Commercial, Corporate and Architectural Photography

This Year’s Award Winner Is…

Didn’t even know there was a contest did you? Yeah, no one did. That is what makes it special! By not knowing, no one was able to cheat! There is a winner though and that winner is

Aimco Apartment Homes!

AIMCO

Aimco is the proud winner of the Michael Albany Photography Client of the Year Award. This award is given to the client that meets the following criteria.

  • Has an  annual spend of $1000 or more
  • Contracted for a minimum of 2 photoshoots in the calendar year
  • Has included diversity in their photography needs

Aimco Apartment Homes owns and operates some of the most stylish and comfortable apartment homes in the country, not just Philadelphia. The Sterling, Chestnut Hall, Riverloft and Park Towne are just a few of the apartment buildings they own and manage nationwide. Currently the opening image on this site is of the Riverloft at 23rd and Walnut St. Other images of their properties, events, portraits, street photography, and cityscapes that you see here were requested by Lauren Ware of the Interactive Marketing department.

Help me in congratulating Lauren and all of Aimco on their award. Take a look at the galleries on my site and see if you can pick out which ones are images I shot for Aimco.

Philadelphia, Photographer, Michael Albany, award,

 

Where does the time go?

So here it is the end of April and I am just starting my blog entry for January. Not too far behind, nah. Where does all the time go?

I hope you are wondering what I have been up to, what I have been shooting, what amazing projects have I begun (and finished at this point), what spectacular images have I created? I can say that some great images have come out of the last few months; I have photographed some wonderfully amazing people, some events that were exciting and fun, and so much more. It has been a very busy year so far!

In my last post I was celebrating my wonderful wife and our time together. She thinks it’s corny but hey, I kinda like her so call me corny. It turns out that so many people liked the images I took of her to say “Happy Anniversary Baby!” that I was asked time and time again to do something similar for friends and clients. Who am I to say no? Of course I would shoot these people and help bring out their wonderful personalities!

In fact there were so many requests to create this type of imagery for people I have had to start an entirely new website just for the boudoir images. You can see a few below, to see even more head out to BoudoirPhilly.com and see a lot more!

Photographing beautiful women isn’t all I have been doing (not that I am complaining at all). There have been events like the Mt. Airy Art Garage’s opening to celebrate their quilt show. Needless to say the quilts were stunning!

I have been to Manhattan to shoot a fantastic singer Randy Herman. We shot his new album cover throughout the snowstorm in January. Lucky for us Grand Central is a great place to create images that show him “Moving Through Time”. You can learn all about Randy on his website, therandyherman.com and check out the new album (as well as the cover art of course), I think you will love it!

While I was in NY I had the opportunity to spend time with one of my favorite people in the world, Beate Chelette. I can tell you right now, she is one of the smartest people I know. You should check out her book, “Happy Woman, Happy World”; it’s not just for women. I have it in both hard copy and the ebook. I never want to miss a word of it!

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book cover

StanSmith-001When I got back from NY I continued working with one of my favorite clients, Stan Smith, a Philly guy that is constantly helping the local neighborhoods to grow and flourish. This is the kind of guy who everyone should try to grow up to be. He not only refurbishes aging properties, but keeps them affordable for local businesses so that they contribute to the growth and well-being of the community, and that is before he even starts doing his work for the neighborhood and all the nonprofits he is involved in! Check him out at StanSmith.me, I think you will be impressed, I am.

Then there are the architectural shoots, the marches to help victims of sexual violence, business events in downtown Philadelphia, and so much more. Now that I write all this I see where the time has gone. It has gone into doing a lot of great work for a lot of great people!

This is just the beginning of 2014! More to come and I promise I won’t wait 4 months to post again.

 

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Photographing a Story

In my last post Endless Possibilities, I showed how photography can be used in unique ways to market your message. The images were used to market the buildings and architecture for Aimco Apartment Communities. But how do you tell a story with images?

Stories have at least four parts: a beginning or introduction, the middle or the ‘story’, the climax when it all comes together, and the end, the wrap up. The ending can even be the climax if you want to leave the reader hanging and wanting more. Advertising is like a story without the end; you want to leave your customer to want more. If the story is a good one then the customer will then contact you about the ‘more.’

Another company that I work with is How Properties and they also develop apartment communities. However, rather than build apartment building from the ground up they renovate existing buildings in the Philadelphia area and turn them into beautiful modern apartments that people yearn to live in. These buildings have history and they have had at least one story told in them from beginning to end. How Properties gives them new life and starts a new story.

