Stan Zaslavsky

5 Keys to Background Photography for Beautiful 3D Photo-montages

We are often asked to create 3D photo-montages for projects which encapsulate the vision of the property developer and entice prospective purchasers on how good the development will look when completed. To create this, a simple 3D artist impression alone is not going to do enough for the project – especially if there are some specific points of interest in the location of the development.

So, in order to make your project stand out in a way that is beyond just the beauty of the development, we bring in features of the surroundings through location-specific photography.

But this photography can either “make” or “break” the image and, if it’s done well, can take the project’s perception to a whole new level. So, in this article, we wanted to discuss the artistry and some of the specific elements to keep in mind in order for us to create an effective 3D photomontage.

Key 1 – Decide on the Mood for the Photography

More important than anything for this kind of 3D photo-montage, is the decision on the mood of the shot. When it comes to artist impressions, we can orient the sun and position it with lot of control within the boundaries of the “impression” term, however, when it comes to reality, we have to work with nature and its conditions.

Once there is a decision on the kind of mood for the shot, whether daylight or dusk/sunset style – we go to standby mode and have the team ready to go in case the right conditions present themselves.

Some of the mood styles are:

  • Daylight
  • Dusk
  • Twilight
  • Dawn

Key 2 – Be Flexible

Although this has very little to do with technical equipment or logistics – this has been one of the most important keys to date for us. Being flexible and ready to change photoshoot plans has been a really important aspect of great photomontages and having your photographers understand this is just as critical.

Especially in Melbourne, where the weather changes quite quickly – sunlight, clouds and sky may change in an instant and if we’ve made a decision on the mood of the shot – the team must be ready to jump at an immediate notice when the conditions are right.

Key 3 – Prepare for the 3D Photo-montage Style

There are a number of styles to photomontages and based on the requirements of the image, different equipment will need to be utilised.

Photomontage Styles

  • Streetscape
  • Semi-Aerial
  • Full Aerial
  • Panorama

Streetscape 3D Montages

These are typically created with different objectives in mind – either for marketing off-the-plan or for permit applications.

Have a read of this article on the differences of these styles in this article: Photo-Montage or Full 3D Artist Impression?

Most often, the background photography for these images is shot either with a tripod or hand-held camera.

One thing to look out for is the vertical lines on buildings and to get them straightened out.

This helps with the perception of the building – otherwise, it may look like the building is falling down. See an example of the same photo with and without the verticals corrected:

Semi-aerial 3D Photo-Montages

The difference between the full and semi-aerial for background photography is not large, however, the semi-aerial shots could be achieved without a drone or helicopter, which incur much greater costs to the photography.

However, when the entire project is taken into account, the difference in costs is dwarfed by the overall value of what a great photo can deliver for a sales campaign for a project.

In Melbourne, there are photographers with extendable booms on their vehicles or “cherry-pickers” to raise the photographer to a higher elevation for the shoot.

The 3D Montage below is an example of a semi-aerial photo-montage:

Full Aerial Photography

At heights above 20m, the options to obtain photography like this changes considerably and most of the time it is now being done by a drone, however, balloons, helicopters and light planes are also utilised.

Below is an example image of a full aerial photomontage.

Panorama Aerial Photography

A number of photos are taken and then composed together to produce a background photo to be used in our renders and either a drone or a helicopter could achieve this. However for a helicopter – this is where it starts to get much into a cinematic experience, as Cineflex cameras and gimbals are required and these are much more expensive than a drone, that can be rotated manually and the photos stitched together for a wider shot.

The aerial montage below was created from an octacopter drone photo shoot:

Key 4 – Consider who should be present aside from the photographer

We are very hands-on when it comes to aerial photography – aside from the photographers with the appropriate equipment, we do our best to make it to the shoot and ensure that the shots being done are the right ones.

For VCAT or town-planning photography – it is highly recommended to have the town planner or project architect present, as they have specific requirements for the 3D visuals.

You can have a read more about the town planning montage process here: 3 Keys to Effective 3D Photomontages for Council and VCAT Applications

Key 5 – What Equipment is Used

This is mostly the domain of the photographer and the brief – but just to keep you acquainted with it – aside from the camera and lenses that your photographer will use to get the photography done – the following are some of the specific pieces of equipment that may be used in the photography shoot:

  • Tripod
  • Balloon
  • Quad or Octacopter Drone
  • Proprietary Extendable Booms up to 20m
  • Helicopter / Light plane

Effective Photography is Critical to Your Architectural Visualisation

Creating high-quality 3D photo montages can be quite a complex process, however, if you keep in mind the first two keys – from there on its all about selecting the right team with the appropriate technical prowess and their equipment.

Get in touch with us if you have any other specific questions.

To your development success,


Stan Zaslavsky

LREA, BEng (Mech with Honours) / BTech (Industrial Design), VPELA

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