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The Spanish Version Of What Real Estate Agents Need To Know About Photography

March 31st, 2015

REPhotoGuide4.5_esThanks to Manu Luque at in Torrevieja, Spain the free PFRE e-book, What Real Estate Agents Need To Know About Photography is now available in Spanish. With the addition of Spanish this free resource for real estate agents is now available in 7 languages (English, Russian, German, Italian, Ukrainian, Croatian and Spanish). Click here to download this e-book in any of these languages.

If you’re not familiar with this free, Creative Commons publication it’s purpose is to help educate agents in why photography is important to marketing real estate and what good real estate marketing photography looks like. Real estate photographers can give this PDF away on their websites to educate their clients. Hundreds of real estate photographers are already giving it away.

Also, if you would like to translate the e-book to your favorite language I’ll be happy to send you the InDesign CS6 files. Since Manu didn’t have a copy of InDesign and wanted to translate it I found that there’s a nifty little website,, that will allow you to input a PDF and then export the text and images. This is how Manu did the translation. You can then use to create a PDF from a word file. I’m sure there are other similar ways to do this. The point is that you don’t have to have Adobe InDesign that I used to create the e-book to do a translation you can translate directly from the English PDF like Manu did.

If you do a translation be sure to let me know so I can add a link to your translation to the download page.

The Scandinavian Style Of Interior Photographer Jonas Berg – Gothenburg Sweden

March 30th, 2015

JonasBergThis months PFRE photographer of the month contest had a photo that really captured my interest. The photo was by Jonas Berg of Gothenburg, Sweden. Click on the photo to the right to see a large version of Jonas’ contest submission.

What caught my interest about this image was how uplifting the light in the room was. At first glance you might think the windows are blown-out but as you look carefully, they aren’t. Rather the highlights are carefully placed at the upper-end of the brightness scale. The whole wall of windows is radiant and that feeling extends to the rest of the room.

Another interesting aspect of the photo is that at first impression you might think that the reflection of the electrical cords in the oven door was an oversight by the photographer. A comment in the contest flickr group suggested that the cords should be cloned out. But if you look at the whole set of photos for this apartment you see that the bare electrical cord/exposed light bulb look is a subtle interior design theme that comes out of the fact that this is an apartment built in the early 1900’s that has been remodeled so electrical fixtures don’t look like they would if this were a apartment built in 2015.

After learning all the of above from the discussion in the contest flickr group I decided to get more information from Jonas on his style and technique. I asked Jonas about his equipment, workflow and style. Here are some of his answers: Continue Reading »

Minimum Cost For Real Estate Photography Essential Items Startup Kit

March 29th, 2015

StartupKitI’m in the process of a major update to my Photography For Real Estate e-book. Since it is a book about getting started in real estate photography it suggests gear for someone getting started in real estate photography. A new feature I have in the book is a minimum cost list of getting started gear. Here is my list:

  1. DSLR: Canon Rebel T5 (body only)  – $320
  2. Wide angle lens: Canon 10-18mm – $299
  3. Manual flash: YN-560-III+Trigger –  $90
  4. Flash stand: 7′ with bracket       –   $21
  5. Tripod: Manfrotto 055xPROB          – $240
  6. Tripod head: MHXPRO-3WG         -$200
  7. Total……………………………………$1170

This is a list of just photographic gear. There are other costs, like Lightroom, a laptop or desktop computer etc. The purpose of this list is to focus on the important equipment items that one needs to get started in real estate photography.

Here are Nikon version components for items 1 & 2 if you’d rather go with Nikon:

  1. DSLR: Nikon D3100 – $290 or D5100 – $280
  2. Wide angle lens: Sigma 10-20mm –  $379

The Nikon version is only slightly more expensive.

It’s worth noting that you don’t need new equipment. There are a lot of good used gear on Amazon, bhphoto.comEbay and What suggestions do you have to improve the list?

How Do I Photograph A Wine Cellar In The Basement With Very Little Light?

March 26th, 2015

YN560IIIRobert asked the following question:

I have a photo shoot coming up and the house has a quint wine cellar – 10×18 in size, wine racks and bottles, etc. There is etched glass on the entrance door and etched glass for the large front glass planes. The wine cellar is located in the basement of the house and no available light anywhere – only canned lights outside the of the wine cellar and the inside of the cellar has pot lights, tungsten. What I’d like to do is capture the art work on the etched glass. The color of the etched art work is white stencil. I’ve never encountered anything like this and frankly, I haven’t a clue on how to best capture this art work on the window. Any thoughts on how to go about trying to capture this image?

From looking at your site, it appears that you don’t use flash. It appears that you use bracketed exposures and process with HDR software.

Your wine cellar shoot is an excellent application for using one or two small flashes. There’s a couple of ways to starting using a single flash in your shooting:

  1. Use Scott Hargis’s approach to small flash: This post on the PFRE blog is a condensed description of Scotts technique. If you haven’t used flash before this technique will require some practice but it is very simple. Scott’s book and video series give you in depth information on this technique.
  2. Use a bracketing/flash hybrid technique: Here’s a post on the PFRE blog that describes this technique. Simon Maxwell’s book and video series gives more information on how to use this technique.

If you’ve never used flash before #2 above may be an easier way to get started with flash. Either way I think that starting to use at least one small flash will solve your wine cellar shot problem and improve your work in general.

If you don’t have any manual flashes here is a post on the PFRE blog that describes what you need to get started using manual flashes.

What Should I Charge To Photography A 13,000 SF Apt In Manhattan?

March 25th, 2015

WhatPriceManuel in New Jersey asks:

I am a real estate photographer working and living in NJ. I’ve been in business since 2013. I am now trying to get jobs in NY.  A Realtor in Manhattan just asked me what are my fees for an 13,000, $7M apartment in Manhattan?  I am in puzzled because I have no idea how to charge for this huge price and apt. Can you give me an idea what I should charge?

First of all, for real estate photography the shoot price is not typically a function of the listing price of the property. The more conventional way to price real estate photography is: Continue Reading »

How Do You Compete With Real Estate Photographers Charging Low Prices?

March 24th, 2015

iStock_000006627709XSmallKirt in Connecticut asks:

I am based out of Connecticut and competitive pricing is always an issue with every one of us. I can’t seem to get over the hump of other locals. Simply said; the one competior here charges $75 a listing. This is based off a 300,000 listing price. I can’t wrap my head around how he continues to do this as well as profit for himself. He delivers 40 images, same day. I need assistance on this one. If anyone experienced this, I need advice as well!

Very likely your competitor that charges $75 is arithmetic impaired so he doesn’t realize he is losing money. The reason real estate photographers get into this price competition is they don’t understand that you don’t want to even be doing business with the lower 90% of Realtors. You must find and target the top agents because they understand why good photography matters (see # 3 below) and they will pay for it. On the other hand the lower 80% to 90% of listing agents are losing money and they whine and don’t want to pay what it cost to do good marketing. Continue Reading »

Congratulations Seth Parker PFRE Photographer Of The Month For March

March 23rd, 2015

2015MarSethParkerWow! Big contest this month! Sixty one entries. Congratulations to Seth Parker of Huntsville, Alabama. Click on the image on the right to see a large version of Seth’s winning image. The competition was much closer this month than last. Jonas Berg of Gothenburg, Sweden came in a very close second. Seth and Jonas were almost tied until the last juror voted.

Below are the 13 winners that the judges awarded points to: Continue Reading »

What Do Real Estate Photographers Do To Minimize Time Spent Getting Their Clients To Pay?

March 22nd, 2015

SquareWilliam asked the following:

I currently use QuickBooks online wich work fine for simple accounting and invoice tracking, but I spent a lot of time getting people to pay. I’m interested in moving to a credit card pay system that is more used in the hotel industry. Where the hotel would approve your credit card for a certain amount and if the final room charge equaled that amount or is less, I could charge a lesser amount easily. Right now I never really know how many pictures I’m going to deliver the Realtor (unless they tell me how many pictures they want ahead of time) until after I’m back at home working on them. Any thoughts or advice?

Continue Reading »

FAA Is Completely Confused About What Constitutes Commercial Drone Use

March 20th, 2015

UAVsFaine Greenwood over at has a great article on the FAA’s harassment of Jayson Hanes in Tampa (that I reported last week) and Steve Girard in Portland. These two cases illustrate the confusion around what does and doesn’t constitute commercial UAV usage in the US.

The article concludes that:

It’s not at all certain that the agency has any intention of backing up these threats. As of this writing, the FAA has yet to actually prosecute anyone for commercial usage of a UAV—and some, such as Connecticut attorney Peter Sachs, argue that until the FAA’s proposed voluntary guidelines on UAV usage become final, there are no actually enforceable laws at all.

The two cases outlined in the article are both hobbyists that the FAA has accused as operating commercially but there is not much confusion about whether shooting real estate is commercial. My general feeling is the FAA is just harassing people that are flying to try to keep flying UAVs a minimum until the guidelines become law because they realize as Peter says, “there are no actually enforceable laws.”

Update 3/21/2015: Be sure to read Craig’s awesome story below. Craig’s story confirms my gut feelings that I have on this issue. Thanks Craig for passing it along.

Manfrotto Released A New Geared Head – How Does It Compare To Existing Geared Heads?

March 19th, 2015

NewManfrottoSeveral weeks ago Lee pointed out a new three way geared tripod head that Manfrotto released. For a long while the Manfrotto 405 and Manfrotto 410 have been the standards for this kind of tripod head. The beauty of this kind of tripod head is that you can easily and precisely level your camera on all three axises – a must for real estate and interior photographers.

This head appears to have two major differences as compared to the 405 and 410. First, it’s made of  “Adapto technopolymer” (plastic) rather than metal. Second, in addition to precise adjustment made with the three knobs you can make larger movements by pushing the knobs against the knob housings. Also, the price appears to be about $60 USD less than the 410 which used to be the cheapest three axis geared head.

It’s always tough to tell if new versions of gadgets like this are a good thing or not. Lucky a couple of PFRE forum members got their hands on this tripod head and have tested it for us. Their reviews are mixed. They say this new head works well but they both prefer the solidness of the existing metal heads. Thanks FotografieBerg and Object&co_Mario for the review!

