November 17th, 2015
The Minneapolis photography market is getting a bit more competitive these days, and one thing that a local photography company is doing as part of their package is replacing grey skies with blue, adding flames to the fireplaces, and overlaying different images on televisions. Although they are one of the most expensive companies in the Twin Cities, the agents are willing to pay that extra dollar for those modified images as I mentioned above. Do you know if this is a norm for other photographers to automatically include this service? Is there an easy way to change the sky without the trees looking like they straight out of a scary movie?? And where are they getting the television images that are not infringing any copyright laws? Any advice on this topic would be greatly appreciated as I would like to be more competitive with this company but I do not want to have my profit eaten up by extra time spent processing these photos, nor do I want any lawsuits!
Here are my answers to Kimi’s questions:
- First of all as to whether sky replacement is the norm, I would say that certainly in some locations real estate photographers do sky replacement for free while most charge extra for it. It all depends on who you are competing with. All the matters is what’s going on in your market. If your competition is doing it you may have to do it as well. Just make sure you are either charging extra when you do it or if you are going to build it into your service raise your prices accordingly.
- How difficult it is to replace the sky in any give exterior shot all depends on the particular image and how many lacy trees etc it has. Replacing skies is usually pretty easy. You can do a good job with Photoshop or On1 or special masking plugins like Topaz Remask 5 for Lightroom and Photoshop. There are a bunch of different masking plugins. Here is a easy way to do a sky replacement with most any version of Photoshop thanks to Jonathan Calvert of Houston, TX. To become efficient at replacing skies, you need to pick a technique and practice. It is not hard to do a credible job of sky replacement with some practice.
- For TVs just use one of your own images on the TV screens. What I like to do for TVs is put the front exterior shot from the same house on the TV screen – then there are no copyright worries.
By the way, I have a public domain sky and fire library here on the PFRE blog;
Links to these libraries are on the right hand sidebar under Other Links.