Berks County PA Realtor Jeffrey Hogue Nails The Art Of Home Photography

October 30th, 2013

JeffreyHogueDemoJeffrey Hogue, Berks County PA Realtor that I’ve featured a couple of times before for his bucket truck, sent me a link to the YouTube video that he sends potential listing clients that illustrates what his bucket truck can do to improve the marketing shots that he can if he lists your home. Very impressive demonstration. As I told Jeffrey I wouldn’t want to compete for listings against him.

If you watch the whole video, and you are up on shooting real estate, you may also notice that Jeffrey has read Scott Hargis’s Lighting Interiors book and not only talks the talk, but he also walks the walk. I swear we have not paid him to promote Scott’s lighting technique (but maybe we should) he has clearly read Scott’s book cover to cover and drunk the cool-aid!

For me the real test of a top listing agent is looking through their listing photos. When I do that in Jeffery’s case I’m blown a way. Here is an example of one of Jeffrey’s listings that he’s shot. Not just an elevated front exterior shot but elevated shots of everything from the house to horse barn! And Jeffrey’s interior shots are not just OK, they are fantastic! Some of the best I’ve seen. And you can see by going through his listings he does this same level of work for $200K listings as he does for $2M listings! I’m not exaggerating when I say Jeffrey has nailed the art of home photography!

Share this

25 Responses to “Berks County PA Realtor Jeffrey Hogue Nails The Art Of Home Photography”

  • I’ve been impressed with Jeffrey’s work for some time and I’m envious of his bucket truck. However, one can get 17 feet of elevation on the camera for around $100 and up to 30 feet for under $1,000. Much less upkeep than an entire truck and you can walk with it to the back yard and even in the house if the space warrants it.

  • I too am a huge fan! The key here is that Jeff is the Realtor also with a passion for photography. It is a win/win. And the truck is a drop in the bucket so to speak. The truck is a huge billboard and marketing tool for advertising his services as a realtor and a photographer. In the long run, his expenses as a realtor paying for marketing are nominal because of the overall numbers, lead generation etc. Even in a slow market, the realtor with the most listings wins. I love it. I have a 25 foot pole, a 50 foot mast, a camranger, an ipad, now a go pro and a phantom, but I still want a truck!!! Nothing beats holding your camera and taking a photo. Hats off to you Jeff for the photography and the real estate success, and kudos to the team working with you. If only there were more hours in a day….thanks Jeff for continuing to inspire!

  • Ugh! I have bucket truck on the brain again. I love this truck, always have. Just when I get over my search on truck trader thinking I’ll never find a truck like this you post Jeffrey again. I need it I need it I need it! Jeffrey, I just love the look of this truck and how the bucket fits down in the truck instead of hanging on top. What model is it again? What would I search for on truck trader or other dealers?

    Let’s get one thing straight, this is an advertising piece that gets tons of attention. Sure, a 50 foot pole is much cheaper, but a realtor needs to have a big wow factor that sets him/her apart from the competition. When this truck rolls into a neighborhood there’s no doubt about who is successful.

    Jeffrey, one piece of info I would put on the video is something my high end clients ask…”why are you the one who photographs and not a professional photographer. My response is that “my work is professional in nature as you will soon see, and more importantly, as your agent, it is vital that I know the house as intimately as possible. If I spent 4 to 8 hours in your home, I’m going to know how to sell it to other agents and prospective buyers.” That’s why I take my own photography Mr. Seller.

  • It’s common for realtors to defend their commissions. And seeing how some realtors market properties, I can see why. But the work and effort that Jeffrey dedicates to his listings is amazing. And that effort pays off for his sellers because their home will most likely sell faster and for more money than a similar home with lousy pictures. Even his lowest priced listings receive great photos and marketing.

  • The photographs from the bucket are very good and rather compelling. But, an astute buyer will feel a bit betrayed when they realize that they will never be able to see the views “from the house” as depicted in the photos…unless they put their LazyBoy on the roof!

  • Outstanding; love the truck!!

