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October Video Contest Extended Through November

October 24th, 2014

VideoContestExtensionWe have 3 great video entries for October, but I’d like to extend the video contest through November so we get more video entries.

We’ll continue to accept video entries for the contest until November 22.

The video jurors will be using a new scoring system. This system is a refinement to the system suggested by Greg Nuspel where each video will be scored on the following criteria:

  • Technical
  • Aesthetic
  • Communication
  • Originality
  • Impact

As we announced earlier there are 6 additional jurors, 3 of which are Realtors.

Which Is Best For Real Estate Photography – Canon 70D or 7D?

October 23rd, 2014

70DIsabel in Costa Rica says:

Hola, I have a basic gear question for you: I want to buy the best equipment for RE photography without spending a fortune. According to all the reviews the best lens in the Canon EF-S 10-22 mm. I decided I am going to buy this lens, but now I have doubts on which body to buy. Is the 7D a good option? Is the 70D a better option? Which Canon body do you recommend will make the best combo with the Canon 10-22 lens?

Isabel, I don’t have direct experience with either of these bodies but here several things to consider:
  1. For typical still real estate photography what body you use makes less difference than your choice of lens. The Canon 10-22mm lens is a great choice.
  2. I agree, the Canon 10-22mm is historically the best lens for real estate photography although recent reports and reviews of the new Canon 10-18mm indicate that it may be almost as good for less than half the cost.
  3. If you get the 7D, I would get the new 7DMKII that was announced a few weeks ago, but won’t be available for purchase most places until some time in November. My research indicates the area that the 7D shines is shooting video. If you aren’t going to shot extensive video then the 7DMKII is probably not worth the extra $800 or so more than the 70D.
  4. If you are going to be doing primarily stills the 70D would be very adequate. The 70D does video, it’s just that the I believe the 7D and 7DMKII are better for video.

Does any one out there have direct experience with the 70D and/or the 7D? What would you advise Isabel?

How Important Is It That Your Real Estate Photography site Has High Google Ranking?

October 22nd, 2014

SEOLast week PFRE reader Aubrey asked the following question:

I wanted to ask you how can I get up in the rankings on the list for preferred photographers in southern California? I’m on the middle of the 2nd page, but would like to be on the 1st page. How can I do that?

There’s a quick and easy way to get higher ranking for your RE photography website and I frequently revisit the subject. Here’s the post from last year that explains how to do it. It certainly doesn’t hurt to do this. If you aren’t in a big metro area with a lot of real estate photographers this will usually get you on the first page for the search term “real estate photographer your-town”. If you are in someplace like Seattle there are a crowd of people that have already done this so it won’t get you on the the first page.

But here’s the deal. Having a high Google ranking for the search term “real estate photographer your-town” isn’t going to get you a ton of business. There are much better ways to build your business than just getting a high Google ranking and waiting for the phone to ring. To build your business you need to actively market yourself to the top listing agents.

It’s better to think of your website as a medium to present your work (your portfolio) and have it at the center of your marketing process where all your marketing materials refer to your site. That way you can present your very best work to people you market.

Real Estate Photography News

October 21st, 2014 wants to help RE photographers market to agents: Within the last year I’ve encountered several companies that have a business model of getting in between the RE photographer and the agent. This is an example of one. At this point I can’t tell which of these are of use to RE photographers and which is aren’t. In general, beware of companies that get between you and your clients and charge processing and transaction fees. Thanks to Todd McIntosh for this link.

Transport Canada just released new info regarding drones: Wow, Transport Canada appears to be on the ball and engaged and coming up with rational and effective regulations. This article explains how to get a Special Flight Operations Certificate if you fly a UAV commercially or heavier than 35 kilograms.  Thanks to Tony Boros for this link.

How to Hire a Real Estate Photographer: Expert Tips for Agents: I think there is a lot of good advice in this article on what photographers should be asking their clients. Thanks to TA Wilson for this link.

3D Listing Photos To Simmer Up Real Estate Marketing: This is indirectly a pitch buy Redfin for Matterport as we talked about last month. Also in this article is reference to another study: “recent study by VHT Studios, one of the largest real estate photography firms in the United States, found that homes with professional interior photos sold 32 percent faster than those that didn’t have an expert behind the lens.” Thanks to Dave Williamson for this link.


PlanEdge: Create Floorplans On A Tablet With A Laser Measure

October 20th, 2014

PlanEdgePFRE reader Sean Elliott at Exposure Property Marketing told me about some new floor plan creation software. Sean said:

Whilst the market is quieter I thought I would take the opportunity to contact you about a new product we are using at Exposure Property Marketing.  We have helped a software company here in the UK Boxcubic Ltd design a new tablet based floor plan app that allows users to draw plans digitally on-site without the need to re-draw them later or outsource them to an offshore CAD team.

The website for PlanEdge is The site has pretty complete information on the product, with a series of video tutorials.

