Evolution of the "Twilight Exterior"
I had seen these stunning images of beautiful houses before, even previous to starting my own architecture photography business in Kansas City. But I had no idea of how they were achieved. They definitely weren't taken in broad daylight and it certainly wasn't full-fledged nighttime. How were photographers getting these amazing shots?!?! Then in early 2015, I found out how (Thank you FStoppers and Mike Kelley)...it was a matter of specific timing during twilight matched with supplemental flash/strobe light. The following is the evolution of my style in shooting these kind of images. My first try was in February 2015 and 100% no-charge on a property that had already been listed for a while. I knew the agent fairly well and asked if I could use their house as my guinea pig.
SOOOOO many things wrong with this photo, but at the time...I thought it was amazing! It wasn't too difficult to up-sell a twilight shot when doing real estate photography in Kansas City. There wasn't a whole lot of photographers doing them, and those that were...most were pretty bad (not that mine were stellar though). Then came the first twilight photo I ever got paid for (April 2015). I wasn't too thrilled with the bland, brown tone of my first try, so I went full tilt on the color...
A little cartoony in hindsight, but technically better than the first. Later that summer, I was asked to take an evening shot of a simple split level in Lenexa, KS
I started to put a bit more thought into what I was lighting up with the flash. For only about 3 or 4 months of practice...I don't think I did half-bad. BUUUUUT every now and then, I'd go right back to going a little overboard with the color :-/
By Q4 of 2015, I was even doing twilight exterior photos for commercial properties...
THEN in early 2016, I made a major shift in my photo biz. I created the "Elite Home Images" brand. I'll probably write a future post on the thought that went into all that, but now I felt I had to step up my game a bit on these evening photos. March 2016
One thing I started focusing on around this time, was exaggerating the light coming from windows, fire-pits, landscaping lights, etc. I even did a few for some hotels around the US
By this time, I started getting a reputation as the 'twilight guy' among real estate agents in the Kansas City area. They would use their regular go-to shooter for daylight photos, then call me to take a single twilight photo of the front. I even used them as a way to get my foot-in-the-door with some of the biggest custom home builders in KC.
By 2017 I felt I was hitting my stride with these kind of images. In fact several of the photos I took that year are ones I'll still use for print and marketing materials. Starr Homes - Loch Lloyd
Estes Custom Homes
ReeceNichols agent that only called for the twilight photo
In 2018, I didn't feel my style or technique had changed too much from the previous year...but I was trying to refine it and simply get better.
THIS is one of my favorites. And apparently everyone else's too because its been stolen multiple times from companies using it in their marketing w/o my permission or knowledge. No big deal...they just don't know I have ways of tracking image usage X-D
Another one for Starr Homes
So what's going to be different in 2019? Well not to purposely 'bite the hand that feeds me', but my twilight style is very "flashy". If you're a photographer yourself, you probably know what I mean by that. So my goal now is to narrow down the window of getting that single twilight exposure where its so good, you could almost just give THAT one photo to the client and they'd be happy. Basically, I want to give my twilight exteriors a bit more of a natural feel and look. They're still have the EHI flair - don't get me wrong. Just trying to dial down the amount of flashy-ness a bit.
To the average person, it may not look that different than some of the work I shot in 2015...and that's perfectly fine. As a photographer (or any profession for that matter) I feel you should always be finding ways to make your work better. So as long as I can look at my 2019 work and see a significant improvement than my 2015 work, I can sleep well at night. I just can't wait to write another post like this again in a few years and poke fun at my 2019 work. Here's to always trying to get better!!! P.S. - Occasionally someone will ask if I'm concerned about faux twilights as competition? No - because they look "faux" (aka terrible) most of the time X-D ~Matthew Anderson 913-915-1349 email@example.com