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Breaking News: Hold Off On Installing The Latest Lightroom Update 6.2

October 9th, 2015

If you haven’t installed it yet, better hold off on installing Lightroom CC 6.2 the update that was released a few days ago. There appear to be a number of stability issues with it.

Here some places to follow what’s going on with this issue:

  4. Adobe Lightroom forum

Apparently there’s an new update from Adobe 6.2.1 that may fix the problem see:


Update 10/9 8 PM Pacific: I agree with Karl’s comment below. Tom Hogatry’s (the Lightroom product manager) apology for the Lightroom 6.2 release is a good place to express you feelings about this issue.

I’m still a little confused as you why Hogatry doesn’t also refer to Lightroom CC 2015.2 as well as Lightroom 6.2. I’ve not upgraded to Lightroom CC 2015.2 yet and I don’t see the alleged fix released this morning (Lightroom CC 2015.2.1) in my creative cloud app. This whole thing is a world class disaster and I don’t see that Adobe understands this yet.


Does Anyone Use A Powered Panning Head For Real Estate Video?

October 8th, 2015

PanningHeadBill recently asked:

I would like to ask if anyone is using a powered panning head for real estate video, I am using a slider but sometimes a nice clean pan shot is what I want and I am too jerky for smooth pan.

Powered, panning heads are frequently used to control cameras on poles or for making complex moves while doing time-lapse video. However, for just video panning on a tripod, the way to insure smooth pans is to use a quality fluid video head.

With a powered head you can only make it pan at a fixed rate or pre-program it ahead of time to pan a specific way. Compared to manually controlling a fluid head I think controlling a head like this with a remote controller is very awkward.

Is anyone using a powered panning head other than poles and time-lapse?

What’s The Best Online Booking Application For Real Estate Photography?

October 7th, 2015

BookSimpleWanda asks:

Does anyone have a suggestion for a scheduling application that they use for their business. We have been trying but it just does not fit well for a real estate photographer. I have an assistant that is in the office from 9 -3 but most REALTORS want something that is available to them 24/7. Anybody have any suggestions?

Great question I think a lot of readers would be interested in this subject. There appears to be a huge number of online booking systems out there. A few are:

  1. BookingBug
  2. BookSimple
  3. BookFresh
  4. GetTimely
  5. CheckFront
  6. SimplyBook

From a quick look at these I like the looks of BookSimple (#2) but I’ve not tried any of these myself. Anyone using a booking application you like for real estate photography?

Beginners Guide To Finding Real Estate Photography Clients

October 6th, 2015


Domineka recently asked:

How do you find real estate photography jobs. I have e-mailed every real estate company in my area and when I ask if their looking for a real estate photographer, I don’t get a response, I love homes and I love photography and I want to make this my career but how do I start

E-mail is not the most effective way to make initial contact with real estate photography clients. Also, real estate companies don’t usually hire real estate photographers, listing agents that help home sellers sell their home hire them. To find listing agents in your area that are potential clients  you have to do some online research.

There are very few businesses where you can make a list of names, phone numbers, email addresses of all your potential customers, but you can in real estate photography since real estate agents are listed on their company website along with all their listed properties.

I recommend that every beginning real estate photographer make a spreadsheet that lists all the listing agents in all the major real estate offices in their area. Here’s how do that:

  1. You need to understand that agents tend to specialize in who they work with. Some agents specialize in working with buyers (call buyers agents), and some specialize in working with home sellers (called listing agents).
  2. Don’t waste your time  and money marketing buyers agents because they don’t need real estate photographers. Only listing agents need photographers. Buyers agents typically don’t have any listings. A few agents work with buyers and sellers but it’s the agents that specialize in listing homes that you want to connect with. They are the ones that need your services the most.
  3. Every real estate office on the planet has a website that lists all the agents in the office, and it lists all the listings that each agent has. Well, there may be a hand full of rural offices that don’t have a website but you can probably count those on your left hand.
  4. Go through the list of agents for each office that have listings. For each listing agent put office name, agent name, agent phone #, email address, number of listings and listing price of the highest price listing in your spreadsheet.
  5. As you proceed through each office the agents that are the top listing agents will immediately stand out. A hand full of agents in each office with have 10, 20, 30 or more listings. Others with have just a handful. You’ll see the pattern emerge quickly. All this will take some time but it’s well worth the time!
  6. Once you’ve gone through all the major offices in the area, sort the spreadsheet by number of listings and by listing price.
  7. This agent list is a list of who’s who in real estate listing agents in your area. It shows you who to focus your marketing on. During the rest of your marketing when you meet an agent at an open house or at an office or wherever you’ll have a way to focus on potential clients.

