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How to Hire an Architectural Photographer

Although digital cameras have made it much easier for architects, interior designers and contractors to record their work, there often comes a point when you need something a little better than what your $100 Canon can produce. Portfolios, contest entries and advertising all benefit from crisp, clear images that bring the attributes of a project to life. That’s when an architectural photographer can help.


But how do you find one? What will it cost? And will there be limitations on how you can use the images afterward? We asked a few architectural photographers across the United States for guidance.

Who owns the photos? Unless you’ve made arrangements in advance, the photographer retains the copyright to his or her work. You will be granted permission to use the photos for advertising or promotional purposes, or to post images on sites like Houzz. But if a third party, like a magazine or a manufacturer, wants to publish the images or use them as part of an ad campaign, that usage must be negotiated with the photographer, who may seek additional compensation.

If you want to own the images outright, with no restrictions, the photographer will typically request an additional fee equivalent to the creative fee (the part of the bill related to doing the actual photography).

“A professional brings a lot to the table,” says veteran architectural photographer Susan Gilmore of Minneapolis. “Considering [the designer] could win awards for this or use it for advertising, it’s not a lot of money. The better a project looks, the more work it’ll bring.”


Fred Albert
Houzz Contributor. Fred has written about architecture and design for many Web sites and magazines, including Houzz, Metropolitan Home, House Beautiful and Style 1900.