Briefing The Photographer

We’re familiar with the concept of briefing the architect but what about briefing the photographer? Since, architecture is the biggest investment decision we ever make, briefing the architect is a critical process. The Royal Institute of British Architects have developed a briefing procedure, to ensure architects get properly and efficiently briefed.

As an architectural photographer, I receive enquiries ranging from very vague to ones with well thought through style guides. An enquiry at the vague end of the scale, came from an architect wanting images for an awards submission. I could either enquire which award or provide a generic quotation as each award has it’s submission requirements.. My goal is to reduce “ping-pong” and make the briefing process efficient and effective.

A Streamlined Solution

I’ve developed a brief builder to streamline the process. Enquirers can still simply contact me via my contact page or drop me an e-mail. Brief builder, empowers them to identify information that’s important to me and include it in their initial enquiry. As I don’t believe in asking unnecessary questions, parts brief builder are hidden until certain boxes are ticked. When the award submission box is ticked, a question appears asking which award and for large prints, how large.

As mentioned above, architecture is for most people the biggest investment they’ll ever make. Architectural photography therefore requires careful planing in order to reflect this. This meticulous planning and execution is the basis for my motto, honouring the creators of the build environment.

Important Considerations

It’s a fact the sun rises somewhere between NE and SE depending on the season, peaks around midday and sets again between SW and NW. Thus, north facing facades receive no sunlight during winter and south facing facades only get midday sun during summer. If an award submission deadline is not imminent, waiting for the best season or making multiple site visits may be beneficial. The impact of seasonality on architectural photography cannot be overstated. Deciduous trees will block views of low rise buildings in summer but without leaves and daffodils below, make attractive foregrounds in early spring.

An example how clients don’t always consider seasonal impacts on architecture. I received an enquiry in early 2015 to shoot a two storey building on a mature deciduous tree lined street. I submitted my quotation expecting the client to review and respond to it. When he didn’t, I contacted him, he stated he couldn’t make a decision before the general election in May that year. It felt bad pointing out his building would be hidden behind foliage and we may have to wait until November.


Briefing the photographer, is an important two way process. The more I’m told in an enquiry, the more I can contribute to a successful outcome. When commissioned to produce the imagery for award submissions or to market your services, I want to produce the best I can. I appreciate commercial pressures and deadlines can interfere, effective communication helps overcome these challenges. Which is why I developed Brief builder and continually tweak and improve it.