portland photographer

VLOG: Aerial and Exterior Photography of Vista Pearl by BORA Architects


Video Transcript

Hi, this is Lincoln Barbour of Lincoln Barbour Studio. Today I want to go over a shoot I did this summer and just give you a little overview of what we do here and how we get a job and how we deliver it and all the fun stuff that goes along with it. So this shoot was of the Vista Pearl building for BORA Architects, a firm based out of Portland Oregon. This building is located in the Pearl District of Portland.  BORA wanted me to capture some aerial photos of this building as well as retake some of the exteriors since the landscape has grown in after it’s been completed for a year or so.

They reached out to me and I’m an FAA licensed drone pilot so I can legally and safely fly a drone for commercial purposes. And the biggest difference between me, an FAA licensed pilot flying a drone, and anybody else is that I can get insurance. You can’t get insurance to fly your drone commercially unless you are licensed by the FAA. So safety and insurance are the main reasons why you want to hire an FAA pilot.

 This building in particular has a really interesting design feature on the east and west facades. There are these fins that change shape as they move down the building and we wanted the light to hit the fins to accentuate those different shadow lines that the building creates.  It’s a very exciting exterior and time of day was super critical for the shot. So we plan the shoot around getting this one shot in particular.

On the other side of the building we photographed the west exterior in the same kind of way.  We wanted to showcase the different shapes that were going on with the fins and the way the light affects them. This shot was actually taken from another building across the block. We were able to get access and go up to the fifth floor and shoot across. You can see there’s another building down here that we shot over. So pre scouting and coordinating with other building owners to get access is critical to these kind of shoots.

An unedited drone shot.

So now I want to show some of the drone shots that we got. This is the raw drone file and I wanted to show a before and after. So you can see what we get and then what we end up delivering to the client. This building was a beautiful building and it’s in a great setting. Unfortunately there’s a couple of things going on down in here.  There is some grass being grown and some water pipes and all this yellow fencing. It’s also early summer and the park here is starting to show some threadbare.  The green roof that they installed hasn’t quite matured. It’s supposed to look like this over here but it’s just still early plantings and so it wasn’t quite green yet although it is very much alive. So we were shooting this for their portfolio and as well as for a presentation. So we worked on the color and did some retouching. So you can see we sort of emphasize the sky. We richen up the sky. We retouched out the pipes and the orange fence. We made the grass down here green. And we made the roof look like a proper green roof. We also took down a sign that was here.  There was a blue leasing sign that was right here and we took that out.

The same drone shot as above after retouching.

So now we have a really beautiful, nice composition of the building. Again this is a drone shot, but it’s also architectural.  So the verticals have been kept all nice and straight and it has a very three dimensional feel.  It doesn’t look wonky and skewed.

Another angle of the Vista Pearl, this was purposefully shot underexposed to keep the highlights in check.

Here’s another angle. This was shot early in the morning and I wanted to save the highlights so I underexposed this photograph. And so I wanted to keep the highlight values in here to show that. But overall the photo looks kind of muddy and flat. We went in and worked up the color and brought it back to life.

The shot is edited to make the scene more interesting and still keep the highlights under control.

So now it’s a little bit more interesting. That’s got some nice drama. It’s got some great contrast. We also did the roof fix here and then the grass in the park has been retouched.  Going back, you can really see that the difference between the two.  So big change.   Some subtle adjustments and a bit of retouching as well.

An unedited drone shot highlighting several buildings designed by BORA.

Now here is this overview shot.  And this is really cool.  Several of these buildings are all done by BORA Architects and they really wanted to showcase this block that they’ve been working on over the last couple of years in Portland.  The only way to get this shot is with a drone.  Fortunately, the Pearl District is outside of the airspace of the Portland Airport, so I could actually get my drone back far enough to capture all these buildings. The day that I shot these drone exteriors was a little bit cloudier. I actually went twice to this project to photograph it and to shoot drone aerials. So on this day we have more drama in the sky. Again you can see the problems that we have. The grass is barren here. The roof isn’t green. This is looking a little rough and new.

