Walgreens - Birmingham AL Commercial Photographer / by Tommy Daspit

Tommy Daspit is an architectural photographer in Birmingham AL

A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by a commercial real estate firm out of New York. They needed photos of a Walgreens in Alabaster. The images needed to be colorful, eye catching, and at the same time, demonstrate the customer traffic of this location. Of course I was up for the challenge!

I started the shoot in what photographers call the “golden hour”. This is the hour just before sunset and just after sunrise each day. So long as it’s not overcast this is often considered to be the best time of day for photography. The light is “warm”, hence the golden hour name, and the angle of the light is good for nice shadows and contrast. I continued taking multiple exposures as the light changed over the next hour and a half.

One of the challenges was to show the customers coming in and out of the store and cars in the parking lot. This is especially tricky when you’re not using models, but rather normal people going about their lives. If they’re recognizable in the image, and you’re using it for advertising, then you have to have them sign a model release form. This isn’t something we wanted to deal with so a technical solution was needed. I could just blur them in Photoshop but you end up with a photo that looks like it was shot by 60 minutes interviewing a mob informant. Not a good look. Instead, I set the camera to have long shutter speeds. This still showed people and cars there but they were motion blurred. This has the benefit of not only hiding their identity but also conveying motion and energy of the space.

The final images were actually a composite of many photos. I overlayed people and cars from multiple images to create the final vision. The sky was added from a library of skies to fit every possible lighting situation (if you wait for the sky to be perfect as you shoot the project you will be doing a LOT of waiting).

The end result was an image that showed the details of the building, customers patronizing the business, and colors that grab the viewer’s attention. I was able to check off all the boxes my client needed and they were thrilled with the results. Amazing commercial real estate photos aren’t taken, they are created.


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