Photography Project – HNI Corporate Headquarters Innovation Center, Iowa

Photography Project – HNI Corporate Headquarters Innovation Center, Iowa

… by sharing costs three ways, each firm paid less than hiring a photographer from nearby, even including the added airfare

AIA Award-winning, Multi-firm Commercial Architectural Photography Project in the Midwest

One of my regular clients called with a project in the Midwest that involved multiple firms sharing costs and images, each with their own shot requests.  Roughly half my jobs are booked with multiple firms participating and it’s a great way to stretch the budget.  My original client firm, IA:Interior Architects, was responsible for the inside of the building renovation, including flow, layout, and finishes, while a second Midwest-based architecture firm, Neumann Monson Architects, handled the shell and core.  In addition, the building owner and client on the overall renovation, the Fortune 500 company HNI Corporation, also had their own visual requests and was the third client.  And finally, since the project was already occupied and in use, the shoot needed to happen in just two weekend days to minimize disruption.

HNI is the world’s 2nd largest designer and manufacturer of office furniture and they’ve been headquartered in Muscatine, Iowa since their founding as a related company during WWII.   The company had just renovated a three-story brick, early 1900’s, former manufacturing building adjacent to their production and shipping facilities.  The project demolished roughly 1/3 of the existing brick structure, reinforced the remainder, added a glass curtain wall exterior, re-routed the overhead conveyor, and established administrative offices, creative and design studios, and C-level executive office space inside, all in a structure that functions as a 21st c. corporate headquarters while honoring the building’s and the city’s past.  My job was to feature all of this in 48 hours.

Traveling from Seattle to Muscatine, Iowa for a weekend project meant flying as light as possible to minimize costs and ease connections.


Photographers helping photographers!

My assistant and I eliminated unnecessary gear, threw our clothes into the stand bag, and hand-carried the cameras and lenses.  Late Friday afternoon, we landed and drove to Muscatine in time to meet with clients, scout the project, and prioritize and arrange the shot list around another photo crew and the summer sunlight.  Both Saturday and Sunday started by sunrise at 5:30am, then continued with inside photos after the Midwest summer sun made outdoor shots ugly – usually by about 7am!  With such an extensive shot list for three different clients, we stayed plenty busy indoors until the 90+ degree temps cooled a bit and the sun went down around 8:30pm – at which time the dusk shots were perfect.  I even managed to incorporate that other photographer who was kind enough to pose in a photo!

From a total take of over 1000 images to a final edited set of just under 200, including variations, the clients each chose their favorite two dozen shots.   While there was definitely some overlap, the variety of the final sets reflected the different visual needs of the three firms.  And finally, although not specifically on the shot list, I also created a short time lapse video of the newly rebuilt overhead conveyor.

In the end, this was both one of the most enjoyable, and most challenging, shoots of my career and the images helped showcase the project as a 2017 AIA-Iowa Design Award Winner.  And finally, by sharing costs three ways, each firm likely paid significantly less than hiring a photographer from as nearby as Chicago, even including the added airfare.  Win-win.

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