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Frank Breslin Wants To Help You With Your Post-processing

January 28th, 2015

PFRE Sample

I’ve been talking with Frank Breslin who is a PFRE reader that’s spent a long while in NZ working with Open2view. Frank has relocated to Barcelona, Catalonia, España and is setting up a retouching business.

Frank says:

I am an experienced professional photographer with over 14 years experience with top international award winner architects and RE agents.

I am thoroughly proficient with Photoshop and Lightroom.

I understand the demands and needs of the real estate industry and have the professional experience to consistently deliver high-quality work within deadlines.

I have the visual language knowledge to “read” clients aesthetic and adapt to and improve on their “message,”

The benefits of outsourcing are to have more quality time for family and friends. More time to grow your business. More time to learn new skills like videography. Improve your photography by learning from a master printer and become a better expert by focusing on a narrower field.

Price per photo is in the $2-$4 USD range. Discounts can be arranged for consistent clients.

It may seem like a large amount per shoot but time is the greatest luxury and over time it will pay for itself as you improve your business and increase your prices.

The best way to contact Frank is through the contact page on his website.

Real Estate Photography Terms Of Service Summary

January 28th, 2015

TOSJason recently posed the question:

I am trying to find a sample ‘terms and conditions’ and a ‘contract’ to offer agents. I have seen a couple of posts you have previously added, but the web links are now dead. The old podcast you recommend has also gone. Can you help at all?

We’ve discussed the various components of a real estate photographer’s terms of service and it’s clear that there are many of areas that depend on your personal approach and the kind of agents that your deal with. I doubt there is a Terms Of Service statement that will work great for everyone. So I summarized the major components and the various issues that arise with each below.

The parts of a TOS statement are as follows:

  1. Payment Policy: Many get payment up front and accept credit cards at the shoot and as you trust the client to pay their bills on time you can invoice them when the photos are delivered.
  2. Cancelation Policy: You’re always going to have a few agents that will want to change or cancel a shoot at the last minute. You should state up front what your limit is and what you charge if they go over the limit.
  3. Extra travel charge Policy: How far are you willing to drive for the average shoot? And what do you charge to go outside of your normal area. This is likely to vary a widely or not be an issue at all depending on if you are in a large metro area or more of a rural area.
  4. Photo Delivery Policy: Most real estate photographers don’t commit to deliver photos faster than 24 hours. Even though you commit to 24 hours you can still deliver faster. A few commit to longer than 24 hours. Also, the number of photos you deliver, is a controversial issue.
  5. Home Preparation Policy: Having the home prepared for the shoot is frequently a big issue. You should supply a handout that defines what ready to shoot means. Also, you should specify up front what happens if you show up for the shoot and the home is a disaster. Sooner or later it will happen. This happens regularly with rental properties
  6. Photo Licensing Agreement: We discuss this regularly and it’s a big confusing issue for many. What most do is explain up front that the photographer owns the copyright and the agent is licensed to use the photos for the duration of the listing.

In my The Business of Real Estate Photography, e-book I provide a very general TOS, a home preparation handout for agents and homeowners and a photo licensing agreement written by copyright attorney Joel Rothman who is an expert in the area of photo licensing and MLSs.

You Must Be Selective At Choosing Your Clients To Be Successful

January 27th, 2015

ParetoPrincipleCristophe in Wisconsin recently was complaining that:

…when I give them a price they say they can get it done cheaper or do them selfs. My question is what is a good price to charge?…

Cristophe’s complaint led me to give him my Pareto Principle lecture.

Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto observed in 1906 that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the people. It turns out that what is now known as the Pareto principle or law of the vital few, shows up in economics, in business, and in almost every aspect of human endeavor. Yup, you guessed it, it shows up in real estate and real estate photography too.

Stated for real estate agents it says: “20 percent of the agents close 80% of the transactions“. There was a NAR study back in 2004 (no longer available) that essentially confirmed this was the case. It also stated that the median income for agents who had been in the field for 2 years or less was $13,000. In 2004 the real estate market was roaring! Continue Reading »

Shootsac – You May Be Able To Use This

January 26th, 2015

ShootsacAubrey pointed out this new piece of gear to me:

Have you seen this latest Lens Bag? I just got home from a 2-day conference where the owner of Shootsac was there speaking to us. It’s an incredible product that I think the PFRE blog world would love to hear about!