Once you have the list you need to focus your marketing on those agents. Here are some standard ways of marketing them:

  1. Make a marketing piece. This can either be a 8.5 x 11″ brochure or even better a jumbo glossy post card (8.5 x 5.5: that shows some of your best work and has the URL of your portfolio site and your contact info on it.
  2. Get this marketing piece to your potential clients. In person if possible or personally deliver it to their mail slot at their office. Be prepared to talk about why professional photography is important.
  3. Open houses are a great way to meet listing agents. Be careful, the listing agent doesn’t always hold their own listings open. Many times buyers agents will be holding open houses to meet buyers. Verify the agent at the open house is the listing agent.
  4. Short office presentations are possible in some locations. Call the managing broker for the office and ask to make a short presentation. This works better in smaller markets. I know of some real estate offices that don’t allow this any more because there are so many photographers wanting to do it.

As a real estate photographer, you need to know the names of all the top listing agents in your area. During this process, you can easily check to see if an agent with lots of listings and already using a professional photographer. This will tell you exactly who to focus your marketing efforts on by name. Be persistent. Building a large group of clients will take a year or more depending on your marketing skills and the market you are working in.


How To Correct Perspective Problems In Exterior Shots – By John McBay

October 5th, 2015

ExteriorPerspectiveJohn McBay has just released a new chapter in the video series, Image Editing for Real Estate Photography. The title of Chapter 31 is “Correcting Problems with Perspective”. This chapter deals with correcting perspective problems in exterior images. It is available now to those who have purchased the complete video series. Note, this content is not in John’s e-book of the same name, only the video series.

Click here or on the image to the right to watch a brief overview video of the new chapter.

Perspective distortion becomes a problem when one portion of the image is either unrealistically larger or smaller in relation to other parts of the image or when the shape of parts of the image are unrealistically distorted.

As in all of the video chapters, before the actual editing takes place, there is an in depth explanation of the causes of Perspective Distortion and how to avoid it. John shows several examples of different style houses where perspective problems can be eliminated or at least diminished depending on the direction from which the house is shot.

During the editing section, images of three homes with significant perspective distortion issues are corrected. Every step of the editing process is explained in detail. John explains which tools to use and which to avoid. The necessary tool parameters are explained for each tool used.

Click here or on the link at the top of the page (Image Editing for Real Estate Photography – the video series) to get additional information about the video series or to purchase it.

What Can Real Estate Photographers Do To Control The Color Problems When Shooting HDR?

October 4th, 2015

SooSoo recently asked:

I am a real estate agent and photographer. I like to do my own photos and I have a Nikon D750 with a 16-35mm lens. I use Photomatix for HDR for the convenience and Photoshop to edit. However, I have never learned how to get rid of the yellow color cast nicely in my photos. I tweak around and still can’t seem to get it right. I either remove too much yellow or not enough. I like the photos that have more grays and whites where as mine tend to have more yellows. Help!

Yes, color problems are a classic issue with HDR. Depending on the ambient light in the particular room, HDR frequently produces strange color artifacts that are difficult to remove in post-processing. The yellowish cast usually comes from the incandescent lights, but also the whites are not a crisp white and there can be other color problems that are hard to control.

Here are a couple of ways to get control of your color problems:

  1. Use a flash when shooting your brackets. You can use a on-camera manual flash like the YN-560-III or an automatic flash like the SB-910 or SB-800. Add flash to one or more of your brackets with the flash bouncing off the ceiling or against a wall-ceiling joint. Then process the brackets as you normally do and the colors will all be more accurate. If you use manual flash, experiment to find what the power setting works best. Half power is a good place to start.
  2. Another refinement to your workflow would be to use Enfuse processing (Photomatix has it build in) rather than HDR since Enfuse processing results in a more neutral results with fewer color artifacts. You can always adjust saturation and clarity in final post-processing to give a more HDR look if you like that look.

Anyone have any other suggestions for Soo?

Do You Change Light Bulbs To Control White Balance?

October 1st, 2015

IncadecentLEDDwayne sent me this lighting tip that cost less than $10. The two photos to the right are examples of what changing light bulbs can do. Dwayne says:

A bulb in my office ceiling fan burned out so I ran down to the store and bought 2 new LED’s so I would never have to replace them. Problem was they were 5000K instead of soft white. Color was horrible. Stuck them in my photo bag a couple of months ago and it has been a blessing. When bedrooms have a couple of side lamps I replace the bulbs with the 5K’s. They can be on for 15 minutes and are only warm to the touch. My assistant goes ahead of me and changes out the bulbs. This makes the post-processing go much easier. If a room has just a pole lamp I use it there. The two photos were shot with a Nikon 7100 and a 12-24 Tokina with fill flash. Did not color correct, only changed the bulbs. They were 10 watt LED bulbs. Thought you might be interested in a tip that cost less than $10.

Yes, bulb replacement used to be the standard way to control white balance back in the days of film and it certainly does the job but, have to say I’m not keen on carry light bulbs and change many light bulbs on a real estate shoot. Easier to just turn off the lights.

I took Dwayne’s incandescent JPG into Lightroom and played with it and I have to admit that I can’t get the JPG to look as good as good as the LED JPG although JPGs are always much harder to adjust than RAW files. In small bedrooms like this I never have trouble controlling white balance with just flash and Lightroom adjusting.

What do you think, are any of you into changing light bulbs?

Congratulations To Steve Dolinsky – Aug/Sept PFRE Videographer Of The Month

September 30th, 2015

2015-SeptVOMSteveDolinskyCongratulations to Steve Dolinsky of Nyack, New York who the video jury has voted the PFRE videographer of the month for August/September. Here is Steve’s winning video.

And here is the ranking results of the jury’s voting. To view the videos click on the entry numbers below and then click on the video link in the description field of the entry:

  1. #9, Steve Dolinsky, Nyack, New York
  2. #3, Adam Wayland, Charlottesville, Virginia
  3. #12, Anders Carlson, Kailua Kona, Hawaii
  4. #1, Jeff Griggs, Folsom, California
  5. #11, Michael Sosnoski, Falmouth, Maine
  6. #2, Andre Mckenzie, Toronto, Canada
  7. #5, Colley Bailey, Fayetteville, Arkansas
  8. #7, Saul Goodwin, Byron Bay, Australia
  9. #8, Kelvin Hammond, Billings, Montana
  10. #6, Christine Bickley, Brisbane, Australia
  11. #4, Patrick Ketchum, Palm Springs, California
  12. #10, Brad Barnson, St George, Utah

Be sure to check the jurors, comments in the Video Contest Flickr pool.

Here is Steve’s description of his video:

Wow… I am honored. Considering the amazing videos this month, this is a big surprise. Some of those drone shots were simply spectacular, especially Anders Carlson’s video in Hawaii… those whales and crashing seas… Incredible work!

I first want to thank Larry for creating such an incredible site and resource for real estate photography. I have learned so much from all the great artists and teachers on this site. So informative and helpful. Thank you to everyone who contributes to this site and shares their work and knowledge so we all can get better together.

For this video, my client was the Realtor who was looking to promote the development she represented (Riverton). She was getting some pressure from her clients (the builders) to promote the last few lots remaining so she wanted me to create a video about the entire development of new homes and the surrounding area. However, after I interviewed the first homeowner, Randi, I realized that interviewing all the other homeowners would take too long and make the project too large… I just couldn’t wrap my head around such a large concept. But once I heard Randi’s story, I thought it would be better to just focus on one homeowner at a time…. to tell each story separately.

I broke the interview down into several parts… asking Randi a list of questions : What brought her to this area?…how she found her real estate agent and this development? How was the building process?… what she looked forward to in her new home, etc… And having such a willing partner who was super comfortable in front of the camera definitely made the difference. She wrote the story off the top of her head….I just pieced it all together and added some appropriate shots. I thought being at their dinner party would also add a human touch. I asked them to toast at the end… and once I saw that come together… I knew I had the ending… and the story.

I want to give a shout out to Travis Rowan for his work last month. His awesome award winning video inspired me to focus more on the storytelling and the emotion of the homeowner. His work is amazing! … I’m glad he didn’t enter this month’s video contest :) …and instead decided to take his talents over to the still photography contest. Congratulations to him, by the way, for winning that too.

I look forward to telling more stories and getting better at this wonderful art form.

Thank you for the encouragement and support.

Shooting Twilight Exteriors For Real Estate

September 29th, 2015


Andy asked the following question:

I did some shots for free a few weeks ago and I wanted to do “twilight” shots so I went to the house at night. The street lights turned on and the whole picture pretty much turned yellow because I was doing a slow exposure (the color of the street lights). How do I avoid it? Do I have to use flash?

It’s hard to tell for sure without seeing the specific photo you are talking about. A couple of approaches come to mind:

  1. You may be able to correct the problem in Lightroom or Photoshop depending on how bad it is. This would be done with the Temp and Tint sliders in Lightroom. Of course, these are global adjustments that affect the whole image. You also can also do a similar thing in areas that are worse than others with the Adjustment brush.
  2. If the street lights are coming on, you many be shooting when it’s too dark. The ideal time to a twilight shoot about 15 to 20 minutes after sunset. Since this may vary due to the cloud cover etc., it’s a good idea to be ready to shoot at sunset and then take a series of shots as it gets darker and darker. That way you can decide later which is the best.

Using flash in a twilight shot is not going to change the color balance of the whole image. Usually, the way flash is used in twilight shots it to go around flashing many different areas to highlight them and then combine all the flashed areas in Photoshop as layers, this isn’t a solution to the problem you describe.

The photo above by Iran Watson, is in the PFRE Flickr group and Iran describes how he added supplemental lighting to this twilight shot. Notice from the sky in Iran’s photo, it’s not all that dark. My guess it that you are waiting to shoot your twilight until it gets too dark.

What’s A Good Way For Real Estate Photographers To Carry Tripods And Light Stands?

September 28th, 2015

TripodsLightstandsDean says:

Do you have any ideas about carrying all the tripods I have? Including my main camera tripod I have three or four others (maybe more?) I use for speed lights. I thought about looking at one of the Pelican solutions, maybe a rifle case I could remove the foam from. Do you have any ideas?

Yes, I have a canvas bag that that a lighting kit came in that I use. There are several canvas bags made by Cowboy Studios that are very similar:

  1. A zippered bag that would carry a few tripods and
  2. A larger one with a shoulder strap and
  3. A deluxe one with wheels.

The one I have is similar to #2 and it works well I carry a big tripod and 2 or three light stands in it.

What do others use?

Lightroom Presets – A Way to Speed Your Post-Processing

September 27th, 2015

LRPresetsHave you noticed that there are a bunch of things that you do to almost every photo in a shoot? Things like:

  1. Enabling lens profile corrections which cause Lightroom to recognize what lens was used and load the lens correction profile for that lens.
  2. Reducing Highlights slider
  3. Increasing Shadow slider
  4. Increasing Clarity slider a bit
  5. Increasing the Vibrance slider a bit
  6. Sharpening

You can save all these basic adjustments into a Lightroom Preset. Then by making a single click you can apply the adjustments in the Preset to any given photo. And and then SYNC those adjustments to a whole set if images if you want. Sure each photo in a shoot is likely to take a few special adjustments but the idea is to find those adjustments you find yourself doing on every photo and package them up in a Preset, then just fine tune each photo as required. This approach has the potential to save you a bunch of time.

Simon Maxwell includes two presets like this with his Enfuse For Real Estate Photography e-book and video series, an import Preset and a post-processing Preset.

