As a chapter in The Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock Photography, which is to be published soon, I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Joas Souza, a fellow Brazilian architectural photographer. I have learned a lot from his style and business acumen and I trust that you’ll find his advice useful. Check out some of his amazing work on his website.
Hi Joas, thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. I’m keen to find out more about how you got into architectural & interior photography and how your experience may inspire Microstock photographers who want to pursue this niche.
Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself, and how you got into architectural and interior photography?
I would say that architectural photography has been with me during my entire life. My mom is an architect and my dad is a photographer, so since birth, projects and photographs have surrounded me. My father bought my first camera when I was only 5 years and introduced me to the photographic world. Luckily, I fell in love with it and embraced the duty, inheriting his profession. During most of my teenage years, I assisted him on assignments all over Brazil, photographing important industries and massive architectural projects, from the ground and from the air. All this time spent together gave the opportunity to learn everything I needed to become a professional photographer.
What kit do you use and why?
My kit consists of a massive selection of both Canon lenses and Sony bodies. I found out that this combination brings up the ultimate quality in terms of image and mobility. The Sony sensor has an amazing dynamic range and the Canon lenses has a stunning optics quality. Plus the fact that only Canon has a 17mm Tilt Shit lens, which for me, is absolutely indispensable, specially to photograph buildings in Europe, where the streets are mostly too narrow to capture the whole building using a “normal” tilt shift lens.
Which is your favourite type of architecture to photograph?
I’m drawn to modern architecture, with its sharp edges and beautiful geometric shapes, which create really interesting patterns and shadows every hour and season of the year.
Outside of my commercial work, I enjoy challenging myself photographing both old and unusual architectural styles, including the brutalist movement, which is commonplace in London.
Which kinds of clients do you work with?
My clients are mainly architects, interior designers, property investors/developers and luxury estate agencies.
What has been your general experience with submitting your images to Stock Agencies?
I haven’t submitted images to many stock agencies, but the few ones I had, are generating quite good money. I wish I had more time to dedicate myself more to submitting to stock photography, after all, this is the best retirement fund that a photographer can have since his/her own image library should keep selling and bringing revenue, even after he/she may be incapable to photograph.
If you could give three tips to someone who wants to make the transition into full-time architectural and interior photography from Stock, what would they be?
- When diving into the architectural world, you have to understand what you are photographing in order to bring the best. Thinking that a project is simply beautiful doesn’t mean you’ll photograph it in the best way. You have to understand what architecture is all about, such as the reasons why certain structures are constructed in certain ways, otherwise you might get nice general shots, but not what the architect or other clients are really looking forward to seeing.
- Learn how to operate a tilt-shift lens, it will be your ultimate tool to photograph architecture in a professional way.
- Learn how to observe the sunlight movements, including: what sort of light each season delivers, and the way in which the sunlight changes depending on the time of the day as it illuminates a structure. All these considerations creates great effects, such as adding volume to enhance its 3D visual feeling and I recommend you to learn how to explore this side of architectural photography.
In your opinion, how important is it for a professional photographer to establish a niche?
I believe that, unless you’re a total genius, you have to establish a niche for yourself, which would be a field to be really specialised. If you shoot everything, you’ll never become proficient at your craft. In turn, you will struggle to run a proper marketing strategy to target the right sort of clients.
Do you sell prints and how is that experience for you?
I have couple of companies where I sell my prints, including: ArtVogue and Magnolia Box. The experience with both has been great. I plan to dedicate more of my time to feeding those two agencies with more images as well as stock image banks. At the end of the day, more images equals more chance to license images to clients, which means extra cash can be reinvested into my photography business.
Do you shoot commercially outside of architecture and interiors?
Yes, my second niche after architecture is aerial photography, a field that brings me a huge amount of joy, since being up in the sky gives you a very unique view of the world, and as a photographer, there is nothing that can beat such experience.
Thank you very much, Joas!
Here’s a sample of his work: