A picture is worth a thousand words, the cliché goes. SitePodium statistics confirm that photo updates win over long pieces of text. Nothing new, you might say. But one photo is not the other.
Stakeholder Engagement Manager Maartje Brand uses SitePodium to share images that ACTUALLY say more than a thousand words. She uses the app for a construction project in the Netherlands. Besides Stakeholder Engagement Manager, Maartje is a construction and real estate photographer. The perfect person to share practical tips to take the perfect construction photo.
After getting a degree in Social Geography and 15 years of work experience as a Marketing Manager for various project developers, Maartje started her own business in 2011 and followed a photography course. At that time, she was asked through her network to visualise the construction of a local shopping centre. “That was a unique opportunity,” she says, “I was allowed to put my own spin to it. This allowed me to show what I think is important through pictures. I focus on the people, on the hands that do the heavy work in all weather conditions. These professionals are often not seen. This is also because many construction sites are shielded from the public. You don’t get a chance to see the construction while it is interesting for everyone to see what is happening behind those fences.”
We asked Maartje for tips for other Stakeholder Engagement Managers looking to inform their project environment through photos. She gave 5 tips that you can directly apply in the field. And because not everyone has a professional camera at their disposal, we also asked her how to take a good photo with a common smartphone. We pass the floor to Maartje:
1. Safety first
Know the construction site rules by heart. Always report to the Site Manager and ask about the safety rules and code of conduct on the project site. Have the Site Manager review the photos for safety and other matters that you do not want in the photo. Use common sense, be careful and remember that it makes no sense to photograph someone without a hard hat or under the lifting load. Those photos should never be published.
2. Know what you’re coming for
Do not go to the construction site without prior notice, but register in advance. Then you can ask the Site Manager what activities are planned for the day. Think about what story you can tell. What is relevant to the project environment? Once at the construction site, you can then get to work in a targeted manner. An additional advantage is that the workers immediately ensure that it is nice and tidy, and wear their hard hats!
3. Give positive attention
People enjoy seeing other people. Photos with real people are always viewed more than, for example, a construction site where nothing seems to be happening. So picture the workers in action. The most important thing is that you take a positive approach. By asking what a person is doing, you show an interest in their work which allows you to take better photos. Put them in the spotlight, show the outside world what they are crafting. Also make sure to respect it if someone doesn’t want to be photographed.
4. Focus and choose the right position
If you know in advance what image you are after, what story you want to tell, the trick is to be in the right place. Think in different levels. So for example starting from a total shot of the construction site, the place where the story takes place, to the driving of the piles, to a number of detailed photos of the wet concrete or the worker’s hands. The most important rule is: don’t zoom in lazily, but take action with your legs!
5. Add the right words
Are you taking a photo of a remarkable building? Then add a quote from the architect, for example. If someone is at work, let them tell you what they’re doing. This way your images come to life even more. Moreover, it shows that construction is really a human job and how much craftsmanship is involved.
With the above tips in mind, you can also take great photos with a smartphone. Most smartphones even have extra functionalities that help you a bit. Here are a few more tips to take advantage of:
- You zoom in with your legs: really dive into the construction site!
- Turn off the flash: that does not only apply to construction photography, consider it as standard.
- Set the grid in the settings of your camera so that you can see whether the horizon is straight, and the walls of the buildings do not ‘tumble’.
- Photograph mainly with the sun turned to your back: that gives the most beautiful colours. But consciously deviating once in a while and photographing with backlight also gives an exciting effect.
- Use an automatic editing function: one touch of the ‘magic wand’ and your photo will get just that little bit more ‘pizzazz’.
Are you curious to see more of Maartje’s photos? Go and visit her website www.brandbeeld.nl