Does this sound familiar?
You snap a photo of an issue on your jobsite and email it to an office colleague to discuss how to address it.
Three months later, your colleague asks you to re-send the photo to help resolve a dispute. No problem – you just have to grab it from your email.
Only … when did you send the photo? And where on the large construction site was the issue in question? After digging through your sent messages and overflowing inbox, you finally find the photo you need – but you’ve spent time you don’t really have to spare. Definitely not ideal.
There’s no doubt that using photos to document your construction project is a smart move, but if you don’t have a good system in place to manage those photos, they can start to feel like more of a burden than a benefit.
Enter: Construction photo apps that help you document your site while keeping your images organized. In this blog, we’ll take a look at five top apps that make photo documentation easier.
Why Your Photo Documentation Needs an App
Folks in the construction industry realize the value of taking photos to document their projects.
According to a recent report, the number two reason for mobile device use in the field is to capture photos and video.
And it makes sense: Visual documentation streamlines workflows, clarifies communication, and helps to create an accurate and indisputable project record – all of which has the potential to save time and money.
But many people rely on email and text to share valuable photos, or upload them to a folder that has to be manually maintained. With these methods, you run the risk of turning construction photo management into a time-consuming hassle.
Construction photo management you don’t have to think about
Construction photo apps make it easy to capture, share, and comment on photos straight from the jobsite.
This is a similar enough workflow to taking photos and then emailing or texting them, but there’s a key difference.
Photo apps deliver a vital benefit missing from email- and text-based photo management: Photo software automatically keeps your photos organized so they are easily searchable and retrievable. And when images aren’t lost or siloed in folders, email chains, and text threads, they are much more useful.
Additionally, photo apps make it possible to make full use of your photos from the field – in the moment and throughout the construction process.
With photo documentation software, you can:
Visually document work where it happens
Capturing data at the source and sharing it in real time from the field boosts the accuracy of your project information.
Using cloud-based photo software on a mobile device sidesteps the problems that arise when data is collected and shared piecemeal after the fact.
Effortlessly connect photos to other project information
Using an app eliminates the extra steps required in manual data transfer and makes it easy to link visuals to the rest of your documentation.
Streamline communication and dissolve data silos
Sharing project photos across the team in real time makes field-to-office communication and workflows more efficient – stakeholders can see and discuss exactly what’s happening in the field, no matter where they are.
With apps, you can shift away from traditional upload/download or sharing photos via email and text. These common practices can threaten data integrity, keep teams in the dark, and leave photos languishing in old emails or unorganized folders.
Track project progress from the field
Comparing images at different points in time can help you monitor and report on how your project is taking shape. Apps quickly and easily enable such comparisons because they can keep images organized by date, location, and other characteristics.
Without organized images, it can be difficult to track down a single photo you need, let alone two or more taken of the same spot over time. This makes it tough to understand or share actual construction progress.
Easily search your collection of photos
On the other hand, when photos are hastily stored in disorderly folders or buried in email inboxes or text threads, project team members have no choice but to spend precious time hunting for images they need.
Essential Traits of a Photo Documentation App
Ultimately, construction photo apps are a means of easily incorporating photos into your project communication, workflows, and documentation.
You can avoid the complicated workflows of manual photo sharing, time wasted searching siloed emails and texts for images, and the headaches of an incomplete or inaccurate project record.
That said, not all photo apps are created equal. To make photo sharing truly seamless, apps need to have certain characteristics:
With a cloud-based app, your photos are securely shared and stored in one place so that all stakeholders have access to them from anywhere.
Without the cloud, photos can easily fall through the cracks – caught up in email and text chains, not passed on quickly, or siloed in systems that don’t integrate.
It almost goes without saying that construction photo documentation software should be quick and easy to use in the field. After all, photos capture conditions and activity on the jobsite.
An effective photo app will have an intuitive interface, integrate with other software in your stack, and work on both iOS and Android devices.
It should also work even when you’re offline – you want to be able to capture photos and collect data whether or not you have a reliable internet connection on site.
3. Equipped with annotation tools
Photos on their own convey a wealth of information. But being able to annotate photos and add comments helps your team see exact issues clearly and quickly – saving time and avoiding confusion.
4. Simple linking of photos to other project documentation
Photos provide crucial context to other digital project data like drawings, change orders, RFIs, or daily reports. A photo app should make it easy to use your images to support other forms of documentation.
When this information is shared in real-time – thanks to the cloud – it gets everyone on the same page, which speeds up workflows and cuts down on miscommunication.
5. Easy to search
A photo app takes the “photo organizing” task off your plate, automatically recording time, date, location, and even user information.
It should be simple to find any image that’s been captured over the course of your construction project by filtering for any of those attributes.
Geolocating photos on a dynamic map and linking them to other geo-referenced project data helps stakeholders see at a glance where work – and any related issues – are happening, not just in the context of the plan but in relation to the real world.
With your photos, video, and project data connected to each other and to their actual location, teams can better understand the big picture and improve decision-making.
5 Construction Photo Apps That Simplify Jobsite Documentation
With the above traits in mind, we’ve highlighted some top picks here.
CompanyCam’s sole focus is photos and using them to communicate. It stands apart from other software options in this list that include photo documentation as part of a larger construction management platform.
With CompanyCam, photos that users take on mobile devices in the field to document work and show progress are saved with information on who took the photo, when, and where.
