What is architectural photography?

Inside A $4.8 Million Custom Designed Home

All my life, I've always been a creative person. My mom forced me to play piano when I was four years old. It was practicing your piano, or you can't play with your friends.

I heard "Zero" by The Smashing Pumpkins for the first time when I was nine and wanted to play guitar like Billy Corgan. So, I picked up a guitar and taught myself how to play. For a good period, I was so into Rock Music.

Scott Pilgrim Vs The World

Then, I turned thirteen and experienced the Hip Hop Culture. My good friend introduced me to dance styles: Popping, B-boying (breakdancing), and Locking. I found other kids in my school who were into the dance culture and soon connected with other kids from other schools.

We never stepped foot into a dance studio. We danced anywhere we could, school hallways, playgrounds, bowling alleys, and anywhere that would let us.

We practiced during the week and went to competitions on the weekend. Dance and Hip Hop, as a culture, were everything.

Throughout my childhood, I was groomed to become an engineer. I excelled in school and took advanced math and science classes.

I spent my high school years as a waiter and tire technician, busting out tires for four hours after school and then serving banquet parties at a nearby country club on the weekends. In my senior year of high school, I realized that I couldn't be in school for another four years learning about something I had no interest in.

So, after I graduated, I went to an automotive technical school and learned how to work on cars and learned about the business.

Firestone Complete Auto Care - San Francisco Mission Street

In nine months, I graduated and started working in the automotive industry. I learned sales, customer service, and how to run a shop. When I was twenty-five, I worked up the corporate ladder for Bridgestone Firestone Retail Operations and ran a shop with five technicians and two sales advisors.

I HATED THAT JOB. I worked so hard to get there and hated what I was doing.

So, I leaned into my side hustle and left to pursue more creative work in the music industry. I learned music production, music business, and marketing.

I became a marketer out of necessity because my partner and I couldn't afford to hire marketing or advertising agencies. So, I learned how to build websites, take photos, shoot videos, run Facebook ads, do influencer marketing, and pretty much everything you could think of.

When I left the music industry, I picked up a camera and leaned into this skill. A friend of mine was a newly licensed real estate agent and asked if I could help him with his first home he was putting up for sale for a client.

So, I researched, got some new lenses, and shot photos and videos of his latest listing.

In six months, I did a bunch of free work to build relationships with different real estate agents and finally landed a fantastic relationship with one of my area's largest real estate teams, the Khrista Jarvis Team.

They allowed me to build on my skills and gave me exclusive access to photograph and film some of their most luxurious properties.

The Khrista Jarvis Team is such a high-volume team that I had to grow my team to keep up with their production. So, I got an editor, a second photographer, and an assistant.

I soon realized that a more extensive world spanned further than real estate photography. It was the world of architectural photography and cinematography.

My very first real estate photo.


At its simplest definition, architectural photography is photographing buildings and similar structures that are aesthetically pleasing and accurately represent their architectural design. But like any art form, the simple description barely scratches the surface.

The magic of architectural photography lies in its ability to translate the language of architecture into a visual format that can be understood and appreciated by all. It captures the physical aspects of buildings—facade, interior, structure, and layout—and their personality, essence, and interaction with their surroundings.

Just as a portrait photographer captures a person's soul, an architectural photographer captures the soul of a building. The geometry, the use of materials, the interplay of light and shadow, the flow of space, all these aspects are used to evoke emotions and tell a story.

162 Crest Ave. Alamo, CA


When I realized that real estate photography was just a piece of the bigger picture, so many lightbulbs turned on for me. It allowed me to grow my client base, business, and operations.

Understanding the differences allowed me to get a lot better at what I do.

Real Estate photography falls under the umbrella of Architectural Photography. From the perspective of both a creative and a marketer, the three most significant differences are the techniques, styling, and how the end photos are used.

At my agency, the biggest thing I tell my team is to ensure they understand why they are creating the visuals they are making. Whether it be graphic designs, websites, photos, or videos, it's always crucial that we fully understand how they will be used to help increase sales and awareness for the client. We help support a business's marketing and sales efforts. We don't just make cool visuals; we help companies to make more money and grow.

Most real estate agents want to show a home they're selling for a client as bright and spacious. They usually look for photos that show the entire room from wall to wall. The job of these photos is to entice buyers looking online to schedule an in-person showing.

Wide Angle Shot - 162 Crest Ave.

Agents are often under a tight schedule, so the final photos must be delivered by the next day.

So, what does this mean for real estate photographers?

Take only a few photos because it'll slow down your editing; utilize a technique that makes your editing faster, and make sure you take photos that can sell the whole space, not close-up photos of the furniture.

These photos need to help sell the space. So, most of the time, you'll see real estate photos showing the relationship between each room. Photographers will put the camera in a corner and use the widest angle they can get that doesn't make the image look like how you see it on your Ring Doorbell and show you everything.

We'll show you where the kitchen, living room, family room, and dining room are all in one photo.

Again, we're trying to sell the space rather than the finishes, materials, or furniture.

Living Room Wide Angle Shot - 162 Crest Ave.


The best visual designers understand the how and why of their visual creations. That means understanding the sales and marketing processes.

