Multi-family photography of: Camden Roosevelt, Washington D.C. Spotlight Project

We traveled to Washington D.C. to collaborate with Camden to refresh their photography of this one-of-a-kind apartment complex. This is considered one of their flagship properties because of its uniqueness. It has a different look and feel than all of their other properties that we’ve shot architectural multi-family photography for them previously.

Camden Roosevelt is a historically preserved 1920’s hotel, turned into apartment living in Washington D.C. This building was originally named the Hadleigh Hotel, but was later renamed the Roosevelt Hotel in 1924. It’s been home to many distinguished Congressmen, Senators and entertainers such as Benny Goodman, Nat King Cole and Ray Charles.

When shooting this project, we wanted to keep the natural historic ambiance in tact. We also kept in mind that we were shooting photography for a multi-family community and their intended use of these images was to attract new residents. Therefore, we wanted our photos to make it look inviting and capture the warmth while retaining all of the historical details.

Some of the areas weren’t as accessible as others. For example we had to set up some lighting outside of the windows in the library, and because it’s such an old structure there were no outlets outside. Throughout the building there were very dark wall treatment colors, which made it challenging to get the additional light required for good photos.

How did we solve this? We were able to keep the dark and moody vibe by lighting areas separately, so that we could bring up the detail in each part of the space, and then assemble it in photoshop afterwards to blend all the areas together so we had detail where we needed it. Although our additional lighting process was more challenging than usual, we really loved photographing the library and bar area.

The bar area has an art design on the face of it where you’re looking in. That was a super challenging area because of the size of the space, columns that were hiding things, and the reflectiveness of the mirrors behind the bar. Plus, we wanted to try to have that feeling of looking inside while you’re outside of the space. Though we have our favorites, all of the spaces had intricate architectural details that you don’t see as often anymore, especially in new construction builds. 

The most rewarding parts of this shoot were the fact that there was more problem solving required, capturing the historic architectural integrity of the building, and having the opportunity to work in such an incredible location. If you’ve got a historical, architectural space that needs high-end photography, here are two tips for finding a photographer that’s right for the job…

  • Be sure that the photographer has vast experience shooting a wide variety of interior spaces with mixed lighting situations. 
  • Be very clear about what the use of the images is going to be, so that the photographer knows how to approach capturing them correctly. If it’s more architectural in nature the imagery should feature those details. In contrast, if it’s for Interior design firms we would hone in more on furniture groupings featuring more of the design elements. For this specific project, we tried to incorporate architectural as well as design elements due to the historical significance of the space. We found ourselves drawn to the beautiful artwork as well, so we combined all of the elements.

When shooting a photography project of this magnitude, many clients have questions regarding turnaround time for their finished images. A project of this size takes several days to photograph. We travel to the location, scout what needs to be shot, create a shot list, and determine the best time of day that each image should be done. Once we’re finished shooting the images go into our retouching post production phase. We typically require 1-2 weeks turnaround. That way we have enough time to layer the files in Photoshop, make critical color adjustments, digitally remove unnecessary distractions, and prepare the images for final scrutinizing so that everything that we deliver is perfect.

To give you a more in-depth break-down of our process for shooting photos for multi-family communities, we typically photograph all amenities, common areas, model apartment units, exterior views of the building, and sometimes neighborhood places of interest. This involves approx 15-25 different set-up shots sometimes including twilight/dusk views of the exterior or maybe pool area where we add additional light to give them a “wow” factor.  Sometimes we are asked to create high-end drone views capturing the exterior at twilight with a cityscape in the background. They are super cool looking.  We often shoot at multiple properties within the same vicinity since we’re already in the area. This allows our clients to take advantage of reduced travel costs. It’s much more cost effective that way.

We encourage our clients to provide us with a list of desired images ahead of time.  When we’re not provided with that in advance we will often look at the community’s website to determine what their on site amenities are as well as neighborhood attractions that we might shoot.  Many of our clients have a comfort level to where they trust our expertise in making our own decisions as to what would be most beneficial for marketing and advertising. 

Outside of that, there are a few additional details we try to have squared away prior to the shoot. We typically want to know what days are the slowest for activity, that way we don’t inconvenience residents as much. We like to make sure there’s someone on site that can handle any kind of maintenance issues. We also like to make sure the landscaping is tidied up, light fixtures are working, furniture is in place, cars are moved out of the way, residents have been notified that a photographer is going to be on premises, and that the areas that we are shooting are cleaned before the shoot.

Once we’ve taken care of all the pre-production, we show up and get our photographs, then we work our final magic into the post-production process. What we consider general editing are things like removing light switches off of walls, wall outlets that are distracting, lamp cords if they’re showing under the table, fire extinguishers off the wall, emergency notices—basically anything that we see that can be visually distracting and straightforward to remove digitally. We’re always looking out of the windows to see if there’s something visually distracting in the way. For instance, if you can see a stop sign or construction out the window, we’ll try to remove that and insert something that is either existing in that area that makes sense. Or we’ll switch it for bushes or something that looks natural. We don’t like our retouching to be detectable.

Additional retouching would be if we’re having to remove excessive tree straps from trees that have just been planted, major signage that’s challenging to retouch, or a large amount of construction outside of the windows – causing us to have to completely change the outside view. 

For Camden Roosevelt, we removed cars from the circular drive out front and replaced them with trees, removed ‘now renting’ banners on the sides of the building, and removed air conditioning compressors due to them looking ugly and distracting. Sometimes we charge a nominal extra fee for situations like that, but we’re very fair. We’ve never had anyone question.  

If you’re looking for a professional architectural photographer to shoot your next project, we’d love to work with you, regardless of where you are in the United States. We love to travel!  We’ll get you the images you need to “wow” your ideal new client, or future residents. Click below to work with us or view more photos from our Camden Roosevelt work…

For more information about commissioning an architectural photographer, read “Commissioning Architectural Photography” from the American Society of Media Photographers. You can find Rob Bovarnick’s ASMP profile here.

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