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Congratulations Brandon Cooper PFRE April Photographer Of The Month

April 24th, 2015

2015April-BrandonCooperCongratulations to Brandon Cooper, in Fort McMurray Alberta, CA. Brandon is an agent in Fort McMurray. You dazzled the jurors with your master bedroom shot!

Here are the results of the jury voting:

  1. 61 pts, #31, Brandon Cooper, Fort McMurray, Alberta
  2. 22 pts, #29, Ethan Tweedie, Big Island, Hawaii
  3. 14 pts, #13, Tony Colangelo, Victoria, BC
  4. 14 pts, #24, Jonas Berg, Gothenburg, Sweden
  5. 10 pts, #5, Seth Parker, Huntsville, Alabama
  6. 8 pts, #9, Hamish Beeston, Bristol, UK
  7. 6 pts, #18, Cynthia Walker, Huntsville, Alabama
  8. 5 pts, #30, Brian Doherty, Boston, MA
  9. 3 pts, #10, Matthew Stallone, Woodbridge, ON
  10. 3 pts, #17, Anders Carlson, Kailua Kona, Hawaii
  11. 2 pts, #21, Ling Ge, Aliso Viejo, CA
  12. 2 pts, #25, Ady Mace, Leeds, UK

Here are Brandon’s comments:

A year ago I wouldn’t have dreamed of entering one of these contests, let alone winning one. I’m literally stunned, it’s inspiring to be in such great company. What an honor!

I shot this room over a year ago and was fortunate to get another crack at it this month. This was a single flashed shot, blended with a couple ambient shots and some work in PS and LR. I had a wall ceiling bounce far camera left, and one in the ensuite.

I’ll try my best not to sound cliche but it just wouldn’t be right if I didn’t say some thank you’s…

Thanks to Larry for creating and stewarding a community where like minds can come together to share our work and thoughts. The PFRE website and Flickr group are a regular part of my day.

Thanks to all the members for your engagement. The open conversation, candid feedback, and generous encouragement is always refreshing and has been critical to my development as a photographer.

And thanks to Tony Colangelo who’s guidance and mentoring is invaluable.

Starting this month, I’m not going to delete photos from this flickr group each month. Rather, I’m going to leave this months and future months photos and comments in the group so there will be a contest history. Several people have suggested that and I don’t see why that won’t work.

What Do You Think About The New HDR Processing In Lightroom CC/Adobe Camera RAW?

April 23rd, 2015

HDRinACRNew HDR Processing Is In ACR: A feature of Lightroom CC/Lightroom 6/ACR that is probably getting the most attention is the HDR feature (at least from real estate photographer). First of all, as Julieanne’s video shows this HDR feature is not in Lightroom at all, it’s in Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) 9. This means this feature is available to Lightroom, Photoshop, Bridge and probably Photoshop Elements users that have Adobe Camera Raw 9.

Image Rendering Looks Good: I’m not a big user of traditional HDR software but I like the concept of this new HDR feature makes more sense to me than other HDR processing software. The thing I like is that you don’t have a bunch of strange, unintuitive sliders in the tone mapping process that you use to try and tame the tone mapping process. Rather you use standard, well understood tools (the sliders in Lightroom or ACR) to control the visual aspects of the image AFTER the bracket processing in a RAW file. To me this process doesn’t even seem like HDR processing because it doesn’t create wild and crazy, radioactive images which you have to work like crazy make look normal. The image rendering looks to me more like what you get out of Enfuse processing.

What’s Missing Is Batch Processing: It appears to me that even though the image rendering looks good and can quickly and easily be tailored to your personal taste after after bracket processing the feature that is missing for professional real estate photographers is batch processing. LR/Enfuse and Photomatix both have this and it is essential for high volume work. Maybe I’m missing something but I don’t see a way to match the the missing batch processing feature with the new ACR. I still recall Dan Achatz telling me back in 2008 that he processed all his HDR images from a shoot with Photomatix while he was driving to the next shoot. At first I thought he was pulling my leg, but he was serious! The batch processing feature has a lot to do with Dan being one of the most prolific real estate photographers in the Seattle area.

So what do all you hardcore HDR/Enfuse people think of this new HDR processing?