I think this is a great concept! Pairing a blue tooth laser measuring device with a tablet and creating the floor plan as you walk through the property is a great design. My only feedback to Sean was that it would be great to have this App available on IOS and Android. Right now Windows tablets are 3% of the market, Android is 61% and IOS has 35%. Although, since the cost of the tablet you are using, is a relatively small part of the yearly cost, it may make sense to just go purchase a Windows Surface 2 tablet so you can use this application.

So what does everyone think of Sean’s application? Give him your feedback.

Small Flash vs Enfuse/HDR – How Do You Decide?

October 19th, 2014

Questions And AnswersMy post last week got PFRE reader, Felix thinking. He posed the following question:

I’m looking forward to the book on Enfuse but it did raise a question. I know Scott favors using flash and I have read his book and taken his video course.  In your post, you said that Simon uses Enfuse extensively. Is there room for both techniques in one’s repertoire? Or is a person better off picking a single style and sticking to it as much as possible?  Do many photographers use both techniques? I’m currently using flash per Scott’s video and have been happy with the results.
Here is my response to Felix that’s based on talking to a lot of real estate photographers over many years and doing several polls here on the blog over the years:

Continue Reading »

Licensed Pilots Flying Drones Beware

October 16th, 2014

FAAlogoI know there are many licensed pilots out there that also do real estate photography and may fly small UAVs. In a move that appears to be an effort by the FAA to use what ever means they can to control small UAVs the FAA focused on drone operators, Change 6 to its Compliance and Enforcement Handbook specifically threatens licensed pilots that use small UAVs. John Goglia, in his article at  describes the move in detail:

…drone pilots who hold airmen certificates are at particular risk, especially if they fly manned aircraft for a living.  According to the new guidance: “For a deliberate, egregious violation by a certificate holder, regardless of whether the certificate holder is exercising the privileges of the certificate in connection with the violations associated with a UAS operation, certificate action, may be appropriate. Such certificate action may be in addition to a civil penalty.”  This means that a model aircraft operator may put his professional license at risk – even though no license is required to fly a model aircraft – if the FAA decides that his or her conduct is egregious enough.

To me this indirect approach at regulating small UAVs seems underhanded. I wish they’d just focus on getting actual reasonable federal laws in place that regulate the air space under 400 feet.

Reader Questions And Answers – Assistants, Tours, Working For Redfin

October 15th, 2014


Chad’s Question:  I am growing beyond what I can shoot in a given week. With this I am having to turn away work and be selective with projects I do.  My question to you is, do you know if any of the coaches have particular experience with multiple photographers? Contracts, pay, insurance,  incentive,  training processes, pros cons to look out for? I have people always hitting me up for photography jobs. Trying to figure this part out is daunting!

Answer: If you haven’t already you may get some help from a previous post I did on this subject. Several commenters on this post have experience with hiring assistants. As far as coaches, I’m not sure who has had experience with assistants. I would check with Dan Milstein  or Michael Asgian. Anyone out there that can offer coaching on hiring assistants?

Bill’s Question:  I’m a real estate agent.  I always create a website dedicated to each of my listings.  These are BRANDED web sites. These web sites (really pages of are based on WordPress using a RESPONSIVE THEME.  They view well on all devices. The pictures I take are used in many ways: Virtual Tour Slideshow, Virtual Tour Video, property eMagazine, etc. I use iPlayerHD as my video host, Phanfare for my slideshow host, and eMagStudio for my interactive magazines. iPlayerHD and eMagStudio are both responsive. But, Phanphare is not.  I need to replace Phanphare with a responsive slideshow host that that will allow my slideshows to play on all devices–without me having to do anything AND without the user having to do anything special, like downloading the Phanphare app or installing flash. Continue Reading »

Still Contest Closing – Video Contest Opening

October 14th, 2014

ElevatedShotsThe PFRE Photographer of the month closing: contest for October will close the end of the day on Wed 10/15.

Right now we have 23 great elevated shots. A lot of drone shots but still many with poles. Some very nice work here!

The PFRE Video Contest open now: I’ll start accepting video contest entries now. Be sure to read the video contest rules at:

News for the video contest: We are going to implement several of the reader suggestions this month.

The goal of these changes is to have the jury voting more systematic and to have a larger more diverse group of jurors.

Simon Maxwell Explains Enfuse or Exposure Fusion

October 13th, 2014


There was at least one comment on yesterdays post suggesting that some readers are not familiar with the terms Enfuse or Exposure Fusion. So I though it would be useful for some to review what those terms mean.

Enfuse processing is very widely used in real estate photography these days (about half of all real estate photographers). The name Enfuse refers to the open source software that implements the Exposure Fusion algorithm which is an alternative bracketing processing technique to HDR. Exposure Fusion is not the same as HDR which uses a completely different algorithm than Exposure fusion.

