Welcome to the final article in this three-part series focussed on commercial real estate photography. In week one we covered the commercial real estate sub-sectors and the key attributes that were important to potential buyers and tenants. In week two we discussed the safety precautions that need to be taken when shooting commercial real estate. In this week’s article I will be discussing commercial real estate photo-shoots from three sub-sectors including office, retail, and industrial.
Case Study 1: Retail
This property was photographed as part of a sale campaign targeting SMSF and passive investors looking to secure investments with strong covenants and annuity style returns. The tenancy is one of four retail tenancies on the ground floor of a new 100-million-dollar mixed-use development designed by DBI architects. The existing tenant was a national brand on a ten-year lease and the tenancy had a NLA (net lettable area) of 434 sqm.
Just like all commercial properties that are being sold to investors, the actual numbers will be the first thing potential buyers will investigate when looking for retail properties, however carefully composed photographs are essential for capturing attention online, highlighting key features and conveying information about the property that is not covered in the property description and information provided by the real estate agents.
The brief for the photo-shoot was to capture the internal fit out, street frontage, building architecture, and railway station signage. In addition to these ground level images the client required an aerial image of the building to highlight its proximity to the CBD, which is only 1.5km from the property.
The property was photographed during its ‘busy hour’ (lunch time); however, it was still quiet (as you can see from the interior shots) because the surrounding area was still undergoing a transformation with new apartment buildings being developed.
The image below shows the retail tenancy positioned on the ground floor of the apartment building, which is a mix of residential units and serviced apartments managed by an onsite team. The purpose of this image is to provide the viewer with an idea of where the tenancy is located within the building and provide a better idea of the street frontage and pedestrian exposure it receives being located next to the train station. The client was provided two versions of this image with one having the vertical lines straightened in post-production and one image with the vertical lines converging (in the example below).
The purpose of this image is to highlight the quality of the architecture and colours in the facade of the building. The tree on the right-hand side of the frame enhances the feeling of the building being situated in a leafy-green city-fringe location.
This image captures the ‘street appeal’ that the building’s design has. It also provides a snapshot of the easy pedestrian access from the footpath, tenancy signage and wooden panelling feature in the ceiling.
This series of interior photographs highlight the high-quality fit out that the tenant has invested in, cementing their commitment to the business and location. The images also show the variety of seating available to patrons dining in this restaurant.
The outdoor dining component is highlighted in this image with a focus on the number of patrons and the quality of the landscaping adjacent to the tenancy.
The aerial image included with the series above highlights the property’s close proximity to the central business district as well as to surrounding public infrastructure, sports grounds, residential areas, and road networks.
Case Study 2: Industrial/Warehouse Facility
Most industrial shoots (especially warehouse facilities) are less technical than residential photo-shoots and other commercial sub-sectors, as you are dealing with large, open spaces and the client typically just wants you to show as much of the building as possible in each photograph, which is why aerial photography is commonly requested with industrial shoots. Potential buyers (for investment purposes) are more concerned about the ‘numbers’ (i.e., lease term, current annual rent, net return, land and building area, etc.) and refer to the photos to see the quality of the construction, building layout, location attributes, and current fit out (if any).
This photo-shoot was conducted to provide the photographs for a sale campaign of a circa 3,000 sqm industrial building with a land area of 6,500 sqm. The sales agents in charge of the campaign were targeting investors seeking a commercial investment with a blue-chip tenant on a long-term lease.
The brief for the photo-shoot was to provide several interior and exterior images to show potential investors the existing fit out, 400sqm of warehouse space, 55sqm office space, car parking, and quality of the tilt-panel construction. The client also requested aerial images to highlights the land and 3,000 sqm building size, and proximity to the motorway. The shoot required signing in at reception, wearing a hi-vis vest, and a staff member to provide a tour of the facility.
The purpose of this image below is to show the length of the driveway (for vehicle access) to the four loading docks. Converging diagonal lines lead the viewer along the building to discover the features (loading docks, construction quality and vehicle access).
This image shows one of the four individual meeting rooms/office spaces within the fifty-five sqm of office available within the mezzanine level of the building. The board room table and chairs help the viewer to understand the size of the room. The converging, diagonal ‘lines’ created by the edge of the table help lead the viewer into the image.
