The Importance of Photo Documentation in Construction
Photo documentation is an essential part of every construction project. Whether you are a project manager, engineer, architect or the subcontractor it is important to have a well organized visual record of the site at different stages of the project. However, documenting the jobsite can be a time consuming and tedious process. In this article, we will explore the importance of photo documentation and ways to make this task as easy and fast as possible.
Table of Contents
What is Photo Documentation?
Photo documentation is the process of taking photographs of a construction site as it changes over time. The main purposes of photo documentation are:
- Progress tracking: Photos are taken at regular intervals to document the progress of the project and ensure that it is on schedule.
- Quality control: Photos are used to document the quality of the work being done and identify any potential issues that need to be addressed. They can also be used to resolve disputes if they arise in the future.
- Compliance: Construction projects must comply with a wide range of standards, regulations, and codes. Photos are used to demonstrate that the project is in compliance with these requirements, which is crucial to obtain the necessary permits and approvals, and avoid legal disputes.
- As-built documentation: Photos are used to document the final construction, which can be used for future reference and as a record of what was built.
Details to include with each photo
When conducting photo documentation, it is important to include certain information with each photograph to ensure that it can be properly organized and used for its intended purpose. The following information should be recorded with each photo:
Date and time:
This information tells ‘when’ a photo was taken and is often used to track the progress of the project. Most cameras and phones will store this information automatically in the photo’s metadata. It is often stamped onto each photo in the form of a timestamp and is used as evidence in various reports and documents.
This provides information on ‘where’ each photo was taken. The level of detail required may vary from project to project, but at a minimum each photo should have the geolocation (GPS) information on it so you can verify which site the photo was taken at. For more complex projects (such as a multi-level building) or for more detailed tasks (such as logging defects to be fixed), it is recommended to mark the exact location on a construction plan for future reference.
This information is used to provide a brief description of what the photo shows, such as the type of work being done or any issues that are visible in the photo. This often provides context on ‘why’ a photo was taken. A brief description or caption with the photo to accompany the update, describe what is wrong, or outline what needs to be done is very valuable to good photo documentation.
Who took the photo:
This information is used to identify the person who took the photo for future reference. For larger projects, multiple team members may be taking site photos so it’s always good practice to have this information recorded along with the photo.
Why good photo documentation is so hard to do
Despite its importance, photo documentation can be challenging to do properly. With so much going on at a construction site, it’s easy to get sloppy or forget to do it on a regular basis. Some of the major reasons of this include:
- Time constraints: Construction workers are typically very busy, with many tasks to complete in a limited amount of time. This can make it difficult to take the necessary photos at regular intervals and ensure that all relevant aspects of the project are covered.
- Volume of photos: Construction projects can generate thousands of photos, which can be overwhelming to organize and manage manually. It can be challenging to keep track of all the photos and make sure that they are properly labeled, categorized, and stored.
- Backup: Backing up the photos can be a tedious process, especially when dealing with large numbers of photos. Many construction companies still require their workers to manually back up their site photos to the company server. This is often an extremely time-consuming task that nobody wants to do.
- Multiple photographers: When multiple team members are documenting photos, it can be hard to keep them in sync. This can lead to inconsistencies in the photos and make it difficult to compare the photos taken at different times.
Ways to improve your photo documentation process
Use a cloud-based solution
If you are still doing everything the old manual way, using a cloud-based solution for your photo documentation process will drastically improve efficiency and collaboration. This can include using a cloud-based storage service, such as Dropbox, or using a cloud-based photo management solution, such as SiteCam. Cloud-based solutions allow for easy access to your files from any device, as well as real-time collaboration with team members. SiteCam includes built-in tools for organizing, sorting, and searching your files.
Utilize tags and keywords
Another way to improve your photo documentation process is to utilize tags and keywords. This can include adding keywords to the file name or adding tags to the file itself. These tags and keywords can be used to organize and sort your files, as well as to make them more searchable. If you use SiteCam you can simply add tags to your photos while you are capturing them, eliminating the need of doing manual organization back in the office.
Pin every photo to a map or a plan
When you have thousands of photos that all look very similar it can become impossible to remember where each photo was taken. By using an app like SiteCam, you can quickly take a photo and mark the exact location on a map or on a construction drawing. No need to manually write down where each photo was taken.
Create a schedule for taking photos
Finally, one of the most important things to do to improve your photo documentation process is to create a schedule for taking photos. This schedule should include regular intervals, such as daily, weekly, or monthly, depending on the size and complexity of your project. By creating a schedule, you will ensure that you are taking photos at the right times and that you are capturing all of the important stages of the project.
Try SiteCam for Free
If you want to shortcut your way to great construction photo documentation, try SiteCam for free and see how a dedicated site photo management app will streamline this process for you and your team. Sign up here: