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Are We at the Beginning of the End for Independent Real Estate Photography?

September 20th, 2017

Joanna in Pennsylvania says:

There appears to be a trend in buying/selling homes by emerging full-service companies. These include Purplebricks and one we recently came across called Houwzer that is based out of Philadelphia and moving into the suburbs. It’s a one-stop shop with buyer/seller savings and a full service advertising campaign including HD photography, video, the works:
Maybe I’m wrong but this appears to be the beginning of the end for independent real estate photographers who are already competing with Zillow, Trulia, HomeJab, Obeo, and CirclePix in an attempt to hold onto a small corner of the market.

First of all, real estate photographers don’t compete with Zillow/Trulia. They do compete with HomeJab, Obeo and CirclePix, but by and large, independents can compete well with the big national real estate photography companies because the national companies have trouble providing great service.

The majority of readers of this blog are competing with, to some extent, the larger, regional and national companies that provide real estate photography services in their area, and many are competing very well.

Sure, when you are an independent, you’ll need to master more skills than if you are working for a larger operation where someone else is doing the marketing and post-processing etc. But I think those who have gone through the process of learning how to compete with the bigger companies will tell you that it’s worth the extra work!

In fact, several of the photographers featured in our success stories category started out working for large national companies and became independent. One of my favorite independent real estate photographer success stories is Peggy in Tampa. Peggy started out working for a national tour company became independent and eventually was so successful that she had to hire employees to keep up with the work. Peggy is now retired and her sister is running FastPix Real Estate Photography.

In conclusion, I think if you are independent and having trouble competing with a big national company, you need to figure out how you can up your marketing game and make sure you are providing similar products/services.

A Short History of Real Estate Photography

September 19th, 2017

Jody who has been in real estate for a long time says:

I know you’ve done a lot of articles on the new/correct ways to photograph real estate but I haven’t seen any articles about how the process is really changing.

Just 15 years ago, you weren’t even able to see a house for sale online. Now, that’s how most shoppers find their house! Some shoppers never even see the estate in person. They are across the country, and put in an offer “sight unseen”.

Continue Reading »

How Do Photographers Deal with the Results of Cataract Surgery?

September 18th, 2017

Larry in Virginia asks:

I have a question about vision problems and photography. I had cataract surgery two years ago after having been nearsighted and wearing glasses daily for most of my life. I never had a problem with my vision in my photography with glasses.

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How to Shoot Good Smartphone Video for Zillow

September 17th, 2017

A couple of weeks ago, we talked about the limitations of shooting video on your smartphone for Zillow and the fact that Realtors want Zillow video because it gives listings on Zillow better exposure. I’ve always hated video walk throughs I see on Zillow until I saw the Zideo by Michele Sheiko who commented on the post. The term Zideo is Michele’s invention for Zillow video.

I think it is instructive for those who must shoot Zideo to look at what Michele has done to make her Zideo better than most. Frankly, it’s the best I’ve seen: Continue Reading »

Lightroom Presets: A Way to Speed Your Post-Processing

September 14th, 2017

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 with a single click, you can apply the adjustments in the Preset to any given photo. Then you can 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.

Grant Johnston’s Video Class on Shooting Real Estate Video with the DJI Osmo

September 13th, 2017

I just got finished with Grant Johnston’s video class on how to shoot real estate video with the DJI Osmo. Grant does a nice job of explaining all the features of the Osmo as well as describing how to use the Osmo in real estate situations like bright windows and other real world situations.

Grant also explains that even though the DJI Osmo may be not top of the line video gear, it is excellent for the price. So it is a good option for those who want to shoot real estate video but are on a tight budget.

This mixed assessment of the DJI Osmo brings to mind the Luxury Penthouse in Rio that Zoltan Prepszent showed us over a year ago. Zoltan shot all the interior video with his DJI Osmo. It is so good that several readers didn’t believe that it was done with an Osmo!

Anyway, I highly recommend Grant Johnston’s DJI Osmo video course if you are wanting to learn about using the Osmo.

Are Virtual Dusk Photos Worth Considering as a Real Estate Photography Product?

September 12th, 2017

Today Joanna in PA asked:

I’ve been redefining our offerings by creating packages that include pole aerials, drone aerials, and twilights. I noticed that HomeJab is offering virtual dusk photos which are daylight photos processed to look like twilights. It would be an advantage to be able to process photos to look like twilights and eliminate having to schedule them separately.

Continue Reading »

What Is the Gross Income Potential of an Independent Real Estate Photographer?

September 11th, 2017

In response to last week’s post, “What Is the Income Potential of an Independent Real Estate Photographer?” readers requested that I do a poll on gross income rather than net income, so here it is.

