RSS Feed Photography For Real Estate

What About Holiday Gifts or Promotional Gifts As A Marketing Tool?

November 25th, 2014

shutterstock_153628559Today Jonathan posed the question:

I was wondering if you have ever discussed the topic of holiday gifts or promotional gifts as a client retention/acquisition tool. I’m talking coffee mugs and USB key type stuff. With the holiday season approaching this might be a good way to lure potential clients. Any thoughts?

My general feeling on the subject is that the thing that counts with these kinds of gifts is that it should be a personal thank you for the client’s business. Include a personal hand written thank you note with your gift. For your A-list clients, stop by the clients office and personally give them the gift. Think of the gift giving as part of the relationship building process. You are trying to build a relationship with your clients so they trust you, value your great service and will readily refer their friends and associates to you.

To me just sending them a coffee mug with your company advertisement without the personal contact or at least a personal hand written note is too impersonal. I think it is the personal part that’s important… something handwritten or a face-to-face thank you and handshake.

Note that there are real estate agent mastermind groups like Brian Buffini that teach agents how to build their business by providing great service and building personal relationships with clients. One of the techniques they teach is to build personal relationships with personal notes and personal face to face contact. So many top agents understand and use this process in their own business.

What are your experiences with these kind of gifts?

PFRE Still and Property Video Contests Are A Great Learning Opportunity

November 24th, 2014

ContestsToday (11/24) I turned over both the still and video contest to the respective juries for voting. The reason I want to point this out is that studying the entries in both contests is a great learning opportunity. The entries in these contests are some of the best-of-the-best in the real estate photography and videography genre.

In any profession to improve the level of your work, it’s important to see what the best in the profession are doing. These two contests show you some of the best work that is being done in real estate work today.

So I encourage those that are still learning this profession (pretty much all of us) to go have a look at the entries in:

You can view these photos and videos without becoming a member of each flickr group but to comment on them you have to join the flickr group. Both juries will be finished voting by the end of the month. In December the juries will be choosing the Photographer and Videographer of the year from the  2014 monthly winners.

Why Doesn’t PFRE Have A Facility For Posting Real Estate Photography Jobs?

November 23rd, 2014

QandAA while ago I got a question from Ben in the UK:

I’m a UK based property photographer / floor planner and wandered if you have a facility / section to post jobs. I’m looking to recruit a photographer. Also, do you have many UK visitors to the site?

Answer: No I don’t have a facility for posting jobs. The primary reason is, I encourage RE photographers to be independent. In the past 7 years of doing PFRE I’ve encountered too many situations where contract photographers are hired and are not paid a living wage. So I spend all my energies teaching RE photographers how to be successful on their own. I believe there is not enough profit in RE photography transactions to have parties between the photographer and the agent. Every time I hear the details of someone like a tour company or marketing person involved in “helping” the end photographer always loosing out big time. I’m not talking about the several franchising operations that are popular in AU and NZ. I’m referring to the big tour companies here in the US.

I’ve thought a lot about this issue and at this point I’ve decided that I don’t want to be a party to real estate photographers not getting a living wage. I know It’s possible to make a living wage if you just stay independent. I realize that many companies are looking to add a photographer to expand their operation and have no predatory intent. But I don’t know how to sort out the good from the bad so for now I’m just going to stay out of promoting non-independent real estate photographers because I’m not convinced it makes sense. If you have so much business that you can’t handle it all, why not just make sure your price isn’t too low and just be happy with making a good living? Continuous, infinite growth is not always a positive thing.

Frankly, I’d like to hear some positive stories of how real estate photographers can work together cooperatively to expand business in a way that everyone gets a living wage. I haven’t heard many positive stories in this area. I’ve heard positive stories about how families can expand their business by getting more than one family member involved in the business but not many other situations.

Tasmanian Homeowner Gordon Brown Stars In Property Video Of His Property

November 20th, 2014

GordonBrownThanks to Scott Hargis for pointing out this great little property video that his friend Jasmin Latona in Tasmania, AU shot. The star of this video is Gordon Brown, the home owner! Gordon is an antique dealer and does a fantastic job of describing the history and presenting the details of his property. Not many homeowners that can to the job that Gordon does.

Gordon is a great example of the of the kind of performer personality to be on the look out for when you are shooting property video. Some times if the home owner has a personality like Gordon they are the best ones to talk about their property! Great job Gordon and Jasmin!