My first reaction was during a real estate shoot I don’t change lenses. For exterior shots, I use my 24-70mm and then leave it in my truck when I go inside. Inside I use a 16-35mm and never change it. But then as I thought about it more I always carry a couple of extra flashes in pockets and a door top clamp for attaching flashes. I used to take my whole roller bag inside but quit because it was  such a hassle. The more I thought about it the more this kind of bag may make a lot of sense. What do others use to travel quickly on a shoot?

Congratulations Terry Burger, Atlanta, GA – PFRE Photographer Of The Month For January

January 25th, 2015

36Congratulations to Terry Burger, Atlanta, GA PFRE Photographer Of The Month January.

A bunch (53) of great images this month as usual. If you haven’t already, it’s worth your while to browse the contest entrants and read the comments. As usual, there is so much competition that just getting points in this contest makes you a winner!

Update 1/26: I mistakenly left off contestants #52, #53 & #54 on the original post. That is fixed now.

Congratulations to all the entrants that the jury awarded points to: Here is the jury’s voting results:

  1. 27 pts #36, Terry Burger, Atlanta, GA
  2. 10 pts #22, Tony Colangelo – Victoria, BC
  3. 10 pts #23, Brian Doherty – Boston, MA
  4. 10 pts #11, Dirk Erkau – Squamish, BC
  5. 8 pts #19, Ethan Tweedie – Big Island, Hawaii
  6. 7 pts #40, Ryan Wicks – Kent, England
  7. 7 pts #52, Mel Myers – Spartanburg, SC
  8. 6 pts #34, Walt Simpson – Melbourne Beach, FL
  9. 6 pts #43 James Mackintosh – Whistler, BC
  10. 5 pts #2, Jerry Kelley – Albuquerque, New Mexico
  11. 5 pts #4, Matthew Stallone – Woodbridge, Ontario
  12. 5 pts #53, Barry MacKenzie – London, ON, Canada
  13. 4 pts #20, Trace Tague – Tucson, AZ
  14. 4 pts #31, Adrian Jones – Cape Town, South Africa
  15. 3 pts #19, Michael Pelzer – Orlando, FL
  16. 3 pts #54, Jared Saulnier – Portsmouth, NH

Terry’s comments are as follows:

I am completely surprised, honored, and humbled. Thank you! As a realtor and photography enthusiast, the men and women of this blog educate and inspire me every time I pick up my camera. I was blown away by the incredible photography in this month’s contest.

I loved shooting this house. The home was built by a friend of mine and its design in suburban Atlanta is quite unique. This is a single shot image capture edited in Lightroom to bring up the shadows, sharpening, saturation, and a few other minor tweaks. I was fortunate to have the sunset at my back which helped keep light in front of the house as the sky grew darker. I shot with a 5DM3 and a 17-35mm 4.0 lens. It was shot at f14, 160 ISO at .8/second. If you want to see more of this home visit:

A little background on me: I started shooting my own listings several years ago when I bought my first camera, a t3i. I purchased Scott Hargis e-book and consumed it in one night. I then invested in his video series and learned even more. I had the opportunity to study with Scott at his Atlanta seminar and learned a ton about shooting twilights, particularly preparation and unique composition.

I have to give Scott Hargis and Iran Watson much of the credit here. I’ve admired their work as the standard I strive for when shooting. Thank you guys so much. And thank you Larry for PFRE. Know that hundreds of us are grateful for your time, talent, and energy keeping up this blog. We need you, and we need PFRE.

PFRE January Video Contest Is Now Closed

January 23rd, 2015

VideoContestIf you haven’t submitted your video entry for the January PFRE videographer of the month contest it’s too late. The contest is now closed.

I’m turning the entries over to the jurors today for consideration and voting. I’ll be announcing the results around the first of February.

In the meantime, if you are interested in video have a look at the entries here and feel free to join the flickr group and leave your comments and feedback for the contestants.

The FAA May Be Sending Threatening Letters To Real Estate Photographers

January 22nd, 2015

FAALetterA reader, that has UAV video and photos on his website, sent me this last week:

I randomly got this email last week and thought I’d send it your way (they filled out a contact form on my website). I pressed a little harder to see who this person was and why they emailed me, but I have yet to hear back. The “” email leads me to believe this isn’t a professional, and I doubt some other photographer would go out of their way just to share information. I do offer aerial services on my website, so I’m sure they found me through a simple Google search.