The reception area is shown in this image focussing on the desk, waiting area, and four individual rooms (in the background) within the one image. The diagonal lines of the desk help leads the viewer’s eye into the centre of the frame where the other highlights of the image sit within this composition.
This image focusses on introducing the fit-out (warehouse interior) to the viewer. A slow shutter speed (of 1 second) was used to cause the staff member to appear blurred, so they are not recognisable. The tenant is well-established and had invested millions of dollars into the internal fit out for their operations (commercial laundry facility servicing hotels).
This image shows the mezzanine level within the warehouse space in the building. In this image the viewer can clearly see the investment the tenant has outlaid on the technology and machinery required to operate their business. A slow shutter speed (1 second) was also used in this image to make the workers unrecognizable.
This aerial image shows the street frontage of the industrial property and provides a better view of the (on and off street) car parking space and vehicle access available to trucks and cars.
This second aerial image shows the proximity of the building to the motorway. It also clearly shows the rear access and extra storage/parking available at the rear of the building.
Case Study 3: Office
The photo-shoot of this office was conducted to provide the owner with images for company records and the purpose of potential rental campaigns in the future. The office space was situated in quite a unique position above a Japanese restaurant along a retail strip in a popular coastal town. The office provides circa 120 sqm of office space comprising a reception area, two meeting/board rooms and partitioned office space. The elevated position of the office provides views of the water and parkland from the meeting rooms which is a valuable feature for the owner/tenant.
As the property is suited to small business owners (professional services, consultants, start-ups, etc.), the images highlight features attractive to this type of buyer or tenant. Such features in this case include quality of the fit-out, the availability of signage, exposure to the road, reception area, and the size (and layout) of the meeting rooms and office space.
The purpose of the image below is to show the unique location of the office suites, which are located above a retail strip. The retail strip contained a mix of (not very attractive) retail stores and vacant tenancies, therefore the exterior ‘hero’ image was composed to create a tightly cropped, front-on image. The front-on composition also highlights the great exposure that the company signage receives from the street.
A hi-vis vest was worn for this front exterior shot, as it was captured from the middle of the road, however it was a ‘shared traffic’ zone limited to 10km/ph, so it was relatively safe.
One of two meeting rooms in the office, this image focusses on the room name visible on the door which fills the right-hand column (when applying the rule of thirds) and introduces the viewer to the room. The three walls and board room table help the viewer understand the size of the space. I do not usually show the door to a room in an interior shot; however, this is a rare exception. The door consumes only one-third of the image when applying the rule of thirds, and is transparent, so it does not ‘close-off’ the right-hand side of the image. It also includes the room name and helps guide the viewer into the centre of frame.
The boardroom provides pleasant views over the parkland across the road, and also glimpses of the water. The purpose of this image is to highlight those views while capturing a shot of the space that provides a sense of vertical symmetry using the placement of the chairs around the board room table. The image also highlights the availability of natural light. The camera was raised to approx. 1.7m to provide clearance over the chairs and enhance the visibility of the view outside the window.
This image shows the second meeting room which features views over the parkland, plenty of natural light and the signage on the door (‘Crab Island’), which is the name of the meeting room. The camera was raised to approx. 1.7m to provide clearance over the chairs and enhance the visibility of the view outside the window.
The image of the reception area (taken from the door/entrance) shows the company signage, reception area, and seating/furniture. The position of the sofa creates diagonal lines which help lead the viewer down the hallway to the meeting rooms at the rear of the image.
This image shows the hallway down the left-third of the image and the office space within the two-thirds of the frame on the right-hand side. The purpose of the image was to highlight the flow between the different zones and introduces the partitioned office space to the viewer. Note: the sofa in the reception was moved for this image so it does not block the view down the hallway.
This front-on image shows one of the partitioned office spaces with a focus on the desk size, and large internal window which provides a sense of ‘flow’ between the individual office spaces.
One of the larger partitioned office spaces with space for 2-3 people to work comfortably. The image includes the air-conditioner (far right corner) but focusses on the large desk and internal window which provide a slight sense of vertical symmetry within the composition.
I hope you enjoyed this three-part commercial real estate photography series. In the future I will add more case studies focussed on a greater variety of sub-sectors for both sale and rent campaigns.
Note: The three aerial photographs were captured by DroneWorxs and all other images were captured by the author.
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