Software like LR/Enfuse and Enfuse Gui just act as user interfaces for the Enfuse software. Sometimes Exposure Fusion is referred to as blending. Although the term blending also refers to manual combining of several bracketed images in Photoshop. Yes, Photomatix has an option to process a series of images with the Exposure Fusion algorithm too so if you have the Photomatix Lightroom Plugin you can use it in a very similar way directly from Lightroom. Continue Reading »

New PFRE Media Publication Coming Soon: Enfuse For Real Estate Photography

October 12th, 2014

EnfuseFREPSimon Maxwell, in London and I have been working hard for the last several months on a new upcoming PFRE Media publication. It will be an e-book titled Enfuse For Real Estate Photography.

Long time PFRE blog readers know Simon from his series of Lightroom video tutorials which have been very popular. I am excited about publishing an e-book on the subject of Enfuse which is a technique that is widely used by real estate photographers. Simon uses this technique extensively and goes into all the technical aspects us using LR/Enfuse from Lightroom and also covers how do Enfuse-Flash hybrid. Here is the Table of contents:

  • Introduction
  • The Problem: Limits of A Single Exposure
  • The Solution: What Enfuse Can Achieve
  • Shooting Brackets
  • Creating Enfused Images With LR/Enfuse
  • Batch Processing With LR/Enfuse
  • Advanced Methods
  • Enfuse-Flash Hybrid
  • An Enfuse Shoot From Start To Finish
  • Lightroom Presets

We are in the final phases of proofing and getting ready for launch and expect to launch this e-book about the second week in November. More details when we get ready to launch.

Where Can You Get Some Fresh New Skies For Sky Replacement?

October 10th, 2014

SkyCal asked a few days ago where he can get some new skies for sky replacement:

Do you have any recommendations on where to get twilight skies? I do a lot of these and need some new choices. I am willing to pay for them if good enough. I have used your’s too often.

What Cal is referring to is that there is the PFRE sky replacement library available for anyone to use for sky replacement. They are skies that have been donated by readers. There is a link to it on the right sidebar of the blog under “Other Links“.

What told Cal is: Continue Reading »

Reader Question: Vic Wants To Know What Your Workspace Looks Like?

October 9th, 2014

workspaceVic, a, PFRE reader, asked me the following question:

I am in the process of remodeling my production studio and I was wondering if anyone has shared photos of their production area so I can see some different ideas?  I would love to see a behind the scenes glimpse into the production area of some successful real estate photographers.  It would be interesting to see what keeps them motivated and inspired in their workspace during post production.

At first I was a little sassy and told Vic: Continue Reading »

Reader Question: Why Do Real Estate Photographers Shoot Elevated Front Shots?

October 7th, 2014

whyPAPI got an unexpected question from Brian in NZ. Brian is relatively new to real estate photography and Pole Aerial Photography (PAP). He wondered why PAP is important, and how do you sell it to your clients. Brian was stunned by James Governali’s shot that won last year’s October still contest with a 58′ pneumatic pole. I’ve always thought that the importance of elevated shoots was intuitively obvious, but I guess not. Lets talk about the basics.

Why do you need PAP?
Because just a few feet in elevation can radically change the view of the exterior of a home. The difference between the top image and the bottom image is on the bottom one the photographer (Marc Lacoste of Nantes, FR) has the camera on a tripod with the legs extended over his head. This illustrates how easy it is to get an elevated shot and what a stunning difference it makes. This doesn’t look like the same property. More importantly, the elevated shot shows more of the features of the home and shows them better.

Another reason is that a large percentage of homes are sited above the street level so a handheld exterior shot looks awful! Ten to 15′ elevation can frequently fix this problem.

How to sell it to your clients?
Simple comparison shots like the one above will illustrate to clients the benefits of an elevated shot. Realtors are quick to see the benefits. In 1986 when my wife became a listing agent she came home complaining that the roof of her car was dented. When I ask her how it got dented she said, “I was standing on the top of the car to get a better front shot of my new listing.” After that I shot all of her listing front shots for her with a foldup ladder I put in bed my pickup. Nowadays Realtors want more than PAP, they want drone shots.

Is a 58′ pole over kill?
Perhaps in some situations. The goal of using large poles is, as with James Governali‘s winning shot, you want to show the home, in it’s surroundings and features in the distance that can’t typically be seen just standing in front of the home. These poles along with the control electronics and the trailers to carry them around used to cost around $10K to $20K USD. You don’t see as many of them in use as you did 10 years ago. But they are not obsolete. At least you don’t have to pay any attention to the FAA when you are using a large pole!

Drones will eventually replace these large poles like James’s 58′ pole, but smaller 10′ to 20′ poles are really easy and effective to use and are an essential part of full service real estate photography. Domain Available For Purchase – Any Takers?

October 7th, 2014

Long time PFRE reader and PFRE flickr group participant, Bryce Greenfield is moving out of RE photography and wants to sell his domain If anyone is interested in purchasing Bryce’s domain name contact Bryce via his contact page.