The Books We Sell On PFRE Offer Benefits Of Ebooks And Hardcopy Books

March 18th, 2015

LightingInteriorsHardCopyA few days ago Syv asked the following:

Could you make a list of good books, separated by ebook vs physical book. Last year I bought about $400 worth of books and almost all of the as physical books. I do not read ebooks because as an old dinosaur I don’t like reading on the computer. My definition of a good book is a book that I will read more than once.

Yes, I totally understand your feeling about traditional e-books I feel much the same way. I don’t want to want to get into a general e-book vs print book discussion but rather point out that the books we sell here on the PFRE blog can be read on any device and in hardcopy form. This is NOT the case for other types of e-books sold by Amazon or in the Apple store. Here’s how the books we sell here at the PFRE blog are different:

  1. We sell books in PDF format that are designed with 8.5″ x 11″pages.
  2. Unlike Amazon Kindle books and Apple  iBooks our PDF  books are not copy-protected.
  3. Unlike Amazon Kindle books and Apple iBooks our PDF books can be printed. In fact I recommend that you print our PDF books and either put them in a 3-ring binder or have them spiral bound. 
  4. We offer hardcopy versions of most of our books at, but they are expensive because they are printed on demand and are very high quality (spiral bound with heavy paper).
  5. Despite #2 and #3 above our PDF books can be stored and read on all tablets including Kindles.
  6. When PFRE books are updated, everyone that has ever purchased the book gets an updated copy. Some of our books have been updates 2 or 3 times.

In summary, we think PFRE Media books are some where between traditional Amazon/Apple ebooks and mass produced printed books. We think this is approach the best of both worlds.

There’s A Lot To Learn By Reviewing The March Contestants For Photographer Of The Month

March 17th, 2015

ContestI just got finished studying all the contestants for March photographer/kitchen of the month. Several jurors have remarked that the quality of the entrants of this contest keeps increasing.

There are 61 entries from 8 countries this month and there is a lot to be learned from studying and comparing the photos. Here are some of my observations:

  1. The best photos combine great photography and a great kitchen design. You can’t win with just one, you have to have both. If your photography is perfect and the kitchen is boring, your photography can’t fix boring.
  2. Composition and attention to detail at this level is a huge factor.
  3. The distortion caused by shooting too wide can easily become a big distraction.
  4. The decor objects in the kitchen can make a big difference in the image. If you have too many decor objects they become a distraction and if you don’t have enough the photo “shouts” vacant.

Your first reaction to browsing through all 61 of these kitchen shots may first be…  they all look the same but there is one that stands out above the others. I noticed it as the entrants were submitting their entries and my feeling has been confirmed by 3 of the jurors that have voted so far. Can you see which one it is?

How Do Real Estate Photographers Handle Bad Weather Days?

March 16th, 2015

BadWeatherHEV who is located in the North East asked the following question:

Has there ever been a discussion about what most photographers do on bad weather days? As in, if they charge to reschedule and what types of equipment to consider using during bad weather shoots. Agents sell houses all year long. Shouldn’t they expect their appointment time may be canceled if bad weather occurs?

Everyone’s answer to this will be to some extent influenced by where they live. I’ve shot real estate in the Northwest US for 15 years and I can’t remember ever canceling a shoot because of weather. However, with the weather you guys are having in the Northeast US this year I can see that you may have had to cancel some shoots because of snow this winter. Here are a few thoughts about canceling because of weather: Continue Reading »

What Are Your Favorite Photography SmartPhone Apps?

March 15th, 2015

AppsTom recently posed the following question:

I just ordered an iPhone 6. This is my first Apple phone. I have always been an Android user. I searched for useful apps and found some dated recommendations that may or may not still be valid. These apps tend to change frequently, so I thought this may be a timely post to get a current list. What are the best apps currently available for photography, paid or free?

Great question. There are a bunch of Apps out there and it would be useful to have a crowd-sourced list of Apps that are useful for real estate photographers. I’ll start with my list and add to it as others come up with suggestions. Here’s my list: Continue Reading »

FAA Says You Can’t Post Drone Videos On YouTube

March 13th, 2015

JaysonHanesAccording to an article yesterday on the FAA has sent cease and desist orders to:

  1. Registered businesses that advertise drone-for-hire services on their websites.
  2. UAV operators that post footage on YouTube. Jayson Hanes, a Tampa-based hobbyist is the first to get a letter for posting on YouTube.

And if you do not respond to the cease and desist, letters the FAA claims they will levy fines and sanctions.

The FAA “logic” for prohibiting drone video on YouTube is that YouTube pays advertising money to all YouTube posters thus making the drone operation commercial. Yeah, sure,  Marques Brownlee, or PSY and others with their level of views make money but like you and I, Jayson Hanes has never received anything from YouTube because what YT owes him is less than a dollar.

I have to say, that I’m embarrassed by the FAA’s behavior. I expect a US Federal Agency with a yearly budget somewhere North of 16 Billion dollars to behave rationally, based on facts. Harassing people like Jayson and claiming that putting a video on YouTube makes you commercial is just plain foolish!