"Ever since the Great Exhibition I have felt that a new era had commenced for photography.” So said William Henry Fox Talbot - inventor and photography pioneer (see image below - is this the oldest construction site photo?). Coming just over a decade after the invention of the reproducible photograph, the Great Exhibition of 1851 demonstrated the potential opportunities for commercial photography across all industries - and construction was no exception. The industry was already well placed to take advantage: The Builder (now Building magazine) had been established since 1843 and, by 1880, the first building exhibition was held in London. By 1897, the medium’s permanent role in the industry was confirmed when the Building Trades Exhibition included an “exhibition of a series of animated photographs connected with building trades” – many taken specifically for the event.
Photo by William Henry Fox Talbot
Owner: British Library / From Bodleian Library Talbot Catalogue Raisonné
The value of photography in today’s industry is no different to that of the Victorians, whether it’s video creation, time lapse, aerial or static photography, real images are still used to draw the eye and instantly tell a story. So if it’s used to illustrate construction site progress, or for brand development, marketing and PR, photography remains at the heart of how the industry’s professionals and trades connect with products, services and news of projects.
Smart phone technology has turned many of us into amateur photographers and film makers, but whilst, on the surface, it may not appear as cost effective, engaging a professional will go a very long way to creating the perfect marketing and PR images. Professional photographers will employ techniques for framing and staging, use the correct lighting, find the best angle, and so on. Another temptation for the marketer pursuing a quick (and low cost) solution is to use stock images. This will no doubt suffice for many activities, but care should be taken when using for headline marketing. In a blog post, Media Borne, a creative media agency experienced in construction, illustrates the potential embarrassment of discovering a competitor using the same stock images for their literature and website, citing an example of a sales director discovering this when arriving at a trade show.
Needless to say, video represents an equally important, and effective, disseminator of marketing information, especially for building product manufacturers and suppliers. According to Construction Media Index publisher, Competitive Advantage, “… Pinterest and YouTube … are the most popular social and information networks according to architects”.
In its blog post 7 Ways You Can Use Video Email for Building Product Sales, construction marketing specialist Insynth posit that “… by 2022, online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic — 15 times higher than it was in 2017. For building product sales teams, it allows those with complex, bespoke and difficult to explain products to deliver their message to potential customers. It will also save your company time. Every 10 seconds of video you record is equivalent to 81 seconds of typing.”
Real photographic and video images can speak volumes, but sometimes more is needed and animated, computer-generated imagery can take a visual explanation one step further by demonstrating, clearly and simply, detailed features, such as product compositions and installation processes. Specialist construction marketing experts, CDP (see below) explain that “animation offers the ability to zoom in, pan across, change angle and drop through solids. These attributes give ample scope to communicate the most complex of objects or to fly through complete environments.”
Finding a Professional (with construction experience)
The choice of professionals could number several thousands, so, in order to find the best one, a shortlist will need to be created. Narrowing this selection to those specialising in, or having extensive experience of, construction is likely to prove significantly beneficial, since it is likely that they will already appreciate a given client’s particular objectives and have an understanding of how to visually grab the attention of the industry’s various target audiences.
In order to help save time identifying professionals with construction experience, we have researched the market and created an index of firms and individuals. This is provided in spreadsheet format (you must be logged-in to download it) and identifies those providing static, aerial, and time lapse photography as well as those offering film/video creation services.