Here is a little 10-minute video tutorial by Anthony Morganti that shows how easy creating your own Preset is.

My Wacom Epiphany – Everyone With Multiple Monitors Needs A Wacom Tablet!

September 24th, 2015

WacomIntuosProEpiphany: An experience of sudden and striking realization. Generally the term is used to describe scientific breakthrough, religious or philosophical discoveries, but it can apply in any situation in which an enlightening realization allows a problem or situation to be understood from a new and deeper perspective.

Yes, that’s what happened to me! After last week’s post asking about people using Wacom tablets, I decide to try one out. It came on Sunday so I’ve only been using it for a few days. The tablet I got is a Wacom Intuos Pro Pen and Touch Medium.

The first thing that blew me away is that this is a fantastic mouse replacement for anyone that has multiple large monitors. A Wacom tablet is a must for anyone that has multiple monitors. I have two 27″ monitors. A 27″ iMac and a 27″ monitor. I never realized how annoying using a standard mouse is until I started using a tablet! Instead of dragging a mouse across two 27″ monitors, with a tablet you just move directly to any location on the two screens you want to go to. It’s amazing!

My second amazing discovery was multi-touch. That is you can use your fingers instead of the pen. To click, to double click, to scroll, to zoom. There is a lot to learn. After a few days, I’m still learning all the multi-touch finger gestures and I haven’t even got to learning the pressure sensitive pen features built into Photoshop. A Wacom tablet is well worth the money just for the ways it replaces the standard mouse, let alone the pressure sensitive features.

I have to say that Wacom doesn’t do a very good job of explaining all these great features. The training they make available is I feel substandard. I sort of stumbled across the multi-touch features. Their tutorials and information on all their great features could be much better. But the Wacom tablets are still a great bit of gear that will speed up you time in front of a computer once you learn to use it.

There are several of conclusions I’ve come to:

  1. You don’t need a medium or large tablet. A small tablet is just fine.
  2. A Wacom tablet is essential if you have multiple large screens. It’s far better than a mouse.
  3. The pressure sensitive features are important, but they are just part of the advantages of using a tablet.
  4. Wacom has done a poor job of marketing and promoting this device. I’ve been a Photoshop user since the early 1990’s and I’ve somehow missed out completely on the importance of using a tablet.

I would highly recommend the Wacom Intuos Pro Pen and touch Small for all real estate photographers particularly if you have multiple monitors.


Congratulations To Travis Rowan – PFRE Photographer Of The Month For September

September 23rd, 2015

2015SeptemberTravisRowanCongratulations to Travis Rowan of Maui, Hawaii who has won the September photographer of the month for September. Travis has won the PFRE video contest three times so he thought he’d try his hand at still photography. Travis is the second photographer/videographer that has won both the video contest and the still contest. Anders Carlson is the other winner in both contests. These guys in Hawaii do everything!

Here are the contestants that the jurors awarded points to this month:

  1. #16, Travis Rowan – Maui, Hawaii
  2. #24, Aaron Flores – Tempe, AZ
  3. #10, Scott Brasile – San Diego, CA
  4. #18, Robert Morning – Los Angeles, CA
  5. #22, Sam Chen – San Diego, CA
  6. #23, Anders Carlson – Kailua Kona, Hawaii
  7. #7, Tim Krueger – Costa Mesa, CA
  8. #2, Gary Kasl – San Marcos, CA

Don’t forget to check out the discussion in the contest Flickr group. There is a lot of good comments and critique. I’ve put the contestants names on all the entries in the Flickr group. Thanks for everyone’s participation in the contest.

Here are Travis’s comments:

Thanks very much. It’s great to be recognized. Thanks especially to Larry for creating this forum to showcase our work and learn from each other. I know it’s been incredibly helpful in improving my skills in both photography and video.

This home is absolutely amazing and is one of my favorites. This was the second opportunity I’ve had to photograph it in the past five years. Since the first time, it has been personalized by it’s current owner (Peter Lik) with many cool refinements like the entry zen garden. I’ve learned some new techniques in the past few years and this property was a great opportunity to put them to work.

For this shot, I used the “Mike Kelley” technique of light painting various parts of the image and then layering them in by hand in photoshop. I captured well over 40 frames. This image is the result of over 20 different layers all with some piece of it lit by a single handheld speedlight. I tried to mimic the direction of any expected light sources (sky, sconces and possible interior lights) but also wasn’t afraid to let it be less natural and more graphic like on the vertical stone spires. It’s not practical to shoot all properties in this way as it’s time-consuming both during the shoot and in post, but this one really inspired me to do something extra special.

Equipment: Nikon D800 + 24-70mm at 24mm.
iPad mini
Lumopro 180 speedlight
Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC.

What’s The Difference Between An Architectural Photographer And A Real Estate Photographer?

September 22nd, 2015

ArchetectureI recently had an interesting discussion with Vic in Australia. Vic was looking for some training as an architectural photographer. Vic said:

Shooting real estate is not very inspiring, shooting typically boring and ugly boxes. To be honest, I probably spend more time cleaning up people’s crap than actually photographing!

I was charging $100-$200 for my shoots and I ended up getting undercut by some Chinese guys offering it for $75-80. I couldn’t understand how they could sustain that, but found out all they were doing was the photography. Apparently, they outsourced the post-processing work to PS experts in China for a very low fee. The quality of the post-processing was probably better than what I could achieve. So all they had to do is shoot, so this is how they made it viable.

So Vic wants to do “architectural photography” since it pays much more and was more interesting. My point of view is that the difference between real estate photography and architectural photography is just who you are shooting for. Architectural photography is when your client is an architect or interior designer that have had training in the visual arts and is working on projects that require a much higher level of quality of photographic quality than most real estate photographers can do. So what you need to do to work as an architectural photography what you need to shoot a lot of real estate and work hard at raising the level of your work until it is acceptable to architects and designers.

To be clear, I’m not basing this on any personal experience. I’ve never shot for anyone but real estate agents. I’m basing this on what I see others do. Everyone that I know of that shoots for architects and designers and does a very high level of work has started out by shooting real estate photography for a number of years. It appears to be how you raise the level of your work and get really good in interior photography. Moving to architectural photography is a growth path for real estate photographers.

So my advice to Vic is that you can’t just take a class in architectural photography to get there. You need to build your skills in interior photography and the way to do that is to shoot real estate photography and get a lot of practice. Any architectural shooters out there that can confirm this?



Do Real Estate Photographers Need To Provide Tours?

September 21st, 2015

TourBuzzAlan asked the following question a couple of days ago:

I’m new to real estate photography and I’ve been practicing my tail off for about 3 months, 4-6 hours a day. I’m now learning that many realtors want a virtual tour. I think this is a bit antiquated when we now have beautiful video available. Personal feelings aside, what are some of the professionals using, how is it set up and what are the typical costs associated with it? Is this something I really need to offer?

Yes, Realtors in many markets expect tours. It’s a form of media that has been sold to them for many years that does their marketing job because it frequently includes stills, video, 360s, links to google maps/street-view, links to school information sites and typically has agent branding. Frequently what you’ll find is that there are large nationwide tour companies operating in your area that are selling agent tours and photography shoots bundled together. So to compete with the tour companies, you may need to deliver a product that looks as good as the tour companies. Not all real estate photographers choose to do tours but if you are just starting out, you may need to, just to compete.

A very popular tour product designed for independent real estate photographers is There are others, but is very popular because for $12 a tour you can bundle a tour with your photo shoot that has all the features (and more) that the big tour companies have. Or you can sell the tour as an add-on product to your shoot. even has a photo delivery feature built into the tour.

If you need to compete with tour companies in your area I recommend that you raise your price $12 a shoot and just bundle a tour with your shoot. This immediately makes you look as good as the tour company!

Sure, real video can be far better than a simple tour of stills. However, real video 10x harder to do well than a set of still photos and you must charge more (because of the added time and equipment investment). Tours can be done for all properties but since you need to charge more for video it’s a product for an entirely different set of clients. Most video is shot for upper-end listings where the client is willing to spend much more on marketing the listing.