When to photograph new build development (exterior)

It can be hard to know at what stage to commission photography for a new building development so here is a quick run through  the options.

Documenting construction

This one’s easy. Commission the photographer as close to the beginning of construction as you can. This gives plenty of scope to agree how to approach the project, what construction stages to record and what stories associated with the development to capture.

New build exterior

This is more tricky. A building may look its very best soon after construction has finished but the landscaping rarely does.  It takes time for grass and planting to establish and this is of course dependent upon the seasons. I have found that, in general, six months after completion is a basic minimum if you want to be able to show the intent behind the planting but a bit longer is better and shorter is okay if you can’t wait.

Another consideration is one of materials. Natural materials such as cedar cladding may not reach their intended aesthetic for some time (possibly several years).

The difficulty is that after 18 months or so the weather can take a toll. Slight streaking or staining can occur on a building exterior which requires some work to disguise in photoshop. After several years, paint work can begin to show its age and this can be harder to deal with in post-production.

As you can tell, this is a matter of balancing up the different factors for the development in question and then making a decision.

Time of year is a big factor too. The extent of foliage on nearby trees can make a big difference to the look of an image. The naked branches of a tree in winter can offer a pleasing sculptural complement to a building design as much as the presence of plenty of foliage can present a useful contrast to the hard lines of a recently built structure.


Of course there are other factors to consider, not least, the intended purpose of the images. If you need the images for the building opening then that is when you must commission the photography though you will have to accept that buildings often open with some work yet to be completed. Communication with your architectural photographer at an early stage is always the best approach.

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