January 13th, 2015
I have been toying with the idea of entering Real Estate Photography. I would like some feedback on a question. Are any RE Photographers using PDF Portfolios to send to potential customers ( a 8 or 12-page file)? I understand that many in this business have websites, but I am not at that stage yet. I have a graphic design background and creating PDF projects is part of my skill set.
No, I’ve never heard of anyone emailing around a PDF as a portfolio. I’ve seen photographers have their portfolios downloadable as PDFs from their website (Scott Hargis has that on his site) but that is very different from only having your portfolio on a PDF. I think just emailing PDFs to potential clients is a bad idea. Here’s why:
- Listing agents (your potential clients) are relatively non-technical. They will be intimidated by a several Mb PDF. I know this because my wife is a long time listing agent (more technical than most) and she struggles every day with PDFs… on her iPad, her laptop and she wouldn’t even think of downloading one to her iPhone 5s although she easily could do that.
- Every listing agent on the planet has a SmartPhone or an iPad… That MUST be the target for your portfolio.
Your comment, “I am not at that stage yet” is I think is a misconception. If you are sending agents your portfolio you ARE at the stage you need a portfolio site. Before you talk to clients you MUST have an online portfolio. That’s just part of talking to potential clients and creating credibility.
- A simple portfolio site (like I have lohrman.com ) at squarespace.com costs $8/mo and takes you 30 to 40 minutes to setup (literally… that’s how long it took me) to setup. It is VERY simple. No HTML or coding required. Just filling out a few forms and uploading your photos. Start out with a portfolio and contact page and expand it later. Yes, there are hundreds of other portfolio hosting sites that are similar. The point is, this is simple and inexpensive. You don’t need a web designer or know how to code HTML to do this.
- Easily displays anywhere: The beauty of this simple approach is that if you use a hosting service like squarespace.com and your portfolio will be instantly viewable on any device the agent you are talking to has and it will look professional.
Forget the PDFs! Invest less than $100/year to make you and your business look good. Here are some other ideas relating to portfolio sites:
- Many types of photography on one site: Websites are inexpensive enough that you should have a separate site for real estate photography. I think it is a huge distraction to go to a RE photographers site and see galleries of children, dogs and every type of photo they have ever shot and have to hunt for anything to do with real estate. What this kind of site says to me is, “I do all sorts of photography and I’m not very successful at any of it.” Not exactly the message you want to be sending.
- Free websites: Yeah, there are a bunch of hosting sites that provide free websites that you could use as a portfolio site when you are starting out. But visitors can tell these are free sites and it says, “I’m not successful enough to be able to afford anything but this free site.” They detract from you looking professional and serious.
- Large photos: You want your portfolio photos BIG because they have more impact that way. And in this day an age of SmartPhones, Tablets, Laptops and 27″ desktop screens you want it to automatically and painlessly adapt to whatever screen size your viewer has. Squarespace portfolio sites do that.
- Automatic portfolio display: You want your RE photography portfolio to automatically display in a large automatic slideshow and not have to have the viewer to do anything, or have to figure out some wonky navigation scheme.
Anyone else have input to people just starting out and thinking, or not thinking about a portfolio site?