Matt Sweadner Photography: Blog en-us (C) Matt Sweadner Photography (Matt Sweadner Photography) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:37:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:37:00 GMT Matt Sweadner Photography: Blog 120 120 Tips To Choosing an Architectural / Model Home Photographer In this day and age of impressive cameras it may seem unnecessary to worry about who you hire to photograph your model home. Certainly the technology is so advanced, all that's required is to buy an expensive camera and click the shutter, correct? Nothing could be further from the truth, and that's why I decided to write about it. 


Don't get me wrong. I get calls from builders, marketing directors, etc. who know the value of the images they present to the public. However, there are many others who think cell phone photos are adequate because they assume people will be able to magically know how great something looks without the photo actually looking good... Crazy right? Sadly, this is usually worse than not showing any image at all. 


After years of honing my craft, the following is a list of criteria I would use to judge an architectural/model home photographers portfolio if I suddenly found myself as the hirer and not the hiree. 


Model Home KitchenModel Home Kitchen


1. First on the list - Are the walls in their photos slanted, curved or distorted? Do houses look like they're falling backwards? Frankly, that's an immediate fail. If any of those conditions exist it means they haven't taken the care to perform even the simplest of tasks in producing a decent photo. That's not even an advanced technique. It's about as "101" as you can get. If they show that little care for the simplest task then how can you expect them to come through on anything remotely advanced?


2. Is the furniture properly arranged? Furniture and rooms in general look different through lenses than they do to our eyes. The wider we go, the more that difference is accentuated. This means more care has to be taken in regards to framing and composition. Moving furniture is almost always a must for architectural photography of model homes. The end result should be a view that makes sense and the resulting image should be balanced across the frame. Another thing to consider is if the camera is too high or too low. An accomplished photographer knows what height will look correct and will even employ techniques to make the view even better than another photographer shooting from the same height. 


3. Are the window views unappealing? Photographing model homes is a higher end production than photographing homes for the MLS. Photographs for the MLS are required to be a faithful reproduction of the home listed. Architectural photography of model homes is product photography of large objects. Often, the area is a construction zone. No one wants to see a port-o-let outside their window, nor do they want to see mounds of dirt or partially built homes. It's essential for backgrounds to be replaced with something that is visually appealing. That home will most likely be built in a lot of different places and may even be constructed on a clients existing lot so replacing the background to something pleasant is far from unrealistic. Think about it this way - Have you ever seen a Mercedes-Benz photographed in front of dirt, partially constructed homes or port-o-lets?


4. Are the inside of homes dark in exterior images or are there very dark entrances? This is something I see constantly. Well designed homes that no doubt are stunning in person look underwhelming in photographs because steps weren't taken to make them look good. Shaded entrances are dark and unsightly, if they're even able to be seen at all. This just doesn't present well. Again, we're selling here. The insides of homes should be lit. It simply results in a better presentation just like well exposed eyes do in portraits and headshots. To accomplish this during the day requires at least one light moved around. For twilight shots, the inside ambient lighting can be used but there is less control than with strobes. Granted, sometimes it's not possible to get inside of properties when exteriors are being captured but all efforts should be made to do so.  

5. Are the images dynamic or lifeless? After all the technical ins and outs, this is where the rubber hits the road. Lifeless images are like a monotone speech. It's uninspiring, unmemorable and chances are that nothing comes of it. Lifeless photos are a mere afterthought as potential buyers scroll past them in search of something that catches their eye. You can probably guess though that the more dynamic an image is, the better effect it will have. Dynamic images are the motivational speakers of photography. They stop people in their tracks and greatly increase the chance of an inquiry or a visit. They generate excitement and subconsciously promote the almighty call to action. This is the goal, right? 


Final thought - HDR or lit photography? For those of you who don't know, HDR is where multiple exposures are made and then either run through a software "meat grinder" or hand blended. Results can be from terrible to pretty decent. I prefer lighting because there is more control over situations and the results are crisper. The technique I utilize is sort of a "lighting on steroids" if you will. Literally everything in each scene is hit with light to build texture, mood and richness. It's tedious and requires more time but this what I do to separate me from the pack, much like my clients want their images to do.