  • I think that this truck is much more effective as a moving billboard than it is for taking photos. He’s using it as a marketing tool and to impress his clients and gain recognition in his home town which makes it a great marketing tool and write off and my hat is off to him for that.

    He also has the luxury of spending all day at one house, but I doubt any real estate photographer could afford that same luxury. It’s not about the elevated photography because you can achieve the EXACT same thing from many more vantage points as I do with my $25 homemade extension pole that reaches heights of 23′ including my 6′ frame. The elevated shot should be used sparingly for showing homes that are on steep hills where there is not enough space with your wide angle lens to capture the shot, or to show perspective on a large piece of property from the air, otherwise it’s usually a misleading shot. It may be impressive but you’re only going to disappoint the potential buyer when they show up and don’t see that 10 mile view from the pool deck, unless they are 20′ tall themselves?? Real estate photography is all about accurately representing homes for realtors to use for marketing purposes and we are all responsible for doing just that.

    This truck and all the time he spends inside doing the interior shoot is not necessary but it gets him listings which is exactly what he’s trying to do and he gets to explore both passions which is great, but the business model itself for real estate photographers is not realistic or at all necessary so I wouldn’t recommend looking through the classifieds for used bucket trucks.

  • Kudos to Jeffrey for going the extra mile for his clients. Very nice work!

  • Great demo of how camera position changes the photo, bu I’m sure there are not many places you can take a six tonne truck onto the lawns without wrecking the place! Six metre pole cams are easier,, and a lot cheaper, and a LOT faster, but I’m now using a DJI Phantom Quadcopter with a Nikon J1 with a 10mm lens- (28mm full frame equivalent) in interval mode (every 5 seconds) to get unique photos. Quality is more than enough and weight of 355 grams means a maximum flight of about 3 minutes on one battery. After only three crashes, and two sets of propellors during my learning phase, I’m now reasonably confident I can get the shot. They don’t like 40 kt winds though, as I found out the hard way. Found it two hours and three km away. Labelled it with my phone number and “REWARD” Works for me.

  • I love the truck as a big moving billboard and I agree that a high elevated picture isn’t always proper for a particular home. I still need to commit the rest of the time required to get all the pieces of my pole put together and get some practice shots in. I have had a couple of homes where getting up to 10-12′ would get me over a fence or some other obstacle and make a better photo. I bring a 4′ ladder with me to shoots and that has helped not only to get a good vantage to shoot from, but also to replace some burned out light bulbs. There are still some times when a bucket truck would be handy. I know of a couple of businesses that have one locally and when I get the chance to talk to them, I’ll see about being able to rent some time. That should be much cheaper than a commercial registration, the insurance and upkeep on one of my own.

    The downside to having advertising all over one’s vehicle is that it tells the world, “Break in to this vehicle for a load of easily resellable camera gear.” Even if the camera gear is taken out each night, the expense of replacing broken windows and mangled locks might negate any benefit. I don’t even want to put magnetic placards on my car that say “photographer.” I would hate to come out of a house after shooting interiors to a seat full of broken glass. I’ve never looked closely at the particulars on taking an advertising deduction for a vehicle with ads on it. Does it have to be for your own company? Can I advertise the local Port-A-Potty company and still take the deduction? That’ll keep ’em from breaking in to the truck.

    @Bruce, just remember that using your quadcopter for commercial purposes is not legal. Yes, there is one lawsuit claiming the FAA doesn’t have the authority to outlaw them, but that’s an expensive road to drive. Your insurance will also not cover any claims as they always have a little clause that nullifies the coverage if you are doing something illegal. The regulations are in (slow) process and in a year or two depending on how many vacations the government takes, there will be a chance to use UAV’s for RE work. Some states are already drafting laws against it and regulations to follow for it. It looks as if some sort of license will be required and it’s also likely that special insurance will be needed. We will find out if all of the regs, fees, insurance and permit costs leave enough margin to make using an eye in the sky pay for itself.

    Given what most agents will pay for photography in my area, Camera-on-a-Stick is about as high tech as I can go. I know where I can hire a helicopter and I’m sure I could find a tree service company with a bucket truck that wouldn’t mind a little cash for giving me a ride.

