How Can You Make Sure Your Real Estate Photography Clients Get The Shots They Want?

May 7th, 2015

PlanningPierre says:

I regularly have clients who ask me after I deliver my photos if I have a “different angle” of this or that. This has caused me to often re-shoot the particular angle they wanted and it’s costing me time and money. I have tried to touch base at the beginning of a session by saying “I normally shoot one or two angles of a room, however if there is a specific shot you want or if you want me to include more shots of a particular room, please let me know”, to very little effect. I have thought of having pre-printed a checklist of shots to have them sign at the end of my session, but that seems too bureaucratic. I’m wondering if anyone else has best practices to avoid that kind of situation. It seems that many times this problem occurs when my client deals with a particularly controlling seller who is unhappy after the fact that the angles are not exactly what they have in their minds.

First of all, one of the things you are getting paid for as a photographer is to decide which angles are the best to shoot each room from. Make sure you’ve developed this skill and then be confident in your ability and skill in doing that. Also, make it clear that if agents or sellers want to give input to you about the shoot the time for that is upfront, not when the photos are delivered. Don’t be intimidated into reshooting for free to when they had an opportunity but didn’t give specific input upfront. This is irrational behavior and if you do it once it will happen again! My guess is that you are not communicating clearly or strongly enough about getting input upfront.

Scott Hargis suggests that every real estate shoot start with a 15 to 20 minute walk through of the property to plan what the shots will be. This is a great basic practice. The idea is that you plan where you are going to need to spend most of your time in the shoot. For picky listing agents (I know some) offer to have them accompany you on a shot planning walk through when you are planning and deciding what angles to shoot. Then they will know what’s going to happen and have a chance to give input.

How do others manage this issue?

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12 Responses to “How Can You Make Sure Your Real Estate Photography Clients Get The Shots They Want?”

  • I make sure everyone (broker, seller, nosy neighbor whoever) understands it’s not about documenting the home. The primary goal of the photo is simply to stir the emotion of a buyer. Non-master baths, spare bedrooms and typical garages are boring. Obligatory walk-through aside, I’ll pick the angles, thank you. That’s why they’re hiring me.

  • I’m with you Dave. It’s true not every shot is perfectly composed in the lightning fast world of real estate, but that’s why you’re charging them bargain basement prices compared to architectural compositions. If the broker/agent complains and you’re giving an earnest effort in the time allotted, it’s best to educate them on the differences. I charge a lot more for arch/editorial shoots and there’s a reason for it. No broker ever wants to pay those rates, so they get what they pay for. It’s not your fault that you don’t have the whole day to perfect the shots and nobody should expect that. Some agents might be as bold to give examples of other photographers, but cherry picking photos does little to prove their point. You might have to find new clients if these ideas don’t stick. Best of Luck.

  • A walk through prior to shooting is the best practice. (Thanks to Scott Hargis for teaching this very important principle)

  • Scott’s advice has worked very well for me. I always do a walk through and plan my compositions whether the agent is with me or not.

    I make a point of explaining to new clients that reshoots are only done for free if there are technical issues with the photos. Any reshoots for artistic reasons are billed at my regular rates. My policy on reshoots is flexible for good customers. If I agree that I didn’t do as good of a job as I feel I should have, I’ll reshoot select rooms at no charge. I am also more open if scheduling is flexible. Picking up a few images when I’m already in the area is not too much of a burden. If a client is always wanting free reshoots, I’ll either stop doing work for them or require that they are present during the session and paying an extra fee. Most of my clients are moving up from photographing properties themselves with a phone or tablet. It’s rare that they have used a professional photographer before, so there is a huge leap in image quality, both technically and artistically, to start with.

    I have a form I fill out when I book jobs and I have a space to write down what the agent feels will be the major selling point(s). I make it a priority to ask them what those points are in case they can’t be present at the shoot. Experienced agents should know what features are common for a neighborhood and what upgrades set a home apart from the competition.

  • Thank you also, Scott for the walk through idea, and I review shots with agent before I leave – even if only with a loop on the camera LCD.

  • I too do a walk through first.
    I shoot the home in the same order an agent would show it to a buyer. as mentioned this is not a shoot to document the entire home, but to get the interest of a prospective buyer to come see the home.

