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The Digital House Hunt: Real Estate Market Trends Study By NAR and Google

March 5th, 2015

GoogleStudyJason Lusk pointed out the Digital House Hunt study from a couple of years ago to me recently. This study is apparently from early 2013 since that’s when this was posted on the NAR website. Some how, I’d managed to totally miss this study when it came out.

While there is nothing particularly new or earth shaking in this report, the 27 page PDF is an excellent summary of the kind of online marketing statistics for real estate that real estate photographers need to have a grasp of and use in their marketing.

Here are some of the report highlights:

  • 90% of home buyers search online during their home buying process.
  • Real estate related searches on Google.com have grown 253% over the past 4 years.
  • Buyers use specific online tools during different phases of the home search process.
  • There are important “local” search terms and websites for buyers.
  • Mobile technology connects online to offline home buying.
  • Video and YouTube helps satisfy buyers’ research needs.
  • 36% of new home shoppers utilize a mobile device while they are watching TV.

Of course, this report being two years old actually understates the current importance of mobile devices. Mobile devices over took fixed mobile devices in 2014. Right now 30% of you are reading PFRE on mobile devices.

Thanks Jason for pointing this study out to me.

 

Accepting Kitchen Photos For PFRE Photographer Of Month Contest Through 3/15

March 5th, 2015

StillContestLast month I didn’t have a post like this confirming and explaining the PFRE Photographer of the month contest and several people asked me if the contest was on. Yes, we do it every month. We accept entries from the first of the month to the 15th and then announce the winner about the 23rd of the month. All the details are on the contest rules page. Click “contest” in the menu bar at the top of the blog to go to the contest rules page.

If you are submitting a photo for the contest please read the contest rules page carefully and follow the rules for submitting a photo. This month the theme is kitchens. We already have 12 entries.

How Much Should You Pay A Real Estate Photography Contractor?

March 4th, 2015

ContratorPayChris posed the following question yesterday:

Our real estate photography business has grown quite a bit and I am anticipating needing to have 1-3 photographers on call for the busy spring / summer season. Does anyone have a recommendation of what to pay? I am scheduling the shoot and delivering the shots. I just need to pay for onsite photography and editing. I have paid 33% of the package price. Others are asking for $25 / hour. Anyone have a system that works well for paying? I’m talking sub-contractor work, and they have their own gear.

Excellent question! The big tour companies pay as little as $30 to $50 a shoot which most will agree is too low. I see from your site your basic shoot price is $249. I suggest that 33% to 50% of the billed shoot price would make sense. Although this only makes sense because your shoot price is relatively healthy. If you were charging $100 a shoot you’d be down there with the big tour companies. I’m sure where the $25/hour is coming from is average earnings data.

I think you should consider several things when deciding what to pay contractors:
  1. Travel costs shouldn’t eat up the contractors wage. Establish a service area outside of which you charge extra. This would control travel costs.
  2. I think contractors should be payed for the quality of work and reliability. That is, start someone at a lower rate until they demonstrate their quality of work and reliability. A contractor that can deliver the quality you want and be dependable is very valuable to your business and should be paid more.
  3. You should track what a contractor is doing to the point you know approximately how much per hour they are making even though you aren’t paying them by the hour. I think a business owners should know if contractors are making a living otherwise you could loose good people. Many newbies would take on a contracting job like this and not even knowing if they were loosing money. Many cities in the US (Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis, Chicago) are moving towards a  minimum wage in the area of $15/hour.
  4. I would be concerned with maintaining a consistent high quality product that you show on your site when you are hiring short term  temporary contractors. I’d establish some quality standards and do some training so you make sure you keep your quality high.

How are others out there deciding what to pay real estate photography contractors?

Some Background About Enfuse and Exposure Fusion

March 3rd, 2015

EFplusflashThe discussion and comments on Monday’s Enfuse video series announcement brought up some understandable confusion around the terms Enfuse and Exposure Fusion. The two terms actually mean the same thing. Exposure Fusion was first described in a 2007 paper by Tom Mertens, Jan Kautz and Frank Van Reeth. The most significant point about Exposure Fusion is that it is an alternative to HDR. It’s similar because it uses a series of bracketed exposures but it’s different in the way it processes the bracketed exposures. Exposure Fusion is easier to control than HDR so it’s easier to get more natural looking interior images.

The term Enfuse comes from the name of the an open source implementation of Exposure Fusion by Andrew Mihal. This open source Enfuse software is used as core code for at least two (perhaps more) pieces of software for processing bracketed images. LR/Enfuse, by Timothy Armes, a product (the one Simon talks about in his book and video series) that provides a Lightroom interface to Enfuse and EnfuseGUI, by Ingmar Bergmark, a standalone software product that provides a user interface for Enfuse that works on Mac or Windows machines. Marc Weinberg has a review of EnfuseGUI on his blog. While, EnfuseGUI is fast, it does not have a batch mode, nor does it work with RAW files. These last two items are why Simon’s workflow uses LR/Enfuse.

