Amateur Vs. Pro Architecture Photographer Shoot the 'Dome House'

Last week Mike Kelley and I competed to see who could create the best images of the iconic dome house in Charleston. We released the images and allowed all of you to vote to determine who won. Today, the results are in. 

Mike Kelley fanboys and internet trolls around the world, brace yourself... I won the competition. Yes, the second set of images is mine. In the video above you can see how each of us took these photos and then you can also see our reaction when 70% of people believed that my images were taken by Mike Kelley and 70% also voted my images to be the best. 

The video is long and covers a lot so I'm not going to type it out but I will show you the before and after images from each of our shoots. 

Mike Kelley's Images

Mike Kelley's Final Montage

Lee Morris' Images

Lee Morris' Final Montage

As I admit at the end of the video, I'm not a complete amateur. I actually shot real estate for years long before I ever met Mike. For the last five years, I've been working with Mike to produce the "Where Art Meets Architecture" tutorial series where he reveals all of his techniques. The only reason I was able to beat him is that I simply used his own techniques against him. 

At this point, Mike is out for revenge and I'm sure we will be doing another competition in the near future so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, you can check out all of Mike's architecture photography tutorials and all of the other Fstoppers tutorials at

If you happen to have an extra $5 million laying around, this house is still for sale. You can learn more about it on and follow on Instagram. 

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Previous comments

Exactly what I thought. Sorry Mike! Actually the clue was in the intro video where you see Lee holding the camera portrait orientation composing his interior shot. Good call on swapping out he view. This was my favourite of the six. All six are high end images that any client would pay the big bucks for! You two should team up more often!

Guess I should order a tutorial now for two reasons: 1) Lee won, 2) just to be in Mike's Facebook group to read the resulting posts. And count me in with the others who were wrong...

I had picked out Mike's pics and thought they were slightly stronger. What gave it away for me was the slightly heavy use of light on Lee's outdoor deck image. I've found Mike has a more natural use of flash in his images especially having viewed his latest work and seeing the progression in the WAMA series, and that one just pushed it a tad far for me. Also the lighter exterior image felt more MK, even with the other house in the background. Cracking set of images both of them, not too much between them in the end, great work!!

marknie's picture

I could have done way better than both of you. Where are peoples imagination???

Mike Kelley's picture

Says Mr. No Portfolio!!

Simon Patterson's picture

Mark Niebauer based on your comment, clearly not in the comments section!

Matthias Dengler's picture

Holy crap, Lee! You totally knocked out Mike!
Super awesome and well deserved! He was too overconfident and mocking you :D
And well, who needs a cam ranger if you have feet to run, right? ;)
That was a really surprising plot twist! Loved that video and the results!

Igor Butskhrikidze's picture

love this little game! spent these 30 minutes with pleasure +)

Randy Van Duinen's picture

I want in on the next competition. Love to take on Mike, but now I guess I would have to look at Lee as being the top dog!

Lenzy Ruffin's picture

Only watched the intro, so far. Will watch the full video during unwind time later. Really looking forward to it.

Just from the intro, I already love this video without having seen it. What I love is this wonderful job you've created for yourself where you get facebook messages from strangers providing you with opportunities like this. That, to me, is the most significant part of this video. You and Mike could have gone in there and shot the two most horrible series of images in history and it wouldn't matter to me.

This incredible existence you've created for yourself is what's most relevant to me. I'm working diligently on my "incredible existence" plan. Stuff like this is inspiring.

Mike Kelley's picture

I'm not Lee, but the crazy stuff that happens on a regular basis is definitely the best part of my life - such as this experience!

Mike mentioned using a 24-70 on the scouting shot but what was the wider lens he used for the interior?

What tripod was Mike using? What camera mount? I'm ready for an upgrade.

Congrats on the victory, and let me say that it was very classy to admit what you did at the end. No disrespect at all intended but having followed Fstoppers for years one of my thoughts was that Mike has developed tutorials for you guys and as you stated your not an amateur. Nice job by both.