This was the text of the e-mail:

FAA laws currently state that UAV/UAS are not to be flown for professional usage, yet your website clearly states that you are offering professional photos and videos for compensation. The current fines for offering drone services without a permit is $5000. The FAA is scheduled to release it’s new laws September 2015 however currently you are in violation. I would suggest you change your offerings until you obtain the proper FAA certification.

Sven Sterling

Attached was this letter (PDF).

There is much about this email that doesn’t look professional, like the e-mail address but on the other hand, this is very much the style the FAA used when they harassed real estate photographer, Rusty Freeman, in LA, and shut down his UAV business in 2012. Also, Bruce in Chicago pointed out a case where the FAA is apparently investigating a YouTube video showing someone was flying a UAV in downtown Naperville.

Has anyone else received similar letters?

Update: 1/24: Yesterday the Trappy case was settled by an appeals court who ruled in favor of the FAA.

The Purpose Of Real Estate Photos Is NOT To Sell Property

January 21st, 2015


This is a guest post by Scott Hargis. Scott posted  a version of this a couple of days ago on the post about how many photos photographers deliver on a shoot. From my personal experience working with my wife who was a top listing agent, I think this concept is right on and is important enough to be a post.

A few years ago, I was having lunch with a photographer friend of mine (we’ll call him Josh). We get together a few times a year and catch up. He does stills, video, and manages social media for companies, individuals, and real estate agents.

Josh and I had many real estate agent clients in common, with him managing one aspect or another of their marketing, and me doing exclusively still photography. We were “talking shop”, and frankly gossiping a little about the quirks and personalities of some of them, and when a particularly difficult name came up, Josh grunted and said, “That guy. He still thinks he’s in the business of selling houses.”

Josh loves to roll out these pithy little gems, and that one was so perfect that I’ve stolen it and used it many times since.

As real estate photographers, we do well to understand that the “real” goal of our clients, whether they know it or not, is gaining market share and getting more listings. Our photos help to market and sell a house, of course, but the obvious truth is that excellent photos are not really necessary to the process. We see many, maybe even a majority of houses on the market with truly horrendous photos…and those houses, most of them, eventually sell. The statistics are pretty clear that professional photography will sell a house faster, and for more money, but just how good do the photos need to be, to accomplish that? Continue Reading »

What’s Going On At OnOne Software?

January 20th, 2015

PerfectSuite9A few weeks ago Eric said:

I recently purchased perfect photo suite 9 (mostly for fine art B&W and re sizing for enlargements). They have special masking and layers programs built into this suite.

Do you know if anyone used this program instead of PS for sky replacement and layers. I’d like anyone’s feedback if they are using any version of Perfect photo suite. the online tutorial for sky replacement looked easy, but haven’t had success with it. I was just wondering if our fellow real estate photographers knew about this suite?

…I am not a big fan of Adobe as they are a terrible monopolizing company that has been horrible to deal with.

I know about and have started to use OnOne Software’s Perfect Suite 9. I’ve been using it off and on since I first heard about it at Matt Kloskowski’s Lightroom workshop back in 2013. At first I just thought about it as a plug-in for Lightroom, but with version 9 the browser is amazingly faster than Lightroom for many tasks like browsing through photos and selecting the good from the bad. The masking and layering is very nice, although on masking more challenging skies I’m still faster in Photoshop. I’m finding that the more I use Perfect Suite 9 the more I like it. What is amazing is the speed that OnOne is improving Perfect Suite! Two things in particular got my attention: Continue Reading »

How Do You Learn Composition For Interior Photography?

January 20th, 2015

CompositionForInteriorsA while ago Sandy raise an excellent question:

Are there any books out there that would be beneficial to learning composition techniques for RE photography? I think I could use a little help with the basics.

My initial answer was no, I know of no books that talk specifically about interior photographic composition, and recommended that she follow the discussions on the PFRE flickr group and the PFRE monthly still contests. Also, read Scott Hargis’s analysis of the entries in the 2014 photographer of the year.

Update 1/20: Scott reminded me of his 12-minute composition video from about 3 years ago. It is the best summary that you’ll find for interiors composition. Scott points out in the video, it’s just scratching the surface of this big subject. Continue Reading »

Does Your Wide-Angle Lens Have Lightroom Profile?

