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Congratulations To Ling Ge July PFRE Photographer Of The Month

July 23rd, 2014

LingGe

Congratulations to Ling Ge of Irvine, CA, who has won this months Photographer of the month contest with his photo at the right. Click the image to see a larger version.

Again this month, a bunch of great images! The competition is intense!

Here is the jury’s voting results:

  1. 35 points, #10, Ling Ge - irvine, CA.
  2. 27 points, #15, Matt Harrer - St Louis, MO
  3. 16 points, #4, Barry MacKenzie – London, ON.
  4. 16 points, #28, Dan Ryan – Central, NJ.
  5. 8 points, #3, Matthew Davis – London, UK.
  6. 7 points, #11, Scott Basile – San Diego, CA.
  7. 6 points, #13, Ron Putnam – Chico, CA.
  8. 5 points, #30, Ethan Tweedie, Big Island, HI.
  9. 3 points, #21, Tony Colangelo, Victoria, BC.
  10. 3 points, #24, Chuck Spaulding, Thousand Oaks, CA.
  11. 2 points, #7, Daniel Solomon, Los Angeles, CA.
  12. 2 points, #2, James Mauro – Powder Springs, GA.

Here are Ling’s comments:

Wow, it is truly surprising and an honor to be voted the winner of the POTM contest, especially with so many strong entries! I want to thank everyone from Larry Lohman, Scott Hargis, Tony Colangelo, Julie Mannell, Hans Bolte, Barry, Jim Bolen, Matt Davis, Andrew Mott and everyone else in the PFRE Community. I could not be more appreciative of all the great comments and constructive criticism I’ve received and I would not be in this position without them.

For the bathroom itself, the door opens into the shower, so shooting from that side wasn’t ideal, even when I closed the door. I backed as far back into the walk-in closet and felt this would be the best composition to shoot from. I used my Nikon D600 with a Nikkor 14-24 mm and shot the single frame image with the exposure at f/7.1 at 1/10th of a second. The bathroom already had great natural light and only needed a touch of fill. I had one flash on a light stand near the ceiling on low power and another flash in the master bedroom to even out the image. The rest is just minor post production to finish the final product.

Thanks for everyones participation! I’ll be putting all the names on the photos in the POTM flick group.

What Real Estate Agents Need To Know About Photography

July 22nd, 2014

WhatAgentsNeedToKnowBecause Scott Hudspeth invited me to speak next Tuesday at his real estate agent Mastermind webinar. I decided to update what I used to call the Realtors Photo Guide. I’ve changed the name of this free ebook that I give away on the blog (the white Free Download ad on the left side-bar). I changed the name to What Real Estate Agents Need to Know About Photography. Lee Jinks correctly pointed out that I shouldn’t be using the trademarked term REALTOR® in a publication I’m giving away all over the world.

I wrote the first version of this ebook back in 2009 after having a discussion about “quality photography” with my a good friend who is a long time real estate agent and the managing broker of a ReMax office in the Seattle area. I realized that the majority of agents don’t have a clue what good real estate marketing photos look like or what makes a good marketing photo. They aren’t dumb, they just are not visually sophisticated enough to know what makes an interior photograph good and why. Very simply, they need to be educated. What is needed is a photo marketing guide for real estate agent, written in simple language, that describes what good real estate marketing photos look like and what makes photos effective.

My goal in writing this and giving it away is to help educate agents and beginning real estate photographers about real estate marketing photography. I use it every time I get chance to talk to a group of real estate agents. It always seems to be well received. I give everyone a copy and walk through as much of it as there is time for. Many real estate photographers use it as a marketing tool all over the world; it has now in 5 languages. So feel free to put this on your site as a free download and give it away to your clients or use it to present to your local real estate offices. If  you’d like to modify it or translate it into another language (it is currently available in German, Russian, Italian and Ukrainian) contact me and I will send you the Adobe InDesign CS6 source. I’ve had to remove the older links to real estate photography articles because many are no longer online. Fortunately, the two RedFin study articles are still on line.

FAA Special Rule For Model Aircraft Comment Period Ends July 25

July 21st, 2014

FAAcommentsChuck Spaulding reminded me yesterday that Friday, July 25 is the last day to give comments to the FAA on their Interpretation of the “Special Rule for Model Aircraft” and for people who care about using small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (sUAS) this is an important issue.

My understanding of the central issue is that this public review comment period is the first step in exempting hobby model aircraft from all future FAA rules that will apply only to commercial aircraft.

To me this makes absolutely no sense. If you agree let the FAA know before July 25. If you care about this please comment.

Chuck sent me this copy of the comment that he submitted for the sUAS Small Business Consortium that he is forming.

By the way, you have to use some other browser than Google Chrome on the Mac since the comment page won’t accept comments from Google Chrome.

Success In Real Estate Photography Requires More Than Being Creative

July 20th, 2014

FocusHardworkWhat does it take to be successful at starting your own business? Besides all the usual technical photographic stuff that we usually talk about here, there are a handful of very important other things that are central to the success of starting and running your own real estate photography business.

Look around at the successful business people you know, chances are they will exhibit many or all of these traits:

  1. Self discipline: This is the ability to train yourself to do what you don’t want to do. Many of the things you need to do to like creating a plan and doing the items on the plan won’t be your favorite activities.
  2. Planning: Creating a business requires planning, establishing goals and following through to achieve the goals.
  3. Hard work: Many of the things you need to do may not be easy.
  4. Focus: Focus means sustained attention. You need to not let yourself be distracted by all the day-to-day distractions that all of our live’s have. Some people have more distractions in their life than others.
  5. Don’t be discouraged by failure: Charlie Rose interviewed Ruzwana Bashir (founder and CEO of peek.com) in May. Ruzwana talked about how her father (also a successful entrepreneur) would ask her every night at the dinner table, “what did you fail at today?” The point is as an entrepreneur you can’t be afraid to fail. Failure is a valuable way of learning. Most institutions train us to be failure adverse yet failures can be very valuable if used correctly.

So you typically can’t just start a real estate photography business by being creative. In the end analysis, these traits above are probably more important than being creative.

FAA’s Cease-And-Desist Orders To Drone Pilots Are Bogus, Appeals Court Rules

July 18th, 2014

BogusJason Koebler over at Motherboard.vice.com reported that today three judges with the Washington DC Court of Appeals ruled that, “…Flying drones for search-and-rescue purposes is legal, and all the cease-and-desist orders the government has sent drone pilots are bogus, an appeals court judge ruled today… In other words, because the FAA’s letters to the group (and to all the companies flying drones) don’t actually say what the punishment for disobeying the agency is, they are null-and-void. And because there’s no actual regulation that the FAA can lean on to spell out a punishment.” Read Jason’s complete article here.

Note that this decision is the result of the Texas Equusearch suit filed in February and don’t confuse it with the Pirker v FAA appeal that is still pending. The obvious similarities between these two cases is that all the judges that have made rulings in these two cases apparently don’t believe there is any actual regulations for small RCMA (Remote Control Model Aircraft).

Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 – The New Real Estate Photography Lens

July 17th, 2014

canon11-18mmI got a great reader question today from Felix that deserves it’s own post. His question was:

In May you mentioned the Canon EF-S 10-18mm was coming. Now that it is here, has anyone evaluated it against the Canon 10-22 for Real Estate? I presently have a Canon 600D with a Sigma 10-20 lens. I’m thinking about getting a 70D with the 10-22 lens but am wondering if the latter is worth the extra $300.

I did some quick research to see what people are thinking about this new lens. It’s been available for just over a month. Here’s what I found:

  1. Ken Rockwell reviewed it and says, “…this lens has no competition. Every other ultra wide lens for Canon’s APS-C cameras is optically inferior, can’t focus as close, has no IS, and costs at least twice as much.”
  2. Photozone.de review says, “In fact it is every bit as good as the Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM here … at half the price!
  3. Michael Schmidt of Chemnitz, Germany reviewed it and likes it.
  4. There are 9 customer reviews on Amazon. 7 of them gave it 5 stars and 2 gave it 4 stars.

