Thoughts on Portfolio Improvements by Tony Thompson

A recent discussion in an architectural photography Facebook group prompted me to think about many improvements I can make to my portfolio. So far I've broken it into 4 galleries - Residential, Multifamily, Commercial, and Aerial. Architecture is the parent theme I'm trying to convey in each gallery, as architects and designers are who I'm looking to work with. Within each category, I've selected my favorites and have simply used patterns to organize the flow of images. But according to the feedback from real architects mentioned in the Facebook group, this is probably a confusing way to organize my work and show it to who I'm looking to work with. 

Separate "Architecture" and "Interiors"

The first suggestion is to separate architecture and interiors into their own galleries. The idea is that they are two different markets. Architects aren't interested in fabric details, pillow selection, or curtain colors. Although a bit confusing because they do overlap, this makes sense because each market needs to see how you can create photos for them.

More Sequences

People want to see more sequences of images from the same project to understand a narrative. Many photographers pick and choose their best images, this is common practice. This pick-and-choose-the-best strategy conflicts with the idea of showing a sequence of images from a project. What if they are all not portfolio worthy? I think sequences will force stronger work from each project. Maybe a portfolio should be sequences of projects instead of just the best images. I love this suggestion and plan to add a "projects" section to show more sequences. 

More People

I recently had another discussion with a local architecture firm and the subject of adding people to photos came up. Their position is to include as many people as necessary to each scene to best show the function of their product - people use architecture! At the very least, mixing in people to shots gives more selection on what works best for their portfolio. I have had this same discussion with other companies and very much agree. This is nothing new. It simply needs to be emphasized by the photographer (my job!). I think there tends to be some apprehension when adding yourself to a shot. Common solutions are adding a bit of blur to a moving person (this also adds an artistic, mysterious mood that can enhance the photo), hiring models, or shooting in public places to show public interaction. 

Shot for a furniture company. Although not architecture, people using their product makes for more impact.

I will be making these changes gradually so expect to see more project highlights, people, and a clearer separation of architecture and interior design.

Bold, Eclectic KC Loft by Tony Thompson

Here are some images I captured of a loft owned by a fun couple that took on designing their new loft. The brass colored coffee table was my favorite item throughout. I knew I had to come up with at least one shot that emphasized it front and center.

San Diego, CA by Tony Thompson

I was recently in San Diego for a friend's wedding and had a couple first time experiences. It was my first time in California and first time using AirBnb. We stayed in Mission Beach and explored all around. I now understand California's allure... perfect weather all year long coupled with scenic views!

Hiring a Retoucher by Tony Thompson

Today it's easy to confuse a photographer with a retoucher. After all, photographers retouch images to suite their client's needs. So what's the difference between a professional retoucher and a professional photographer? After taking the pictures it is the photographer's job to enter into post production. This is where they perform general adjustments on the images such as brightening shadows, toning down highlights, adjusting colors, straightening, cropping, and various other techniques to get the image in the ballpark of acceptable quality before delivering the photo to their client.

After general adjustments the photographer might bring the image into Photoshop to make pixel-level adjustments. These types of adjustments usually consist of cloning out objects, adding effects to certain areas, selective sharpening, and other final touches to make the image final.

A professional retoucher picks up what the photographer can't handle in Photoshop when necessary. Advanced Photoshop edits is what a retoucher is hired to do. In this case I used a retoucher to finish some images for a client that needed to emphasize the floors of a warehouse. My client is an inustrial flooring finishes company. The job here was to photograph the floors in a warehouse setting. 

The before images have forklift tracks on the floor that distract the viewer from seeing the floors. The warehouse looks empty but I was constantly dodging automated robotic forklifts and waiting for them to move out of the picture to get the right shots.

You can see the retoucher did a fantastic job at keeping the floors looking natural while minimizing the forklift tracks. This level of editing and adjustments is beyond my expertise in Photoshop. I'm pleased to share the retoucher's information here. He did a great job and I would recommend him for any project that needs advanced edits.


Alex Hart