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Navigating AI in Photography: Opportunities & Limitations for Manufacturers

Hear from the “Official Photographer of the Home Building Industry” on the impact of AI on photography, the importance of copyright protection and how to create captivating visuals for builders and architects.

Photo of Zach Williams
Photo of Beth PopNikolov
by Zach Williams and Beth PopNikolov
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In this episode, Zach talks with Chad Davies, the owner of Davies Imaging Group, about the evolving landscape of AI in photography and its potential implications. Plus, the importance of copyright in the photography industry and the implications for companies using imagery in their marketing collateral.

Chad also shares his insights on working with builders and architects, understanding their target audiences and creating captivating visuals.

Episode Rundown

02:33 - How different audiences require tailored approaches

04:52- How luxury and entry-level home photography differs

08:44 - How to use AI to fill in and enhance your photos quickly

13:50 - Ways to ensure proper ownership and usage of photos

Meet Chad Davies

Chad Davies is the founder and owner of Davies Imaging Group, a photography business specializing in large corporate home-building companies and commercial architecture.

Chad's journey in photography began at the age of 17 when he started shooting for an interior designer while in high school. Despite graduating with a degree in math and economics instead of photography, he realized his passion for the industry and decided to focus on working with developers.

In 2016, Davies Imaging Group was established, and since then, the company has expanded its services to include workplace environments, healthcare, life sciences and any type of construction project.

With a team of photographers spanning across six states, their business is thriving and experiencing impressive growth. As a former ProBuilder's Forty Under 40 award winner , Chad's dedication and love for his work have contributed to the company's success.

Builders vs. Architects: How Photography of Their Projects Differ

Chad discusses the importance of aligning photography with the brand of the builder or architect.

Builders

When photographing homes for builders, the aim is to make the images visually compelling and unique. The goal is to entice potential homebuyers to stop scrolling and engage with the listing. The imagery should evoke emotions and make buyers fall in love with the house even before seeing it in person.


The whole idea is just to get a homebuyer to stop the scroll. When they're flipping through Zillow or they're online looking for new houses, we want them to stop.” — Chad Davies


Chad notes that builders tend to have a distinct brand identity, whether targeting a luxury or entry-level market. The photography style should align with the brand's intent and appeal to the target demographic.

For example, luxury homes may require a warmer, more luxurious feel while entry-level homes may benefit from a cleaner, modern look.

Architects

Architects often rely on photography to showcase their work and sell their ideas to developers. Storytelling becomes an integral part of architectural photography, where multiple elements need to be captured in a set of images to convey the project's complexity.

Collaborative spaces, design elements and historical references are often emphasized to create a captivating visual narrative.

Architects

Storytelling Through Images

Images have the power to tell compelling stories. Chad discussed how architects can highlight the unique elements of their projects and showcase their design expertise through well-crafted photographs.

Builders want to create an emotional connection with potential buyers by capturing the essence of a home before they even step foot inside. They can use imagery to demonstrate the quality and reliability of the materials they use, instilling confidence in potential clients.

Photographers specializing in this field can go beyond merely documenting materials — they can capture the narrative behind their selection and use.

Storytelling through building materials imagery adds depth and context to what might otherwise be considered mundane subjects.

AI vs. Traditional Photography

With the rise of AI technology, Zach raises the question of whether AI imagery poses a threat to traditional photography.

Chad believes that it won't replace traditional photography anytime soon. While AI can generate 3D visuals and assist with certain aspects of photography, it cannot fully replicate the artistry and creative decisions made by a human photographer. Chad believes that AI will continue to evolve but doesn't see it as a direct competition to professional photography.

He shared insights into the current state of AI imagery and how photographers can leverage their experience and expertise to create a unique visual narrative that resonates with their clients.

While AI technology has made significant strides in various industries, including photography, it's unlikely to replace traditional photography in the realm of building materials anytime soon.


I don't think we're at a point yet where AI is going to be replacing the photography you lean on for two or three years. I think that's because there's a sense of realism that's lost.” — Chad Davies


The uniqueness and complexity of architectural and construction projects often require a human touch. Experienced photographers can bring out the nuances, textures and subtleties of building materials that AI might overlook.

Additionally, clients in the construction and architecture sectors often value the expertise and artistic interpretation that photographers bring to their projects.

However, this doesn't mean that AI has no role to play. AI tools can assist photographers in tasks like image enhancement, but they are more likely to complement human creativity rather than replace it.

What Manufacturers Need to Know About Copyrights

Zach asks Chad about the copyright implications of using generative AI in photography. Chad explains that copyright protects the creator of an asset, such as a photograph, and assigns them ownership by default.


Companies can only use those assets if they have permission. If they don't have permission ... it could escalate into a legal issue.” — Chad Davies


Copyright protection is a cornerstone of the creative industry, ensuring that artists, photographers and other creative professionals receive fair compensation for their work.

In the United States, creators own their photos unless they transfer the rights to someone else through a contract. Companies can use these assets only with the photographer's permission and proper licensing.

Chad emphasizes the importance of understanding copyright laws and respecting photographers' rights. Unauthorized use of photos can result in legal issues and financial penalties.

Companies should ensure they have contracts or invoices that prove they have the rights to use the photos on their websites and marketing materials.

Knowing the source of the photos used and obtaining them from the photographer, rather than a third party, is crucial to avoid copyright violations.

What This Means For Building Materials Manufacturers

Here are four key takeaways for manufacturers that can pave the way for success in the rapidly evolving building materials industry.

  • Understand Your Audience: Building materials manufacturers should focus on understanding their target audience and their specific needs and preferences. By aligning the visual content with the buyer persona, manufacturers can create a stronger emotional connection and increase engagement.

  • Consistent Brand Imagery: Building materials manufacturers should ensure that the photography and imagery used in their marketing efforts align with their brand identity. Consistency in style and visual language can reinforce brand recognition and build trust with potential customers.

  • Collaborate with Experts: Leveraging the expertise of professional photographers can make a significant impact on the quality and effectiveness of visual marketing materials. Working closely with photographers who understand the industry can help manufacturers showcase their products in the best possible light.

Stay Updated with Design Trends: Keep a pulse on the latest design trends and preferences in the building industry. This ensures that your imagery aligns with current aesthetics and resonates with your target audience.

Want Even More Insight?

Imagery has the power to influence purchasing decisions. By presenting your building materials in the most appealing and compelling way, you can capture the attention of your target audience. As you plan your marketing strategies, don't overlook the power of visual storytelling.

If you want to reach out to Chad, you can connect with him on LinkedIn.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts on this topic, feel free to email us at [email protected]. Don't forget to like and subscribe to the podcast on your preferred platform for more valuable insights.

More About The Show

The Smarter Building Materials Marketing podcast helps industry professionals find better ways to grow leads, sales and outperform the competition. It’s designed to give insights on how to create a results-driven digital marketing strategy for companies of any size.