So as I told Felix it looks very likely that this lens may replace the Canon 10-22mm as the most popular real estate photography lens. This lens is getting a very positive reception. Is there anyone out there that has used it for real estate yet?

Real Estate Photography Question and Answers – #10

July 16th, 2014

Questions And Answers

Diana’s Question:  I would like to buy one of your books, I’m just not sure which book is best for me. I am a realtor, not exactly a beginner but not proficient by any means either! I have two DSLR camera’s, a Sony A350 and a Nikon D90. I have a wide angle and couple other zoom lenses for the Sony but only one 18-105m for the Nikon. Sometimes my photo’s are awesome when shooting a property but not consistently. I assume it is the settings and flash I’m using that is causing me the biggest headache. I do not know what settings for either camera are the best no matter the trial and error I repeatedly go through!. What can you recommend as help?

Answer: It’s hard to give advice without seeing your work. When I look at your listings MLS#13256 is great work (it was done by a professional) but the next one MLS#13446 needs work. If MLS#13446 is your work (it was) I would suggest the Photography For Real Estate ebook. It is designed for anyone that is getting started in real estate photography. It covers all the basics of real estate photography. That is, what are the important decisions you need to make and the options for each. 

Glenn’s Question:   I wanted to get your advice, and ideas and services/products that you offer that could help me out. I’ve been internet marketing and website developer for over 10 years. Recently got back into digital photography, and having a blast, and more for fun now.  I’ve been thinking about making this a business…and my ideas are pictures for houses for realtor local network, WITH added digital marketing services…ie. creating a landing page, video, website submissions, etc to take advantage of my digital marketing background. I’m thinking big boys ie. Keller Williams have all the pieces to do this…but average agent has no clue how to make it all work?? So my idea is combining passion for great photos of the property, with digital marketing assistance for various programs and systems to get it all setup for them. I could really be a big difference from just a photographer as a differentiator, especially for higher end homes and realtors.

Answer: There are several considerations that relate to the answer to your question:

  1. Almost all brokerages have free websites for their agents.
  2. Many companies are selling turn-key sites to upper-end agents who are the ones that can afford the kind of services you talk about.
Having been an agent working with my wife in the Seattle market for 10 years I would say that yes, agents need the kind of services you talk about but very few are going spend a lot of money on it. Best thing to do would be to test it in your market and see if you can sell it to anyone.

Chuck’s Question:  My wife is interested in learning real estate photography for my listings and eventually others.  She is a complete beginner and does not know where to start. How would you suggest she starts learning this trade? 

Answer: This is exactly what my e-book Photography For Real Estate Is designed for… to help people get started in this industry. I also suggest that she join the Photography For Real Estate flickr group associated with this blog to look at and discuss good real estate photos. Thousands of real estate photographers world wide have successfully used these two resources along with the PFRE blog to get started in real estate photography. Also, feel free to have her ask me questions via email  any time… I enjoy helping people get started.

Byron’s Question:  I just had a quick question for you regarding a flash set-up if you wouldn’t mind pointing me in the right direction?

Currently my equipment is;

  • Nikon d3300 (if I had my time over again I would’ve chose a camera with Automatic Exposure Bracketing and some more exterior buttons/controls ie. Nikon D90 or Canon 7D).
  • Sigma 10-20mm
  • The sturdiest tripod I could afford/find locally based on your recommendation
  • One flash I use on camera: Metz 52 AF-1 (Again, if I had my time again may have went with the Yongnuo flashes which I have now read about on your site.)

Just wondering what your recommendation would be for a multiple flash setup incorporating my current flash? Am I best off getting one or two flashes the same as my current one and some sort of triggering device? or perhaps 1-2 Yongnuo flashes and a trigger that will tie them all in? Have looked a lot online and haven’t been able to come across any information detailing a setup that will work for my situation.

