This Week In Real Estate Video #103 – Four Real Estate Videographers That Would Like Feedback

March 21st, 2014

SouthWalesThis week I had four different requests from real estate videographers that would like feedback on their work. It’s becoming clear that the aspect of This Week In Real Estate Video that readers like is to see what others are doing with video and to be able get feedback from all the great videographers that we have reading this feature. So here are the people that would like some feedback:

Gareth Blunt, South Wales, UK: Here is Gareth’s video. I think Gareth has done a wonderful job with this. I especially like the narrator’s South Wales accent that can say “Swn y Gloch”… at least it sounds convincing to me.

Eric Crews, Brevard, NC: Here is Eric’s video. I think this is beautifully shot and edited. The only feedback I would have is that the narration could be a bit stronger.

Jonathan Davis, Big Island, HI: Here is Jonathan’s video. I think Jonathan has done a great job shooting and editing this. My only complaint is with his choice of music. I find the music a bit abrasive and distracting. He want’s it fast paced. What do  you think?

Shane, Portland, OR: Here’s Shane’s video. Great job with this Shane. Well shot and edited. I have a slight complaint about the front aerial shot that moves up the front of the home, down at the roof and then looks out to the distance. I think you should lose the relatively long roof shot. No one likes to look down at roofs. I like the aerial shot at the end much better that shows the back of the house and then pans out to show the neighborhood.

Everyone give these guys some feedback, that’s what they are looking for.

Fotokite: The Next Big Thing In RCMA With Cameras

March 19th, 2014

FotoKiteSergei Lupashin, a Swiss fellow with a Phd from ETH Zurich has founded a company called Fotokite to develop a simplified RCMA that is a cross between a RCMA and a kite.

This YouTube video shows Sergei demonstrating his Fotokite invention at the Drones and Aerial Robotics conference last October in NYC.

This is so simple it is brilliant! It solves a number of issues with RCMA being used for real estate:

  1. By getting eliminating a lot of electronics that you don’t need because it’s on a tether, it becomes simpler and less expensive.
  2. By making is simpler it is much easier to operate. No practice required. Not much more difficult than walking the dog.
  3. By having it on a tether it will likely be regulated as a kite and will probably eliminate or reduce the insurance required.
  4. It appears that having it constantly pulling on a tether makes it very stable.

To me this looks like a simple inexpensive replacement for PAP as long as you can keep the tether line out of the photo. I want one!

I’ve contacted Fotokite to ask them where in the development process they are and when this product may be available. Haven’t heard back yet. I’ll let you know when I do. Thanks to Gary Karcz for pointing Fotokite out to me.

Update 3/21/2014: I heard back from James Rapoport, the cofounder of Fotokite, and he says: “We’re in the process of finalizing our strategy to make aerial photography accessible to everyone. We will notify you with regards to availability as soon as possible, but in the meantime, you can also find us on AngelList.”

Ethan Tweedie – PFRE 2013 Photographer Of Year Is Interviewed On Hawaii News Now TV

March 18th, 2014

EthanInterviewThis morning (March 18) Ethan Tweedie, PFRE 2013 Photographer Of the year was interviewed on Hawaii News Now in Honolulu. Great job Ethan!

This is at least the second TV interview that Ethan has had since the PFRE jury chose him as real estate photographer of the year. Back in February Ethan told me:

After I won the award I hired a PR person and she did a press release yesterday. It was picked up right away and today I was interviewed by the local NBC affiliate and they did a story on the news this evening. Over 300K viewers in one airing, and it will be aired on the 10pm news as well. That is about a third of the entire population of Hawaii!

Ethan’s media coverage shows what can be done with press releases, either written yourself or by a PR person that has experience at getting the press release around to media outlets.

Every Real Estate Photographer Needs A Way To Get High

March 17th, 2014

There’s been a lot of talk recently about using RCMA (Remote Control Model Aircraft) for real estate but the total costs of equipment and insurance and time practicing etc. all add up. It’s not for everyone. It’s mostly a upper-end real estate photography tool. There are many of the old standby approaches that will take care of 90% of the real estate situations. But I think every real estate photographer needs to have a way to get the camera 10′ to 15′ in the air for a great front shot.

There are two basic reasons:

  1. The siting of some homes is such that it is impossible to get a reasonably good front exterior shot standing on the ground. Routinely there will be homes in hilly neighborhoods where the bottom of the front door will be 10 to 20 feet above the street level.
  2. Even if the home you are shooting is sited on a flat lot where the bottom of the front door is at street level, a front shot 10 to 20 feet higher looks way better than one standing at street level. There’s always someone who wants to argue about this but I submit if you don’t believe me try it. The results are obvious. Also note that in poll below about 89% of real estate photographers agree with me. Continue Reading »

Just Listed Postcards: An Easy Add On Product For Real Estate Photographers

March 16th, 2014

Here’s a photo related product that real estate photographers can easily sell or just include along with a shoot. The product is “Just Listed” postcards that let neighbors near a new listing know that the property has come on the market. The point of the postcards is to get the listing agents face and name in front of the neighborhood and to show them what kind of job that agent does marketing a property. Agents that do this well and repeatedly can significantly increase the number of  listings they get in a neighborhood. It’s called “farming” a neighborhood. Listing agents do better if they are recognized as the specialist for a given neighborhood.