Getting The Best Possible Quality Photos On MLSs and Syndicated Sites

April 22nd, 2015

MLSphotosBill in Cleveland says:

In Cleveland the MLS is taking photos from the Realtors at 2048 pixels wide then they the MLS knocks them down to 640 pixels for their use but when they send them on to Zillow, Trulia and they are sending the 640 resolution and not the 2048 res. I believe it is a software problem that is causing this, and they seem not to be interested in correcting the problem which most software techs that I know say it is an easy fix. What are other MLS’s doing in this regard so agents do not have to go to all these sites, claim there listings and reload the high res photos. My big concern is they pay me to deliver high quality and resolution and the the MLS screws it all up. There is such a huge sharpness difference between 640 and 2048 res.

Yes, this kind of MLS photo mangling is classic. Previous discussions on this subject always raise similar complaints. There are a number of things that photographers and agents can do to minimize the MLS photo mangling:

  1. Understand what pixel dimension your MLS requires and supply exactly that so the MLS downsizing is avoided. The pixel dimensions are more important than the file size.
  2. Make sure your clients are aware that they can create an account on Zillow, Trulia and and claim their listings and upgrate the photos. I done this for our listings and rentals for years. It’s worth the effort.
  3. Explain the local MLS problems to your clients and encourage them to lobby their MLS board to get problems fixed. The MLS board that runs the MLS is only going to pay attention to demands of it’s members.
  4. Supply a tour to your clients. MLS bungling and crappy photo displays on real estate sites has always been a large part of the motivation for tours. With tours you can bypass MLS foolishness and show large, high-quality photos. But of course tour links are never syndicated, but if you have

These kind of problems have been going on for so long I’m afraid everyone has gotten used to it. I don’t know any easy way to fix this kind thing.

Adobe: You Did A Sloppy Job Of Transitioning From Lightroom 5 To Lightroom CC

April 21st, 2015

LightroomCCToday was Lightroom 6/CC release day – I hope yours went better than mine! For a while today I felt like shouting at someone at Adobe.

My upgrade struggle:
I’ve had the $9.99 subscription to Creative Cloud installed on my iMac for about a year but never installed  the version of Lightroom that is distributed via Creative Cloud. Rather, I have been using a version of Lightroom 5 that I had before I got the Creative Cloud subscription. Mid-morning after watching Scott Kelby and RC hype the new version of Lightroom CC on the Lightroom Killer Tips broadcast I noticed that my Creative Cloud application had a version of Lightroom CC ready to install so I installed it. But it wouldn’t run. It just flashed the menu bar and didn’t come up. I thought the problem perhaps was perhaps because Lightroom 5 was still installed so I uninstalled Lightroom 5. Still didn’t work. After taking a long bike ride to cool off and think about what to do,  I decided to upgrade my Lightroom 5 to Lightroom 6. Soon as I installed the Lightroom 6 update Lightroom CC started to work. Huh!! And when it converted my 2015 Catalogue it left out the last few months… #$&! I’m finally running on Lightroom CC but I think Adobe did a really crappy job with their update process. Continue Reading »

Help! What Can I Do To Get More Real Estate Photography Business?

April 20th, 2015

help!Richard in New Mexico is struggling to get started in real estate photography and needs help. Here is his account of his efforts in the last fourteen months:

Beginning February 2014, I began concentrating on residential real estate photography. I have over 50 years experience as a photographer and have worked every area of photography except residential real estate. I began my career in 1961 as a photojournalist. Now, being retired and other causes I need to start working again. So I purchased a realtor list from Info USA. It contains over 600 realtor names, physical addresses, email addresses and phone numbers. I then signed up with Mail Chimp and began an email campaign sending out one email every week. In every email I attempted to offer something of value even if it was outside real estate photography, like how to shoot your children and things like how to shoot a winter snow scene without it looking gray and gloomy. About once a month I offered a monthly special or around the holidays a holiday special. These offers where everything from a discount on a listing shoot to a nearly free family portrait or a business head shot. Well after 14 months I have had a grand total of two residential jobs and four commercial shoots. The fee for the resident jobs was $200.00 each and each of the commercial job were about $550 with the largest being $1,250. Gross income $3,300 for the year. Further on every offer I made in the emails I have NOT had one realtor take my offer. Several times I offered my $200 package as a 2 for 1 sale. Other offers were for a 10-20% discount plus an Ala-Charte item for FREE. My packages are priced as follows: GOOD $99.00, BETTER $150.00, BEST $250.00 and PREMIER starting at $450 with preview walk thru required and I provide a written estimate of cost based on wants and needs. Here is the hooker, last week I offered a $250 photo package for absolutely FREE…No Charge! FREE! Not one Realtor call for an appointment!!

There are several problems that I see in your marketing: Continue Reading »

Announcing The New PFRE Flickr group In Spanish: Fotografía Inmobiliaria

April 20th, 2015

FotografiaInmobiliariaManu Luque, the translator of the What Real Estate Agents Need to Know about Photography e-book and Dave Calaveras, both real estate photographers in Spain, PFRE blog readers and members of the Flickr group felt the need to create a forum to talk about real estate photography in they own language. In Dave’s words:

You all know sometimes is hard to explain the know how about the lighting schemes and fusion techniques, etc. Now, try to do it in a foreign language like us, the Spanish and Latin American people.

That’s the motivation for the new FPRE Flickr group in Spanish language, called Fotografía Inmobiliaria. Of course, you all are very welcome. Bienvenidos!

I’ve also added at link to the Spanish flickr group along the right hand side bar under Flickr Links.


Can My Realtor Client Uploaded My Photos To A CirclePix Tour? Is That Legal?

April 19th, 2015

3rdParyViolationRandall is having a problem with a client that has uploaded the photos he shot for them to CirclePix:

I recently found that a Realtor I have shot images for using them on a tour I didn’t provide. They’ve uploaded images to a national photography/tour provider company (Circlepix) to use in tours they produce. They (Circlepix) are receiving credit in their banner, I get zero credit for the photos I provided.

My Terms of Service on my invoice that states the following Photo Rights and Usage: “All photos produced for the client may be used by that agent for all marketing associated with the current sale of the property in accordance with local MLS rules. Please note that the photos will be copyrighted by xxx and a license granted only to the agent and NOT to any third party. Any usage of the photos by a third party, including but not limited to architects, builders, stagers, designers, sellers or buyers is prohibited unless approved in writing by xxx.

Isn’t Circlepix be a ‘third party’ in this situation? Is this legal or an unorthodox practice? Has this happened to anyone else? What would you do in this circumstance? I provide my tours using Tourbuzz and get credit when publishing these tours. Not to mention, my tours are higher resolution and custom panning was much better than what is provided by the competition.

I don’t see that your client is violating your Terms Of Service. Since your terms say, “All photos produced for the client may be used by that agent for all marketing associated with the current sale of the property…” Your client is using your photos on a different tour than you provide. She’s just marketing the property. Complying with your TOS it seems to me.

Whether or not you get credit is not an issue. The clients use at CirclePix is no different than what happens when the photos you shoot are syndicated to or one of the hundreds of other sites that MLSs syndicate to. You don’t get credit at any of these places either.

One Week Left to Enter The PFRE Video Contest

April 17th, 2015

VideoContesThe PFRE video contest is open and we already have 2 entrants so far. You have until next week (4/24) to enter the video contest. If we don’t have eight entries by 4/24 we’ll wait until next month to do the judging.

For instructions on how to enter the contest see the contest rules page here. Please read and follow the instructions.

Note: that as with the still contest, I’m going to start keeping all the entries from past months in the flickr video contest forum so everyone can go back and see previous month’s entries and comments. This should be a way to learn more about property video.

April Photographer Of The Month Entrants Ready For Review and Judging

April 16th, 2015

POMcontestThe PFRE photographer of the month contest is now closed and it is ready for your review and judging.

This month the theme is master bedrooms and we have 31 entrants from 6 countries. Here’s your chance to raise the level of your work by just studying these entries and thinking about what is strong and weak about each one. Feel free to join the Contest flickr group and comment on your favorite entry.