Answer: There’s a couple of ways that would work with your current flash:

  1. You could leave the Metz 52 on-Camera, get some YN-560-IIIs and let the Metz trigger the Yongnuos optically.
  2. Or you could get a pair of Yongnuo RF-603 N3‘s and some Yongnuo YN-560-IIIs. Put one RF-603 on the camera hot shoe and one RF-603 on the Metz 52 and then all the flashes would be off camera and all would be triggered by the RF-603 on the camera. To get the best results you should get your flashes off your camera so I’d recommend this option because all flashes would be off-camera.
I’d recommend the YN-560-III over the Metz 52, if you purchase more flashes because the YN-560-III is MUCH less expensive and can be triggered optically.

Still Contest Closes and Video Contest Opens At End Of Day July 15

July 15th, 2014

StillClosingThe PFRE still photo contest is closing at the end of the day July 15 (in a few hours) and the video contest will open. The  still contest jury will choose a winner of the still contest by July 22.

If you are submitting a video for the May contest please read and follow the contest rules at:

photographyforrealestate.net/video-contest/

Here is the general way the video contest works:

  • Links to video entries will be in the flickr video contest forum. I’ll add them as contestants submit them.
  • If you’d like to comment on any particular video, join the forum and comment on the entry where the link to the video is posted.
  • The July contest is open for entries through July 22.
  • The winner will be announced by the end of July.

The purpose of the video contest is to provide a venue for discussing and learning about property video.

Top 10 Most Popular Real Estate Photography Posts

July 14th, 2014

Top10I think it is interesting to see what the top areas of interest of PFRE blog readers are interested in. In some ways it reflects how good I am at writing titles but in the long run it mostly reflects reader interest because I don’t put a lot of energy into writing tricky, catchy titles.

Here are the top 10 posts of the 1800 posts I’ve done since October 22, 2006:

  1. Wide-Angle Lenses For Real Estate Photography: How wide is Wide?
  2. Interior Lighting With Multiple Strobes: By Scott Hargis
  3. My Formula For Pricing Real Estate Photography
  4. What Should You Charge For Real Estate Photography?
  5. Summary of Using HDR For Real Estate Photography
  6. Choosing Gear To Get Started in Real Estate Photography
  7. Beginners Guide to Lighting Choices For Real Estate Photographers
  8. Inexpensive Pole Aerial Photography (PAP)
  9. Alternatives For Controlling Window Brightness
  10. Unbelievably Bad Real Estate Photos

Probably the most significant thing about these subjects is they represent a list of the areas of highest interest of the majority of real estate photographers.

Mark Reibman Wants To Help You With Your Post Processing

July 13th, 2014

MarkReibmanI’ve been talking to Mark Reibman recently who is one of the original PFRE blog readers and original members of the PFRE flickr forum. Mark was a real estate photographer in the Seattle area back when I started the PFRE blog in 2005.

Mark is now living in Phnom Penh, Cambodia with his wife and new son still doing Hotel and baby photography and considering doing post processing for real estate photographers outside of Cambodia because of the convenient time difference (14 hour ahead of US Pacific time).

In the past I’ve been reprimanded by readers for suggesting that you should do your post processing off-shore but I feel it’s different with Mark. I know Mark well, I know his work (he’s shot several listings for my wife) and Mark is about as much a part of the PFRE community as one can get. So if you need help with post processing during your busy part of the year contact Mark and have him help you out.

Here is Mark’s services description from his website:

Mark provides editing and retouching services for real estate photographers primarily based in North American and European time zones. Mark is currently residing in Phnom Penh, Cambodia +14 to +15 hours ahead of Pacific Time, USA. Images can be easily processed during client’s night time hours and be ready by 6AM for delivery for your client. Images can be handled through Dropbox, Box.net or a method of your choosing.

Mark was a real estate photographer for six years prior to his move to Phnom Penh. He has had considerable experience shooting and editing real estate, Interior design and architectural assignments. He can edit ( RAW files ) according to his own techniques or take instructions to adapt editing according to clients standards and ‘look’.

Available as per need basis or as an ongoing subcontractor.

