Behind the Scenes at a Design Firm

Over the last four months I have worked as the in-house photographer for SMMA, a multidisciplinary design firm. It has been an amazing opportunity to collaborate with design professionals of all types including architects, interior designers, landscape architects, civil engineers, project managers and marketing managers. The talent and creativity around the office is inspiring. Working alongside the teams at SMMA has given me valuable insight into just how much collaboration it takes to bring large-scale corporate projects to life.


I was approached by SMMA’s Director of Marketing to grow the photography assets of the company. Of course, they’ve worked with many architectural photographers over the years on completed projects. But they needed someone to come in and own the backlog of photography for projects that were either “too complicated” to coordinate or “too small” to justify as an individual shoot. Working in-house, I was able to form productive relationships with project leads and coordinate shoots for locations that required layers of client approval and privileged access. And I was able to chip away at the backlog of smaller projects. My work has provided SMMA with a valuable library of project photography assets that otherwise, would never have been captured, to be used for proposals, social media, and other marketing needs.


What I learned in this role has been invaluable. For a photographer to work within a design firm, (not simply hired per project) is unprecedented. SMMA’s work focuses on corporate, educational and bio-tech facilities. As an architectural photographer I’ve worked with architects, interior designers and creative directors on many residential projects. The opportunity to focus on larger scale projects has sharpened my eye to the requirements of photographing corporate and commercial spaces.


Another unique opportunity of working at SMMA was the need to document different stages of the design process. I photographed pre-construction, progress photos, commissioning, landscape architecture and completed projects.


Photography always requires collaboration, but within a large design firm this becomes even more critical. Forging strong relationships with designers, understanding how they see things, and earning their trust are the ideal conditions for effectively producing high quality final images.


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