How to get the best from your Habitat & Hospitality imagery

This article continues the series on my blog dedicated to client awareness, written with the intent to close the gap between photo professionals and their customers, often on very different way of thinking about the same job.

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Habitat & Hospitality is a wide categorisation which includes many of the photo assignments I am usually appointed to do; it involves to work for architects, interior designers, furniture companies, construction companies as much as final commercial users, like fashion retailers, restaurants and hotels.

All of them have different needs and targets to achieve; therefore many are the solutions and the variations of this service, which are always tailored and bespoke to each and everyone.

What I am writing here is then a summary of ideas and suggestions to help clients in the habitat & hospitality industries in achieving the best outcome from photo shoot assignments. Specific solutions are then offered by direct consultation.

Quantity v/s Quality

How many pictures do you need?

Many clients answer “as many as possible”. Well, my top record is over 150 images on a full day of shooting in a single six storey premise. But that meant I had to run from one room to another, up and down stairs, often paying not enough attention on what the object of the pictures was.

Then I ask again: how many pictures do you need?

How many GOOD pictures of a single shoot will you use in your website, in your brochure, in your advertising?

And more important than that: how many images your potential clients will enjoy to browse, before having enough and switch to something else?

Honestly answering to these questions I noticed that my clients tend to utilise something from five to ten images to show their spaces.

It might be better then to focus on those specific views, defining them beforehand. Discussing the final goal with the photographer might help as well, allowing him to concentrate the shoot on the right number of killer shots.

If there is time left, then secondary images can be captured as well, which are always useful for documentation and archive purposes.

Remember, planning the number and type of views will allow you to get the best quality pictures at a reasonable price.

Choosing the right photographer

When selecting the best photographer for the job, keep in mind that architecture/interiors and lifestyle photography requires a wide set of skills: it is not just about volumes and rooms; these spaces have to be made alive, to generate interest and the eye-capturing effect in your customers.

There are several ways to achieve this intent and each photographer has his own way and style.

The best method to choose the right photographer for the job is to be led by your own observation skills. Ask to see photographers' portfolios. Notice the range of work he/she has done. Check for care on details, depth, three-dimensionality and, if the human factor is part of your scope, how his imagery merges space and people together, whether they are models or just people passing by (careful to their privacy and rights then!).

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If you see lots of shots you like, you'll probably like the work the photographer will do for you. But remember to review a lot of photos, not just a few that the photographer has specially hand-selected.

Agreeing the correct licensing and rights

Before hiring a photographer, discuss "rights." Many photographers think of themselves as artists, who create a piece of art and then sell you very limited rights to use it.

That most probably doesn't work for you.

Although in most of the cases photo copyright remains to the author (the photographer), you need to buy an ample licence to use. This is important because you may reuse a specific photo for many years. Some companies successfully reuse the same photo for decades. When that happens, you don't want to have to go back to the photographer and pay again for each use.

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In case you agree to buy "all rights," remember that you own the photographs, including their physical/digital support, so be sure to receive it from the photographer and keep it organized, backed-up, labeled and in a safe, waterproof and fireproof place (there might be no other copies left at the photographer’s studio).

Be especially aware of rights when you deal with models. Model costs can skyrocket if you don't understand exactly what you're buying. With models it is often not possible to buy all rights, but be sure the model contract specifies all catalog rights. Remember, rates and rights are negotiable with models.

How to save money on your photographer

This is the topic you might find the most useful and valuable for your photo shoots.

Room preparation :

Most of the times when photographing furnished interior spaces, they are not “ready as they are”. Arranging furnitures to show, taking out superfluous ones, adding accessories and other preliminary operations take lot of time, which might be arranged before the actual photo session. Remember that untidy spaces, carpet with footprints and dusty surfaces are things that the camera picks up better (or worst) than you think. Hence a careful room cleaning in advance could save time during the shoot and definitely gives the best outcome on the final images.

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Interior stylist :

 If arranging the spaces is something you don’t feel comfortable to do by yourself, or you just don’t have time for it, remember that many photographers collaborate with interior stylists, who have skill and taste to “read the space” and set it exactly as you like. It might be wiser to involve them as soon as you are booking the shoot, since they can give valuable ideas and sometime bring extra props and accessories to complete the whole image.

Assistants :

 Although adding more people might seem to increase the expenditure, having one or more assistants on set it often pays back; they are a precious help for both photographer and stylist, speeding up the process in carrying equipment, moving furnitures, setting lighting and many other operations. This translates in a steadier pace of the whole job, for the sake of quicker shoots and better quality photographs.

Planning, planning, planning :

does that sound a bit redundant? Yes, but a photo shoot is a mini-project and, as every well conceived and executed project, having it planned carefully in advance will definitely benefit its quality (see previous topic “Quantity v/s Quality”) and your expenditure. An experienced photographer can surely help you in this matter, asking you the necessary questions to get everything in line and assure a flawless shoot without waste of time and resources.

It is worth walking the extra mile?

If you decide to enquire me for your next photographic campaign, rest assured that my team and I always aim to give the best service to my valuable clients, offering them four levels of photo services.

The suggestions described above apply to all of them, from the simpler to the more complex one, but if you like to tell a story – the story of your project, your design, your space – and if you are ready to push some visual boundaries, then you will love our top of the line service:

Space + Style photography

Space + Style is about to re-imagine the art of lifestyle shoots – bringing product, people and location together for visual storytelling with a touch of couture.

We can capture impromptu moments and set up imaginative, creative scenes that can really reflect the essence of a brand and connect with customers.

Our creative team will go the extra mile for your business and discuss with you ideas, themes, moods and production details ...whatever is required to deliver a concept that shows your design in a brand new way.

From inception to completion we will manage the whole project. Once agreed and approved, you can sit back and watch the whole team in action: from production management, art direction, model casting, garment and prop selection …to me behind the lens.

I’d love to work with you to create images that really tell a story ...and are full of life, beauty and style.

Ad maiora,

mjf

Credits:

all photos of this article by  Marco Joe Fazio, LBIPP

architecture, interiors & furniture : My Hotels, Spraysmith London, Seacon Ltd., Obsidian London, Stone Theatre, Elizabeth Bowman Limited, Well-done Medium or Rare Architects

models : Grace Cruse, Michael Fairbanks

make-up artist & hair stylist : Emily Johnson

stylist : Upesh Mistry

assistants : Oliver Spier, Alex Curtis