Payments can be made through PayPal after completion of image editing.

Contact Mark through email mreib7 at gmail.com or send your phone number and a good time to call.

You can also take look at Mark’s work on his flickr account.

Breaking News: FAA Intimidates Coldwell Banker And Other Realtors To Stop Drone Photography

July 11th, 2014

FAAIntimidationAs of 3 PM Eastern  7/11, Gregory McNeal at Forbes.com reports that:

Forbes has learned that the FAA’s investigations have succeeded in intimidating NRT —the nation’s largest residential real estate brokerage company — into advising their members to not only cease flying drones as part of their work, but to also cease using drone footage.

This is a troubling development in an ongoing saga over the FAA’s rules which punish the safe commercial use of drones. Currently, the FAA does not prohibit the use of drones for a hobby — flying over your home and taking pictures of it for fun is allowed, but because real estate drones take pictures for a commercial purpose, the FAA prohibits their use.

Read Gregory’s full article here.

Update 7/12: Allan MacKenzie, in Brisbane, AU sent me this link that explains that even though on the Gold Coast they have laws and people regulating UAVs they are having trouble stopping the Cowboy drone operators.

Real Estate Photography News Bites

July 10th, 2014

Miscellaneous real estate photography newsReaders pass on a bunch of interesting real estate photography news and I like to pass on as much of it as possible. I’ve been getting behind lately so I thought I’d do a post to catchup all these news items:

Drone Users Largely Silent Regarding FAA Rules That May Limit Flights: Wanda pointed this Forbes.com article out. I used the FAA feedback page that this article is talking about and struggled for 20 minutes trying to give feedback and finally discovered that if you use the Google Chrome browser the comment page won’t work… keeps saying the comment field is empty when you submit. As soon as I switched to Safari the comment page worked. Do you think this could have an effect on the low feedback rate. I do, chrome is the most popular browser – many people are probably giving up and leaving… and these are the people that are regulating our air space and new technology?

Mike in Appleton, WI reports real estate photography business is good:  Mike says: “Since February I’ve been getting a ton of business (about 7-10 houses per week), and just started getting serious about RE photography about 18 months ago. All the tips and advice from your site, the flickr forum, etc have been a tremendous help in helping me establish myself–especially in a market that was (and still is in many respects) extremely resistant to professional real estate photography. I know being persistent at speaking at RE weekly meetings has helped immensely, and I started using facebook earlier in the year which has also helped.”  Appleton is a relatively small town (~75,000). It’s great to hear that it’s possible to build a real estate photography business in a small town if you persist at it!

HDRinstant.com: Jacques Joffre of HDRinstant.com wanted to let us know about his about his software that many be really useful for real estate photography. It’s called HDRinstant – its currently free to use and can help Real Estate Photographers, using drones to create great shots and help them market better. This video describes how it works.

MatterPort: Dave in Perth pointed out an article about a new technology that creates 3D scans of rooms. Still a bit pricy for real estate photographers but this could have potential in the future.

Roberto wanted to share his shoot he did recently in Belize: Roberto says: “I happen to be hired to shoot a Private Island in Belize and saw the opportunity to start using the aerial videos and stills with a DJI Phantom Drone. Since I am showing stills, 360 panoramas, aerial videos and twilight images in this Virtual Tour, it’s interesting to show all of that in just one.”

Check out the German language real estate photography blog by Oliver Zielinski: PrimePhoto.de is a German blog on real estate photography.If you use Google Chrome as a browser, it will automatically translate PrimePhoto.de to your native language. This last week I got the latest version of Oliver’s e-mail newsletter and he is doing a lot of great work promoting real estate photography in Berlin and beyond.