Reader Questions About Shooting Rentals and North Facing Homes

November 19th, 2014


Jason’s Question:  What is the best way to shoot exteriors that have lots of shadows or in complete shadow due to the front-side facing North?

Answer: I would say do a twilight shoot. At twilight North facing vs South Facing doesn’t make much difference. Problem is of course this takes an extra trip or a very carefully planned shoot where you shoot the inside just before twilight and the exterior at twilight. I’ve tried this several times and its hard to get the timing right.

Another alternative would be to learn how to do light painting like Mike Kelley does.

Adrian’s Question:  An agent has asked me to shoot some rentals. Would you charge more for taking rental images or still the same as real estate ones?

Answer: I can’t think of any justification for charging more for rental photo usage, unless it’s that rental photos are typically used much longer than resale listing photos. The problem with trying to get more for rental photos is rental agencies make much less than resale agents so they are probably going to push-back on higher prices.

The problem with pursuing shooting rental properties is there typically isn’t the repeat business with rentals that there is with resale listings. Resale listing agents will list 10 to 50 or more listings a year so it doesn’t take many listing agent clients to fill your schedule. All the rental listing agents I’ve ever met never seem to care much about marketing.

The exception to this is if you live in a vacation area where there are lots of rental properties. I would always try to deal with the rental owners if possible. They seem to understand the benefits of good marketing photos than rental agents.


Real Estate Videography/Photography With Drones May Be Over For A While

November 18th, 2014

PirkervFAAToday an appeals court ruled that the FAA can make any drone flight illegal. For drone pilots, this means a taking a flight could potentially set them back $10,000 if the FAA chooses to use its powers. Here is the text of the ruling. I can’t make sense out of it, maybe you can.

Here is what others are saying about this ruling:

On the one hand, this seems like a “Dumbass” ruling that defies common logic. On the other hand, this decision may keep the UAV situation from being more chaotic and  out of  control than it already is. The bottom line is that Real Estate UAV videography and photography is probably over for another year or so until the FAA creates some rules. No one expects the FAA to meet their September 2015 deadline.

Update late 11/18: Pirker’s attorney, Brendan Schulman’s comment on the decision (from article above) was:

While we disagree with the decision, today’s NTSB ruling in the Pirker case is narrowly limited to whether unmanned aircraft systems are subject to an aviation safety regulation concerning reckless operation, an issue that the NTSB has said requires further factual investigation before a penalty is imposed. The more significant question of whether the safe operation of drones for business purposes is prohibited by any law was not addressed in the decision, and is currently pending before the D.C. Circuit in other cases being handled by Kramer Levin. We are reviewing the options for our next steps in the Pirker case.

So perhaps this doesn’t settle the issue of whether commercial drone operation is legal.

Controlling Window Reflections

November 17th, 2014

LightScienceMagicLaura Recently asked the following question:

I am currently shooting for a glass company to showcase their work on mostly large corporate buildings.  Do you know of any good resources for getting the best window photos without all the reflections etc? I usually try to shoot around dusk, but I am fighting with almost mirror like reflections at times. I need to get interior shots but mostly exterior.

I don’t use flash extensively but do mostly HDR. The reflections I pick up in the windows are simply of the items in the room as I try to shoot later in the day so the windows are a bit darker and tend to become mirror-like.

Laura, The first thing to try is a circular polarizing filter (C-PL). However, my experience is that the C-PL will frequently reduce but not completely eliminate the reflections.

Another approach do dealing with reflections is to understand the physics behind reflections. A great resource for this the book Light: science and Magic: And Introduction to Photographic LightingIn Chapter 3, this book explains how to manage reflections and the different types of reflections. There are actually different kinds of reflections. direct reflections, diffuse reflections and polarized reflections.

Here’s an article from that has a bunch of suggestions for ways to deal with reflections.

Anyone have any specific suggestions for Laura?

What Tripod Head For Real Estate Photography – Shooting Small Half Baths

November 16th, 2014

SmallBathroomRichard Asked the following questions:

Question 1: I’m upgrading my tripod and am looking at the popular brand legs (Dolica, slik, Manfrotto) that will allow me to mount the camera up to at least 72″. It seems ball heads are popular, and levels are a must. What kind of head do you recommend for RE work, ball head or a pan and tilt head like the Manfrotto Pro 3 models?

Question 2: While I’m here with you, have you ever run a column on how to best shoot a small 1/2 bath? Camera inside shot via remote or lean in just enough to avoid reflections (my usual way to do it)? High vs eye vs low-angle? Best way to light?

My answers:

To question 1:  Tripod heads – Pan and tilt heads are better for video than still shooting. I used a ball head on my tripod for many years until I met Scott Hargis and saw the Manfrotto 405 Pro Geared Head that Scott uses. I started using the 405 Pro head for real estate and I love how it can quickly be adjusted accurately in all three dimensions with a bubble level in each dimension. Yea, I know, it’s pricey, but the Manfrotto 410 Junior Geared Head is very similar but less expensive than the 405. What heads do others recommend? Continue Reading »

Great New DJI Model Announced + FAA Regulations Are Completely Backwards

November 13th, 2014

DJIinspire1Great New DJI version: Thanks to Tony Boros for pointing out today that there’s a new DJI Inspire 1 Quadcopter with 4K Camera and 3-axis gimbal that was announced yesterday. The launch video narrated by Philip Bloom shows what video from the Inspire 1 looks like.

Ben Popper over at the Verge says:

The drone game has changed. That may sound like hyperbole, but that was my first impression when experiencing the DJI Inspire One. This is a unit that anyone could pick up and learn to fly quickly, just as you could with our top ranking drone, the DJI Phantom. But it offers a ton of powerful new features that were previously only available in units too big, dangerous, and expensive for the average consumer to own.

Watching the Inspire One take off and land is exciting, because it transforms mid-flight, with the legs folding up after takeoff so you can shoot 360 degrees of unobstructed video. The unit also has a ground-facing camera that can track what’s below and keep the unit stabilized, even when there is no GPS signal, making it much easier to fly indoors.

OMG! I want one! And just in time for Christmas. The Amazon and B&H price is $2899 USD. Continue Reading »

What To Use As A Remote Shutter Release If You Use A YN-560-TX

November 12th, 2014

YN560-TX-ControllerDavid asks the question:

I use the Yongnuo YN560 III flashes and the YN560-TX controller. I want to use a wireless shutter trigger on my camera that is compatible with this set up. I have the Yongnuo RF-603N II wireless triggers but when I put the controller with it the flashes will not work. Anyone have any recommendations? I’m using a Nikon D5100 for a DSLR.

Hmm… the first thing that comes to mind is you may be trying to make this all too complicated. What’s wrong with just pushing the shutter release?

I’m sure there’s some cheap little remote shutter release out there that will work like David used to use the RF-603N II. But if I’m going to use a remote shutter release I’d rather go with a CamRanger because it does so much more than release the shutter.

Anyone have a suggestion for David?

How To Handle Personal and Religious Items In Real Estate Photography

November 11th, 2014

StagingEric raised the following question:

I had a situation yesterday at a property and wanted to know how you and others handle religious items.

Yesterday, while on a shoot I was working with two realtors. One was very adamant about removing the religious items without asking. The home owners were the nicest people, but had many religious books, and crosses in the home. Also, the wife was disabled and connected by a very long tube to an oxygen tank.  I hid the tanks to avoid them in the camera, but didn’t want to ask them to remove any of the religious articles as they were very active in their church which I could tell was a big part of their life.

This is a subject that the listing agent should handle. Good listing agents try to present a property so that prospective buyers can project themselves into the environment. That is, visualize themselves and their belongings living in the property. This is a natural part of deciding if you want to purchase a property. As a result, a large part of this process is removing personal items of the seller, including items that are strongly religious, while the property is on the market. You are presenting the property, not the sellers. Some listing agents are better than others a doing this or having a stager help them do it. It takes tact and gentle persuasion to get many home sellers to do this. But if the listing agent explains why this is in the best interest if the seller most sellers will understand and enthusiastically comply.

This market preparation process is NOT the photographers job. It is a key part of the listing agents job and it should be done before the photographer even arrives. The photographer should not have to stand around a wait until a property is staged or have to convince the sellers to do what they need to do. My experience is that with many sellers this staging and market preparation process can be very time consuming. With many listings it takes several trips to the property and a lot of discussion with sellers to get them to do what is needed to make their property market ready.

