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Real Estate Photographers; Team With Stagers

January 22nd, 2008

I want to amplify and expand on a comment that Justin Soles made on yesterdays post. There’s probably no more potentially symbiotic relationship as that between a real estate photographer and a stager. The stager needs to have photographs to document what they do (they base their business on before and after shots) and a real estate photographer needs a stager to make the place look great. In the architectural photography business most photographers won’t even shoot unless a stager (some times called a stylist) is involved. Many times the stager will work for the photographer.

So RE photographers should get to know the stagers that work in their area because there will be opportunities to promote each others services. Frequently by the time the photographer is scheduled the agent and home seller have made all the decisions regarding home staging. However, there are all to many inexperienced agents out there that don’t have staging skills themselves and never considered hiring a home stager. I recommend that, until you get to know the agent you shooting for, you have a very explicit and clear discussion about staging and clutter control. Has this home been staged? Has someone worked with the seller to make sure the home is prepared for the shoot? Would you like a copy of my home preparation tips?

The other dimension to the relationship between real estate photographers and stagers is that the agents that hire stagers are likely to hire a professional photographer. Why spend money on getting the place looking great and not photograph it for marketing? And the reverse is true as well. In short, stagers and real estate photographers are likely to have the same clients. Why not offer to do some free photography work for your local stager with the goal of impressing them to the point they will refer their clients to you. In return, refer your clients to a good stager. These relationships with stagers are worth putting some time and energy into.

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16 Responses to “Real Estate Photographers; Team With Stagers”

  • […] Original post by larry […]

  • […] Estate Photographers; Team With Stagers Julio wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptThere’s probably no more […]

  • […] Julio wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptThere’s probably no more potentially symbiotic relationship as that between a real estate photographer and a stager. The stager needs to have photographs to document what they do (they base their business on before and after shots) and … […]

  • […] Julio wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt […]

  • Larry,
    I certainly agree with you and Justin: my team relationship with a stager worked so well that I married her and now both incomes go to the same bank account!
    Seriously, knowing about each other’s work helps a great deal in improving the complemented result. We are able to offer a one-stop service with added value introducing feng shui and our own web design of virtual and floorplan tours. And, it’s fun.

  • Pablo,
    Actually, when I was writing about “having a close relationship with your stager” I thought of you because I’d seen on your site that your wife was a stager.

    My wife Levi does some light staging for our listings… mostly the part about getting in seller’s faces about cleaning up clutter and keeping it cleaned up while it was on the market. When we list vacant homes we have a “staging heavy weight” that brings in truck loads of furniture and decor.

    Last year when we sold our long time residence I shot photos for weeks before it went on the market and I couldn’t even get crumbs on the counter while it was on the market… thankfully it sold in a few days!

  • Larry, the Real Estate Photography is not Architectural Photography… It’s a castrated version of it… prices.. are also castrated 🙂

    Affording a stager would be great, but shooting RE with a stylist would bring prices way to high in order to have a viable business. To work with a stylist, once in while, is something else, but can’t be done on a day by day basis.

  • Michael, I am a Home Stager and I must respectfully disagree with your comment that “shooting RE with a stylist would bring prices way to high…” Selling a home is most people’s biggest investment. If you are selling your car, would you remove all your junk and give it a good washing? How many homes have you shot that didn’t do that for their home? Most Stagers start their fees at around $150. Yes, it does get a bit more pricey if a lot of furniture needs to be rented but most homes need to be decluttered, rearranged, neutralized etc which a Stager can do in a day or two or just for the shot-if need be. What good is the best RE photographer if he /she is taking pictures of dirty dishes, kids rooms with toys that cover the floor and a bright red dining room that is being used as a storage room? I think the issue is not the price of photography/staging, it is educating the seller.

  • “I think the issue is not the price of photography/staging, it is educating the seller.”

    Debbie, you are right… But I’m not into education 🙂

    maybe this sounds cynical… but most of the time, the owners are less interested about staging. The agents are, but they are not eager to pay extra for the service. I like to shoot better looking homes than ugly ones, as you could expect, but teaming up with the stager wont work for me… especially if I have to include staging costs onto my invoice.

    Coordinating the whole process can be a pain … I’d prefer not to do it… I have nothing against stagers!!!! Au contrary… But if you are a stager, we are practically in the same boat. Would you do the arrangements for me and call me when it’s done and pay me? See?