Online Learning – The New Evolving Future Of Learning

July 9th, 2014

OnlineLearningMany beginning real estate photographers that I’ve helped to get started over in the recent past express a desire to find someone in their local area that would mentor them or give one-on-one instruction in some aspect real estate photography. In some cases it’s possible to set up this kind of personal instruction but for the most part it’s impractical. Here’s why:

  1. A top real estate photographer in your local area is not likely to want to train more competitors. They may train you to work for them if they need to expand their business. In most local markets, there is a lot of competition. No one is interested in giving their secrets with potential competitors.
  2. Direct one-on-one personal teaching is  expensive and ineffective compared to the online alternatives. As a result education is in the process of moving online. This is because learning technology like streaming video, video hangouts  etc, is so effective that even college education is moving online. Starbucks now supplies all their employees with a college education online at ASU. Salman Khan invented this invented this new approach in 2003 that is in the process of reinventing education. I love Salman Khan’s story about when his cousin Nadia told him, “I like learning from your videos better than listening to you directly.” When Salman asks her why, Nadia says, ” I can replay videos or backspace them when I want… I can’t do that with you!”

Scott Hargis’s Lighting For Real Estate Photography video series is a great example. It demonstrated to me the huge potential of video tutorials in the area of learning real estate photography. Even though I attended one of Scott’s first workshops in Seattle in 2008, where I met Scott, but I’ve learned his lighting technique from his ebook and his video tutorial series, not the workshop. Why? because with books and video tutorials like Nadia says, “you can replay them over and over.”

I’m a big believer in this new form of education and I’m committed to make more if it happen. Despite the fact that there will occasionally be great workshops like Scott Hargis and Malia Campbell put on and you occasionally may be able to get someone to do some one-on-one personal training, online video tutorials and e-books are going to provide the majority of real estate photography training.

 

Ethics Considerations In Real Estate Photography

July 8th, 2014

EthicsLast week Dave, in Western Australia sent me some recent links to news articles relating to real estate photography ethics. One from the Chicago Tribune talking about the general concern of digital photo modification as it relates to real estate photography and another specific case that occurred in New Zealand where an agent was busted because he photoshopped some mold out of a photo.

Over the years we’ve had a lot of heated discussions here about ethics of image modification in the context of real estate photography.  I think the subject is important enough that I have a separate page dedicated to summarizing the consensus that has evolved out of these discussions over the years.

Here is a general outline of that consensus:

  1. Real estate photographers typically work for the listing agent and in some cases will be asked to modify photographs of properties for sale.
  2. Listing agents everywhere have a legal responsibility to not “materially misrepresent” a property. That’s a meaningful expression to lawyers since it keeps popping up every time this subject is talked about.
  3. Modifying or removing temporary objects like garbage cans, cars, overcast skies etc is customary and generally not considered materially misrepresenting the property.
  4. Removing permanent objects like power lines, telephone poles, neighboring homes etc. are customarily considered materially misrepresenting the property because they hide undesirable permanent property features.
  5. Landscaping seems to be an area where not everyone agrees. Landscaping seems to be in between permanent and temporary. Many people believe that fixing defects in the grass or landscaping is OK whereas others believe it is not OK. When there is some question about if a feature is permanent or temporary it’s safest to treat it as a permanent feature.

In summary the photographer is working for the listing agent, not the potential buyer and representation of the property is the listing agent’s legal responsibility, not the photographers. However, prudence suggests that if the photographer is asked to modify photographs they believe materially misrepresents the property, they should document in writing the fact they are modifying the photograph at the agents request.

Now Accepting Entries For July PFRE Photographer Of The Month Contest

July 7th, 2014

EthanTweedieWe are now accepting Master Bath shots for the July 2014 PFRE photographer of the month contest. The image to the right is last years winner for this theme.

For those not familiar with this series of monthly contests take a look at the Contest page that describes all the rules and the process. For a look at past monthly winners and all the yearly winners go to the best-of-the-best page (on the top menu bar click “Featured”).

The theme for July is Master Bath and we will be accepting entries through July 15. The winner will be picked by the jury between June 15 and June 23.

As usual the submitted images are available for viewing in the PFRE Photographer of The Month flickr group. I post them there as they are submitted. The left-sidebar links displays the submitted images  either in Flash or non-Flash format.

Entrants please carefully read and follow all of the contest instructions at: 

        photographyforrealestate.net/pfre-photographer-of-the-month/