Top architectural photographer interview

Top architectural photographer interview

Posted By: admin December 5, 2015

I would like to share a brief interview I granted to a photography business review magazine. I am  asked what it takes to become a top architectural photographer.

Broughton Hall Castle UK

1. What made you want to start Antoniocuellarphotography?

Antonio Cuellar photography started as a hobby. People started reacting positively to my pictures and that brought me a lot of satisfaction. This reaction that people had towards my pictures became addictive and push me to experiment, improve and also lead me into turning pro around 2003.

2. If you had to pick one thing out of your day, what’s the most exciting / favorite?

I enjoy every aspect of the photographic process. From winning a photographic bid, meeting a client in person, impressing them with the level of sophistication involved with the way I shoot, to editing and delivering the images. Delivering the images and seeing a clients reaction would be my choice if I had to choose. This never gets old.

3. Who is your ideal customer?

An ideal client is one who understand the importance having great images for a marketing campaign. Someone who has worked with photographers in the past and is familiar with the process. This is an ideal customer because the level of expectation is set at a realistic level. A level of expectation you can exceed. Exceeding these expectations is what makes a client come back.

4. Do you use the Internet to market your business? What are the biggest marketing challenges you face?

I have used tools such as Google, bing and social media a lot more in the past. I have come to realize that due to the small photography niche that is architectural photography, I am better off investing in personal relationships with fewer and bigger clients, like AD agencies,Architecture and Interior design Firms. I do come across some important international clients who find me via the internet with no word of mouth referral. Google, in my case, is a great way to share work with the world and socialize with other artists who admire your and in the same way find other artists that inspire you.

5. If you could change one thing about your businesses day-to-day routine, what would it be?

People don’t realize that Architecture photography involves carrying around a lot of heavy equipment. The subject or client is brought to a studio in the case of other photography fields such as portraiture, fashion, food and products. I typically have to carry around a 115 pound generator and 8 other cases of gear with an average wight of 65 pounds each. I have thought about downsizing and compromising in areas but decided not to. Everybody owns a sophisticated camera these days and there is a lot of competition out there. I cannot afford compromise in my work.

JW Marriott Hotel Downtown

JW Marriott Hotel Downtown

6. Any new specials you can tell our readers about?

Yes I have had a policy of granting a 30%-50% discount on my daily fee to talented and up and coming Architects and interior designers, if their work is different and interesting. We are all artists after all and it is not just about the money.

7. If you had a chance to say one thing to a brand new customer, before they walk in the door, what would it be?

Everybody is always welcome to walk into my door. Once they do I always provide them with a great analogy about my services that I dont mind sharing it with my competitors so they could use as well. I always tell my customers that being a photographer is like being a professional athlete. You don’t want to hire a soccer player to play basketball. Even though they seem to have the right tools and be in enough shape to last the entire match they will not be competition to the other basketball players.

Some customers still think that the title of “professional photographer” automatically qualifies us for any type of job, as it did 30 years ago. I cant even begin to tell you how many jobs I had re-shot when other extremely, and even famous photographer, from other fields had ventured into the architecture field.

6 thoughts on “Top architectural photographer interview”

  1. Dear Antonio,
    Could I ask you to share with me your experience with travelling to international assignments.I saw your toolkit at http://shotkit.com/antonio-cuellar/, and am wondering how do you manage to pack all this stuff safely and get onto the plane?
    With all the check-in limitation of almost every airline, how do you transport cameras, lenses and lights? It should definitely exceed weight allowance for cabin luggage.
    Do you check-in your strobes?
    I will greatly appreciate your advise.
    Kind regards,
    Sergiy Kadulin

    1. admin says:

      Hello Sergy.

      I would be glad to be any assistance. Where are you traveling to? (This is very important)
      Yes I use Pelican bags and get many discounts. Ill be happy to share any information.
      Is this for a blog post or for you own? Are you a member of ASMP?

  2. Thank you!

    This is for me, not for the blog. Travel is planned for CIS countries (Azerbaijan, Goergia, Kazakhstan) for some interior shooting.
    I do have Pelican 1650, but I doubt if I can put profoto lights for check in.
    Also, have you ever had any issues with li-ion batteries in the recent time?

    I’m ASMP member.

    1. admin says:

      Hi Sergy.

      Yes, batteries are a big problem. You might have to do without them.
      Pelican 1650 are great if you can get the foam to fit in. The only problem is that they scream professional photographer and you might have issues with Airport customs at the other countries.
      If you are going to start traveling internationally for assignments I suggest you look into getting an ATA carne. This is basically a Passport for your equipment. This will solve a lot of issues with most countries.
      (Do not take this lightly, some countries could be a pain in the ass. specially the non developed ones)

      As far as Airlines fees. If you are a member of ASMP, print out a media pass out of their website. Or even better, have them send you a physical one.
      Book your trip through the American Airlines one world alliance page. There are amy airlines available boot you must book through them because they will have to comply with their polic. They offer great media discounts. you can take up to 20 bags all up to 100 pounds (This is incredibly heavy)
      You will pay $50 per bag. you

  3. Ann says:

    Hi, what an incredible portfolio. You mention all the bags of gear, how much of it do you actually use compared to emergency backups and, in particular, how many of those lights do you use on a typical hotel guest room? I’m so curious, with that grand shot of the Marriott lobby are there lights hidden everywhere or are they in sight and removed in photoshop? Lastly, for international flights is there a minimum smaller group you can travel with and still get most of the work done?

    1. Hey Ann. Sorry for the Late reply. I have been working endlessly. I have shot 18 hotels and 1 resort in the past 3 months if you can believe me. The reason you don’t see light is that I use photoshop layer only to include the area I am lighting. I can send you a video I have done for clients if you are interested. I rarely ever work home and the minimum I have my gear down to two pelican carry on’s for the cameras and 2 large Pelican bags for lighting gear and 1 stand case and one Drone case.

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Antonio Cuellar

Antonio Cuellar is a luxury resort and hotel photographer and a avid travel blogger.