So How (pun intended) to tell that story? After all this is more a sequel than a new novel. First you have to know the history and you need to convey that to the reader, or in this case the renter. The chances are that a true documentation of the old building isn’t very complete but enough is known to portray the buildings first (or second) life. That is when the new story begins and that is where I come in.

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1226 Mt. Vernon – Office

The images here are images of a building in Philadelphia that was once a trolley repair/assembly station. It was then converted into a body shop for cars and trucks. The building’s future is to be rental homes.

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1226 Mt. Vernon – “Main Street”

In the center there will be a main “street” or common access space that leads to the multi-level interior apartments. This is planned to be the hub of the building and create a mini community in and of itself.

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1226 Mt. Vernon – Exterior

Here we have laid the ground work for our story of this building. What will it look like? This story has just begun; you will have to come back after I photograph the finished project to see what happens. After all, it is a mystery.

 

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Endless Possibilities

I can’t believe that it was a month ago today that I posted about the three women that “(We)All Have a Star Inside,” It seems like yesterday and at the same time it seems like forever. In that post I mentioned the masters and their approach to photography. I love studying and attempting to recreate those old, classic styles but I also like the things you can do with images today. I have so many more tools than the masters had but one thing that we have in common is mastering the light.

Light is the constant whether it is light we control or light we wait for. The day I shot the three ‘stars’ I was manipulating the light and I was the one in control. To be honest the reason was because I was actually testing, and getting comfortable with a piece of equipment that I needed for a shoot that would take place over the next couple of days. The difference was that at this second shoot I didn’t have control over the light. Mother Nature was in control and I had to know this new camera, a Hasselblad HD4, really, really well.

The masters never had the benefit of a this type of medium format camera and most often they shot with what is called a large format camera: the kind with the hood and giant film plates you see in old movies. They certainly didn’t have the advantages of digital cameras, and they had only a limited amount of things that they can actually print their images on.

Today we can get our images printed on so many different types of materials that the possibilities of what we can do with these images is nearly endless. The goal of the project I was working on was to print images large and realistic enough to almost feel like you could walk right into them. In fact, two of the images I delivered were for exactly that: to walk into… into an elevator that is.

The images are being applied to elevator doors at the corporate headquarters of Aimco in Denver, CO to show a few of their locations throughout the country. What better opportunity show their properties than while someone is waiting for the elevator! Here are couple of the images I created for them.

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The Sterling – Philadelphia PA

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Riverloft Lobby – Philadelphia PA

If I do say so myself the whole concept came together rather well and the end result is now on the elevator doors in Aimco’s corporate offices in Denver Colorado. The image below was sent to me by Holly Schnitzler shortly after the installation. Thank you Holly!

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Riverloft Lobby on Elevator Doors in Denver

This was a great and unique approach to showing off the properties to visitors and it allows everyone to remember that what they do every day doesn’t end at their office but reaches out to other cities all over the country.

 

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The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful

It’s been a heck of a summer; the good the bad and the beautiful.

As you know by a recent post I lost my mother at the beginning of the summer. This week we had to have our cat put down too. Too much death this summer but isn’t there always. Keeping the memories is the important part now, not that the internet needs anymore cat pictures. All this definitely takes care of the “Bad.”

On to the good and the beautiful!

Just two weeks ago I had the opportunity to photograph a wonderful home going up for sale in Phoenixville PA.

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189 Pembrooke Circle

This home was amazing; the in-law suite in the basement was bigger than my place! And it has a fireplace – I don’t have one. The people selling are downsizing and retiring to Florida. I have no idea how they can leave such a colorful, beautiful home. Thank you Chris Smith for introducing me to your clients and allowing me to photograph this wonderful home. To see more of this amazing home click here.

Shooting this home was good, now to the beautiful.

Last week I got a call from a fellow photographer Theresa Rivers, who asked if I would help her learn some of the techniques I use for lighting portraits. She had already set up the studio, the models were scheduled and all I had to do was show up. OK, I can do that!

Everyone was super professional, super excited to be working together and we had a great time!

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Star & Mzseduction

The models, Star (left) and Mzseduction, were the perfect balance of fun and professional. We had a great afternoon and here you can see Theresa trying out one of the techniques I showed her.

