RSS Feed Photography For Real Estate

How Do You Protect Against Image Lost From A Memory Card Failure?

May 29th, 2016

MemoryCardAubrey asks:

Do you have any secrets for auto backup of photos while you are taking them images? Do you or anyone you know use a wifi sd cards?

It sounds like you had a memory card failure or you are concerned about having one.

I think the only practical way to backup your images as you shoot is to use a DSLR that has dual card slots that can record images to both cards as you shoot. Two examples of DSLRs that have dual card slots are the Canon 5DmkIII (SD & CF) and a Nikon D600 (2-SD slots). There are actually many upper-end DLSRs that can do mirror image to two cards as you shoot.

The second most practical backup solution is to just carry a laptop and backup your card(s) before you leave the shoot.

The WiFi card you refer to isn’t really a general-purpose professional backup solution. I have one and It’s fine when you have access to WiFi but in general, you don’t have access to a WiFi connection while you are shooting. It is also quite slow when uploading RAW files. It’s not a solution.

There are a number of steps you can take to minimize the probability of having a memory card failure:

  1. Never remove or insert a memory card with the camera power on.
  2. To remove images from the card only use the camera’s Format memory card feature rather than deleting photos while the card is connected to your computer.
  3. Don’t shoot when the camera battery is very low.

I religiously follow these three rules and in 17 years of using memory cards have never experienced a failure. Although, I expect to have one soon just for stating that I’ve never had a card failure!

The Truth 24 times A Second By Michael and Nory at Uneek Luxury Tours

May 27th, 2016

UneekThis last week a recent property video by Michael and Nory at caught my attention.

I’ve followed Michael and Nory’s work for a number of years. They shoot only the very upper-end homes in Florida and have a very distinctive style. Simple, punchy, background music and editing. Mostly cinematic moves. And Michael’s unique exposure shift from inside exposure to outside exposure. I never seen anyone but Michael do this inside to outside exposure shift thing. He does in this video a couple of times.

It is interesting to see how many drone shots Michael is using these days. It’s amazing to see how much drone work has become an essential part of shooting these upper-end homes. In this video, it feels like almost half of a 2:26-minute video. It makes perfect sense because there is almost no  other way you can get this kind of dramatic footage that shows the property environment. Over the last two years using a drone has become an essential part of high-end property video.

What Is The Best Focal Length For Shooting Interiors?

May 26th, 2016

17-40LAnnie in Idaho says:

I have been shooting real estate for about 4 years and currently shoot with the Canon 5DMkII and 5DMkIII. But the lens I have been using is the Tamron 10mm-24mm. When zooming to about 14mm there is serious vignetting. I like this focal length but its time to upgrade since the edges of images lose focus, and I can’t find a lens that opens to 14mm or even 15mm. Is the Canon 16-35mm the only full frame lens option for wide shots?

Canon makes the 11-24 f/4 lens that is very high quality, but I would not recommend that anyone use a lens this wide for shooting interiors. It will work but it is over-kill. I’ve used a Canon 16-35mm lens on a Canon 1Ds and 5DMkII for a very long time and my opinion is that in most situations even 16mm is too wide to shoot interiors.

The perspective distortion at 15mm and 16mm is huge. Perspective distortion is where objects in the extreme corners become way wider than the same object closer to the center of the photo. Also, circular objects in the corners become squished and don’t look round. Good interior photography is done closer to 24mm. That’s why tilt/shift lenses designed for photography are usually 24mm. The most popular Canon full frame lenses for real estate photography are the Canon 16-35mm and the Canon 17-40mm (see the poll on my lens page). The wider lenses in the 10-20mm range are intended for crop sensor DSLRs that have a 1.6 or 1.5 multiplier on the focal length.

Yes, I know there are some Realtors out there that ask for ultra wide-angle shots but they need artistic guidance from professional photographers that are more visually sophisticated.

So, for Canon 5DMkII and 5DMkIII DSLRs I recommend either the Canon 16-35mm (the f/4 version is all you need) or the Canon 17-40mm. These are both quality lenses that go plenty wide enough for shooting interiors.

Introducing A New PFRE Coach – Brandon Cooper – Somewhere South of Fort McMurray

May 25th, 2016

RealpicsMost regular PFRE readers know Brandon Cooper’s work since he is a 4-time winner of the PFRE photographer of the month. Brandon and his family used to live in Fort MacMurray, Alberta until the wildfires forced them to evacuate their home earlier this month. Brandon said his home is in a neighborhood of 600+ homes that all burned to the ground except his home and 9 others. Amazing!

