Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Two questions for two professional housing photographers

An article by Reed Dillon, consultant to the housing industry

Throughout the years I have been very involved with photographers and photography. During my career I have literally used dozens of photographers and art directed countless photo shoots. Throughout the years there has been a great amount of changes in photography. Since the 90’s there are two gentlemen that I have hired consistently, Dave Brown and Richard Boyd.  I use them because they are true professionals, gifted artists and care deeply about their craft, but probably the most important reason I am a repeat customer is because they always deliver what is needed for a successful outcome.

Instead of me compiling a list of things to be cognizant of when hiring a photographer I decided to ask two questions to these gentlemen on their thoughts regarding what to look for when hiring a photographer and how photography has changed throughout their careers.  

Q: Pretend you were the client and you needed photography done. What would you use as the most important criteria in the hiring of a photographer?
DB: I think you need to start with their portfolio of work and see if they have deep experience with the type of photography you are looking for, be it product, industrial, architectural, fashion, etc. The second thing I look at is consistency. Is there a level of quality that runs throughout their work?  Composition and lighting are two major things that I pay the closest attention to when it comes to looking at photography. Does the photographer’s graphic sense inform how he or she designs the environments? Does the photographer depend on artificial lighting or do they use natural light as the primary source and if there’s a mix of both, how do they balance them? Bringing together both composition and lighting harmoniously are the key elements in making a good photograph.

Q: What has changed the most about photography and why should people care?
DB: Because of digital technology, photography has gotten much better.  If you look at magazines from the 80’s or early 90’s, you can really tell a difference in the quality of photography which I think is totally due to digital photography. First of all there has been a role and skill set change for all photographers in the transition from film to digital. You’re only about half done when you trip the shutter, as now more than half of the work is in post production. Photographers are now pretty much expected to do a great deal of the color balancing, perspective adjustments and various Photoshop procedures after the photograph is taken, whereas in the film era much of that had to be worked out before the shutter release - Type of film stock, camera format, extent & type of lighting equipment, the list goes on and on. Additionally throughout the years I have seen how the expectations of the client have really ramped up. Showing a client raw photography is a thing of the past. They are expecting a much more ‘finished’ product in a much quicker time-frame. Overall the final quality of the photography and the degree of control that photographer now has is much greater and there’s much less of a guessing game in knowing what the final product will look like. I have near total control and am also able to manipulate and composite elements from several different photographs and exposures which almost assures a good final image. So I think it’s overall a good thing, though a bit more labor intensive.

Q: Pretend you were the client and you needed photography done. What would you use as the most important criteria in the hiring of a photographer?
RB: There are actually several factors and I believe you would have to make experience number one.  It takes a long time to understand photography and that is only accomplished through years of experience. Right behind that is capabilities and equipment. For example we now have now a 50 million pixel camera, which as you can imagine picks up amazing detail. Does the photographer have a familiarity with the subject matter and product and the environment that the shot will be taken in? Do they have specificity in that subject, for instance have they done shots at dusk? Is the photographer clear in his or her communications and does he or she have people skills. That is extremely important in clarifying expectations and also essential if the photographer in directing photo shoots with models and people. Out of all of these factors the most important is probably budget. Does your client have the budget to accomplish all that is needed photography wise for their project?

Q: What has changed the most about photography and why should people care?
RB: I think the biggest change has been in awareness and accessibility of photography. What I mean is that now everyone’s smart phone doubles as an 8 megapixel camera with a huge viewfinder. They are able to instantly take photographs, get instant visual feedback and then publish them. I was 27 years old before I published my first photograph.  People are getting much better at taking photos. With each photo they take they are learning and training their eye. What I believe we are experiencing is one giant photography class. I think is a good thing but what the final result is, I do not know?

David Brown can be contacted at 336-254-4744 or Richard Boyd may be contacted through his website:

I welcome hearing your thoughts regarding your experience with Photography. Post your questions and ideas in the comments section below.

ABOUT Reed Dillon - After nearly two decades of experience heading the marketing departments of some of the industry’s leading modular manufacturers and earning numerous national awards, Reed Dillon is the owner of Creative Brand Content - a marketing consulting company. You can contact Reed at or by phone at 540-488-2978.  

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