Real Estate Photography Question and Answers – #9

June 29th, 2014


QandALinda’s Question:
  I had a question about business insurance and found your post  from April 2010. I was wondering if we also need to be bonded, or if the business insurance is sufficient? I was thinking specifically about times we shoot in homes alone. Do you know the answer to this?

Answer: I‘ve never heard of real estate photographers being bonded. That’s more a thing used in the construction trades. Having a bond is like having up-front proof that you can pay a claim. Many MLSs have rules that prohibit contractors of any kind (including real estate photographers) from being left alone in a property that has a listing contract on it, that’s why  most listing agents will stay with you during the shoot. When my wife and I listed property in the Seattle area there was a NWMLS fine of $5,000 if an agent was caught leaving a contractor alone in a listing.

Art’s Question:  I wonder if any of you guys have ever tried these cheap, multi mount wireless (like profto B1),  flash heads like this one: http://www.linkdelight.com/buy/680+wireless+flash.html
It would be great for low budget architectural lighting kit, like the Yongnuo 560-III.

Answer: Yes, actually I know of several PFRE blog readers that use these things. Mark in Australia that’s been promoting them and selling them to many to readers. Just last month I got one from him. I haven’t had much time to play with it yet. I’d like to find someone that’s been using them for a while that can write a post about how to use them and their benefits.

David’s Question: I am a new real estate photographer and I have question about charging and licensing builders. Builders would want a set of photos for each of their models so they can use them for marketing on their web site plus letting the agents that represent them to place on the MLS. Since these photos would be used over and over for several years what does this community suggest for initial shoots plus licensing. 

Answer: It seems to me when you are shooting for a builder that has multiple properties it’s no different than any other property. You are licensing a set of photos of a home for the purpose of listing, marketing and selling that home. If the builder has 10 models you charge him to list and sell each of the  10 models – doesn’t matter that each listing is done by an agent. If the builder is going to use the photos from one model to sell many homes that have the same floor plan, I would bill him for each listing he used the photos to sell… if it’s over and over then maybe you give him a discount for subsequent listings since you don’t to have to go out there and re-shoot each time.

Robert’s Question: Has anyone ever used a Comodo Orbit Handheld Stabilization Rig for real estate video?

Answer: First of all you should understand that a there are two schools of real estate videographers, the school that does walk through video and the school that does cinematic video using using sliders, cranes and jibs. My perception is that the majority of real estate videographers do cinematic video. The reason for this is probably that stabilizers are so hard to learn to use. Fred Light in Boston, who uses a stabilizer said it took him years to learn how to do it well. I see that Fred, who may have invented walk through video, uses a the Freefly MoVI stabilizer.

Does anyone have stabilizer advice for Robert?

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11 Responses to “Real Estate Photography Question and Answers – #9”

  • The MoVI is AWESOME!!

  • Robert watch for the DJI Ronin, it should be coming out real soon and it is one slick rig. The cost is also considerably lower than a MoVI. From what I can remember DJI were the first to market a brushless gimbal, but they were just for radio control aircraft then.

  • @Linda- I wouldn’t worry about getting bonded unless you have a customer that specifically requires it and it paying well enough to cover the cost. Bonding covers the customer in the event of the bonded individual being convicted of a criminal act against the customer, ie; stealing, where standard commercial insurance does not cover criminal acts by the insured. The bonded person is responsible to the bonding company for any money paid out, so it’s not like insurance.

    There are all sorts of bonds. Contractors often have to post a completion bond to guarantee that a job will be completed and sometimes a performance bond to guarantee that a job’s milestones will be completed on time. Occasionally, there will be requirements for bonds that guarantee that the materials a contractor uses are compliant with the job specifications.

    I’m not sure if this is common, but my local real estate association (MLS) allows photographers to join as an affiliate member and upon payment of an additional fee (and probably some checks), one could get a card-key to access the lock boxes used in the territory. I don’t think that I have ever been left alone in an occupied home, but I’m often left alone in vacant homes. A leasing company I work for from time to time gives me the codes for homes they schedule me to shoot in exchange for a slight discount. They are all vacant and in the past I have had issues with waiting for their leasing agents to show up.