I recommend that real estate photographers have a discussion with clients while scheduling a shoot to determine if the property is ready to photograph and exactly what that means. As you work with clients you’ll learn which ones handle this well and which ones don’t. Many real estate photographers use a check list to provide clients so that it is well understood what it means for a property to be photographer ready.

Would The New Nikon 750 Be Better For Real Estate Photography Than The D600?

November 10th, 2014

D750Reader David from Nelson, NZ asks:

Simple question…well to my mind anyway. I’m presently taking pics with a Nikon D600, but after reading so many conflicting reports about the density of sensors (aka mega mega pixels vs an ok ….say D700…number) I am left wondering that for real estate photography would a D700 be just as good as the many mega pixel units of the last few years. The word on the street is that because of the pixel density packed on to the CCD sensor, there is a field of debate around the fact that the light gathering capabilities are thus compromised. Just before I buy a D750…any realtime on the street feedback would be sincerely appreciated?

Continue Reading »

Now Available: Enfuse For Real Estate Photography E-book

November 9th, 2014

Its here! Simon Maxwell, in London and I have been working hard for the last several months on the new PFRE Media publication that we are launching today. This new e-book is titled Enfuse For Real Estate Photography. As we talked about in this post last month Enfuse is another technique for shooting real estate that is handy to have in your tool kit. Click here to get more details and purchase this new e-book.

Long time PFRE blog readers know Simon from his series of Lightroom video tutorials which have been very popular. I am excited about publishing an e-book on the subject of Enfuse which is a technique that is widely used by real estate photographers. Simon uses this technique extensively and goes into all the technical aspects us using LR/Enfuse from Lightroom and also covers how do Enfuse-Flash hybrid. Here is the Table of contents:

  • Introduction
  • The Problem: Limits of A Single Exposure
  • The Solution: What Enfuse Can Achieve
  • Shooting Brackets
  • Creating Enfused Images With LR/Enfuse
  • Batch Processing With LR/Enfuse
  • Advanced Methods
  • Enfuse-Flash Hybrid
  • An Enfuse Shoot From Start To Finish
  • Lightroom Presets

All of the e-books we publish here at PFRE are distributed as PDFs and are designed to work on all devices.  They work great on large screens, laptops, most tablets and SmartPhones. Everyone who purchases any PFRE e-book gets a subscription to all future versions of the e-book. We automatically send updated versions of e-books to the e-mail address that was used for the purchase.

While our primary distribution is the PDF e-book format, we also are offering Enfuse For Real Estate Photography as a full color, spiral bound hard copy on We offer this hardcopy version as a convenience for readers who are just not ready for electronic books. Unfortunately, the cost of the hardcopy is over twice the price of the e-book version because is an on-demand printer. Hardcopy demand does not warrant volume printing of a book like this.

Update 11/12/2014: Thanks very much for all the positive response to this new book! We seem to have struck a cord with what readers needed.

PFRE Still and Video Contests Open Through Nov 22

November 8th, 2014

contestsI’m back on the grid after a vacation last week with really bad Internet access, so I’m a little late in reminding readers about contests. Here’s the status of contests:

Still photographer of the month contest:

  • Accepting entries  for Nov PFRE photographer of the month through Nov 22.
  • Theme for Nov is Open… that is any real estate photo you want.
  • In December jurors will pick PFRE photographer of the year for 2014 from all the 2014 monthly winners.
  • First time entrants should read the contest rules carefully.

Continue Reading »

RodCam: A Handheld Camera Crane For Smooth Dynamic Camera Movements

November 6th, 2014

RodCamFrom a post at

With moves afoot in some countries to ban the use of Go Pro-toting drones after some spectacular accidents in public places, what better time than now to introduce a safe and affordable alternative? Michael Georgens of Aachen, Germany, has done exactly that with his RodCam, recently demoed at IBC 2014.

Based on the good old fibreglass fishing rod, Herr Georgens’ RodCam is not likely to put any national aviation authority noses out of joint or raise calls for new laws to regulate or ban its use. Fly-fisher folk and long-rod beach fishers seem to have escaped regulation despite the risk of flying hooks and poking tips so a Go Pro bouncing on a curvy stick should be considered safe enough.

This may well be a workable alternative for real estate photography. Particularly in areas where small UASs are not legal or risky. The RodCam site is here.