If you have the photos of a newly listed property and you’ve done it once or twice, creating “just listed” postcards takes a few minutes, you don’t even have to leave your computer and it’s a huge benefit to the listing agent. You can either supply the client with a PDF file that they can use to order postcards themselves or you can order and have the printing company will deliver the postcards right to the agents office. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Use a front exterior shot of the home on the front of the postcard: You want neighbors to recognize the home that is for sale. I use Photoshop to create a postcard according to the specs of the online printer. My ebook, The Business of Real Estate Photography comes with several examples like the one above.
  2. Use a photo of the listing agent on the postcard: This is important. Listing agents should have name and face recognition in the neighborhood they are working in.  Continue Reading »

PFRE Photographer Of The Month For March Now Closed

March 15th, 2014

MarchContestMarch contest now closed:

Wow, something has happened to cause an explosion in interest in the Photographer of the Month contest! Last month we had 42 entries and this month we have 77 entries.

There is also a high level of favoriting and viewing this month. This is the time of year that home sellers are listing their homes so it makes sense that real estate photography activity is high. Readers have already chosen about 5 of the 77 entries as standouts (5 or more favorites).

Remember, this is as much a learning experience for everyone involved as anything else, constructive comments from everyone are valuable to both contestants and viewers.

I’ll be turning the contest over to the jury tomorrow and their decision will be announced on Mon 3/24. Thanks for everyone’s participation!


This Week In Real Estate Video #102 – D’elegance Parisienne

March 14th, 2014

DeleganceParisienneAllan Mackenzie of Mac Art Visuals in Brisbane, AU was telling me about his recent gig in China for Clipper Motor Yachts Australia. The 8:23 video he did for them is, I think is very well done. The post on his blog tells the whole story.

Since I wanted to look at the video fullscreen on my 27″ monitor I went to Allan’s Vimeo channel to play the video. I’d not  looked at Alan’s Vimeo channel in a while and discovered D’elegance Parisienne. The video Allan did in Palawan Philippines is still one of my all time favorites but I’ve already ranted about that one a couple of times.

I asked Allan how he got that sharp, high contrast look on the golf course sequence of D’elegance Parisienne and why he was using the widescreen aspect ratio. Here’s Allan’s answer:

The French stylised home is one of my personal favourites. This is shot with the 5dMKII and 16-35 lens except for the close ups which are on the 70-300. That effect is all in the grading… I shot the home with a flat profile in camera which I manually set then do the colour grading in post including sharpening and contrast (with with Colorista II). Yea, I love the cinematic crop of 1920 x 810 I think it works well to enhance the overall cinematic effect and feel which goes in hand with the shooting style and music choice. I don’t use it all the time but only when I think it will work or suit the theme.

Cinematic is right! The music Allan has used  helps give this a cinematic feel. It sounds like the music for a major motion picture. Notice that Allan uses the trick of mixing a time-lapse sky with  regular speed video at around 1:54 in the water view.

PFRE E-books Can Be Read On All Devices

March 12th, 2014


As more and more people are using tablets to read PFRE e-books I’ve been getting more questions about how to get PDFs to your tablets. So I’ve created a page that answers many of the standard questions on this subject. It’s called Reading-pdfs in the menu bar at the top of the blog.

All PFRE e-books are distributed in PDF form. This allows reading on any of your devices including Desktops, Laptops, Tablets and even SmartPhones (if you have good eyesight). There are several ways to access your PDF files files from all of your devices:

When you sign up for a free DropBox account you get 2 GB of network storage that you can access from any of your devices including Desktop, Laptop, Tablet, SmartPhone. So by simply putting an e-book PDF into your DropBox from your Laptop, you can then use the DropBox App on iPads or Android (including Kindle Fire and HD) to open a PDF on DropBox.

Google Drive
This approach works in a similar way to DropBox. Anyone with a Gmail account has 2 GB or so of free storage that can be used for Google Documents. Just put the PDF you want to share between your devices into your google documents space and then download the GoogleDrive App to your tablet or SmartPhone which will give you access to the PDF files on your mobile device. This also works on the Kindle Fire and HD.

E-mailing PDFs to Tablets
While the two methods above (DropBox & Google Drive) work nicer you can get PDFs to mobile devices via e-mail. Despite the fact that PDF e-books can be quite large (Lighting Interiors is just over 15 MB) you can still e-mail these large files. Modern day mail servers routinely handle files of 20 MB or more. Continue Reading »

Real Estate Photographer Gear Of The Month For March 2014

March 10th, 2014

DJIPhantom2Because of the NTSB judge’s ruling on March 6, it sounds like there are a lot of real estate photographers thinking more seriously about purchasing one of these or if they already have a RCMA they are thinking about moving forward with commercial use of it. I think the DJI Phantom 2 should be this months choice for gear of the month.

Many commenters have pointed out the DJI Phantom 2 is not the top of the line RCMA for real estate photography. