who is capable of working with any client, and able to compliment any design. This was our third shoot with Sarah, and we have one more to schedule later this summer. I'll upload that one when we shoot it. It will be worth checking back. It will be of an historic preservation in a great old building in downtown Denver.

Jacobs Chase wanted to update their lobby and conference rooms, and have the option of combining all the spaces together to be able to host parties without having to go into different rooms. As usual, there were fire code and other permit issues to deal with. Given the obstacles, (or even without taking the obstacle into account) I think Sarah did a bang up job. Better yet, the client thought so too.

Okay, this isn't Sarah's blog it's mine, so I'm going to brag about the photography now. Shooting great design is always a blast. The key here was to show the space in each of its possible configurations. We started with shooting the doors closed. We wanted the lighting of each shot to look as close to the others as possible. So, having the doors closed was the obvious starting point:

Then we moved to having the glass doors open, but the movable wall still separating the two conferences rooms:

And finally to the third shot, showing the fully open area:

Choosing the lower camera angle helped accentuate the intimacy of the seating area, and the overall expanse of the space once everything was fully open.

Architectural photographers must be able to not only show the spaces for their clients, they must be able to show the relationship between the spaces, and the overall feel the designer was going for. I think we accomplished that for Sarah.

Our style of photography is one of subtle lighting. We don't like to have the lighting drive the photograph. That's the job of the design. Some shooters (& some clients) really like to light the feeling right out of a room. We don't. We still light, but not in a distracting manner. Our joke is we use "available lighting". Which translates into using every available light in our cases. I know we're done lighting when I'm out of lights to light with.

For more examples of work we do, please visit our site at Moss Photography.

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

How much should a shoot cost?

That's sort of like asking "How much should I spend on a new car"?

It depends on what you plan on doing with it. Do you just need basic transportation, do you want a well designed, comfortable, beautiful vehicle, or maybe a truck to carry a bunch of stuff?

Same deal with photography.

Do you just want a project documented? Or, do you want images that will have the quality worthy of publication? In this industry (I'm specifically talking about architectural photography at the moment), I believe you should worry more about value instead of price. Here at Moss Photography, our prices run the gamut from $500/day to well over $1500/day. And usually, on top of that, you'll need to add assistant(s), travel expenses, post production, pre-production, meals, and delivery.

Sure, Aunt Sue, Uncle Henry, your neighbor Bob, or even your sales manager's husband (true story) all have digital cameras. Some of their cameras are even quite good. And hey, with Photoshop you can probably get usable images from them, if they know what they're doing. However, are usable images really the only thing you want?

I like to look at it this way...

Here in Denver, each Saturday, we have a Real Estate section The Denver Post where many homebuilders run ads. In looking through the ads, the ones where the sales mangers husband is the photographer really stand out. And not in a good way. There are other builders using similar quality, but I'll use this builder's ads as an example.

Scenario: Harry and Hannah Homeowner are moving to Denver, have $350,000 to spend, and a week to find a nice home. They start looking through the paper in their hotel room Saturday morning and decide which ones they want to walk through. Will they choose a home in an ad that is well lit, open and inviting, and show the quality of the house? Or will they choose to look at a home the looks like its falling over, has dark rooms in the background, blown out windows, and poor lighting? Subconsciously, they are probably judging the quality of the home by the quality of the photography. Why would a builder put up a quality product, yet not show quality photos of it. Are they trying to hide something?

I guess what I'm saying is this: Good photography probably will not sell your home for you.
All it can do (usually) is get people to your model. However, bad photography can easily lose a sale for you. Cheaper isn't better.

Its not about cost, its about value.


Next blog: What is the right equipment?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

"There but for the grace of God"

I'm not very consistent at this blogging thing yet, but I'll work on it. I sat down at the computer to open up my new website to check stats, and remembered that I actually have a blog. It's Saturday afternoon, and we just finished up at Shepherd's Pantry, our monthly food bank, and I thought that would be a good thing to write about today.

Lessons learned, or re-learned, as the case may be:

Seeing the people there this morning was, as always, humbling. It seems that as a country, we stigmatize those in need of assistance. We see a line of people outside a soup kitchen or outside a shelter, and will ourselves to make them invisible. I'm as guilty as anyone I guess. But, after all of the times I've been able to be there to serve these people, I hope that I am getting better at not judging others.

For the most part, each and every person there was grateful for what we had to offer. We instituted some changes this month, and warned of other changes for next month. We only had one person complain about it.

We have all walks of life come through our doors. Being in need is nothing to be ashamed of. Nor should it be something we use to judge people. Next time you see someone needing help, take a moment to ascertain their position. Are you in a position to safely help them? If so, do so.

Are there people who scam the system? Of course there are, there are some in every system. Does that mean we should judge all based on the few? No, not at all. Weed out the scammers as much as possible, but don't let it effect those who are truly in need. It is better to give something to someone who doesn't need it than to not give something to someone who desperately does.

One person in particular sticks out today. A woman and her young daughter came in today. She entered the church through our back door, and looked totally lost. We guided her through the process, and fed her and her daughter. It was her first time ever going to a food bank. She had just lost her job, and was in need. We had a couple of people talk with her, and let her know that we're here for her if she needs additional help.

"There but for the grace of God." We've heard that so many times that it becomes just white noise. Everyday, people are put in situation not of their choosing. Who are we to be the judge of their lives?

Thanks for listening.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Howdy Pardner

It seems blogging is one of the latest ways to waste time. That in and of itself should make it a blast to have one.

Therefore, although I am late to the game, here's mine.

I feel that everyone is entitle to my opinion. (Since you can't hear sarcasm in the written word, I should mention that, in my head at least, that last sentence was written with sarcasm.) As such, I will occasionally have some fun with my beliefs.

I hope to have some subscribers once I get the word out on this. If you enjoy this, please tell you friends. Who knows, maybe I'll get rich with all of the subscribers to this blog. (Sarcasm again, I know you don't have to pay for the subscriptions.)

The next post will tell a little about myself.