    I always listen my customers opinions and happily do it as ugly as they want. Sounds familiar? hahahaha

    Hmmm, maybe if I hire a stager and send him to the location, prior to my arival to declutter and thighten up things a bit… of course for a huge fee. That could work…

  • YES! You might be trying to demote the idea but you hit the nail right on the head. Some photographers WILL take a picture of whatever they are being paid to do- regardless of the image. I think they call those photographers JC Penny’s family portrait photographers…hehe. The bottom line is you, as a RE photographer, you are NOT a family portrait photographer- you are in the business of helping people get their house SOLD.

    I agree- Stager’s often (as I am currently doing) hire photographers to shoot my listings. I just feel if the partnership can’t work both ways- you are both missing out.

    My job is to make the “image” more appealing (and marketable) to buyers. If I wanted to “please” the seller, I would tell them their house was great, even when it was awful.
    You said the “Realtors” are interested in the staging- not the sellers. Why do you think that is? I’ll tell you why- everyone thinks their house looks great. Realtor’s know otherwise.

    The bottom line in this- you can set up your photography business as a company where you come and take these great photos of peoples homes, regardless of how they look- because in the short term, you will save the seller some pennies. OR- you can become a bit more into the business of “educating your sellers”, and have your photos look great and sell quicker. (The before and after shots you market will speak for themselves as they do for stagers.

    If I were in your business (which I am not and take my opinion for what it is worth)- I would rather market myself in this way- “X amount of the listing I photographed sold in X amount of days after being on the market prior for X amount of months. If you work with me, I have the unique partnership with a Accredited Staging Professional who will come and stage your home prior to me taking photos so your home will appeal to the broadest range of buyers to sell your home quicker and for more money etc etc.”
    Of course- there is always the option to NOT educate and just take photos. The choice is yours.

  • Debbie, the re photographer is NOT selling the house, neither has a commission on how fast the house sales/or not. You wont find any established photographer that will offer any predictions about how fast the house (or any other products) will be sold because of his/hers pictures. I’m not in the home selling business. I get paid no matter what happens with the listing.

    I’m not trying to demote any idea. My point is that teaming with a stager is not really a plus from the Photographer’s point of view. I’d prefer my client to arrange with his stager/stylist and not being involved in that arrangement. There are alot of reasons why and I wont insist…

    “Some photographers WILL take a picture of whatever they are being paid to do”
    Yes, it’s called a pro, doesn’t matter if it’s working at JC Penny or not. They do the best image in given conditions.

  • I think that is the point we disagree on. I also never give my clients any guarantees that staging and better photos will sell their home. The most important thing in the sale is the asking price. I think the whole point of the article was that photographers could benefit form having a stager because, “a real estate photographer needs a stager to make the place look great. ” and “RE photographers should get to know the stagers that work in their area because there will be opportunities to promote each others services.” You do not think it benefits your business to have the stager because it would bring prices too high. I can say that is a very viable opinion- a lot of people do not want to spend a cent on selling their home. (That’s what I meant by educating them- ie selling them on the idea.) Most people do not want to hire me as a stager for that reason. However, after discussing it with them and showing them great photos- I get the job. If you are happy with how you work- that’s great! I just think this is another way to promote you and your photography. I still feel you don’t have to be stuck taking pictures of whatever image you are given. I think if you can hire someone to improve the image, it will make you look better as well.

    Good Luck!

  • Hi Debbie, you are right. Yes, a staged home will photograph better, no doubt on that. Ideally every home should be staged and then left untouched until sold. I said IDEALLY…

    Now comes the reality check, and please don’t take any offense in my point: While I offer a few products myself, I prefer to have a chunk as big as I can of the budget allocated to promote the house. Especially in this market, advertising budgets are shrinking like George Constanza’s problem (in cold water) 🙂 I wont push toward a staging unless I have a personal relation with that stager, wife, sister or very good friend. Because that eats out of that share that would be normally mine. The picture and the content… ahh, that’s a long story again…

    http://www.1stoppostershop.com/products/McGaw/celebrities/mg_GeorgeTheTimelessArtOfS.jpg

    See?

    So when it’s to chose to have +$250 on another service, let’s say a postcard campaign, I’d rather do that than suggest a stager. While on the same side photographers and stagers compete towards shrinking marketing budgets.

    Realtors generally not need education towards staging. they know…

  • My eyes are burning from that picture but thanks…hehe. I’ve enjoyed debating this topic with you. I think you brought a lot of good points out for other photographers to decide for themselves what works. Take Care!

  • thank you to! it’s great having debbates on civilized levels.

    take care

  • […] week ago I did a post about how real estate photographers should get to know the stagers in their area and work together promoting each others services. One […]

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