Mike Kelley and Fstoppers have teamed up once again to produce the third installment of Where Art Meets Architecture. Over the past few years, creating images for realtors, architects, interior designers, and property management companies has become a booming industry for professional photographers. In this tutorial, Mike focuses on how to photograph the hospitality market including how to shoot hotels, resorts, and rental properties. For the first time in his career, Mike also shares everything he knows about the business of commercial architectural photography including pricing your work, creating bids and contracts, marketing your business effectively, and building licensing fees for residual income. We are excited to finally release the most thorough tutorial we have ever produced on architectural photography and have a special offer inside.
Mike's Intro to Teaching
When Fstoppers first teamed up with Mike back in 2012, his career was mainly focused on high-end real estate. In that tutorial, Mike taught photographers everything they needed to know to get started in the real estate market. From building simple composites using bounced on-camera flash to blending complex light painted twilight images, Where Art Meets Architecture was the first time Mike ever shared his knowledge to the general public. Even though Mike's career has come a long way since that tutorial was produced, this still remains one of the best resources for photographers looking to diversify their skill set and break into the interiors market. To date, WAMA 1 has become the single most popular educational tutorial Fstoppers has ever produced. To celebrate the release of WAMA 3, we are offering a $50 discount on this first tutorial for the rest of April 2017 using the code "Kelley50".
Over the last five years, Mike's career has all but abandoned the real estate market, and now his clients range from high end architects, interior designers, custom home builders, exotic beach property owners, large hotel chains, and other major commercial clients. These high paying clients often require much more attention to detail than is typically required from the real estate market, and therefore every aspect of the photography itself must be flawless. The staging needs to be perfect, the lighting has to be natural looking yet still polished, and the retouching must be both seamless and refined. Unlike the real estate market where a handful of images are used to attract a potential home buyer, the photography in this market is almost always used for a client's personal portfolio and regional advertising campaigns. As you can imagine, a photographer looking to break into this high-end market needs to be extremely well versed not only in photography but also in the nuances of expensive architecture.
To help photographers gain more experience in this field of photography, Mike released Where Art Meets Architecture II: How To Photograph Luxury Homes and Advanced Photoshop Techniques. Unlike the first tutorial, which took place in Charleston, SC, Mike walks you through a variety of different properties based in Los Angeles and Hawaii. The information shared in this tutorial was a HUGE leap in both Mike's teaching approach as well as his overall technique. Instead of light painting everything in sight, Mike teaches photographers how they can show restraint in their work by embracing shadows, using more natural light, and exploiting interesting highlights instead of suppressing them. With each photograph, Mike also tries to shed insight on one of the most difficult concepts for photographers to grasp: composition. Instead of just placing his camera in the "correct spot," Mike makes sure he shows exactly why specific locations do and don't work by thoroughly scouting each scene. Finally, the overall Photoshop and retouching techniques Mike shares are light years beyond what he previously used for his real estate clients. As a photographer who does not shoot interiors at all, I was shocked to find out useful and timesaving many of Mike's techniques were for other genres of photography.
Where Art Meets Architecture 3
With the release of Where Art Meets Architecture 3, Mike raises the bar even higher. For this tutorial, Mike wanted to focus on shooting for one of the most demanding and difficult clients you can have in the hospitality market which is large, high-end resorts. These massive properties require not only beautiful images of each room, suite, and penthouse but also other amenities like the pool, atrium, conference hall, adjacent restaurants, and atriums. Some of these locations like the check in desk or hospitality counter might even require working with models. Unlike other architectural clients, shooting for resorts, hotels, and private vacation rentals often means delivering dozens and dozens of final images which can be overwhelming to say the least especially when most of these locations will not be vacant of guests.
To help teach all that goes into photographing these large commercial resorts, Mike picked out the beautiful beach resort Mauna Lani Bay located on the Big Island of Hawaii. This resort was perfect because not only was it insanely beautiful but it also had some extremely difficult design features that made it perfect for teaching some of the most complicated techniques Mike uses in his photography. In fact, the very first chapter of this entire tutorial was perhaps the most difficult lesson Mike has ever taught on camera. From scrimming bright patio windows to gelling bathroom vanity lights to staging hundreds of cabana beach chairs, the amount of effort Mike goes through to produce perfect images of the resort is both inspiring and nerve wracking at times. However, by going through these challenging scenarios one by one, Mike sheds light on exactly how he solves these common problems in the most effective and efficient way possible.
