Take Construction Photos you Can Brag About

Construction work site skyline

The building business translates much better visually than it does textually. But how do you capture progress and shine the best possible light on your construction project? Guest blogger Steve Wright of Whirlwind Steel shares some tips:

To promote your construction work, you need to use heavily visual content with interesting images, good photos, and a minimum of talk. People want to see what you built, not imagine it from a description. Creating great photographs to showcase your construction work isn’t difficult. Here are some tips for taking great pictures.

1. Timing and Planning

Great construction photos start with taking your time. Decide what you want or need before you start shooting. Then plan how to get the effects you want without resorting to computer tricks.

In-Progress Shots

These are pictures taken of your project as it is being built. This is an excellent way to document the progress of the project for proof of work and for marketing purposes. Building owners want to see how things are going and project managers need to document milestones.

Some precautions about in-progress shots:

  • Look for OSHA or union violations in the scene before shooting, unless your intent is to document them specifically.
  • Ask any people in the shot if they mind having their picture taken, especially for wide publication.
  • Don’t shoot any proprietary processes for public consumption.

As a best practice, pre-plan and coordinate with the site supervisor or project architect when determining when and where to take photos. Make sure to take several shots from various angles and with varying exposures to ensure a usable image.

The nice thing about in-progress photos is you don’t have to worry so much about quality. Since these are being taken while the project is being built, people won’t ding you for less-than-perfect pictures. As long as you concentrate on image composition, the correct light exposure, and all the other things that turn out a great photo, everyone will be happy.

Project Completion Images

These are the high-quality shots you will use to market your services, so take a little more time planning and extra care in shooting.

First of all, make sure the landscaping and parking lot striping are complete before you take the photo, and watch out for anything obstructing a clear view of the building (snow drifts or parked cars).

Next, take note of the position of the sun. You want light on the sides of the building you are shooting, but keep in mind the various shadows and interesting features that pop out when the sun is at a specific angle.

2. Composition and Lighting

As part of your planning process for both in-progress and completion shots, you want to make sure the photo draws attention to the details you want emphasized. Lighting and image composition play a large role in determining what people actually see when they view the image. If you don’t take care, something you wanted to show off won’t even be visible.

When framing a shot, take a quick look around for extraneous objects such as electrical cables, vehicles, trees, and other buildings that could draw focus away from your subject. Make sure the camera is level with the building; if you are using a slow shutter speed, you will need a tripod for both levelness and to cut down on camera shake. For very slow and/or detailed photos you may even want to use a cable release for the shutter.

Tall buildings are best shot in three-quarter angle in full sun instead of straight on; it conveys a more three dimensional feel. Find interesting entryways or windows to focus on. For other shots you might want to go to higher ground or use a ladder to get a different level photo or you can stand close to the building and shoot straight up to get a vertical effect.

Evening and night shots can also lend flare by showing the building in silhouette or with all the interior lights ablaze. Put the sun directly between you and the building at sunset to get a fantastic silhouette against a colorful sky. Play with lighting to create interesting shadows, textures, and contrasts.

3. Organization

Organization is essential for both a coherent set of images and, in your computer, the ability to locate the files later.

When you take shots, take a wide angle first, and then details of that same area, before you move on. Bracket the same shot with different exposures or shutter timing to get the best lighting. Work methodically around the scene or building, either clockwise or counterclockwise.

Create a filing system within your computer and use it each time you save a photo or create a folder. Label the files clearly and make notes, if needed, to add context. Images that are lost in cyberspace or on your hard drive won’t do you any good. Check photos twice for unrelated or unwanted objects before placing them online or sending them to a customer.

The projects you build are the wares you can use to sell additional work. Planning and taking great images of in-progress projects and of completed buildings gives you a flexible portfolio to use on your website and in discussions with customers to show them what to expect during the building process, and as a way to document your progress during construction.

Take the best possible images each time you point the camera and take multiple shots to guarantee a usable picture. Make your work shine through the lens of a camera.

Steve Wright works for Whirlwind Steel. They manufacture pre-engineered metal building and steel building components. Whirlwind Steel residential metal buildings are manufactured to the residents’ specifications and are designed to meet the highest quality standards.

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