Renovation & Design

Pictures worth a 1,000 words

Progress photos are valuable for the contractor, client, reference, portfolio and more

Marc LaBossiere / Winnipeg Free Press

Keeping progress photos, like this elaborate support structure for a two-tiered deck with partial wrap-around stairs, is not only a good check-in with the homeowner to ensure deadlines are being met, but it’s great to show potential clients.

Long before my journey as a renovator and builder for hire began, a protocol of photo-logging had already taken hold. From the onset, I had grown accustomed to snapping daily pics, to serve as visual documentation of a project’s progress. Although self-serving in the beginning, it has proven to be quite utilitarian on the job site.

A photo is but a moment captured in time, whereas a chronological series of photos forms a visual diary, which can be easily accessed for review. Job-site photos have proven invaluable and often facilitate the entire process from start to finish. On more than one occasion, I have referred back to photos taken on previous days to confirm specifics of framework placement, wiring configurations, the locations of plumbing, etc. But these status photos are so much more than just a source of reference.

During the construction of my very first deck-build, progress photos were forwarded to my client’s mobile phone at every step of the way — I thought this was prudent, in that the client would be at work while the deck was being built.

On the last day, he quipped, "I love this, I just sit at my desk and status updates of my new deck appear on my phone." It’s obvious why this would be attractive to any client. More importantly, the sharing of job-site photos is a method of confirmation and validation, the client need not worry that the prescribed work isn’t getting accomplished in a timely manner, and the contractor can use the photos to facilitate discussions that involve questions or concerns regarding the finer details of the build — especially when the client isn’t on site to confer when unforeseen issues arise.

When I first started in the 2000s, the Canon Powershot G5 Digital Camera was my photo-capturing method of choice. The data on the memory card was ritualistically transferred to my PC hard-drive, each photo was touched-up in Photoshop and classified into the appropriate folders, which seems so laborious by today’s standards. My iPhone conveniently does most of the work for me now, from taking photos to photo-correction, uploads, etc. On a weekly basis, my smart-phone’s memory is simply backed up on to my PC. At last count, well over 85,000 job-site pictures have migrated onto my home office’s hard-drive. My favourite job-site photos are the ones, that upon later review, provide visually artsy surprises (such as symmetry or natural lighting effects) that had gone unnoticed when the photos were first taken. The more notable job-site photos remain on my iPhone, either for my own reference or more often to showcase past work accomplished, the pros and cons of certain design choices, as well as product examples for comparison when meeting with a potential client.

On several occasions, at the end of a job, a client requests that photos taken from the beginning of a project until its conclusion be compiled, and provided as a keepsake of the recent endeavour. More often than not, clients aren’t present for all, if any, of the steps along the way, which makes it fascinating for them to look back at the "pre-project" pictures and compare them with the "post" pictures. Moreover, clients enjoy watching how the project chronologically evolves before their eyes while scrolling through the photos.

From my perspective, daily progress photos seem to validate my efforts and justify my work that day. And after working on a project for sometimes months at a time, the act of taking "final" photos of the completed project allows me to "release" the project to the client — this may sound corny, but I live and breathe a project until it’s done. Passion evokes an intimate connection between the contractor and the project — total commitment, completely immersed.

And no matter how big or small the project, there’s always a "letting go" process once it’s over.

The final photos give me a sense of closure and allow me to shift my focus onto the next scheduled project. Call me sentimental, but it’s not uncommon for me to reflect on past projects from time to time. During these moments of nostalgia, it’s really nice to scroll through some job-site photos on my iPhone.


Browse Homes

Browse by Building Type