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Ms. Theresa testing her new knowledge

Jahi of Intricate Photography lent us his studio I had no idea of how comfortable it would be but it was well equipped, comfortable, and had just the right lighting to produce images that will be added to my portfolio.

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Mzseduction all inked up

Today I will be shooting Mzseduction again in my home studio and I hope to have some of those images up for you all to see soon. It certainly has been a busy and interesting summer and it’s not over yet! If you haven’t done it yet, get out and make some memories and make them the Good and Beautiful kind!

 

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Outlawing Photography

What is going on in the world today? In the last 2 months I have seen two bills proposed in two states that could seriously outlaw photography. This is ridiculous!

The first bill that I learned about is New Hampshire HB 619-FN that states, “This bill prohibits images of a person’s residence to be taken from the air by a satellite, drone, or any device not supported by the ground.” Here is the bill as introduced. I know a number of photographers that make their living in just this manner.

The bill in NH was just written in a very vague manner and the representative was very receptive to a colleague of mine that chatted with him via text. Jim Cavanaugh, a former national president of American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) spoke to Representative Kurk the author of the bill saying this bill may “prevent many businesses from obtaining aerial photographs that they routinely use in their businesses. This may be construction documentation, road planning, news gathering, urban planning, images for companies’ marketing use, crowd estimation, environmental documentation, airport planning, wetland conservation, tourism and many others.” Representative Kurk said he would revise the language to resolve the issues Jim mentioned.

The problem is that it isn’t the only legislation being introduced.

FelonyPhotoYesterday I was reading my local news source and came across new legislation proposed in Pennsylvania that would make photographing a farm a felony offense. A felony!? Really? State House Representative Haluska (R-Cambria County) put forth a proposal that would make it a felony to take photos or record video or audio. I’m sorry but for me, this is just a bit of overkill and a true example of over legislation.

In New Hampshire the bill proposed had limited scope in that it would most likely only effect professionals. Rep. Haluska’s proposal would affect enthusiasts, real estate photographers, nature photographers, aerial photographers, and just about anyone that wanted to just capture an image of a beautiful landscape. The effect on tourism alone could be devastating!

Haluska stated that the idea for his proposal came from farmers in his district who are afraid of people trying to photograph or record farm operations and show them in a less than flattering way. He was quoted on NewsWorks.org (full article) as saying, “Sometimes you can take some things out of context, if you have a sick animal or something or if you have to (kill) an animal, which is just a normal part of doing business in the farming community, and sometimes it gets trumped up.”

Below is what I wrote to Rep. Haluska (and CC’d my local representative, Rosita C. Youngblood of Philadelphia. Neither has yet to reply.

Dear Representative Haluska,

Your proposed bill that would ban the photographing of farms is a dangerous bill. First of all how often does a tourist or day tripper actually take a Photo of farm where something that can be misconstrued actually happen? Yes farmers have to kill animals. Yes some things that happen on farms on a daily basis are unpleasant for people that don’t have a history of country living and understand the nature of how food gets to their grocery store. But is hiding that a good idea? I think not.

Don’t let my Philadelphia address fool you, I was born and raised in Delaware county when it was considered the boonies. My home town wasn’t on the map until the early 80s. But my knowledge of farming is not why I am writing.

I am now an architectural photographer and a good portion of my business is aerial photography of farms that are being considered for development as well as the completed projects.

The bill you have proposed will make it a felony for me to take those photos. That will stop me from renting planes, hiring pilots, and hinder the construction companies from developing the lands. This will then cut the potential for new jobs in the commonwealth and put us behind other states that don’t have such laws. The ripples of your proposal will go much farther than I believe you anticipate, and in my opinion, will do much more harm than any good, not to mention what it will do for my own income.

What you are proposing is to make a felony for someone’s curiosity, and subsequently their ignorance, about the “idealistic farm life” they believe our hard working farmers have. This law is trying to outlaw ignorance. If ignorance were a felony, most of Washington would be in jail.

Representative, please withdraw your proposal. Rethink your goals and why you proposed it in the first place and lets educate people about farm life, not outlaw the observation of the reality of it.

Sincerely,

Michael Albany

To me making any type of photography a felony is well, a felony! Keep an eye open in your area and make sure that legislation against photography isn’t pending. If you hear of something, write your representatives and call everyone you know and have them write them too! If you don’t you may be hearing the click of hand cuffs right after the click of that shutter.