As of this writing (May 25, 2016), the Fort McMurray wildfire remains out of control and covers 522,892 hectares. Fort McMurray is still under a mandatory evacuation order. Brandon says, it is unlikely that anyone will be allowed back into Fort McMurray until mid-July.

Needless to say, all this has adversely affected Brandon’s real estate photography business in Fort McMurray. So Brandon is working on creating some other income streams to replace the income from his Fort McMurray real estate photography business. So Brandon is now a PFRE coach. Continue Reading »

When And How To Talk About Photo Licensing With Clients

May 24th, 2016

ProtfolioBrady says:

I haven’t come upon this pricing dilemma before, but I’m sure its not uncommon.  An agent I work with will be the listing agent for nine (9) townhouses and has asked me to come out and shoot one of two completed units.  She intends to use the images for both listings and possibly the other 7 (as the finishes and configurations are similar) …

I’m sensing she thinks she’ll pay for the photos once and just keep reusing them.  I think there should be a per use fee associated with each additional listing, but I’m not sure how to broach the subject or what that fee should look like.  Any suggestions?

Continue Reading »

Congratulations Brandon Beechler – May PFRE Photographer of The Month

May 23rd, 2016

BrandonBeechlerCongratulations to Brandon Beechler of Orange County, CA who has won the PFRE photographer of the month for May. This is Brandon’s second win. His first win was back in March of 2013.

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

At You Can Get A 3D Printed Sphere of Any 360 Image

May 22nd, 2016

ScandyAfter talking with Stephen Hawkins from which is a new company that can 3D print your 3D scanned objects I had one of my favorite old 360 images 3D printed. I shot the 360 image way back in 2003 (before I’d even heard of 3D printing). The image is of the inside of the old Triple XXX Drive Inn in Issaquah, WA.

All I had to do to get my 360 3D printed was to upload the equirectangular image from the 360 to the site and submit the order. In about a week my sphere of the Triple XXX 360 came in the mail. It’s kind of cool to hold your 360-image in your hand. Here is an explanation and illustration of how the image is printed. The sphere is created from scratch with the image embedded in it. Actually, the new Theta 360 camera creates images that can be printed this way.

If you shoot 360s, I’m thinking this could be an interesting agent client gift for a homeowner that is interested in 360 images. In shooting 360s for 10 years I find some home owners are really excited about 360 images and some homeowners don’t care about them. You can easily spot both types.


Is It Possible To Go Too Far When Using Video To Promote Property?

May 20th, 2016

TooFarDave in Perth sent me a link to this video of a property currently on the market in Hollywood Hills LA, just above Sunset Blvd and wanted to know, does this video go too far?

My opinion is, no, it has a little surprise that sneaks up on you at the end. But, the production of the video is very good. I think this is a very creative well-done property video. In fact it surprises me that it’s taken Realtors in the LA and Hollywood area to do this kind of video. We covered the crew in Brisbane doing much more shocking property video 5 years ago. Here are two examples: here and here. has shown that this kind of property videos works. As I said back in 2011, This approach to marketing falls into the category of marketing and public relations P.T. Barnum is famous for summarizing with the quote, “I don’t care what the newspapers say about me as long as they spell my name right.

What do you think, does this video go too far?

Why Is Image Theft So Common In Real Estate?

May 19th, 2016

RentalLicensingI recently talked to Nadia Reckmann, over at, which is a site that helps photographers find and fight image theft. Nadia was working on an article on why image theft is so common in real estate.

She just finished the article and I think it is worth reading for real estate photographers.

She says: Continue Reading »

NAR Makes Changes to its MLS Policy that are Good for Real Estate Photographers

May 18th, 2016

copyrightYesterday Joel Rothman pointed out to me that the National Association of Realtors has recently made some important revisions to its Handbook on Multiple Listing Policy that is intended to clarify the NAR’s MLS policies to highlight the importance of licensing. Here is Joel’s full explanation.

This is a great follow-up subject to yesterday’s post about Randall being asked to by a client to transfer all rights for his shoot photos to the client. This heightened awareness of Realtors to photo licensing is probably going to create opportunities, like Randall’s, for you to explain photo licensing and specifically your licensing agreement to clients.

