What Things Are Important For A Real Estate Photographers Website?

May 22nd, 2011

Jason Lusk ask me to do a post about real estate photographer websites and pose the question:  “What do you find effective or think is necessary to have in a Real Estate Photographer’s site?” Jason is in the process of updating his site.

So let me start by listing what I think are essential features for a real estate photographer website:

Essentials

  1. Showing your portfolio of work is the primary purpose of your site. Automatic display of a gallery of LARGE interior and exterior images that display by just hitting the URL. This auto portfolio display should be your absolute best and most stunning images.
  2. Spend some time going over your portfolio and weeding out everything but the very best images. Get other people, who’s opinion you respect to help you do this.
  3. The site navigation should assume the average viewer will give you about 5 seconds before moving on unless you grab their attention and hit them with your best shot without them having to do anything. I see a lot of people trying to mix every type of photography together on one site. To me this approach is much less effective than focusing on one type of photography on a site.
  4. Have more galleries/portfolios that show the range of related work you do. For example, Interiors, Exteriors, Video or Portraits. These are all related because they are types of photography that a real estate agent is likely to need.
  5. Your contact/about information with your smiling face. I don’t understand photographers that are selling photos that don’t have a photo of themselves on their site. You’ve got to eat your own dog food!

Other Nice Features To Have

  1. Be visible on tablets and other mobile devices. Non-Flash devices like the iPad are the biggest challenge. Nobody is going to spend much time looking at your site with a phone size device but visibility on all types of tablets is becoming important.
  2. Showing the area you serve is a nice touch.
  3. Giving clients info on preparing their home for a shoot is a great use for your site.
  4. Attitudes about showing pricing is mixed some do it and some don’t. If you show your prices on your site, expect to have other compete with your price.

Jason’s site meets all of my expectations in both essentials and secondary, nice to have features. What do others think? Have I missed anything? Jason would like to have some feedback from everyone on his site.

8 Responses to “What Things Are Important For A Real Estate Photographers Website?”

  • Im using Firefox 3.6 and your site has some issues.

    Technical stuff:
    1. It has about 100 pixels of padding at the top it doesn’t need. This put the images lower on screen and cut off the bottom 1/3 of them unless I scrolled down. When I scrolled far enough down to see the whole image, the nav menu was cut in half/hard to click on without scrolling up again.

    2. Some of the home page images had some pixelation (slight but I noticed it). It looked like when flash / javascript slideshows resize images on the server to all match and makes them a quality 80. It also took about 8 seconds for the first image to load (after that images displayed fine). I am on a 5mb/s dsl line, maybe check your file sizes (in all fairness my website sometimes takes a few seconds to load the first image and sometimes doesnt, something on server end I guess).
    I hate the way iweb makes code, so its was hard to read quickly, but it looked like it was scaling them to 1200 something pixels.. Change that to 900 pixels and make sure you size each image to the same proportions in PS then put on the server. turn off any auto scaling feature your JS may be doing. This will likely correct your images rolling off screen too. 1200 px is way too big and not necessary most of the time if that is indeed the case.

    Try this out for a quick view
    http://browsershots.org/
    of what your site looks like, but for sure, USE AN ANALYTICS SCRIPT to determine the amount of traffic from OS/browser combos to see where you need to focus your efforts. On all my websites, the last 2 versions of IE on windows XP and newer as well as Mac OS with Firefox dominate my traffic (to the tune of @ 85%) so I don’t waste time making it work in some no name Linux browser..

    Personal preference stuff:

    1. Client pages. I don’t do them at all, and I only list 3 or 4 cherry picked clients I know are not easily swayed in a marketing package I have. With real estate agents I have found, there is no loyalty. You are giving area competition a list of who will pay your rate for your quality. At that point, they can underbid you by a little and know EXACTLY who to target. I have other reasons but not enough space here ;)

    2.Pricing.. Do you really have enough need to make it known how much replacement images are? I would omit things like that and just list the basics. I typically don’t list pricing at all except on my portrait/wedding site. And its just a pdf with “starting rates”. I usually seal the deal better if I can get an inquiry from them about specifics than to outline all the costs and let them get sticker shock and move on. The editing section, in my experience would only make some agents feel like you are talking down to them, and the ones that NEED to read it STILL wont get it.

