June 15th, 2014
Jerome’s Question: I did my first real estate photography earlier this year and the realtor sold it pretty quick. I would like to do more but I’m not sure where to get a client base for that. I still have my day job that pays me well. But I would like to find a part-time gig that pays decent on the weekends, maybe even a couple of days during the week. Who can I work for?
Answer: Real estate photography works best if you create your own business and work independently. The companies that hire RE photographers keep most of the profit! There isn’t enough profit in RE photography for the photographer and another company. You can market yourself and build up your own clientele. The best way to do that is to research who the top 5 or 10% of Realtors are in your area based on number of listings and sale price and then market those Realtors directly. Find the top 10% in your area just by doing online research. All your local brokers sites have a list of the agents and their listings so just make a list.
Tom’s Question: I am really struggling with over exposed windows with my shots? I used to do lots of HDR but have wanted to get away from it due to the over use of it and over baking that can occur, I have light stands I can bring with me but that is a lot of equipment to lug around in shots but willing to do it for better looking windows.
Answer: Scott Hargis’s classic explanation is here. Here’s a way to start to get the feel of how to use a flash. Try this out in your front room for a while to get the hang of it:
- Start out by taking an ambient exposure that exposes the windows like you want them. All this is with ISO set at 400. Everything on manual. For most situations a good starting point is f/6.3 1/80. By trial and error and looking at LCD screen get the windows where you want them while the shutter speed slower than 1/250 so the flash will sync.
- While keeping the same manual settings, add a manual flash on a light stand to left or right of camera. Point the flash at a 45 degree angle towards the ceiling or bounce it off a wall from about 3′ away from a wall. Start with 1/2 power… see how it looks. Adjust the power until it looks good in the LCD.
With some practice you’ll be able to guess at all these setting and get them right. In small rooms one small flash will do. In larger rooms you’ll need more flashes. For much more of the details on this subject see Scott Hargis’s ebook and video series.
Matt’s Question: I must be overlooking it, but I can’t seem to find which software you use for creating printouts for listings. I’ve been using Photoshop, which works, but its a bit cumbersome with resizing photos, rearranging layouts etc. Do you have a solution/workflow that basically gives you a template that you can fire off these printouts without too much fiddling around?
Answer: Not many real estate photographers create flyers for agents because most real estate offices have internal resources (secretaries answering phones that need something to do to fill in between phone calls) and templates to create flyers. Plus the process of creating an effective flyer involves writing some marketing copy and a review cycle or two with the Realtor and most photographers are not into that. MLSs and tour companies automatically generate crude flyers that some agents use.
Sherry’s question: Have you done any articles on selecting a drone for aerial photos (not video, if that’s possible)? My clients are asking for it so I’m researching them. I’m actually having a hard time finding the product!
Answer: I did this post early in March. The newest version of the DJI Phantom is the 2+. I think that is the best at this point for real estate photography. Both of these will do either stills or video. The 2+ plus has everything included and with the older version you have to buy a GoPro camera separately.