I should also mention that Photomatix has a Exposure Fusion processing mode although I don’t know if it uses the open source Enfuse code or if HDRsoft.com has their own implementation of Exposure Fusion. Wayne Grundy’s PhotoTech Blog tests all the many variations of Exposure Fusion implementations and concludes that LR/Enfuse delivers natural looking images with a minimum of fuss.

The Quicklapse Technique by Sanchez & Olaso

March 2nd, 2015

SonBrullHotelArt Sanchez, sent me a link to this video today which illustrates a new technique that Art and Miguel de Olaso have developed recently they call Quicklapse that allows them to obtain 8K video resolution. Art and Miguel want to share this new technique with the PFRE community because they believe it is particularly well adapted to shooting objects that don’t involve a lot of movement – like architecture.

Art and Miguel have written a detailed description of their technique on their Blog. The following is a summary of the technique:

The Quicklapse technique is a way to generate ultra high resolution real time video. By capturing continuous bursts of still images and applying interpolation algorithms in post-production to fill up the missing frames we are able to create unsurpassed video quality. Continue Reading »

Announcing The Enfuse For Real Estate Photography Video Series

March 1st, 2015

EnfuseAnnouncementSimon Maxwell and I are pleased to announce the release of Simon’s new video series entitled Enfuse For Real Estate Photography. Click here or on the image to the right to watch Simon’s introduction to the video series.

We have created a new website (EnfuseForRealEstatePhotography.com) just for the purpose of delivering this streaming video series.  So there’s no downloading of large video files or DVDs to bother with. Just watch the videos (hosted by iPlayerHD.com) on any device you have, streamed directly from the website. The videos work nicely on SmartPhones, Tablets, Laptops, Desktops with large screens.

This video series consists of essentially a video version of Simon’s e-book. Here is a Table of Contents of the video series. The fact is many people learn better from a video tutorial presentation than from a book format and I think you’ll agree that Simon is very accomplished at presenting material in a tutorial format.

To subscribe to this series go to the promo page here on PFRE or directly to the subscribe page on enfuseforrealestatephotography.com.

 

Checkout Scott Kelby’s New Lightroom Show Podcast

February 26th, 2015

TheLightroomShowIn case you missed it, Scott Kelby and RC Concepcion started a new podcast called The Lightroom Show. This is a once a week podcast that covers all aspects of Lightroom.

If you’re not familiar with podcasts, they are great, just download a podcast App on your smartphone or tablet, use the app to subscribe to podcast via iTunes or other podcast aggregator then the podcast is automatically downloaded to your device each week. Then you can listen/watch to the podcast anytime you like. Some podcasts are video and some are just audio. The Lightroom show is video so you get more out of it when you can watch the video too, but it works just listening too.

Scott Kelby is the author of the number one best selling book on Lightroom (Lightroom Book for digital photographers) so very likely this is going to be some of the best information and tips on Lightroom you are going to find anywhere.

How Do Real Estate Photographers Deal With Rescheduling?

February 25th, 2015

SchedulingRoy asked the following question about real estate photography rescheduling:

A number of times in the past I have had to deal with Realtors that are having some work done on the home (staging, repair, remodeling, clean up, landscaping, etc…) and they want to schedule me for the shoot immediately (with no time to waste) after the work is done. More often than not, the scheduled work is running off schedule so they call me to reschedule. This shows no respect for my time while they want things done at the snap of a finger. How can I communicate to them to book me when the job is 100% done without sounding like a jerk? I thought of imposing a rescheduling fee but I think they would just give the job to someone else who is more willing to flop around with their volatile scheduling.

Your question is a tough one. Having been a listing agent with my wife for a 10 years I totally appreciate the listing agents situation. Home sellers always want the property on the market yesterday! And getting all the required work done is frequently a struggle and never happens as planned. Agents wanting a shoot done “at the snap of a finger” is frankly the nature of this business. Continue Reading »

How Do Real Estate Photographers Handle Window Blinds?

February 24th, 2015

WindowBlindsToday Kelly asked me:

How do most real estate photographers handle window blinds? Do they raise them all the way up to let in more light and show the view? Open them at an angle? Open them completely but not raise them?

I think It’s impossible to make any blanket statement about what to do with blinds. Rather, be creative, and use blinds to help create your image and control the ambient light. Pay close attention to window blinds because they can have a big impact on the amount and quality of the light.

Here are a couple of examples that illustrate great use of window blinds:

  1. Use window blinds to control the light in the room. Just today I noticed this example in the PFRE flickr group where the photographer used the blinds to “balance the light in the room.”
  2. Here’s another example in the PFRE flickr pool where the light is very bright and the photographer was shooting into the window and was forced to close the blinds or the window would become too distracting.