    I don’t get many re shoots except if the weather is bad when I get to a property. I will normally just shoot the interior and return for the exterior on a better day.
    I have had a few re shoots because I might have missed a bathroom, or could have shot a little wider to get the room in one shot, instead of two narrower shots to show the room. sometimes an agent and buyer are signing papers or in a meeting in a room, so I work around that and shoot that room last (I don’t like to change my shooting habits as I have forgotten to shoot an angle or room).

    after reading Scotts posts about shooting with too wide a lens, I try not to use my 12mm f-4 Tokina lens at full wide, and images look better and easier to light a narrower view.
    But last week I shot a unique home and instead of shooting extreme wide (12mm) on My Nikon D-7000, did two narrower shots. The seller told the agent the bedroom wasn’t dynamic enough. so, I went back to the property (which wasn’t too far) and shot the room with my Fuji X-1 Pro and 10mm super wide lens, straight on. the image was definitely more dynamic and not distorted as I was worried about. since it was a new agent who has been giving me many properties, I didn’t charge, and everyone was happy.
    but most agents and sellers trust my judgement on shots and angles and remark that the images are beautiful. if I feel the re shoot request is un justly called for and not my fault, I will charge for a re shoot.

  • Greetings…

    Not sure my original reason for doing so, I’ve always done a pre-shoot walk-through with the client. There are (3) core reasons: (1) I take a tally of shots; if they’ve bought a 20-image package, I want to manage my clicks. (2) I want the client to highlight anything special. They frequently remember things they’d have otherwise forgotten. (3) Let’s me see if there’s anything suprising I’m agreeing to. I do the walk-through immediately before payment, then the shoot begins.

    An entertaining side note, I’ve had a recently spat of retail customers lately. Retail’s what I refer to as FSBOs. One was viewing the approach similar to a wedding shoot, senior or prom shoot. Wanted to me take the pics then they’d pic ‘n choose which they wanted.

    I gently advised him that a key part of the value he’s hiring me for -is- to pic the winning shots. And, that ‘this isn’t like a senior shoot,’ I select the shots and deliver to the count agreed to. No option for reviewing proofs. Also briefly explained how, since I compile exposures, there’s really no ‘image’ for him to select until it’s already ‘done.’ Worked well, happy customer.

  • I keep it simple and shoot upwards of 8 angles in large kitchens, living spaces and bedrooms. I effectively rim around those spaces with my back to the wall shooting toward the opposite side of the room, angling and framing to minimize cropping in post. I do the same outside, too, using the property lines, etc.

    I might only use half of what I shoot, but it’s never an issue after the fact. I have more than enough to cover a special request… it’s already backed up at as a raw.

    I have only once had an agent ask for a different angle on a front exterior, which again, I had backed up.

    Shooting a couple extra angles is always good insurance, and it lets me toss photos I’m not feeling.

  • Always the walk-through.

    I ask the client and the home-owner to show the house. I’ll always ask “what’s going to sell this house?”. Find out the what the agent (and sometimes the homeowner) thinks the best features are and explain how you plan on shooting and presenting that. During the shoot, if the agent is walking with me, I explain why I’m shooting from the angle that I’m shooting… I especially do this with new clients. Once they realize that I know what I’m doing… 99% will leave me alone to work.

    Once I had a new client tell me how to set up my shots, then he’d review them in camera. Then I would shoot it how I thought it should be. By the third or fourth room, he told me that “I didn’t need him anymore” and he just left me alone. Now he recommends me to everyone!

    And in the event that I didn’t capture something they wanted but neglected to tell me on location… they pay for a re-shoot!

  • Fortunately, I have only had this happen twice, but both time I ultimately had to blame myself. Over the years, my portfolio has “steadied” itself, with a consistent feel that I guess is my “style”. In any case, both times this has happened is when I got cute — delivered a really compelling image that was in fact not consistent with my work. I reshot both, because in both cases the complaint was that it wasn’t what the client expected from me. So I learned that, if I’m going to go off the menu, so to speak, I’d better back myself up with my standard sort of image.

    With that said, I always walk through a property first. I do it mostly to sort out what shots Im going to need to spend some time on. I then shoot the easy stuff first, and take the time at the end of the shoot to compose the main stuff.

    Like most things REP, I too learned that from Scott. 🙂

  • i had one agency that was always asking for extra angles so I now take more angles on site and upload everything in low resolution, they then pick which ones to process. This has worked really well for this agency but I would not do it for everyone.

  • I have a very high customer satisfaction rate. But once in a while, I get a client that want’s to squeeze as much value as they can out of you. Although I conveyed to them, that I’m being hired for my skill-set and and style. If they want anything above that, they will need to do it before or during the shoot. I’ll be happy to oblige, as long as they are willing to pay for my time. I’ve never had to have my clients sign a contract. Because I have yet to have a real dispute (and I think I’ve photographed around 3,000 homes now). My initial thought, was that a contract is an additional hurdle which pushes away clients to do business. But I’m getting to the point, where my name carries weight and I can be more selective about my clients. If think they will be potentially difficult, I turn them away in a respectful manner. I think a contract is a great way to weed out potential problem clients. As long as you’re honest and forthcoming about the conditions, I think it does a service to both parties.

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