    Thumbs up to Jeffery for raising the bar in his area and showing what good photography can do. He’s been doing it long enough that he can see the value. If it wasn’t paying off with interest, I’m sure he would have stopped making as much effort. How much is gas in that monster per month?

  • Nice work!

    One thing I noticed though that I have a question on. He has a watermark on all his photos, does he load into the mls with the same?

    I would love to have the watermark on all of my photos (I think a lot of us would), but I have been told that the mls does not allow and/or the agents will not stand for it.

    Seems if we could, we would get a lot more exposure for building or business…..

  • @Jerry – Some MLSs allow watermarking but most don’t.

  • Hi, Ken, It’s a very interesting point you raise. I’m not in the USA. We have a “fluid” legal situation in Australia. I’m not charging for my photos. They are free. I receive remuneration for the interiors of properties. More interesting is that a critical mass has been achieved . They are everywhere, and tomorrow I’m going to use my DJI to photograph a group shot at a wedding in Central Victoria at a spectacular site. I’m rather excited, because no-one has ever got this shot before. I did a unique shot today from my Phantom which my client was very pleased with. But I didn’t charge for. Horses for courses, (as the Melbourne Cup comes up next Tuesday) ….

  • I have to agree with Pete and Matt. The back exterior images (shooting the view) are false advertising, seeing as how you can never see that view unless you get yourself elevated about 20 feet. It’s disingenuous to shoot anything but the house with the bucket when trying to sell the home, or any other kind of elevation device.
    Kudos to him for going way beyond the extra mile to help his clients. I bet he gets 95% of his listings just from referrals, so I doubt the truck and all the money associated with it really helps.

  • @Jim Bolen Have you ever compared your McDonald’s cheeseburger on the marquis picture to what actually shows up in your wrapper? Now THAT’s disingenuous… 🙂 The truth is, on the marquis, you are looking at a plastic burger, probably constructed by a food stylist in Chicago. If they put the picture of what you get in your wrapper on the marquis, you’d never order one. They usually look like somebody sat on it before you got it.

    The photo is a representation of the product, it’s not meant to replace the experience of actually being there. It’s an enticement. That 20ft shot actually does exist from that POV (unlike that plastic cheeseburger, which as far as I know, has never been sold to a consumer out of a drive up window).

    Airlines frequently show you a picture of the Jumbo 747 flying in the clouds, from the POV of another plane, which you’d probably never ever see in reality, and if you did, I’d assume the crash position maybe.

  • It’s advertising photography. I have never, ever, EVER heard of a case where a deal went south because a buyer turned up at the house and said, “Gee, I thought the house was going to be down-slope from me when I looked at it.”

  • I noticed the ground pictures were not enhanced but the aerial ones were not! a fair comparison?…purposeful omission? those views are not able to be seen from normal I person viewing…So does this become fluffing? I believe trying to be as real as possible might be more approximate… even using a pole or short step ladder but 50 feet up is a stretch. Don’t get me wrong I love his work…and I am sure with a commission on both sides on a high end home he really hits a home run. But what happens when a competitor complains to the MLS? I think it is a great tool but…I like to not be the “wack a mole” by sticking my head up…under radar is good policy…but when you are the big dog you are the target…Good luck

    Back to the dilemma… is photography an enforceable document like a property disclosure or is it marketing?

  • First and foremost I wish to thank Larry for posting the content. Larry, you have always been a supporter of my efforts and for that I am humbled and thankful. PFRE has opened up a whole new way of thinking about photography and marketing. It has enhanced my business and my ability to think outside the box (or bucket truck).

    I also want to thank all the people who have responded to this post as well as those who have personally emailed me and called. I am always willing to share what I know about my industry and photography. I have a unique perspective being both a top rated Realtor in Pennsylvania, Berks County, PA to be exact, and an avid architectural photographer.