The shot is now fully edited and being used by BORA for their own marketing and presentation needs.

So we went in and did some retouching and some color and contrast adjustments. Now we have a beautiful photograph. So this photo is now being used on their website, presentation and marketing materials.  It really does a good job showcasing the work that they do as a firm.

This patio image is a composite of two different photos.

This last shot is the patio area of Vista Pearl. I love the final composition but this is not a single photograph.  We got a composition of two different photographs.

This shot was used for the couple on the right and the overall lighting conditions.

The first one is the people on the right here.  We liked what they were doing, how they’re engaged with the people over here. With this shot there was a couple issues; we had some water spills and we had these kids which don’t really fit the building.  The building is designed more for people without children.

This shot was used for the couple on the left and the fire.

So we ended up using a frame later where we brought on this couple to sit with this couple. But the lighting wasn’t as good at this point. So what we did is we took these people and we added here to get this final composition.  So this is the final shot and the client was super happy and so am I.

It took us two days of shooting and about a half day of retouching to get everything done and we’re all very happy with these results.

If you have any questions and if you want to know more about how we photograph architecture please reach out to us. We would love to work for you and help you out with your photography needs. Thanks so much.

Back to Work

Me on set for Hunter Douglas. Photo by Anna Yumul
Me on set for Hunter Douglas. Photo by Anna Yumul


The move back to Portland is complete and what a journey it’s been! Today is my first day in my home office and it feels great. Since May 20th, I’ve either been packing boxes, flying across the country with my family (including three cats), living out of suitcases in multiple AirBNBs, unpacking boxes, building furniture, or have been on location for a 9 day photo shoot for Hunter Douglas in the Bay Area. It’s been a little crazy to say the least.

I am so happy to be back and my return has been well received. On top of a long photo shoot next month for Hunter Douglas, I’ve also booked three architectural shoots this month and have had over a dozen inquiries. It’s almost like I never left.

Okay, I’m off to it! Have a great day!


PS: If you have any projects you need photographed, please reach out to me.

Back to Portland Oregon

Portland Skyline from the Eastbank Esplanade
Portland Skyline from the Eastbank Esplanade

Exactly 4 years and one day after I made the announcement I was leaving Portland, OR for Charlottesville, VA I drafted this post. What makes that remarkable is that today… I am announcing that my family and I are officially moving back to Portland, OR! We’ll be back in PDX early this June of 2019.

It’s been a wild four years.

On April 4th, 2015, my wife, my mother-in-law, and I got on a United Airlines flight with a spirited 2-year-old toddler, a tiny lil’ 3 month-old-infant, and two fuzzy cats to set up life back in the town where my wife and I met. Ironically, immediately after arriving on the East Coast, I started booking lots of shoots back out on the West Coast. I instantly became a bi-coastal photographer. I continued to shoot in Oregon and California while growing my client base here in Virginia, New York, and throughout the Southeast. I’ve flown more in the past 4 years than I have in my entire life. Not mention, I nearly doubled the mileage I was driving for shoots when I was in Portland. Life has been very different since we moved to Virginia.

New beginnings

2018 was a transformative year for me and my family. We started digging into what we really want out of life and a big piece of that puzzle is where do we want to live. Though we love Charlottesville and being close to family here is super helpful, ultimately Portland is a special place to us and we feel it’s where we belong. As luck would have it, we’re actually moving back with some family; my mother-in-law has decided to join us on this next big adventure. We’re stoked!

“Stumptown Photographer” has a nice ring to it

I’m really looking forward to being based out of Portland again. If you’ve never been, I can best describe it as super friendly green city, that’s bike friendly, full of amazing parks, and brimming with hygge. Plus the food / beer / coffee scene is amazing. I’m into that kind of stuff. ????

And so, with hopeful excitement I say, “Hello again!” to Portland and with a warm heart I say “Au revoir” to dear Charlottesville.

See you Portlanders on June 7th, 2019!!!

If you have any projects you need photographed in Portland, Seattle, the Pacific NW, and beyond, reach out to me today!