In wrapping up, I'd like to thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I'm hopeful that this list will be of help to some of you that are in a conundrum on which way to turn for architectural photography. Or possibly, some of you have have been working with someone that isn't quite tickling your fancy but you weren't sure why and now you can search in earnest to find the one that does.


Please feel free to reach out directly if there's anything you want to discuss!


All the best.


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The Importance of Quality Photography for Interior Designers in Tampa Bay  

Good designs and furnishings compliment a space whether it be a home or a commercial environment.

Good photography does the same. Snapshots and poor photography do not qualify. Anyone can take those, even someone with a “fancy camera.” I'm speaking about high end images. Architectural photography (Interiors, exteriors, design elements, etc) is a skilled art and requires specialized knowledge. As with any other field, there are varying levels of expertise.

A $100,000 design effort doesn't look much better than a $1999 one if the image is horrible. Impeccable design loses a lot of it's impact and appeal when walls are tilted, glare spots are everywhere, lighting is bad, or when it just doesn't look so good because of the poor composition of an image.

Cove - Living room & pool view A-9 revision 1 -smallCove - Living room & pool view A-9 revision 1 -small

There are numerous factors involved to create images that rise above subpar photographs. Key elements that differentiate high end images from second rate photos are:

A) Straight walls – As easy as it sounds, there are many photographers delivering images with crooked walls. Slanted, leaning, or bowed walls are not professional and do not look good at all. The only exception is an overhead from another level of the space.


B) Proper exposure – This means that light areas aren't too bright and darks aren't too dark. Photographers call it “blown out highlights” and “crushed shadows.” Interiors typically contain the extremes of lights and darks which require advanced techniques to compensate. The true architectural photographer has the skills and knowledge to overcome those challenges. For views of the outside, blue skies are always more pleasant and inviting than white skies.


C) Lack of reflections – Have you ever seen images that have reflections in wall prints or in glass shower doors? It doesn't look very good does it? The reflections are present because the photographer either didn't eliminate them while shooting or didn't remove them after the shoot during post processing. It's common to see bathroom lights, fixtures, towels, and even windows look like they actually exist in the shower. That's just crazy! This is another area where skilled architectural photographers shine. Your images work harder for you when the eye isn't distracted with all those ridiculous looking reflections everywhere.


D) Strength of composition – There are numerous principles that increase compositional value. The first has to do with where radiuses and lines travel through and also intersect certain sections of an image, including the edge. The second involves where elements are located within the image itself. The application of these principles along with the total number used in any given image means the difference between a great image and a poor one.


E) Sharp images – Cameras have come a long way since the digital age. Even cell phones have remarkably good cameras built in. In no way though are they able to compete with the sophisticated electronics, and more importantly, superior quality lenses found in professional equipment. It doesn't mean an amateur is guaranteed good results from a pro level camera because that would mean that we could all be great writers by simply purchasing an expensive keyboard. It does mean though that the superior optics found in higher end cameras produce images with greater clarity and sharpness over lower end equipment.


E) Superior editing – No matter how good an image is, it's simply not as good as it can be with proper editing. Editing is like seasoning. Just like a fine chef will season foods to perfection, delivering a treat for the taste buds, the skilled photographer will delivery exquisite images that are a treat for your eyes. Gifted photographers can produce images that actually look better than seeing something in person.

Model Home Dining Room & FoyerModel Home Dining Room & Foyer

A talented photographer will incorporate all of these and more, creating beautifully engaging images which attract more clients as well as allowing you to properly show off your design work. They can even make the mundane look so good it generates interest.


Todays clients are online, which means quality images are more essential than ever before. Potential clients will either be grabbed by your images or they will grabbed by your competitors images. Which do you prefer?


If it's the latter then Matt Sweadner Photography is here for you. We provide outstanding images to showcase quality designs in the Tampa Bay Area and beyond. Consultations are provided at no cost or obligation. It's part of the service we offer and our clients appreciate our desire to understand what sets them apart. Our goal is to make our clients look their absolute best. Call us today at 727-697-7903 or simply email us here: You can view more of our work at:



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The Benefits of Professional Business Portraits I'm always amazed how many people do not have professional business portraits or "head shots."  Most everyone will make themselves presentable before walking out the door for work and the higher someones position or aspiration, the more professional and polished they make their appearance.

