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April 3, 2023 Paul Tice

Construction Photography: The Guide to Great Photos

image of someone taking a construction photo with iPhone

A 2022 report by Autodesk and FMI showed that bad data caused 14% of reworks on construction projects, costing more than $88 billion.

Bad data ranges from human input errors to poor progress images.

Construction photography is necessary, but you don’t realize how valuable it is on a project until something goes wrong on a project.

It’s so much more than taking a few quick snapshots on your mobile device. Construction photography has the power to add value to your business. Once you understand the full value of construction photos and what goes into high-quality images, you’ll want to make sure your project photos are an integral part of your project.

Fortunately, you’re in the right place to learn all about construction photography. Keep reading to discover why construction photos are important and how to take high-quality images.

The Case for Construction Photo Documentation

Is construction photography worth it? There’s no question that construction photography adds value. Photo documentation is a much easier way to communicate than written documentation alone.

Construction photography is a valuable tool for project management. You can capture and document the progress of a construction project over time.

You can use these photos to compare the site at different stages of construction, which can help to identify any areas where work is falling behind schedule.

There’s a good chance that your clients and other stakeholders don’t fully understand the details and stages of a construction project. Photo documentation facilitates better communication with clients and stakeholders because they can see the actual progress of the project.

This also minimizes the chance of miscommunication between you, your clients, and project stakeholders.

Construction photos are used to compare as-planned data and as-built data. You can use that documentation to quickly address issues and get the project on track.

Effective Collaboration

Miscommunication is often responsible for human errors in projects. These errors cost a lot to fix in rebuilds and you lose client trust.

Construction photography lets team members share visual information and work together more effectively. Thanks to visual documentation, everyone involved in the project has a clear understanding of the work that has been completed, as well as any outstanding tasks.

One way in which construction photography can aid in project collaboration is by allowing team members to remotely access and review project information. For example, your team can conduct inspections without visiting the job site.

Team members can access construction photos from anywhere and collaborate in real-time. All you need is to use a shared online platform for the photos.

Liability Protection

If there’s one thing that businesses fear, it’s having to deal with a lawsuit. Construction photography can provide liability protection for builders and contractors in the event of a lawsuit or dispute.

Construction photography creates a visual record of a construction project. You can document the work that has been completed and provide evidence to support their claims in case of disputes or legal action.

The photos establish a clear timeline of the construction project. They allow you to demonstrate that work was done according to the agreed-upon timeline and that any delays or issues were promptly addressed.

This can be especially important in cases where the client or other stakeholders claim that work was not completed on time or to a satisfactory standard.

Construction photos can show the safety conditions of a job site. You’ll be able to demonstrate that your company took the proper safety precautions to protect workers and the general public.

Your photos can show safety equipment, barriers, and the general conditions of a job site. Should injuries or accidents occur on a construction site, this documentation gets used to show that appropriate safety precautions were taken, which can help to mitigate liability.

Better Marketing Materials

The best way to win a bid is to visually show what your company is capable of. You can create compelling visuals that showcase the work that has been done and help to attract potential clients with high-quality construction photography.

Construction photography gives you the chance to create a portfolio of images to showcase completed projects. Use the images in print or digital marketing materials, such as brochures, websites, and social media, to highlight the quality of work.

The professional-quality images of completed projects help you differentiate your work from competitors and demonstrate your expertise to potential clients.

Do you need something with more creativity and flair? Use construction photos to create time-lapse videos or visual timelines that show the evolution of the project from start to finish.

These visuals can be used to create engaging marketing materials that highlight your expertise and the quality of work your company is capable of producing.

How to Capture High-Quality Construction Photos

Construction photos are without a doubt essential to your project’s, and company’s success. That does hinge on capturing high-quality images.

The first step in photo documentation happens at the very beginning of the project. You need to make sure you know what images you’ll need before, during, and after the project.

Think about the images that you need to document the job, what the client expects, and what will help facility managers in the future.

Another consideration is photo organization. This step is crucial because you’re going to have a lot of images to manage. Develop your rules and guidelines for photo organization and storage.

It’s not just about how to organize your data. You need to figure out where those images will reside. Keeping them stored on a single device or SD card won’t cut it.

You’ll need to store these images where everyone involved in the project can access them. You can store the images in-house or use a hosting solution to facilitate collaboration and reduce your hardware and maintenance costs to store the photos in-house.

Decide Who Will Take the Images

You can have someone go through the site with a mobile device or you can hire construction photography service providers to do the work for you.

There are pros and cons to each. For example, if you have the in-house capacity to do this, you’ll have to get the gear and the expertise to take the images.

Outsourcing may make sense, but you have to be crystal clear in how you communicate your project to the photographer.

Hire an experienced photographer that understands how construction projects work. They will ask the right questions and cover things that you probably haven’t thought of.