Readers also pointed out that there will be variations caused by the fact that some work “full time” and some work “part-time”. There are also variations due to geographic locations. A simple poll that I can do cannot deal with either of those variables. I claim that what is of interest are the percentages of a few of the upper-end of the poll results. That is, What is the upper-end potential if you are working full time in a good real estate market?

Update 9/14: I’ve added a chart that shows the poll results better. Just click the chart above to see it. Please take the poll below if you haven’t already done so.

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Wayne’s Capili Shows How He Travels Light Shooting Real Estate

September 10th, 2017

The post I did back in 2012 titled, “Choosing Gear to Get Started in Real Estate Photography for the Least Cost” has been one of the most popular posts on the PFRE blog for many years. I’ve updated it to reflect new wide-angle lenses but I realized that I need to update it to reflect the Sony A6000 that Wayne Capili pointed out to us all back in 2015. The photo above is Wayne’s (17.60″ x 5.20″ x 11.69″) equipment case. The following is a list of what’s in it: Continue Reading »

A Few Seats Are Still Available: Sign-up Now for September 29-30 Workshop In Ottawa

September 8th, 2017

Last call reminder for anyone still hoping to attend the Cooper-Colangelo Real Estate Photography Workshop in Ottawa on Sept. 29-30. Brandon and Tony have a diverse group of photographers joining them from all over North America and Australia, as well. All skill levels are well-represented and they’ve assured me that it’s going to be a jam-packed two days in Canada’s beautiful national capital!

Click here to register now! Continue Reading »

What Is the Income Potential of an Independent Real Estate Photographer?

September 7th, 2017

A while back, I had an interesting discussion with a real estate photographer in the Huntington Beach, California area who said she “wasn’t making any money” and needed to raise her prices. She said she was averaging 55 shoots a month and getting $150-$200 per shoot. And although she wasn’t the lowest priced photographer in her area she was among the lower priced real estate photographers. Her concern was that whenever she talked about raising her prices her clients complained and she was afraid of losing her best clients that were giving her 15 to 30 shoots a year. Seems like she is doing very well unless she is working a huge number of hours. What is the approximate income potential of being an independent real estate photographer?

It occurred to me that the best way to understand what the income potential of being an independent real estate photographer would be to have a poll of what independent real estate photographers are currently making. Of course, this doesn’t measure geographic variations but that would be very hard to do.

Please take the poll below before you leave! The poll will give us all a better insight into what the income potential of real estate photography is. Remember, this poll is about NET income in USD= YearlyGross – YearlyExpenses and it’s intended only for independent real estate photographers.

Continue Reading »

Can You Shoot Interior Real Estate Interior Video with a Drone?

September 6th, 2017

Russell in Oregon asks:

I’ve been looking at the new DJI Spark drone for shooting interior videos. These drones are almost “micro size” with the 2-axis gimbal and because you are shooting inside, I don’t believe there is any certification required from the FAA. I’m wondering if anybody else is considering this or currently shooting video inside with a drone?

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Adobe Flash Player Is Officially Dead – Make Sure Your Website Is Not Using It

September 5th, 2017

This weekend I noticed a PFRE blog reader who’s website wouldn’t work with my Chrome browser (Version 60). When I contacted him he said, “It works on our end… maybe you need to update your Flash player.”

My response was: Continue Reading »

Have Drones Made PAP (Pole Aerial Photography) Obsolete for Real Estate?

September 4th, 2017


Recently I ran across the pair of photos to the right shot by Marc Lacoste of Nantes, France. Marc was showing me the difference it could make if you just held your camera on a tripod over your head to get a little extra elevation (3.6 meters).

This graphically illustrates how easy it is to get an elevated shot and what a stunning difference it makes. This doesn’t look like the same property. More importantly, the elevated shot shows more of the features of the home and shows them better.

Given the importance of the exterior front shot in marketing a listing, this suggests that every real estate photographer should be taking elevated front shots for every listing they shoot! I do. I just carry a fold up a ladder in my pickup which allows me to get my heavy DSLR and lens 20′ in the air with no risk. Continue Reading »

Three Wall or Two Wall Composition?

September 3rd, 2017

As you shoot interiors it’s important to think about composition and how your decisions about where to shoot from affect the end result.

One of these composition decisions is whether to use 2 or 3 wall composition. The two shots of the same room to the right are an example. Here are some key differences between a 3-wall shot and a 2-wall shot:

  • The two wall shot does not show the whole room or give the viewer a reference for the size of the whole room so the size of the room is ambiguous.
  • The three wall shot gives the viewer an absolute reference for the size of the room by showing all three walls. Three wall shots usually make the room feel smaller.
  • Because the ceiling line of the far wall may not be straight, the composition can feel visually uncomfortable.
  • Shooting a three wall shot with a UWA can create some very exaggerated perspective.

Here is a very old discussion (9 years ago) from the PFRE Flickr group that discusses 2-wall vs 3-wall composition. I think this discussion gives a lot of great insights on this subject!