  • I used the Defy G5 and the Movi M5 as a self shooter, not for real estate yet but it will be perfect as you can use it as a steadicam and mini jib (extension of your arm) and I recommend the Movi M5 if you have the money. Compare to a steadicam, 3 axis gimbals are far easier to balance, you can change lens easily (you have only 1 axis to balance, not all the system and weights like on steadicam). My first test using a 5D and 17-35mm and 50mm lenses were impressively steady after 30 mn of balancing. ( I used steadicam but it takes me months to be able to say : my shot is steady) plus with more and more practice, your settings will get more precise and match to your body move and your shooting style as you use software (pc/mac/android) to determine pan/tilt stiffness , limits and response.
    Robert, I watched some videos from the Comodo Orbit but they are still shaky and for that price I’d rather get this one : http://cheesycam.com/3-axis-dslr-brushless-gimbal-camera-mount/
    they are in the same range of price and from the footage I have seen they work great but it comes in parts and you build it yourself (it comes “nearly” build you just do the “easiest” part of it).
    There is so many 3 axis brushless gimbals at the moment and more to come at every prices so do not buy something like the Comodo, without motor or weight counterbalance it is just a waste for me.
    The G5 and M5 are best for selfshooter if you have a heavy camera or do need to remote your dslr camera (focus, zoom….) you have to upgrade to G12 or M10 as the accessories become heavier even if you have a 5d for example.

  • Robert – I have the comodo orbit and was probably one of the first to purchase it. I didn’t buy it to do real estate videos but for the odd lifestyle shot I planned to use it for this summer which probably won’t even happen now due to being way too busy. It’s over priced there’s no doubting that but it was very easy to balance compared to glide cam which most people use and like Josue says, it’s quicker to change lenses, which I would never see a need for anyways in real estate. I found setting the device up a little complicated however once it was set up, it was easy to use and not shaky or rocky like the glide cam is. My Comodo is for sale if you’d like a brand new one for much less. I paid $1,600 from BH about 3 months ago and have not used it and would let it go for $1300 just PM me and let me know.

  • I was about to replace my Canon speedlights with the newer 600EX, then found that I could get three Yongnuo 568EX 11 lights for the price of one Canon!!! They are equivalent in power to my Canon 580EX and seem to work fine.

  • I think the crux of David’s question (if I’m reading correctly) is that the builder will be using the images to market and promote their business, as well as marketing the individual homes for sale. I consider the former to be a much more significant use.

    So I would treat this as a typical “architectural” shoot and charge/license accordingly. I’ll do a shoot like this every so often and I essentially throw in the additional use for the MLS marketing for no extra charge.

    When an agent calls me to schedule a shoot the identifying “red flags” that it’s not a typical real estate shoot are the mention of “new construction” or “the builder.” So the agent might say – “Hey I’ve got this fabulous new construction house that I need to you shoot.” My reply is – “Sweet, will the builder be wanting to use the images for their own marketing?” If the answer is “no” then it’s a typical real estate shoot. If the answer is “yes” then it’s a typical architectural shoot.

  • @Hi Aaron – Thanks for your comments!

    I assure you Aaron knows what he’s talking about here… What he’s saying is it’s customary to be charging builders much more than a typical real estate shoot.

  • Matt, I would be interested. How can I get in contact with you

  • Hi Bob – You can contact me through my website either by phone or email. If you choose to call and are from the USA I will probably not answer. I get overwhelmed with USA random Google update records scam calls. haha. Just leave a message though or email me the number you’ll call from. Thanks!

  • Been shooting real estate video for the last 3 or so years. Started with the Glidecam HD4000 with a T3i, then 60D and over time moved up to the Canon Mark III –> C100 and MoVI M5. In short, I love it. It’s almost too easy. I have not figured out its application for real estate video as of yet beyond lifestyle and the occasional establishing shot from the curb to the front door. Was going to use it to “walk” the property but I can’t bring myself to do it. I’ve been shooting with a Kessler Stealth Slider, Kessler KC Lite 8.0 Crane sitting atop Manfrotto 535 sticks. Love the results of a cinematic tour, the walking tours still seem “rushed” to me. Maybe thats just me though.

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