What Makes Me Different? / by Tommy Daspit

 Tommy Daspit is the best architectural, commercial, and real estate photographer in Birmingham, AL.

There are many photographers out there. What makes me different? Why should an architect, builder, designer, real estate, agent, or business choose me over any number of countless photographers out there?

Photographers are a lot like doctors. Some doctors are general practitioners and some are specialists. The same is true of photographers. You have some that do weddings, portraits, events, senior portraits, and commercial. Then you have some that focus on one discipline. You have photographers who only shoot weddings, or just baby portraits for example. As with any skill, the one you focus on will be your strongest.

I’m the rare breed of photographer who specializes in architectural commercial photography. I photograph buildings, homes, interiors, and businesses. That’s it. No babies, seniors, families, or weddings. Architectural photography is a very unique form of photography. It takes specialized equipment (tilt/shift lenses, gridded viewfinders, bubble levels, geared tripod heads, wireless camera control) and specialized techniques. Understanding how to control natural and artificial lights to create an image that accurately shows off a space while also making it inviting is difficult. Just getting the vertical and horizontal lines straight is a huge challenge.

Even though I’ve been a professional photographer for over 23 years, I’ve spent hundreds of hours learning and practicing the techniques needed for excellent architectural photography. In fact I never stop learning. I dedicate time to my daily schedule to learning photography. I’m never satisfied with where I am.

The photos below are a good illustration of the things I do on every shoot. You can see the steps I take to make sure the image showcases my client’s work in the best possible light. This builder (Willow Homes) and designer (Frusterio Design) will use these images in their portfolio to show potential clients what they can do. The quality of my work helps with the success of their businesses. This is a responsibility I take very seriously and guides my thoughts with every shot I create.

As an architectural photographer, I don’t take photos, I create images that tell my clients story. So, if you are an architect, builder, designer, business, or real estate agent who wants their projects to stand out from the competition, contact me to see how I can help you be more successful!

HDR (High Dynamic Range) image with all artificial lights on. Three photos were taken and combined together ("correct" exposure, 2 stops over exposed, and 2 stops under exposed) This is a pretty typical photo style. No flash used. Auto white balance, and that's about it. Not bad but not great either. 

HDR image with the lights turned off using only ambient light. This is another popular style shot. It's relatively easy as you only have one color light to contend with. However, it lacks depth. The image is flat with little definition from shadows and flat color.

Did you notice the missing panel for the dishwasher? The custom panel wasn't finished at the time of the shoot. Rather than leave it this way I created one in photoshop to match the look.

Precise color is critical. For this shoot I'm creating images the builder will use for his portfolio. They will use it with potential clients to help them select the style for their home. It's critical that the color they chose based on my photos is accurate. Digital cameras aren't very good at getting it exactly right. This is especially true in complex lighting situations. I use a "gray card" to use as a reference in the computer after the shoot. This insures consistent and accurate colors.

Architects don't design crooked homes and builders go to great lengths to make sure everything is level. In spite of that it's actually quite difficult to create photos that have straight vertical and horizontal lines. Normal lenses create distortion even a slight tilt in the camera's position will leave the image askew. I use special Tilt/Shift lenses and a geared tripod head to make sure all lines are straight and true.

To create a final image with depth, contrast, and interest, I light sections of the image with a strobe. I'll use multiple strobes and combine multiple photos for the end result. The look is natural but nearly impossible to pull off with one shot. Great photos aren't taken, they are created.

Here is the final image. I've covered dishwasher, blended the ambient daylight and artificial lights, the color is accurate, and there is depth without looking fake. Which one would you rather present to a potential client?

See more photos from this project in this blog post.

Learn more about my commercial architectural photography services in Birmingham, AL.