These photos are stored in the cloud and organized in a real-time photo feed by project as well as by location and date. Construction team members with the app can tag each other and comment on photos – making it easy to gain clarity on issues and stay on the same page until they’re resolved.
CompanyCam gives users the ability to connect tasks to photos as well as to easily create photo-centric reports that can be shared to show project progress.
- In-app commenting, mentioning, and voice notes
- Integrations with Salesforce, Jobber, Hover, and others through Zapier
- Free trial available
Pricing (billed annually)
- Basic: Free up to 50 projects
- Pro: $16 user / month
- Premium: $24 user / month
OnePlace by Unearth
OnePlace is map-based software that’s built for the field.
It geolocates project data – photos, video, and drone imagery as well as drawings and forms – and displays it on a dynamic map rather than saving it in endless folder structures or siloed email and text threads.
But what does this mean in the context of jobsite photo documentation?
As field crews snap photos and video on the work site, those visuals are added to your project map at the points where they were captured, so you can see not only what’s happening but exactly where it’s happening.
And because photos are timestamped, you create a visual project record with every added image – making it easy to see project progress over time.
This kind of organization makes it easy to search your photos and project documents by location. Simply highlight an area of your project on the map, and see all the photos and information associated with that particular location.
Notably, OnePlace users can tag and comment on photos, link them to other documentation, or add them as stand-alone assets. Users can also add unlimited viewers to their project - collaborators who can view and comment on the map.
- Simple interface designed for easy use in the field
- Custom map views to see project progress over time
- Ability to import and geolocate drone orthomosaics, satellite imagery, and 360-degree photos
- Integrations with Procore, Bentley iTwin, and Trimble
- Unearth is now a part of Procore, stay tuned for updates on when map-based capabilities will be available in the Procore platform
OpenSpace is construction photo documentation software that enables users to capture and share 360-degree photos and video of their jobsites.
Using the app paired with a helmet-mounted 360-degree camera, a user can walk a project site with the camera running to create a virtual walk-through. This can be shared with stakeholders to reduce the number of required site visits – or eliminate the need for them completely.
The app’s Field Notes feature makes it possible for project teams to communicate on specific issues or observations documented with detailed photos captured during site walks. Comments, tasks, and tags in Field Notes ensure that issues get handled and messages don’t get overlooked.
360-degree photos and videos, standard mobile photos, and Field Notes are automatically mapped to floor plans, so teams know exactly where and how work is shaping up – and where any problems are. And with BIM capability, users can compare between on-site conditions and 3-D models.
OpenSpace has three subscription tiers: OpenSpace Basic, OpenSpace Capture, and OpenSpace ClearSight.
OpenSpace Basic and Capture include the above described functionality while OpenSpace ClearSight provides progress tracking capabilities, using AI to analyze jobsite images and recognize, track, and quantify work in place.
- Hands-free visual documentation
- Visuals and project communication linked to their on-site location
- Integrations with Procore, PlanGrid, and BIM360
- OpenSpace Basic: Free, limited version of OpenSpace Capture
- OpenSpace Capture and ClearSight: Variable pricing based on product selection and project volume
As a user walks a site to fill out a daily report, any photos and videos they capture in the field are automatically included in the form. This provides valuable context to everything they have recorded.
The user can also make markups directly on the photos and add descriptions.
The time-stamped images are stored in a gallery that updates in real time and is accessible by field and office. And because the photos are organized by project and date, they’re easy to track down anytime they’re needed.
- Digital field reports that incorporate photos
- Automated sharing of progress reports – including photos – with clients
- Integrations with data storage, accounting, and project management software providers
- Free trial available
- Custom pricing
Multivista is unique in this list for offering a suite of photography services in conjunction with desktop and mobile photo management software. In fact, it bills itself as a “leading construction documentation services” company.
Multivista’s experienced construction photographers take photos – standard or 360-degree – documenting your site at specific milestones. They can also visit on a monthly basis to capture progress shots.
Additionally, they can perform 3D walkthroughs, capture drone imagery, and set up webcams on your site, so you can customize how your site is visually documented.
Visuals are linked to project plans, organized by date and location, and securely stored on Multivista’s cloud-based platform. Your team can view and comment on the visual record of your project through a web-based portal or Multivista’s app from anywhere at anytime.
Multivista’s app gives users the ability to take and upload their own photos from the field, as well as pin them to drawings. You can access your project’s visual documentation on your mobile device for reference in the field, and can communicate directly on images using markup and commenting capabilities.
- High-quality visual documentation services by experienced photographers
- Variety of photo capture options to choose from
- Ability to capture, annotate, and share your own photos from the jobsite
- Contact Multivista for a quote
The Difference a Photo App Can Make to Your Workday
Think back to the common scenario we started with, where someone shares a construction jobsite photo with a colleague via email.
The photo isn’t saved anywhere outside of email or a computer folder. There was the initial ease of sharing the photo – just a few clicks and off it went! But it was followed by frustration when the photo was needed three months later, and you had to conduct a time-consuming search through countless emails to find it.
Now imagine that you have a construction photo app at the ready.
You snap a photo of an issue, attach it to a daily report, and share it. Only this time, you can trust that the photo is stored in a secure, organized place so you and anyone on your team can easily find it again – within moments. Easy through and through.
Looking to make the most of the jobsite photos you’re taking?
The first step is understanding that photos are more than simple images – they contain valuable layers of information that can help your project run smoothly, on time and on budget.
Check out our blog on construction photo documentation to learn more about the data in your photos and how to harness it to improve productivity.