Also, starting this month I’m going to be keeping all the photos and comments for past months contests so people can go back and look at all the entries and comments for previous months. Several people have pointed out that it would be nice to be able to go back and see the entries and comments from previous months so I think I’ll give it a try and see how it works.

Factors Involved In Pricing Real Estate Photography

April 15th, 2015

PricingGeorge in Southern New Jersey asks the following question:

I’m a photographer from Southern New Jersey, just outside of Philadelphia. A few years ago when I first got into Real Estate Photography, I researched local real estate photographers and based my rates and pricing structure off of theirs. My current price structure starts with homes up to 2500 sq/ft and my rates increase with every additional 500 sq/ft. Once I get to about 4500 sq/ft I call it a “custom quote” and price it accordingly. In the next few months I plan on re-evaluating my cost to do business and will be increasing my rates and possibly the structure of how they increase. With that, I’m curious to know how other photographers structure their pricing. Do they base it on square footage, number of rooms, value of the home, etc.

We’ve talked a lot about pricing here on PFRE. I would summarize the factors involved in pricing as follows:

  1. Copying what others are doing: When real estate photographers start out they tend to just copy what others are doing. You have to be careful with this approach. What if the photographer’s pricing you are copying is just a part time shooter that is not concerned with making a living at real estate photography? Or, your quality isn’t anywhere near the photographer you are copying.
  2. Making sure you cover expenses and you are getting paid for your time: Especially when you are starting out, you want to be doing the arithmetic and making sure you are covering your expenses and getting paid a living wage for your time spent.
  3. Getting paid for the size of each job: Bigger properties can take more time to shoot and post process so how do you make sure you are getting paid for your time? Some do it by a square foot scale (shoot price goes up to shoot bigger properties) and some do it by the number of photos delivered (shoot price goes up for more photos delivered). I think the best way to do this is charge based on the number of photos you deliver. See this post for more details.
  4. It is not customary to charge based on the listing price: I’ve not heard of many photographers that do this, but I think it’s a bad idea.
  5. You need to be increasing your price as your quality and demand increases: We talked about this in the discussion about hiring contract employees. Scott points out in the comments that some real estate photographers are focused on building a business (they are likely to keep the price the same and hire more people) and some are focused on doing photography that they love and getting better at it (they are likely to raise the shoot price to make more by doing higher quality work).

So in summary, I don’t think there is one simple solution that works for everyone. Pricing is different when you are starting out and as your business/photography improves it depends on what your passion is. As Scott says, “are you an entrepreneur or are you a photographer?”

Interview With Brendan Schulman On The Importance Of Commenting On FAA Proposals

April 14th, 2015

BrendanSThis is an important interview of Brendan Schulman, New York UAV lawyer that occurred today. Brendon was the lawyer that represented Raphael Pirker in Pirker v FAA. Robert Scoble is interviewing Brendan and they talk about current laws that apply to both commercial UAV operation and non-commercial UAV operation. Unfortunately Robert shot it vertically with his smartphone but the content is excellent.

Brendon stresses the importance of everyone interested in UAV use in the US to comment on the current FAA proposed guidelines before comments close April 24, 2015.

Here are the proposed FAA guidelines and here is where you go to comment on the FAA proposed guidelines.

Protecting Yourself From Risk as A Real Estate Photographer

April 13th, 2015

Dean recently asked the question:

I don’t recall any posts or discussions about insurance, specifically, for those who aren’t covered by some form of liability as an agent. So, how is this addressed by both photographers and agent/photographers. My concern would be the new photographer who should secure some form of coverage, especially if they’re shooting as an independent contractor. Your input and that of others about limits, ballpark figures, etc. would be great.

First of all my guess is (I’m not a lawyer) that if you are an agent/photographer the liability insurance you have through your broker does not cover you when you are in a home in the capacity of a photographer.

Also, listing agents typically are responsible for all contractors that they give access to a property that has a listing agreement signed. This is why for the 10 years I was agent member of the Northwest Multiple Listing Service in Seattle, there was a $5,000 fine by the NWMLS for leaving a contractor unattended in a listing.

As a photographer, along with general business liability insurance you need to have your equipment insured. You should be able to get a general business insurance policy that covers your business for liability and for loss of your equipment for somewhere between $500 to $1,200 a year depending on the details and extent of your coverage.