January 18th, 2015

LRlensProfilesWillie recently asked where he could find a Lightroom lens profile:

I spent the last 2 weeks looking for a lens correction profile for the Tokina AT-X 16-28mm F/2.8 PRO FX Lens. I use this lens on a Nikon D700 and I shoot RAW (DNG) files. I process my photos in Adobe Lightroom.

After a little research, I noticed that my Lightroom 5 does, in fact, have a lens profile for the Tokina 16-28mm lens. I also checked the lens profile list at the adobe site and that list indicates that Lightroom supports the lens. There are two ways to check if Lightroom supports any given lens: Continue Reading »

Still Photo Contest Closing – Video Contest Open

January 15th, 2015

JanStillContestStill Photo Contest Closing: This month we have a record number of Photographer of the month entrants (50). This is a stunning group of twilight exterior shots. The jurors have their work cut out for them to choose the winner out of this group. I suggest that very one that is interested in raising the bar on their own photography, take time to look through this group and analyze what works and what doesn’t. Please feel free to join the Photographer of the month flickr group and comment on  your favorite entries. Don’t worry about distracting the jurors, we had a vote about when comments should start and the majority of jurors are OK with having comments when voting is in progress.

Update 1/16 9:30 Pacific: Still contest is now closed. 

Video Contest Opening: The monthly video contest will open tomorrow Fri 1/6 and will remain open until 1/23 or until we get at least 6 to 8 entries.

How Many Photographs Do You Deliver To Clients For A Typical Real Estate Shoot?

January 14th, 2015

Jason recently asked the following:

I have a question that may be good for a poll: How many photographs do you deliver to clients for a typical real estate shoot?

In my area, I see many delivery 40 to 50 per which I think is out of control. I’m trying to get a sense of what Realtors want and what they are willing to pay.

I can’t imagine what the point is of supplying 40 to 50 photos for a shoot! I think there are several things that influence the number of photos you deliver:
  1. What the local MLS limits are. My local MLS allows 30 photos. That is still the case in my local MLS. Although I know that some MLS allow any number of photos. Understand what the limits are if any of your local MLS.
  2. Walk through the property at the start of the shoot with the agent and discuss and agree how many and which shots they want. If they want more than 20 charge extra. This way, you are not just shooting to get some number. You are shooting to suit the specific wants of the listing agent.
  3. I’ve shot homes up to about $5Million and I’ve never seen a property that cannot be well presented with 25 photos, although I can understand that some agents may promise the home seller more or want to dazzle sellers with more. But again, if they want more charge extra.
In conclusion, I think 25 photos is a standard number of photos. Anyone that wants more than this should pay extra. What are others experiences in this area?

How Important Is It To Have A Real Estate Photography Portfolio Website?

January 13th, 2015

ProtfolioI’ve gotten a ton of questions this last week that relate to various aspects of creating a real estate photography portfolio site. Steve’s question below is just one of them. Steve asks:

I have been toying with the idea of entering Real Estate Photography. I would like some feedback on a question. Are any RE Photographers using PDF Portfolios to send to potential customers ( a 8 or 12-page file)? I understand that many in this business have websites, but I am not at that stage yet. I have a graphic design background and creating PDF projects is part of my skill set.

No, I’ve never heard of anyone emailing around a PDF as a portfolio. I’ve seen photographers have their portfolios downloadable as PDFs from their website (Scott Hargis has that on his site) but that is very different from only having your portfolio on a PDF. I think just emailing PDFs to potential clients is a bad idea. Here’s why: Continue Reading »

Online Learning Is The Most Cost Effective Alternative For Real Estate Photography

January 12th, 2015

OnlineTrainingThis last week I’ve got a bunch of questions like Tawnya’s:

Hello! I just found your website and I was wondering if you might be able to recommend a classroom setting where they teach real estate photography in the Southern California… I am primarily an outdoor, family photo session photographer and want to get into real estate photography.

The short answer is no, I don’t know of ongoing classroom settings that teach real estate photography. The reason is real estate photography education is a niche market and the top real estate photographers in your local area are unlikely to want to help educate their competitors. Undoubtedly there is a handful, but the ones I’ve heard of, are not taught by professional real estate photographers.

The evolution of the PFRE blog has been driven by many of these related issues underlying the answer to this question: Continue Reading »