    Now…To answer some questions:
    1. The MLS ~ I have to create a separate set of photographs without the watermark for TREND MLS. They do not allow watermarks. I then cut the data feed to all the major syndicates and upload the watermarked photos to them (Zillow, Trulia, Etc…).

    2. Perspective shooting being misleading ~ I have to give a shout out to Kelvin for his answer. There are aerial shots all over the web through GIS mapping. They are not always clear and are usually from 18 months to 4 years old. My aerial shots give a unique updated perspective of not only the home but the area surrounding it. How often do you see the top of the roof of a home? I can tell you the inspector will prior to the sale. What I think is misleading is some HDR shots that look like oil paintings. The grain in the kitchen cabinets and flooring look like they will eat your leg. I also think that using a 10mm lens is deceiving when it comes to room sizes. Much of what I see of HDR belongs more in the artistic abstract section than real life photography. Just my humble opinion.

    3. I am, plain and simple a marketer of homes. I sell nothing. Nobody has ever liked me enough to buy a home they did not care for because I am a good guy. People look at any and all kinds of homes before they choose one. The photos are meant to describe the home in a way that entices the buyers to preview it and maybe want to see it. Their preview of the photos helps in other ways as well. One of them is social media and SEO. Better photos bring people to web sites. This enhances my ability to better represent all customers.

    4. The truck ~ Do I need it…NO! Do I love it…YES! It is a billboard and has been featured in media from coast to coast. It also gets me the perspective i desire. The one thing that nobody mentioned is that it serves as a place for all me real estate signs and other marketing equipment. I am always prepared to completely list a home when I have the truck. I even have a lithium ion powered chainsaw in it. This is to cut down branches and other undesired vegetation that may be in the way of a great aerial shot. bet you didn’t think of that one:)

    As for cost..Believe it or not, it cost more to buy a new Canon 600mm IS lens than the truck cost me to purchase! It was more to wrap it in vinyl and modify it. Total expense was around $50K. Gas costs about $135.00 per month.

    So there you have it. I thank you all for your engagement and hope that what I do inspires you in ways you may have never considered. Always keep an open mind.

    Thank you,
    Jeffrey C. Hogue

  • The way I see it, my clients don’t hire me to take a technically perfect set of images. They hire me to take a set of marketing images.

    There is a difference. Good work Jeffrey.

  • @ Jeffrey Hogue heh heh thanks for the shout out. I have to disagree about the 10mm POV being fake though, and here’s why. I was reading your reply in my very tiny bathroom, which is 5’x8′. From a ‘seated position’, at the far end of that small room, and affixed my gaze as if I was a 10mm lens pointed back into the room. My peripheral vision as I observed it was roughly 160degrees, so I was in fact, able to see from the end of the shower right in front of me to my right, to the sink beside me to my far left. And… from the same position, my brain/eye combo enabled me to zoom in on the details of a piece of shower curtain lace the size of a nickle, at the exclusion of everything else around me. Same position, same eyes, different objective, different perception. We are capable of seeing it both ways, and a myriad of ways in between.

    Sitting here at my desk, I have the same 160degree peripheral vision, and while I can’t focus exactly on a pen tablet to my right in the extreme lower left corner of my field of vision, if I dart my eyes back and forth from it being in the peripheral to the middle, it not only changes in apparent size, it appears to have that same freaky distortion we get from wide lenses at close range on the outside edge.

    I’d be tempted to argue then, that a 10mm lens on a 1.5 crop is exactly what our eyes see, but is incapable of zooming in like our perception is. In that sense, any focal length could be a replication of what our visual perception is capable of.

  • The first post Larry did about this bucket truck made me want one the minute I saw it. So I set out to find one and eventually I did. I learned quite a bit during the purchase process and felt somewhat comfortable about the decision to buy, but at the last minute I decided against it. Here is why, and maybe some words of caution to anyone else thinking about buying a bucket truck/van just for photography.

