Modern Phoenix Neighborhood Network

Taking Photos for ModernPhoenix

Try to shoot on partly couldy days. You'll get moments of bright ambient light but opportunities to shoot in both light and shadow. If its sunny, consider the time of day and whether the orientation of the streets will mean you are shooting into the sun, resulting in backlit shots with poor contrast. You may need to do a morning shoot and an afternoon shoot for best lighting.

Try to get a good representative sampling of all home styles in the neighborhood.

Shoot the house straight on at 90 degrees or at a slightly oblique angle if it features the architecture better. Avoid 45 degree angle shots unless there are two houses in a row you wish to show in relationship to each other.

Steady your shot by holding your elbows tight to ribs. It looks silly but does wonders for sharpness of image. If shooting from the car, steady your arm by bracing against the windowframe. Be conscious of the accidental inclusion of your rear view mirror.

Hold your camera as vertically as you can -- sometimes hard to do from the car when craning out the window.

Bend on one knee and shoot from four feet off the ground.

Remember the fundamentals of perspective -- in streetside architectural photography such as this, vertical lines always remain vertical, its only the horizontal lines that get all wacky. Compare architectural landmarks such as pillars, corners of walls, carports, etc versus your viewfinder image to determine whether your camera is being held upright. Off-kilter images require digital straightening -- a possible solution but also a small loss in quality that compounds other problems.

Attempt to include the entire house from one side to the other with at least 10 feet on each side -- more if landscaping or gates are also of interest. If you can't back up far enough to include the whole house and have to cut something off, cut off the carport.

As a general rule, unless you are artfully composing a close-up, leave the cropping of full-house shots to us. Zoom in where appropriate to show detail. Provide both a long shot and a close shot for context.

Never zoom in someone's front window.

Avoid shooting homes with people in front of them unless you have asked permission (it makes them nervous, and rightfully so).

Never step in someone's driveway or lawn unless specifically invited to -- it is private property. Any shots taken from the sidewalk or street are more than likely legal (it's photojournalism). If you are shooting in a private community, condo complex, apartment complex or gated community, you might want to seek permission first. ModernPhoenix is held harmless by any infringement of privacy incurred by a volunteer photographer. Play it safe. Always give the grantor of permission our URL.

If approached by a homeowner or neighbor about what you are doing, explain the following:

You are a volunteer photojournalist for an online quarterly magazine called ModernPhoenix.net

You are taking photographs for the next issue that will include a photo feature on _______ neighborhood. Offer forth the release date and offer to write down the URL for them with my email address alison@modernphoenix.net should they have further questions.

If further pressed about your right to be there and photograph, explain that any photograph taken from public property (the street) requires no release of permission. Explain that the photos are used for journalistic purposes and that no human beings or license plates appear in association with the architecture (I blur all license plates if so). Explain that the photos are for reportage purposes only and will not be used in an ad campaign or other profit venture benefitting from a specific photo. End the conversation as elegantly as possible, represent us the best you can, give them my email address if necessary and leave the area immediately.

More helpful tips can be found here. [PDF]

OK enough rules....
Get out there & have fun!!!

Alison