Forbes' Lisa Quast says, “How you look in a picture with your professional business profile and contact information is sometimes the first time a person will actually see you.”  Not only that, the way you present yourself is how you are perceived and treated, at least to some degree.  Princeton University says definitively that: “The images we post online can affect us in unexpected, and undesired, ways, subtly biasing other people’s decisions.”


The two big questions are: 

Why is it that we show more care for how we look when we leave our home for 8 hours or so than we do for our professional business profiles such as LinkedIn or our company websites which are viewable 24/7, 365 days a year?

If you are a professional person is there any reason you don't want to be perceived as professional?

A quick perusing of LinkedIn shows very quickly that nearly half the people have fair to terrible images they present to the world of themselves.  Unflattering and just plain poor images have, at the very least, a negative subconscious affect on the viewer or, as Princeton calls it, “undesired.”  This in no way is even remotely beneficial.


Business portraits usually feature plain or textured backgrounds in a color which compliments your attire and/or your companies color scheme.  Another type of business portrait is known as the environmental portrait.  This class of portrait includes and element of your profession in the background.  This could be a conference room, airplane, office, kitchen, or even a facility.  It's usually a good idea to have both made so you have some flexibility and can change things up from time to time.  You don't wear the same thing every day all year long so why use the same image 365 days a year every year?

Of utmost importance is the photographic artisan who is skilled in flattering lighting and posing to capture the expressions that convey your desired look.  This is exactly what we do at Matt Sweadner Photography serving Tampa Bay and beyond.  We bring the studio to your home or office to make it easy for busy people on the go to get powerful professional images of themselves.  Call us today at 727-697-7903 to schedule a 100% guaranteed portrait session. 

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The importance of using fill flash for outdoor photography  


Fill flash for outdoor photography


While recently taking some portrait shots at the beach, I was asked why I was using a flash even though there was plenty light.  It was actually a very good question and one that even some "photographers" probably can't answer because they themselves don't even do it.


The simple answer is that it helps sharpen the subject.  On the left is a shot with no flash.  As you can see, there is plenty of light and the subject (Rebekah) can be clearly seen.  The problem is that Rebekah is just sort of muddled and not very crisp.  Also, her eyes are dark and lifeless.  


The image to the right was shot seconds later but with "fill flash."  Notice I said fill flash and not just flash.  If I would have used a flash at full power, like people normally do when they select their flash or the camera does because it's in auto mode, Rebekah would be way too bright.  By dialing down the flash, I was able to give just enough light to make Rebekah stand out crisply, without washing her out.  Another benefit to using the flash is that it creates "catch lights" in the eyes which brings them to life, as well as to help brighten the whites of the eyes.  I should point out that the image to the right was also edited.  However, editing is not able to make a fuzzy subject suddenly sharp.  The editing performed here were standard finishing touches and would be pointless on the image to the left.


You may wonder why I didn't just have Rebekah face the sun?  It's true that facing the sun would lighten her face, but by doing so, it may have caused her to squint.  Squinting is unacceptable for pro portraits.  I would have also lost the beautiful setting sun in the background.


If you've had portraits done outside in decent light but the eyes are dark and the subjects are not nicely defined, chances are good that the photographer was not using fill flash.  This is why it's important to choose a photographer that does the types of shots you want done.  Every photographer has, or should have, a portfolio, highlighting their work.  If you don't see your preferred types of shots, or the ones you see aren't very good, be very cautious in moving forward because yours will most likely not be any better.


Fill flash is just one example of how a Pro Photographer differs from the beginner.  Simply buying a "nice camera" isn't enough.  Even very expensive "pro level" rigs are worthless if not used properly.  It's the person behind the lens that makes things happen :)


One of our specialties here at Matt Sweadner Photography is on location portrait shoots in various locations around our beautiful city and beaches.  Popular portrait themes are:  Newborn, children, family, engagement, maternity, individual, senior, business, etc. 




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