Whether he’s up in a helicopter or down in a transit tunnel, Zera especially likes that every job is a big puzzle to solve.

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Francis Zera

What do you do? I’m a Seattle-based architectural, commercial, and aviation photographer.

How did you get started in that field? My career began in journalism as a reporter and editor, and from there I moved into photojournalism. A fortuitous conversation with an interior designer led to my first architectural photography assignment, and I was hooked on the genre. From there, I invested lots of time, effort and money to properly learn the specialty. That first project happened about 15 years ago.

What’s a typical day like? As with many of the jobs featured in this column, there are not really any typical days. One day it’s doing marketing tasks, the next it’s equipment maintenance, managing data backups or doing prep or planning for an upcoming project. The day after that I might be in a helicopter for some aerial work, in a transit tunnel, a new building or perhaps photographing the rollout of a new jetliner.

What’s the best part of the job? My favorite parts of the job are the variety, being able to see and learn about the inner workings of huge construction projects and to be able to document the finished product. Every job is a big puzzle to solve — lighting, composition, staging, camera angles, models, logistics. It’s all a really fun challenge.

What surprises people about your work? People are often surprised at how much work and time it takes to plan and create a series of good photographs, especially an architecture project. But the end results are always worth the effort.

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