There may be times when the best thing to do is to raise the blinds to see the view, if the view is important, but be careful with this option, because many older types of blinds, look unusual and unnatural when they all the way up. There are some types of blinds with modern design that look better than others when completely up.

Does anyone else have advice for Kelly?

February Video Contest Will Be Combined With March Video Contest

February 24th, 2015

VideoContestSince we only have four video contest entries so far in February, I’m going to extend the period for video contest entries until March 23.

So continue to submit your Videographer of the Month entries and the video jury will pick a February/March winner at the end of March.

All the video contest entries are available for viewing in the PFRE Video Contest flickr pool.

Unbelievably Bad Real Estate Photos

February 23rd, 2015

Over the years I’ve made a collection of bad real estate photos. The interesting thing about the post that lists these estate listing is the sixth most popular post. Right up there with wide-angle lenses and pricing a shoot! I guess the reason these are so popular is that people dedicated to making property look good find it hilarious to see what people do that don’t care about making property look good!

Recently Dave in Perth, AU sent me this article in the DailyMail.co.uk to add to the list. One of the  listing photos has a huge pig sleeping in it. What can I say? I’ve added the link to the DailyMail article as item #10 on the list.

  1. Bad MLS Photos
  2. Terrible Listing Photos AOL.com
  3. What not to do when selling
  4. Hooked on homes
  5. Bad real estate photos
  6. Lessons bad MLS photos teach
  7. So Cal MLS Hall of Shame
  8. Lovely Listing
  9. Terrible real estate agent Photographs
  10. How NOT to sell your house: Hilarious collection of world’s worst estate agent photos

Have a good laugh!

Congratulations Jason Roehner – February PFRE Photographer Of The Month

February 22nd, 2015

2015FebJasonRoehnerThis month Jason Roehner’s image to the right dazzled the PFRE jury and won by a landslide. Click on the photo to the right to see the large version of this image. This is Jason’s third time that he has won the PFRE photographer of the month.

Below are the results of the voting. Note that the photo numbers below are links to the respective photos in the contest flickr pool:

  1. 81 pts, #37, Jason Roehner, Tempe, AZ
  2. 20 pts, #14, Seth Parker, Huntsville, AL
  3. 17 pts, #30, Robert Morning, Los Angeles, CA
  4. 15 pts, #11, Richard Hookway, Hampshire, UK
  5. 8 pts, #33, Tony Colangelo, Victoria, BC
  6. 6 pts, #36, Brian Doherty, Boston, MA
  7. 5 pts, #1, Barry MacKenzie, London, ON
  8. 4 pts, #17, Tad Davis, Raleigh, NC
  9. 3 pts, #22, Sebastian Erras, Amberg, Germany
  10. 3 pts, #24, Anders Carlson, Kailua Kona, HI
  11. 2 pts, #19, Hamish Beeston, Bristol, UK
  12. 2 pts, #32, Robert Holowka, Toronto, ON
  13. 2 pts, #39, Ryan Hunt, Levin, NZ
  14. 2 pts, #40, Trace Tague, Tucson, AZ

Continue Reading »

25 Years Of Photoshop – Thanks Adobe and Thomas and John Knoll!

February 20th, 2015

The Photographers Ephemeris Updated to 3.0

February 19th, 2015

TPE30For those of you that don’t use TPE (The Photographers Ephemeris, $8.99 by Crookneck Consulting) or a similar application or website to plan your exterior shoots, Simon Maxwell’s video tutorial from a couple of years ago explains how and why you’d want a application like this for exterior architectural or real estate shots. For planning twilight shoots an app like this is essential to being at the site at the right time so you can setup and be ready to shot at the right time.

TPE has release a new version 3.0 for IOS. It’s also available on Android and the web version is free.

The other mobile app that is similar to TPE is LightTrac ($4.99 by Rivolu).

 

How Do You Compete With The Run-And-Gun and Drive-by Shooters?

February 18th, 2015

WillWorkForFoodDerek recently asked this question:

I saw an ad on craigslist for this site (intentionally omited) that hires freelance contractors to photograph properties for pennies (10 exterior photos for $15, 3  exterior photos for $9). I see that their target audience is banks and others who have REO properties, but was curious if this happens in other areas of real estate? If so, are Realtors using this as a base to gauge competitive prices?

Yes, to varying degrees this kind low-ball pricing goes on throughout the real estate photography business. It’s a fact of life! These kinds of operations are in very market. Just yesterday, I saw a national company offering 30 HDR photos for $69. And this is the price the company collects from the Realtor client. The photographer typically gets around $30 and there’s someone doing the post-processing that gets a few dollars too. If the participants did the arithmetic they’d realize only the national company is making money because they doing this pricing on a massive scale. Continue Reading »