About 3 years ago, when discussing this subject, a high volume real estate photographer in the San Diego area gave some great advice that has kept his company out of trouble for 34,000+ shoots:

  1. Don’t touch anything.
  2. Carry liability insurance.
  3. Require your contract photographers carry liability insurance.
  4. Have your customers sign a TOS that includes: “Client agrees to defend and hold Company and photographer harmless regarding any damage to property or furniture, including accusations of theft. In the event that photographer accidentally breaks or otherwise damages personal property while in the course of photographing the property, client agrees to reimburse seller for any and all expenses involved and will not demand reimbursement from Company or photographer.” This is because according to a famous article in PDN liability insurance typically doesn’t cover you if you break something,
  5. In all his client correspondence it’s stated that photographers are not permitted to move anything.

Here are some contacts for business insurance brokers that specialize in coverage for Photographers:

Check out what works best for you and understand exclusions up front.

Will A Full-Frame DSLR Help Your Real Estate Photography?

April 12th, 2015

Tokina16-28In the last two weeks I’ve had two similar questions asking about using full frame DSLRs for real estate photography. Jolene asked:

I am new to the real estate photography  as a photographer, however have been in real estate for quite a few years. Thank you for your informative website. I am in the middle of learning interiors photography and now trying to decide on equipment. My partner has a Canon 5DMkIII and has encouraged me to get one, however reading more about the 6D being lighter and a great camera, I am considering it although with your wide angle 10-22 or 10-18 review, I am facing the predicament of compatibility. My questions are: If I were to go with the 6D, what wide angle lens would you recommend? I read about Sigma but being a snob I prefer top of the line quality. If I chose lens first then camera, which camera would you recommend for me?

First of all, the Canon 10-22mm and 10-18mm lenses are not designed to work on full frame Canon DSLRs. For a summary of the lenses that will work on full frame DSLRs take a look at my lens recommendation page. The lenses that will work on Canon full frame DSLRs are down in the section titled “For Canon Full Frame DSLRs.” Continue Reading »

FAA Admits That They Shouldn’t Be Ordering People To Delete Drone Videos

April 11th, 2015


Gregory McNeal at reports that:

For more than a year, FAA officials have been engaged in a campaign of subtle threats and intimidation tactics that have persuaded many businesses to not use drone videos. This week, officials in Washington D.C. have finally weighed in on the legality of these tactics and in a published policy document have made clear that the intimidation tactics and take down orders must cease.

Previously, officials in various jurisdictions and across a range of use cases had been telling people that commercial use of drones was prohibited by FAA regulations, therefore, the use of drone videos was similarly prohibited by the FAA. On its face, the guidance amounted to intimidation tactics (undertaken mostly by FAA safety inspectors) and it was a clear violation of the First Amendment. Drone videos are not contraband, and the FAA has no authority to police what is posted to the internet, they only have the authority to enforce aviation regulations.

Read the whole article here.

Update April 12:  Also, another article on small UAVs worth reading is :  FAA Speeds Up Small Drone Exemptions. But Why Not Just Issue a Blanket Exemption?

Floor Plans And Room Dimensions For Real Estate Listings

April 9th, 2015

LaserMeasuringKimi-Lynn in Minnesota asked the following question:

I am finding that photographers offering room measurements and floor plans are becoming a hot trend. I am wondering if anyone else is seeing this or offering these services, and how they charge for it? Also, for the photographers that offer it, have they had success with specific floor plan creation apps/software that does not take hours to complete?

Several people have asked questions about floor plans recently and Matthew in Toronto  was just telling me last night that he has a $25 CAD add-on where he will measure all the rooms with a laser measuring device. Note that the $25 add-on is just room dimensions, not a full floor plan. Matthew charges $125 to $175 CAD for a full floor plan because it takes much more time to create. Matthew says 98% of his clients want the $25 measurement add-on because most MLSs in Canada require agents supply room dimensions to put a listing on the MLS. Not all MLSs require room dimensions but if yours does this is a natural add-on. This is an example of why you want to understand your all local MLS requirements so you can tailor your products to meet the needs of your clients. Continue Reading »