Some Realtors may think the best way to comply with the new NAR policies is to have the photographer transfer the photo rights to the Realtor. Of course, that’s not true. That is one way to handle it but having a licensing agreement with the photographer is another option and the best option for the photographer.

As Joel points out at the bottom of his post, if you don’t have a licensing agreement already, it’s a good time to put one together. Note that Joel’s post has a download link for his free real estate photography licensing agreement. This is the same agreement that I have in my Business of Real Estate e-book.

Should You Ever release Your Photo Rights To Your Client?

May 17th, 2016

3rdParyViolationRandall poses the following question:

I just received an email from a new client I did a shoot for. They asked me to sign a release that would release my copyright to them. My terms of service on my invoice says the Realtor is granted a usage license to use the images in any manner they choose as long as the house is for sale or until it is removed from the market. I keep reading here on the PFRE blog, not to release your copyrights. Would I be foolish to sign this agreement?

Randall, to answer your question much depends on how likely it is that you can or will ever relicense this client’s images. Even though most of the discussion here on PFRE recommends that you retain your rights so that you can relicense images a poll back in March showed that a majority (90%) of PFRE readers never or rarely ever relicense their real estate work. I’m not sure why this is. Continue Reading »

How Do Real Estate Photographers Use Email Marketing?

May 16th, 2016

EmailMarketing Charlotte in MA asks:

I was wondering if you were aware of any email vehicle (email list I can buy) that has Realtor emails addresses suitable for a photographer to use to communicate and market with.  Or if you have any suggestions about how to best begin an email marketing campaign to local Realtors.

Here is a much better way to build an email list to of Realtors that are good candidates for likely customers: Continue Reading »

Do You Offer Virtual Staging As A Product With Your Real Estate Photography?

May 15th, 2016

I recently had a conversation with Marcus from Marcus was taking issue about some of the things I’ve said on the blog in past posts about virtual staging.

Marcus made the following arguments:

…We use our own system to create beautiful looking furniture in the homes or listings of those empty properties, or we take actual furniture that is in the homes and replace it with furniture that our client wants.

Now, to combat one of your statements about how actual staging is better for the potential buyer to see in that home… that is not always the case. For one, we have done research and came across many potential buyers that say, when at the actual listing, they would rather envision what they would put into the room than seeing someone else’s furniture in that area. Two, we have clients that blow up our virtually staged photos and have them propped up in that specific room to show what the room looks like furnished…

Continue Reading »

What To Do When You Show Up For A Shoot and The Property Is A Mess?

May 12th, 2016

ClarkListingAubrey asked:

I’ve had a situation come up and I’d love everyone’s opinion on how to handle situations where when I show up to shoot and the property is a mess!

I send a confirmation email to the Agent with all the photo shoot specifics and expectations, yet when I arrive nothing has been done. What do you do to avoid this from happening? I’m starting to thinking I need to do a signed contract that way the agent takes me seriously. What do you do?

The best way to handle these situations is to have a statement in your terms of service that says something like, “based on the judgement of the photographer, if the home is not ready for photographing when the photographer arrives, the shoot will be canceled and there will be a rescheduling fee of $xxx charged.” Another possible policy is to always do the shoot even if it is not ready. If you show up you bill the time. It’s ALWAYS the listing agent’s job to have the property ready for photographing at the time of the shoot. It’s one of the biggest challenges of being a listing agent is to get home sellers to do what is need to sell the property. Some agents are good at this part of the job and some are not very good at it. The underlying root of the problem is that you cannot always get home sellers or whoever is living in the home to do what’s necessary. Continue Reading »

Online Real Estate Video Class By Grant Johnston

May 11th, 2016

GrantJohnstonI’ve been talking to Grant Johnston down in Queenstown, NZ (at the South end of the South Island) the last few days about his new online video class on how to shoot real estate video.

Grant has been a freelance cameraman for the last 18 years so he has a very diverse background in the TV and film industry. He now shoots real estate video in the Queenstown area. there’s a lot of homes on acreage down

One great aspect of Grant’s video class is that he goes into good detail on using drones to shoot real estate. On this page, you can see a class outline and watch 3 of the 15 chapters for free. He covers getting the job, setting your price, gear, and gear setup as well as an actual shoot and doing post production. Grant has a down to earth style that is easy to follow and understand. I especially like his explanation of five Drone moves for shooting real estate videos.

Grant is offering PFRE readers at 12% discount on his video course through May when you use the discount code PFRE at checkout. Here is the page where you can enroll in the class.