Architectural vs Real Estate Photography

You may be wondering what the difference is. Well…a real estate photographer is someone who photographs real estate for the sole purpose of making it sell. An architectural photographer tries to capture a building’s personality or story. You may also be wondering how a building can have a personality….or a story. Well…they do.

What is the difference between a real estate photographer and an architectural photographer?

Having worked as a commercial construction photographer for several years, I can tell you that a building most definitely has a story while it is being built. Most people do not ever see a commercial building during the construction process, so never see or hear its story and thus cannot fathom its personality. It is just an inanimate object to them. Let me tell you, every person I have ever talked to on our commercial construction sites feels every building they have built, and that is the building’s story: It’s personality. It does not come from the metal, concrete, brick, glass or wood elements that make up its physical structure. It comes from the sweat, expertise, knowledge, skill and backbreaking work that went into it. The side most people never see or think about.

What gives a building personality and tells its story?

For instance, the building I am featuring in this article is a biotech research and development building from one of the largest biotech companies in the state of Wisconsin. This building’s finalization was greatly anticipated by all of the owners, the companies employees, and the entire construction crew. Why? Because this is no ordinary commercial real estate building. It is setting trends and making waves as the most “unique research facility in the world” in regards to its use of sustainable design and energy-saving facets. It was a pure thrill for the construction crews to work on due to its uniqueness and ethically upstanding design. It gave them pride to not just construct a building that housed a business, but one that would actually contribute in a positive way to the community they live in. The building’s environmental footprint will be saving the company and community 68% on its energy usage. On top of that, the cloverleaf shape was designed by the architect to address the companies desire to increase productivity by allowing each wing, or leaf of the clover, to collaborate in communal areas such as the center of the clover which is a huge atrium with several smaller collaborative spaces radiating from its center. The entire purpose of this building was to inspire collaboration, creative thinking, thinking outside the box, ingenuity, and a respite from all of that when needed to rejuvenate. All aspects obviously very important to this biotech company. If only every business treated their employees thus, imagine what they could achieve.

Drone photo construction site work

Telling a building’s Story

Therefore, this “building” is so much more than just a building, as you now know. But if you were not a part of its design or construction, you would never know the personality of this building or story behind it. Trying to capture all of its meaning and personality was a task I enjoyed immensely. Probably just as much as those who created this building. THAT is the difference between a real estate photographer and an architectural photographer. I am proud to be both, because my architectural and construction photography experience allows me to stretch my real estate photography to beyond just a photo that sells. It also tells a building’s story, which gives it more appeal.