There are no such things as stupid questions. Unless, the question is, "Do you want to pet this adorable puppy and then order a pizza?"

What is a “composite” image?


A composite image is when multiple exposures (individual photographs) are made of the same view and meticulously blended together in post-production to create a final, balanced image. Combinations of ambient light, supplemental lighting, light/dark brackets, and anti-glare exposures--usually consisting of 5-20 photos--are all used in one file. Each photograph has a specific portion of it “painted” in to expose the desired section and keeping the rest hidden. These layers are then methodically stacked on each other and melded together to create the perfect mix. Each high production composite image takes around 15-30 mins to capture on-site and around 1-3 hours per image to edit in post. The goal is to accurately portray the space to how you see it in real life.

Isn’t that just like an HDR image?

This method is not to be confused with an HDR (high dynamic range) image, however aspects of HDR techniques are combined with hand-crafted light painting to create a composite image. In HDR photography, you can only work with the light that is available which can sometimes limit the control you have of the characteristics of light. Not to go full-on photo nerd or anything, but in photography, there are four main characteristics of light: quantity, quality, color temperature, and direction. By adding in my own lighting (in combo to the ambient or natural light available), I am able to control these characteristics much more carefully and creatively. This is ideal in interior photography especially because we deal with many different types of textures (fabric, wood, glass, plastic, etc.) in one image. and As a result, I can use them to my advantage to create a more balanced and natural feeling image of the space. 

What are your definitions of editing?

I take my editing very seriously and never outsource it. One, because I really love to do it; and two, because to me, my editing is what takes my photographs and turns them into art. Each image I deliver is hand-crafted and meticulously edited to create a beautiful, final image of your space. Here’s how I break it down:

BASIC EDITING = color, clarity, and perspective correction.
STANDARD EDITING = removal of "code" items (i.e. sprinkler heads, exit signs, floor cores, etc.); clean up minor wall blemishes; removal of minor debris, reflections, loose wires, branches, etc.
EXTENSIVE EDITING = Examples include (but aren't limited to): removal of major elements (i.e. signage, people, furniture, cars, etc.), rebuilding/replacing any structural elements, removing excessive power lines or other exterior distractions, changing colors or textures, cleaning up excessive wall or ceiling damage, importing additional graphics (i.e. artwork, TV’s, props, etc.), etc.

All images include basic editing. All composite images include standard editing and one additional round of editing after a client review session. Extensive editing is not included and an hourly rate will apply due to the time commitment needed to complete them.

What’s your turnaround time?

This depends on many factors, but on average it takes about two weeks to complete final images due to the complexity of post-production that is required for this type of photography. Factors that affect my turnaround time:

  • Size of the project - you can expect a multi-day shoot to take a few weeks to edit, but some smaller jobs can be finished in a few days.

  • My current editing queue - I edit all of my images so if I’m backlogged, I will let you know and try my best to give you an accurate timeframe of completion. Typically I have anywhere from 3-6 projects in my editing queue at a time.

  • Editing requirements - if many images will require extensive editing, it will definitely slow down the process. There have been multiple times where one image took me an entire day to edit!

  • Client feedback speed - sometimes once proofs are sent, clients get busy or they are awaiting executive decision, which means I sit and wait to begin editing until decisions are made.

IMPORTANT TO KNOW —> My style is not a churn and burn solution. If you are needing images the next day, definitely ask to see if it’s possible, but in most cases I might suggest you look elsewhere. Although it would be amazing, you wouldn’t expect a perfectly cooked filet mignon from a drive-thru, right?

I don’t think I can afford your rates, but I really need quality photographs...can you give me a discount?

I understand that quality photography is a considerable investment, but it’s a vital necessity in today’s online digital environment. If you are having trouble swallowing the cost, I would encourage you first to team up with other vendors or companies to share the cost. For every party that adds on to gain access to the images, I add 35% to the total creative cost of the project which can then be split at your discretion. Ultimately, this reduces the cost for everyone involved. Trust me, most vendors will recognize the cost and time saving potential of sharing a shoot rather than scheduling, waiting, and paying for a separate shoot. Check out this example:

An architect hires me to shoot their latest project and the total creative cost of the project = $4,000. The architect gets the general contractor on board and agrees to share the cost so that they have access to the images as well. So…
35% of $4,000 = $1,400
$1,400 + $4,000 = $5,400
$5,400 / 2 = $2,700 each
Result = $1,300 cost savings to original client (roughly 32%)

Then...the furniture dealer hears about this amazing deal and wants in as well. So we add another 35% to the original cost and it looks like this:

35% of $4,000 = $1,400
$4,000 + $1,400 (for the GC) + $1,400 (for the furniture dealer) = $6,800
$6,800 / 3 = $2,266 each
Result = $1,734 cost savings to original client (roughly 43%)

So the savvy architect just reduced their portion by almost half JUST by bringing in two other companies to split it with them. It’s a win-win. The only catch is to make sure this is all agreed upon PRIOR to the shoot. Otherwise, any 3rd party that wants access to the images after the shoot is over will have to purchase the images separately based on a per-image price structure.

Moral of the story: get others involved early as an incentive to help everyone involved!

I can't find anyone to share the project with. Are there any other ways to reduce the cost?

  • Reduce the total number of images you think that you need. I know you want the entire space captured, but sometimes only 3-5 images are needed to highlight the most important features. Most often, 3 fantastic photographs outweigh the marketing value than 20 taken on your smartphone. Remember, it’s your credibility and brand that is at stake so if you post nonuniform and low quality images in attempts to showcase your beautiful work, clients may unfortunately make snap judgements. With professional photography, your potential customers will recognize your attention to quality and will want to work with you.

  • Do you have multiple projects that you are either behind on photographing or will need to have shot in the future? Wait until you have 5 projects ready and take advantage of my multi-project discount. Buy 4 and get the 5th one for free resulting in a 20% savings. Who doesn’t love a good BOGO deal, AMIRITE?