About

Nice to meet you.

Image courtesy of Alisa Steck / Rocketroom.

Francis Zera is an award-winning architectural, aerial, and commercial photographer based in Seattle, USA. He’s been through business school, journalism school, art school, graduate school (M.A. Ed.), and the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy. He is also a private pilot and an FAA certificated commercial sUAS (drone) pilot.

He travels light, loves flying in aircraft that don't have doors, can think on his feet, has a valid passport, and plays well with art directors and producers. He's a Phase One Certified Professional, one of only 39 Phase One Certified Technicians worldwide, and a past instructor of architectural photography at the Art Institute of Seattle.

Equipment and tools of the trade:

For stills, we offer the use of an Alpa 12-Max medium-format digital technical camera with Schneider and Rodensrock lenses coupled with a Phase One back, along with a Mamiya 645DF+ camera and Mamiya/Schneider lenses. We also have several Canon camera bodies, a full suite of perspective-control lenses, and an extensive kit of Profoto lighting. We use Capture One for tethering and preliminary editing, and the Adobe CC suite for pretty much everything else. For the video side of things, we have access to RED cinema cameras, the aforementioned Canon DSLRs, plenty of grip and professional audio gear, and a commercially-licensed drone.
An Apple-based editing suite with your choice of Adobe Premiere Pro or Apple Final Cut Pro rounds it all out. Then there's the collection of vintage film & video cameras. It’s not so much the tools as how you use them, but if you ever want to geek out over gear, give me a call.

  1. Shoot(s) are scheduled / contract is signed / deposit received
  2. Once deposit is received, client is free to contact the photographer for assistance with planning, etc.
  3. Planning begins: scouting, access arrangements are made, props, stylists interviewed and hired, assistant(s) are scheduled, models sourced and hired, etc.
  4. The photographer will contact the client in the days before the shoot date(s) to confirm
  5. The shoot will take place on the scheduled day(s)
  6. Within one business day of the shoot's completion, an online gallery of proofs will be available to the client, who will receive access information via e-mail
  7. Client is free to solicit the photographer's input in making their final image selections (additional post-production/retouching work is not included and is billable). The client submits a list of the desired image numbers to the photographer via e-mail. The list is not considered to have been received by the photographer until the client receives an e-mail or phone call acknowledging that he has received the list. Acceptance is assumed at this point.
  8. If requested, the client's final images are corrected for exposure, color and dust spots; requested cropping will be done on a duplicate image such that the client will also receive the un-cropped original. Normal turnaround from receipt of client's selections to uploading to the server or mailing of the CD is seven (7) business days. Faster delivery will incur a rush fee based on the number of images requested and the requested turnaround. There is a rush fee. All express delivery costs are to be pre-paid by the client.
  9. Archiving: The photographer archives the client's images using currently-accepted archiving standards and takes all reasonable precautions to preserve the integrity of those images. The photographer is not responsible for the inability to retrieve or access the images for any reason and accepts no liability for providing this archiving service. Archived images can be accessed by the client for the standard post-production fee plus the cost of media and shipping.

Ever since my dad actually took my Kodachrome away when I was a kid because he was going broke from paying for processing all my film, I knew that making photographs was my passion. Sure, I got sidetracked by a pretty successful career as a news reporter and editor, but I didn't let that stop me from blowing many thousands of dollars on film and art school before the advent of digital cameras changed everything.

The underlying photographic skill set – lighting, camera angles, exposure, color correction – were learned the hard way – what I consider to be the right way – back when exposure tests were done using Polaroids, light and color meters and lots of meticulous attention to detail. That, or maybe I'm just getting old.

Don't get me wrong – I'm an absolute technophile – wait'll you see the piles of up-to-date camera gear I lug to your shoot. But I'm a firm believer that the best images are still made in the camera, not on the computer.

And, you'll notice a bit of variety in my image galleries. To be sure, this is an age of specialization, but having a broad set of skills and experiences really makes one more useful. To wit:

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

~ Robert Heinlein

To date, I've managed all of those (I've been a fry cook, farmhand, lifeguard, firefighter, reporter, whitewater raft guide, NCAA rowing coach, a college instructor, and now a private pilot and commercial drone pilot), save for the part about dying gallantly. I'll hold off on that one until some point in the far-distant future, thanks.

Having worked both sides of the profession gives me a solid understanding of how to communicate, how to smoothly and gracefully translate client requests into the reality of a shoot, and how to respect a client's vision and build the shoot around it to create images that are better for the collaborative efforts.

I've spent the past 20+ years photographing architecture and construction, and even longer photographing travel and aviation. The only thing better than photographing a building is getting to travel to do it. I'm fortunate to have been able to combine two of my favorite things into a successful career.

Client List

  • 3 Delta Fox
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Alpolic Materials
  • Amtrak
  • Ankrom Moisan Architects
  • Apollo Mechanical
  • Berschauer Phillips Construction
  • Best Western Hotels
  • BNBuilders
  • Buffalo Design
  • Carrier Corp./Transicold
  • Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority,
    aka Sound Transit
  • Clark Construction
  • Coffman Engineers
  • Combined Construction
  • Consigli Construction
  • Coughlin Porter Lundeen Engineers
  • Delta Airlines
  • Deutsche Bank AG
  • Digitas
  • DIRTT
  • Dow Chemical Company
  • Dwell magazine
  • Engineering News-Record
  • Equity Residential Corp.
  • Flatiron Construction
  • Foster + Partners
  • General Glass, Inc. (GGI)
  • Getty Images
  • Getzner Werkstoffe GmbH
  • GGLO Architects
  • Gordon / Alpro Acoustics
  • Guy F. Atkinson Construction
  • Hainan Airlines
  • Henley USA / MainVue Homes
  • Hilton Hotels
  • Holophane Lighting
  • Hotel Indigo
  • Icelandair
  • Kiewit
  • KMD Architects
  • Knight Wall Systems
  • Leica Camera A.G.
  • Marriott Hotels
  • McGranahan Architects
  • MHC Productions — Los Angeles
  • Microsoft
  • Milliken
  • Mitsubishi Plastics Composites America Inc.
  • Museum of Flight, Seattle
  • NASA / Johnson Space Center
  • Navutu Dreams Resort, Cambodia
  • Navutu Stars Resort, Fiji
  • Northwestern Energy, Montana
  • Notkin
  • Nyhus
  • Olson Kundig Architects
  • PCL Construction
  • Perkins + Will
  • Populous Architects
  • Port of Seattle / Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
  • PPG Industries
  • Propeller Airports
  • PSF Mechanical
  • RAB Lighting
  • Raynor Garage Doors
  • RMiller Construction
  • Ronstan Architectural
  • Quest Aircraft Corp.
  • Schreiber Starling Whitehead Architects
  • Schuco
  • Singapore Airlines
  • SpeeWest
  • SRG Partnership
  • Starwood Hotels & Resorts
  • Synergy Construction
  • Tatoosh Distillery
  • UPS Airlines
  • Valley Electric
  • VIA Architecture
  • Vitra
  • Vitro Architectural Glass
  • Westin Hotels
  • Zeiss Optics