    For starters, the vast majority of these vehicles being sold used were at one time a fleet vehicle for a telephone or cable company. These companies keep and maintain these vehicles for approximately 10 years at which point its more cost effective to get a new vehicle than try to extend the life of an old one. So while it is good to know the oil has been changed regularly there are certain parts of the vehicle that only get attention ‘as needed’. Case in point, the hydraulic hoses that pump the fluid to raise and lower the boom arm. After about 10 years of use, its not uncommon to start to see dry rot and cracking. These hoses are on the outside of the vehicle but also run inside the cab. If one of these were to burst, not only would you not be able to raise or lower the bucket, but anything inside the vehicle (van) will likely get hydro fluid all over it. So just replace the hoses, right? Well if you are skilled in that kind of thing, go for it. Otherwise, you will need to find repair shop that services these types of vehicles and boom arms. That repair was going to cost around $300-$500 dollars… That leads me to the second point.

    There are not a lot of places that service the boom arms. In Atlanta, there was only one ‘authorized’ repair shop for the brand of boom arm I was about to buy. It also seems that most of these arms are mounted on Ford vehicles. If you have ever owned a Ford you know they are somewhat proprietary with their stuff. If you have a Ford, you need to take it to a Ford service provider. Not only that, but there are all the other issues that go along with the Ford brand…

    In the SE US, the average price for one of these used bucket vans or trucks is approximately $15K. That is a 10+ year old, 100K+ mile former fleet vehicle. Of the three or four I have looked at, all needed additional work on top of that.

    So if you do consider buying one of these boom trucks or vans, do yourself a favor and do your research/homework and bring a trusted mechanic along with you. Here are a few other points you might want to add to your checklist:

    1. There are ‘gravity’ leveled buckets and ‘hydraulic’ leveled buckets. If you dont want the bucket to sway while you’re way up there, get a hydraulic leveled bucket. Neither of these is suitable for long exposures with perhaps the exception of a hydraulic leveled bucket on a wind-less day, and then only if you just set the tripod up in the bucket and control the camera via a device like Camranger.

    2. Try to find either a Versa-Lift or Altec boom. Those are the two most trusted and serviceable brands of boom arms.

    3. Do not buy a vehicle where the boom arm has been ‘remounted’. Go with one that was originally installed in the factory new.

    4. You may need a CDL in some areas.

    5. If you plan to operate the boom within 10 feet of overhead lines, you need an insulated bucket.

    I hope anyone who is thinking about buying one of these vehicles considers what I have offered here and finds this helpful. I suppose some of these may be anecdotal but having looked at a few of these up close, they seem to share a lot of the same issues. Maybe Jeffery can chime in and offer his opinion?

    My synopsis: Until I can afford to buy one of these new, I’m not really comfortable buying a used one unless I get a really smoking deal that lets me go ahead and put in a new engine, hydraulic hoses, tires, etc… The whole advertising aspect aside (which I love btw…), there are other ways to get almost as high elevated shots for way less money and liability.

  • Kelvin, Let me amend my comment. I use a 14mm aspheric lens in tight spots. It is probably the most expensive lens in my bag. That is as wide as I go. If I want to stay horizontal with a shot but desire height I will also use that lens. Most times this is for effect.

    My statement is for the 10mm family room shot that makes it look like a 30 x 30 ballroom or the bedroom that is 10 x 12 and looks like 20 x 20.

  • @Iran, nice write up. I tell people that are looking for something expensive that if you have time, you can save money. For a bucket truck, setting up a search with TruckTrader or other online service is handy especially if you can specify mileage. I’m sure that there are occasions where a company needs to sell a nice unit due to a downturn in business or other factor. For the right vehicle, it can make good sense to extend the search area to the entire country. It costs extra to fly out and pick up a vehicle from across the country and drive it home, but if it’s in cherry condition, that extra cost is likely worth more than getting something that will need a bunch of repairs and preventative maintenance.

  • Like many others I have truck envy. I think its a great idea, I’ve been thinking of getting a trailer to haul all of my equipment but if I could find a truck like that I’d buy it in a heart beat.

    Everyone’s on about a potentially misleading perspective, forget that, how many flashes do you use?

    Thanks for the video.

  • 5 Flashes.

Trackback URI Comments RSS

Leave a Reply