    3. FAQ’s. I think the fuel chart will come off as nickel and dime them (something I have found agents to really hate). I would just say “anything outside of xx miles from xxxxx city may incur travel/fuel surcharges. Again let them call you to be specific.. You might turn off some potential business with this i think. Also the usage part may seem a little scary upfront. Many agents aren’t used to dealing with this and doing that “in person” has been much better for me to land new agents/clients. The reality is many think they own the images, and when evaluating you will immediately be turned off. However once in a face to face situation where you can explain this as part of the first shoot and outlined in your invoicing (which should be done anyways), they may still not like it and move on, but it doesn’t come across as harsh and many times it was just never explained or even a concern with their last photographer(s). Again, just something to consider.

    Also with your map I just noticed, Pacific doesn’t look like a large town. Do you do alot of work in St. Louis? If you do, I would consider not making that look like its going to incur maximum fuel charges. Either work your scheduling well so that you dont drive out for just one cheap property or work out a deal for multiple properties if they want you in St. Louis. If I were an agent in St. Louis I wouldn’t give you a second look, but you may be ok with shooting driving out there to shoot 2 or 3 listings at one time since that would make the effort worth it. But I would never know that from your website.

  • We use Photobiz.com to manage our website – we are now under reconstruction, but it is http://www.powervision360.com We find that for a minimal amount of a one time fee (I believe it is $45 but you should check on current pricing) we have a parallel HTML site and a mobile phone site that we don’t have to do anything to create once our flash site is created. This means if a viewer has a blackberry, android, iphone or ipad (or any other mobile device) the device automatically picks the option website to look at! This really helps with QR codes on those real estate riders that go directly to the website on a phone. Also, when we create a virtual tour through Real Tour Vision’s software, it automatically knows if a cell phone is looking at the QR code or going to the site so we don’t have to worry about flash issues.

  • My thought is that this color combination of background and script makes it very hard to read, I would prefer more contrast so I don’t have to strain to read. Maybe it is just me, but when I get to sites that are a chore, I move on

    Just a thought

    JM

  • This is exactly what I am struggling with at the moment. I have found it very difficult to find a website provider/designer that is viewable on all platforms. Photobiz sounds promising. If anyone knows of any others they can suggest I would appreciate it.

  • Thanks for everyones’s input and thanks to Larry for making it possible for others to see and make comments about my site. Jason made some great points and I appreciate his in-depth analysis. I will make some of the changes he and the others have commented about my site. This information is just what I hoped for when I contacted Larry.

    Thank-you

  • Things I miss and don’t like in most websites is the lack of interior and small photos. usually most just show the best and big photos. not the small ones like a bathroom or something. I NEED to see those kind of photos. As a realtor that’s very important for me. Everyone can take great exterior pics. but RE photography is not about that and a photographer can be good at that but very bad at closed interiors. That’s why when I hire I always ask for those kind of photos, if the photographer says it doesn’t have any it’s always eliminated because he doesn’t understand nothing about this kind of photography and hasn’t done any serious job.

  • @Pedro. Thanks for your observation. After reading your comment I jumped to my online portfolio and counted two bedrooms showing. There are a number of agents that just want the key features and ask me not to even photograph bedrooms unless there is something special about them. Other agents put up every image I send or would send. Some of the reasoning in not putting up a photo of every room is if you over do it, they’ve already seen the house and don’t need the showing.

    My job is to fulfill the agents needs in how they prefer to market the property. I can offer suggestions. In the end, the agent has the most on the line and after all is paying me. IMO showing a small room with just a bed in it doesn’t do much esp on an upper end property.

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