All the visuals that a creative makes are sales and marketing tools. The creatives or visual designers that get stuck in "artist mode" and only want to make things look pretty or cool are disconnected from their role.

If you are a business owner, marketing director, sales director, etc., and you find yourself working with an "artist," end the business relationship immediately and find someone that spends 80% of their time strategizing and 20% of their time creating. An artist can't empathize with the business side, and those who work on the business side need help connecting with the art.

It takes work to find someone who is both an artist and a marketer/strategist. Sometimes you'll be lucky and find a team with a strategist and an artist working together. But, when you find one person with an outstanding balance of both, be very good friends with them. They're a more vital asset than you realize.

Real Estate agents sell the space, while architects and interior designers sell the details that help shape the story of what the space means and the significance of its build.

Architecture and design photos are more close-up and less wide-angled than real estate photos.

They give a sense of mystery to the space. They don't give away the whole farm. We want you to focus on specific aspects and details instead of showing everything. We want to create a sense of mystery.

Close-up kitchen shot - 162 Crest Ave.

Sometimes we shoot with all the lights off and rely solely on natural light to help show how the light affects the space. This requires different camera techniques and equipment.

But, one of the most significant differences? Time. For real estate, I can blast through a home under 3000 square feet of interior space in less than one hour. Setting up one shot for architecture and design sometimes takes one hour.

The photos used in architecture and design are long-term. They'll end up in a firm's portfolio that they'll use over the next 3-5 years to sell their services. So, quality over quantity is a big thing to keep in mind.

Living room - 162 Crest Ave.

Real estate, on the other hand, is all churn and burn. Agents want as many angles of a room that can show the house's layout, and they wanted these photos yesterday because they're trying to line up their following listing asap.

There needs to be more artistic styling in real estate because the critical thing that entices the general home buyer is whether or not they can envision their life in the home. So, as architectural photographers, we need to ask ourselves, what will help sell a home better, a close-up picture of a kitchen countertop or a wide-angle image that shows the entire kitchen?

On the other hand, clients will typically hire an architect and designer because of their ability to incorporate an artistic and stylish flair into a space. So, as architectural photographers, we need to ask ourselves, what will help sell architecture and design services better, a shot of the design details, the entire space, or a nice combination of both?


Want to know a marketing and sales trick? Give your product or service a cool name.

When I talk to real estate agents, I say that my team and I do photos and videos. My team and I do photography and cinematography when I talk to architects, designers, builders, and developers.

Technically, they're the same thing. You wouldn't degrade Martin Scorcese's work and call it video production, would you? Unless you'd like to get slapped, lol.

I'll call it different things depending on whom I'm speaking with. Why? Because real estate agents, architects, interior designers, builders, and developers value different things. Some are more focused on style and aesthetics, and others need photos of a structure that will interest people in whatever they're selling.

Like many things, with video, there are different levels. On one side, there's the "walk me through the property," and on the other, there's the "let's tell the whole story of this project and make a whole short film out of it."

When I talk to agents about property videos, they usually look for the basics. Something that looks appealing and shows the flow of the property they're selling.

But, when we start getting into the uniqueness and details of the project, then that's where the storytelling factor increases.

This week's featured project at 162 Crest Avenue in Alamo, CA, is probably between the basic and crazy storytelling short film scale.

The architect behind this home is all about light. So, I integrated things like time-lapses and stopped motion to help showcase both the natural light and the forced or electronic lighting of the home. Then, I threw together a voiceover script to help describe and walk viewers through the house, and bada bing, bada boom! You have yourself a nice little storytelling production.

The levels between video production and cinematography differ depending on how in-depth of a story my clients want to craft.

Again, at the end of the day, I'm looking for the why and how behind the production. Will a story help my clients sell their services better, or is it information overload? How will they leverage this production to help them grow their business and land more sales?

I can do all sorts of cool and creative things in my productions but does all that time and money you spend on my services move the needle for your business? That, my friends, is another discussion.

Second level primary bedroom - 162 Crest Ave.


Architectural photography and cinematography are all about stories. How you want that story to be represented from a visual perspective will influence the type of styling and aesthetics of the photos and video/film.

As photographers and filmmakers, we assess that story and help you figure out the best way to tell it.

I fell into real estate photos and videos because I saw the real estate industry as very similar to the music industry. Real estate agents are the music artists, and their brokerages are the record labels.

My transition from music to real estate was simply a cash flow decision. After shooting my first set of photos and videos for my friend's home listing, I saw the potential.

My perception of real estate photos and videos has always been somewhat 'mechanical,' with little room for artistic creativity. As a lifelong creative, I yearned for more challenging and stylish projects. This pursuit led me to delve deeper into the expansive world of architecture and design.

Architecture and design are where I can test my creativity and be free to let my artistic vision roam free.

Now, this is what my team and I specialize in; architectural photography, cinematography, and brand development. We're marketers at our core, not just creatives who know how to make cool sh*t.

Talk to you again at the next one! Thanks for reading.

Home Listed By:

Khrista Jarvis

DRE 01213582


Coldwell Banker Realty

162 Crest Avenue

Alamo, CA 94507

MLS 41030838

Photography & Cinematography By:

Mike Calpito


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