Hey ADs (as in Aspiring Designers, you like??)!!
In my last post, I talked about the importance of building your design portfolio. When you’re just getting started, your portfolio holds the keys to the kingdom! There’s no way around it, you must build one!
Today I want to share with you 2 different types of photographers that most interior designers use when building their portfolio, where to find a good one, and the top 3 mistakes most new interior designers make (myself included) when it comes to their pictures.
A good picture is worth it’s weight in gold and when it comes to building your design business, quality photos of your work are an absolute must if you plan to succeed. Your photos will often be the first interaction a potential client has with your work, and it’s often the most compelling piece of evidence people have when they decide to sign on the bottom line investing their time, money, and trust in you! Bet’cha didn’t know your photos could do all of that! 🙂 But it’s absolutely true.
Most of our clients that don’t come from a referral or a personal recommendation, come to us because someone was ‘sold’ on a picture of our work. That’s how crucial quality photos are to your success. A good picture can literally put thousands of dollars in your pocket. I am not exaggerating.
A recent project we completed fell into our lap because our new client had fallen in love with one picture from the project we completed right before hers. She saw the picture, took the plunge and we ended up completing 5 rooms in her home! It was a great experience all around, and it all happened because of a single photo!
Here’s the photo she fell in love with!
You should know that gorgeous pictures don’t come free or cheap (in some cases). You must look at professional photographs as an investment because they are, but it’s one that will pay you back in spades.
Interior designers generally use two types of photographers;
–Real Estate Photographers
Architectural photographers are specialized and often work with developers, builders, interior designers, magazine editors etc. They’re expertise is maximizing the aesthetics of a space and will often work with lighting, angles, and specialized software to make your pictures look magazine ready.
When you look at rooms featured in catalogs or photos of million dollar homes, more often than not, they’re taken by an architectural photographer.
Their shoots are often several hours long and you’ll pay a hefty sum to work with an established photographer (like a minimum of $300 to $500 per shoot per space for only 3 three to 4 hours of work). Right?!?! That’s a pretty penny when you’re just starting out!
Three ways to save money:
One: Try working with a new architectural photographer or even an architectural photography student. If you do your due diligence, you might be able to find some great work and build a mutually beneficial relationship because a new photographer will be looking to build their portfolio just like you. You supply the spaces, they provide the pictures! Everybody wins! Check your local fine arts college or university.
Two: Look within your own network. The first photographer we ever worked with (love him & God rest his soul) was an acquaintance Wendy, my business partner, started chatting with one day. Their brief conversation led to him shooting our first 5 or 6 projects.
Here’s some of his work!
He was so impressed with our work that we ended up designing the dressing room in his photography studio and even did a project for a friend of his. None of that would’ve ever happened without that one conversation, but more importantly, without reaching out to see who is in your personal network, you’ll miss what incredible talents, abilities, and connections exist all around us. Put yourself out there…if you’re going to be a business owner you may as well get used to it!
Here’s a before and after of his studio!
Three: The third idea and the one that we’ve found most effective is to hire a good real estate photographer. Real estate photographers, are photographers who specialize in shooting real estate…yeah I know, we’re teachin’ rocket science around here!!
Don’t think Architectural Digest, think Zillow. An average real estate photographer will not be as thorough or have the same high quality editing software as an architectural photographer, but they won’t have the same price tag either. Score!
Real estate photographers have faster shoots; they can usually do an entire house in under an hour, they are more willing to travel as they are accustomed to it because it’s part of their job description, and the services of real estate photographers generally cost significantly less (usually a flat rate per residence somewhere in the $100 range).
They often have more flexibility in their schedules because their shoots are shorter, and even though they may not produce photos to the same standard as an architectural photographer, a good real estate photographer will produce incredible photos. We’ve had incredible success working the real estate photographers. Hey, if it ain’t broke…
Here are some shots done by a real estate photographer vs. pics shot by an architectural photographer. Can you tell the difference?
**HELPFUL TIP: If you find a photographer you like, don’t stop there. Find more! Get a little depth on your bench because there will inevitably be scheduling conflicts and having another photographer to call is often a perfect solution! We have anywhere from 2 to 4 photographers that we’ve developed good relationships with that we can call at any given time!
Where to Look:
We found our first photographer within our own personal network so definitely check yours. We’ve found others via social media, Angie’s List, Houzz, and believe it or not, Craigslist. As I said before, also check out your local university fine arts program. There’s guaranteed to be some talented and eager students available!
3 Costly Mistakes New Designers Make When Getting Professional Photos
These are mistakes that we made in the beginning that left us frustrated and feeling like we wasted our time and money.
Mistake #1: This is NOT the time for D-I-Y. Leave it to a professional.
Do not take final pictures yourself and try to market them (progress pictures are fine). Please! This is a big NO-NO and I see so many new designers do it (just like we did). This is a mistake that I fell victim to before I realized the difference professional pictures make. I thought ‘It doesn’t really matter, and we don’t have the money, and if we did, we wouldn’t spend it on pictures.’ I only wish someone was there to knock some sense into me.
Marketing “home-made” photos instantly de-legitimizes your business and will hold you back from going to the next level. In this world of all-things-visual, you must invest in quality photos. We both know a $3000 to $4000 camera will definitely out-do your cell phone, and the trained eye of a professional will be able to capitalize on things you don’t see.
Imagine that our client who fell in love with this picture,
Had seen this one instead…
It’s not even close!
And something tells me she would’ve skipped the phone call! LOL!
Mistake #2: Not planning with the End in Mind
This means two things:
–Take ‘before’ pictures– There are two important aspects to keep in mind when thinking about before pics.
One: Take’em! This is something I always used to forget and I would get so mad at myself. After all, nothing beats a good before and after transformation. After several missed opportunities of me forgetting to shoot before pics, we eventually incorporated taking ‘before’ photos into our consultation process so now I never miss them.
Two: Once you have a design plan in mind and general feel for what you might do, take photos from multiple angles that will show the impact of your future transformation. This is will be key and help to establish the quality of your work. Not to mention, you’ll never know what people will respond to. There may be one photo people love, and there’s no way to predict what that will be, but the more you plan with the end in mind, the better the chance you’ll create a rainmaker!
Mistake #3: Get what you’re paying for.
This is not the same as: You get what you pay for.
When you hire a photographer, take advantage of the limited time you have them available because once the photos are taken, they’re done…for good. Make sure you get what you pay for. When we first started and the photographer would come, there were certain angles and images that I pictured in my head and I just assumed the photographer would see what I saw and that the photos turn out exactly as I’d imagined them in my mind. Plus I didn’t want to be a micro-manager. Welp! My plan turned out to be an epic fail and I ended up frustrated and sad, but I learned.
Now whenever we have a photo shoot, I make as many notes as possible throughout the project on specific angles and individual projects that I want the photographer to capture. I ask to see the photos and review my notes before the photographer leaves maximizing my chance to get the end product I want. Heed this advice, fast-track your success!
Follow Your Passion. Live your Dream!
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