Prioritize Safety

No matter who takes the images, safety needs to be a priority. If you hire an outside photographer, you’ll want to have someone guide them through the job site.

People taking construction photos should always wear appropriate safety gear, including hard hats, steel-toed boots, and high-visibility clothing.

Photographers should avoid entering danger zones, such as areas where heavy machinery is operating, to minimize the risk of accidents or injuries. They should also stay a safe distance away from any hazardous materials or equipment.

Be sure to communicate all safety measures and potential hazards to construction photographers. This may include providing regular safety briefings or meetings to discuss safety concerns and any changes to safety protocols.

Understand RAW and JPEG Files

Digital cameras and phones produce two types of image files. RAW and JPEG are both image file formats, but there are significant differences between them. It can make a huge difference in your construction photos.

RAW files are unprocessed image files that contain all the data captured by the camera’s sensor at the time the photo was taken.

RAW files are much larger than JPEG files and contain much more detail and information. They have a higher bit depth, which means they can capture more color information than JPEG files.

JPEG files are processed image files that are compressed to reduce their file size. This processing reduces the amount of detail and information in the image but also makes the file more manageable and easier to share.

It’s essential to choose the right file type for your project. Most professional photographers shoot in RAW, make adjustments in post-production, and share the final image as a JPEG.

Most phones let you capture images in RAW. Check the camera’s settings before you start shooting.

Scan Before You Shoot

You’ll be very tempted to set up a tripod, take an image, call it good, and move on to the next one. You’ll have images, but it doesn’t guarantee that they’ll be helpful.

Take your time taking the images. Look at everything in the frame – carefully. This is an exercise in patience as much as it is capturing an image.

Spend a few minutes scanning the site before you start shooting. Remember the purpose of the images and take the time to create a scene.

Is the purpose of your shoot for marketing collateral? You can go through the job site and get great action shots.

However, the photos would look 10 times better if the workers had matching PPE with your brand. You also want to make sure that the banners with your company name are clean and free of tears.

You’ll want to apply the same level of thought and consideration even for progress images. Are there certain features that you need to capture for facility managers? What details are the most important?

Cameras have an amazing way to capture every detail, whether they’re wanted or not. There may be minor OSHA infractions in the frame that you don’t realize until after the fact.

A Word About Photography Lighting

Lighting can make or break your images. Harsh glares, green or yellow tints, and blurred images result from poor lighting.

When there’s not enough light, the camera’s shutter speed needs to be slower. This causes motion blur and reduces the sharpness of the image. A tripod will help in this situation.

Too much light can also affect the sharpness of images. Overexposure can cause highlights to blow out and details to become lost, which can result in a loss of sharpness and detail in the image.

You can’t assume that you’ll be able to save bad images with editing software. Overblown details are nearly impossible to recover. Plus, if you shoot in JPEG, many of those small details get lost, so you can’t rely on editing software to save you.

The best light to shoot in is natural light. If you want to shoot the completed project, it’s best to shoot during golden hour. This is an hour before sunset or an hour after sunrise.

These times are ideal to capture images of the completed project because the light is soft, warm, and diffused. The colors are warmer and more vibrant during these times.

If you shoot with natural light during the middle of the day, position yourself so that the sun is behind you, shining on the subject you want to capture. This will help to eliminate harsh shadows and add more light to the subject.

Using Artificial Lights

There are times when natural light just isn’t possible. You’ll then need to use artificial lighting, such as external flash or continuous lights. You don’t want to rely on the flash that comes with your camera because you’ll get harsh shadows and glares.

You may consider using diffused flash or bouncing the flash off a nearby surface, such as a wall or ceiling, to create softer, more even lighting.

Have you ever taken pictures and they have a green or yellow tint to them? That’s because of the lighting.

Artificial lights use the Kelvin scale to measure the color temperature of light. In photography, artificial lighting with a color temperature of around 5,000K to 6,500K is generally considered to be daylight balanced, which means it produces colors that closely resemble those seen in natural daylight.

Different types of artificial lighting have different color temperatures. Tungsten bulbs typically have a warm, yellowish color temperature of around 2,700K to 3,500K, while fluorescent lights may have a cooler, green, or blue color temperature of around 3,500K to 6,500K.

To ensure that artificial lighting produces high-quality images, it is essential to pay attention to the color temperature of the light source and adjust the white balance settings on the camera accordingly. This can help to ensure that colors appear accurate and natural-looking in the final image.

Everything You Wanted to Know About Construction Photography

Construction photography can help you with project management, foster collaboration, protect your business from lawsuits, and give your marketing more leverage.

To maximize the power of construction photography, you need to have impeccable, high-quality images. This guide showed you how you can get it done and manage your data.

Do you have questions about construction photography? Contact the team at FiOR Innovations to learn about our construction photography services and hosting solutions.

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