Ty Poland's picture

Very impressed with these Lee! That was hard as hell haha I really liked both sets

Rex Larsen's picture

This is an enjoyable feature. I enjoyed it start to finish. I have no idea how to layer in the many lit frames and would love to learn.

Congrats Lee on great job!!!
Honestly I also voted wrongly, but still I'm sure that Mike faked us a little bit, because his set of images definitely is not his cup of tea :)) . Composition, details, color, shaddows, no, no :)).
Anyhow, great project and maybe to include more contents about architectural photography on Fstoppers!

"Amateur Vs. Pro Architecture Photographer Shoot the 'Dome House'"

"Lee Morris is a ***professional photographer*** based in Charleston SC, and is the co-owner of"

What a bunch of disingenuous, clickbait garbage. And YOUR fanbois love it. Which is entirely and transparently why you posted this: For your fanboi kudos. It's also especially ironic since you mentioned the other photogs trolling fanbois in the same breath. The irony clearly alludes you.

I've never heard of either of you but the first guys shots are measurably better.

Also, what is up with replacing the interior window shots of foliage with the paraglider and sea scape? That's not a photo, that's an illustration. A photo is something that is supposed to represent a moment in time. An illustration is an idealized representation of a vision. What you created was an illustration. Additionally, as a real estate photographer, I would really hope you wouldn't pull that shit on a client.

By contrast I'm an actual amateur/novice photog as opposed to your fake claim (I suck, but I enjoy the challenge.) However, I'm also a professional in another field who deals with pixels/texels and polygons every single day, I live and breath photoshop. It's as if we need a term for something inbetween a photo and a digital illustration. As soon as you lazily stamp out powerlines or change the entire image in a window, you're no longer a photographer, you're a photo-illustrationist. Which is totally fine, but lets call a spade a spade and stop calling it photography.

Gabe Border's picture

Theme song of my day. Can't stop humming this haha

Ian Davis's picture

LOLOL!! Good one and bookmarked.

Wow, what a thin skinned, lazy reply. No rebuttal of my points. Just a lazy youtube link that your fanbois will "like" and giggle about. You are such a professional.

Ian Davis's picture

Holy snappin' Gerbil...what side of the bed did you get out on? I believe Taylor Swift has a song you might want to listen to.

I left a pretty substantive argument in my reply. So if you can't counter my points with reasonable arguments other than fwd'ing me a taylor swift song (btw, your musical depth is mightily unimpressive) then you clearly fall within what is obviously considered: fanboi status.
Cheers, mate!

Marco De Maio's picture

I was wrong!
hehehe, congrats Lee ;)

As soon as I saw those birds, I knew those were yours, Mike!

I feel that the most misleading clue for me to rate those images and identify the shooter was the styling.

From the video we know that Mike went for a more casual styling with a "thrown" aspect to the blankets. That made the shots look busier (and the wide shot was already quite busy). Mike's exterior looks also very wild since the beach and the bushes are like that (not to mention the power lines in the back). Problem is if we think these photos should be polished (like most of what you can see in magazines), this kind of styling can quickly get out of control. And that's what I feel happened here.

Lee chose to adopt a much tighter and cleaner styling and overall conveyed a simpler mood straight to the point (except maybe for the radioactive clouds in his exterior). Very efficient. Congrats Lee !

frank nazario's picture

replacing the view out the windows in the chimeney photo ... really bad ,bad, bad.
The house in the background, mehh that can slide.

in the effort to create a hyper real result (as always in FStoppers Style) the photos look "over cooked".
Beautiful work if its going to be used artistically only ... but for realtors useless.
Staging details on table ... very cool.

Specially at that sales price tag.

Lee Morris's picture

You must not like Mikes work either then because he does it all the time and I learned the technique from him.

frank nazario's picture

i did not say i disliked them Lee... I said that for a realtor to show those photos to a potential client are misleading ... which you have to agree is true.. there is NO beach view from the chimney and you DO have houses surrounding its premises ... other than that they are very cool photos.

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