 

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“You Charge How Much!?”

In my last post I wrote about how I need to explain what my rate is and how it applies to each project. I thought that I should also explain what makes up a photographer’s rate and why it seems like it is so much when in fact it really isn’t as much as it seems.

I am almost always asked by a potential client, “what is your rate for…” which is often followed up with, “Wow, that seems like a lot just to take a picture.” Well, when I create an image for you I don’t just take a picture. First let me explain what goes into the actual image creation.sydni-web-013

There are multiple parts to each project whether it be a family portrait, or a series of Architectural photos of a newly constructed facility. They do have many things in common though. Each requires a consultation, the actual photo shoot, editing of the images, producing the images in either  electronic or print formats (or both), and finally delivery of the images themselves.  So how long does that actually take?

Task Time Average
Consulting 1.0 1.0
Shooting 1.5 – 3 2.25
Editing 17 min per image 11.3
Production 1.5 1.5
Delivery 1.5 1.5
Total Time Spent 17.6

You may not be interested in what the photographer makes per hour and for those of you reading this, I will summarize this up for you right here. If I deliver to you 45 finished images (my personal average) after  a 2.25 hour shoot, that comes to a total cost of 10 units (or dollars) per image. Not bad to have a professional photographer get you high quality results!

If you want to know more about the cost of photography, read on. It’s long but it is at the very least, interesting.

Some projects will take more time than others, setup and preparation has been excluded for this example. Most projects will take more time than is mentioned here but for the sake of argument I am going to go with an average of a 2.25 hour photo shoot. Those two and a quarter hours where you are working with me actually means a minimum of more than 17.5 hours of work including the time ‘behind the scenes.’

If we use the same rate I used in my last post of 200 units per hour and divide that by the 17.5 hours we arrive at an hourly rate of 25.72 units per hour. Not a bad hourly rate for an individual, however that’s not all there is. We have to look at how much it costs the photographer to actually create the images. In short, what are the expenses?

Many weekend warriors or Uncle Bob’s as many photographers call the faux pro photographer, don’t have some of the overhead that a pro has. An example is insurance and/or a studio. I do make my living from photography so I do have those expenses. I won’t go into a long dissertation of justifying them other than to say it is just good business and call it done. Besides, insurance protects both my clients and me!

So what are the real expenses? To be even more conservative I am going to use insurance as the only “soft” cost (mostly because I just paid that bill yesterday) and all the other costs are hard costs or the cost of physical equipment. These costs include, insurance, rent, lenses, cameras, lighting equipment, backgrounds/backdrops, stands for lights and backdrops, computers, software, printers and much, much more. Some of the things I am leaving out are marketing, websites, internet services, electricity, studio/office furniture, costs for assistants, accountant, and the list goes on.

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Each piece of equipment has a limited lifespan, my primary camera cost almost $5500 before I put a lens on it and it only has a limited amount of exposures before it has to be replaced. Lenses last much longer but also need to be replaced and updated. Computers and software has an average lifespan of about 18-24 months. Photographic equipment can last longer but the average is about 2-3 years before it is upgraded or replaced.

The average photographer has about 50,000 – 100,000 units in hard costs (equipment and space). If that needs to be replaced every 2 years the average annual cost is over 30,000 units a year.  Again, let’s be conservative and say that our photographer is the frugal type and can cut expenses in half to 15,000 units a year.

If I divide that expense by our hourly rate that we came to earlier of 25.72 units per hours worked it means that our photographer has to work 1166 hours a year to pay his expenses, we will call these Expense Hours. If you work a 40 hour week you work 2080 hours a year without vacation. If we subtract our expense hours of 1166 that leaves us with about 913 hours, multiply that by our rate of 25.72 per hour and our photographer makes 23,480 units per year take home.

Oh wait, we forgot that government wants a piece of that. In my area that piece comes to 47.25% in taxes, that includes, sales tax, Business Privilege taxes (which to means it’s not a privilege to do business here), income taxes for city, state, and federal; all that has to come out before we pay expenses. So let me redo those numbers one more time.

2080 hours @ 25.72 53,498
Taxes 25,251
Expenses 15,000
True Take home 13,247

 

 

 

In the United States that is well below the poverty level. So why do photographers do it? Because we love to create images, plain and simple. We have a passion that drives us to be creative and to make the images you want and need. We just love what we do and our goal is to have you love it too.

 

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