Everyone who has previously bought one of Mike's WAMA tutorials has been invited into Mike's private architectural photography facebook group. Easily the most commonly asked questions in that group revolve around the business of architectural photography. So it was really important for Mike to finally share everything he knows about building a successful business in this genre of photography. This section is about two hours long, and Mike talks about a variety of topics including the best ways to market your business, how to build the best portfolio possible, things to consider when building your website, and how to leverage your work to gain the companies you really want as clients. It was really interesting to see some of Mike's early handouts, mailers, and fliers along with the more refined marketing material he uses today.
Perhaps the most important and useful part of this entire tutorial is Mike's guide on dissecting client emails, understanding the job bidding process, and how to effectively create and negotiate proposals. Savvy business people know exactly how to figure out what their clients want and how to streamline the process of delivering the goods they need at a price that makes sense for both parties. This skill set isn't easy and requires a lot of trial and experience. Mike helps demystify the going rates of typical architectural shoots and how you can price your creative fees and retouching fees in a way that maximizes your profits on each job. Additionally, Mike explains why you should be charging licensing fees to your higher end clients and exactly how to figure out the worth of your images in the advertising world. Each of these concepts are explained through a series of proposals ranging from a simple real estate inquiry to a complex design client firm and finally ending on a typical high-end advertising job.
When brainstorming the business section of this tutorial, Mike thought this tutorial would not be complete without him taking everyone out into the field on a real client job. Luckily for all of us the perfect job came about during the filming of this tutorial. Mike was contacted by an architect who designed and built the most expensive house to ever sell on the Mexican Mayan Riviera. This amazing 15,000 square foot home on the beaches of Playa Del Carmen serves as the backdrop for the final section of the tutorial. Mike walks you through the entire process of photographing four shots specifically requested by his client, but Mike also discusses every single image he wound up taking and delivering to the architect. Because this job was in another country, Mike also outlines some of the preplanning you will need to do when shooting internationally. This final real world client job not only shows you what you can expect working for an architect at the highest level but it also gives you a perspective of just how amazing this field of photography can be if you apply yourself and build up your business wisely.
The Behind the Scenes
We are excited to announce that an all new season of Mike Kelley's WAMA Behind the Scenes will be released with this tutorial as well. If you have enjoyed Elia Locardi's BTS Series (one of my favorites), Joey Wright's Swimwear BTS Series, or Mike's first WAMA BTS Series, you are in for a treat. This new tutorial comes with eight brand new episodes that document our travels to the resort in Hawaii, the house in Mexico, and the Fstoppers studio in Charleston. Watch as the crew swims with massive stingrays in Hawaii, Lee travels to Mexico with a broken leg, and Mike learns to kiteboard in Charleston. Be sure to subscribe to the Fstoppers Youtube Channel for updates on all of these BTS episodes as well as future photography videos, reviews, and excerpts.
As exciting as it has been to watch Mike's career elevate higher and higher, I've found it even more rewarding to see how many careers Mike's education has launched. I'm lucky in that through Fstoppers I'm able to meet so many photographers around the world, but it is always a humbling experience when I get to hear first hand just how much our education has helped them. Recently while filming the next series in Elia Locardi's Photographing the World Landscape tutorial, we ran into a high-end luxury real estate photographer in Las Vegas. He was a huge fan of Mike Kelley's work and it was inspiring to see the massive business he had built from scratch after watching Mike's tutorials. As a member of Mike's Facebook Group, I also see a steady stream of amazing photographs published daily from architectural photographers around the world. At this point Mike Kelley is more than just a talented architectural photographer to me, and I'm lucky to call him a close friend (move to Charleston Mike). I can't wait to see the next exciting twists and turns his career takes, and I look forward to hearing even more success stories from other photographers who have been influenced by his work.