Four Tips for Effective Photos

Architecture can be experienced through prose and poetry, but the fullest expression of the art—short of first-hand experience—is image-based. While designers may be in full command of the visual message in their portfolios, when photographs and videos are deployed for marketing and promotional purposes, there are some basic guidelines that help you stay focused on the goal: to enhance your business.


1. Beware the Mixed Message

Does this photo of Singapore’s Lake of Dreams look dreamy? No. It’s more of a nightmare, with blurry people wandering aimlessly about the plaza. Keep images consistent with the impact you want to achieve; visuals should underscore, not undermine, their subject.


2. Imitation is Not Flattering

If you’re just starting your practice and don’t have a lot of built work to feature on your website, it can be tempting to populate it with stock photography to bolster your image. Resist the impulse! These cliché snapshots can do more harm than good, leaving potential clients with the impression that you specialize in generic glass boxes. Uploading some of your more compelling sketches and drawings will give people a better impression of your real talents.


3. Small Details Make Big Impressions

To show off a project to its fullest advantage, choose a mix of overall shots and close-up images to tell the story. Not only will this demonstrate your skill at detailing, the different scale of the photos will better engage viewers—your potential clients!


4. Be Artistic—But Be Careful

Sure, you can take a gallery-worthy abstract shot that reveals the soul of a structure. But does it say more about photographer-you than it does architect-you? Show the story you want people to remember. In the above photo, we learn precious little about the building.

A final caveat: In the age of Instagram and social media, think twice before you post a picture that might not depict your work (or you!) at its best.