Photography Project – Residential Architecture for Stoltz:Kau Architects

Photography Project – Residential Architecture for Stoltz:Kau Architects

I’m always working with clients to find ways to stretch their budgets.

Stoltz:Kau Architects – Photographing Two Homes on Orcas Island, WA

Stoltz:Kau Architects are a husband-and-wife team on Orcas Island, the largest island in the San Juan Islands chain in far northwestern Washington State.  The market for custom retirement and vacation homes on the island is robust, and Stoltz:Kau is one of a handful of full-time architecture firms staying busy on Orcas.

As a small firm, Stoltz:Kau’s marketing budget is always tight.  As someone who’s been shooting for more than 20 years, I’m always working with clients to find ways to stretch their budgets so they can get the images they need, and I can shoot cool new projects!  The most obvious way to stretch dollars is by booking multiple projects on a single contract which allows me to:

  • offer repeat client discounts
  • bundle digital charges, delivery, and other costs together
  • spread any travel, overnight, assistants, and other fixed costs across more than one project

Since Susan and David had a backlog of projects to photograph, they decided to shoot two at the same time to increase their value.  Each of the projects was very different, for clients in different circumstances, but each had similar considerations: contemporary styling, energy efficiency, and maximizing views, sunshine, and other site characteristics.

Parked high on the NE-facing slope of 1400 ft. Buck Mountain, the Buck Mtn. Cabin spreads the living and active spaces across several smaller structures that do double duty as work / hobby spaces, as well as overflow guest spaces, for this newly-retired couple and their regular visitors.  Materials were kept simple and durable to minimize cost, and the compact spaces were kept flexible and open to accommodate a variety of uses.  Most importantly, every room was oriented toward the water below and distant Mt. Baker.

On the extreme NW edge of the island, the Lover’s Cove House perches above President Channel that separates Orcas from nearby Waldron Island.  The homeowners are established professionals who live and work full-time on the island, so this project has a more polished feel.  Orientation to the water and west-facing views also meant dealing with long, warm summer sunlight that can beat on the house up to 16 hours a day in June and July.

After making the 90 minute drive and hour-long ferry ride from Seattle to Orcas, my assistant and I photographed both projects on back-to-back summer days.  16 hours of daylight means a lot of time for image-making!   On these projects we started by 7:30-8am each day, then hung around for dusk shots by 9:30-10 in the evening.  The full set of about 350 images per house was edited down to roughly 50 each, from which the clients chose a combined total of 18 images, split however they liked between the two projects, to have retouched and delivered as full-rez TIFF files.  The remainder of the roughly 100 images were also delivered as an image library of un-retouched, screen-resolution jpegs suitable for websites and other on-screen uses.

All told, by booking two projects on one contract, Stoltz:Kau saved more than $800 off the cost of shooting the projects separately, and received a large set of images of both properties.  In addition, the qaulity of the final photos helped the Buck Mtn. Cabin be accepted for inclusion in the Taunton Press book, The Family Cabin thereby garnering the firm even more publicity.

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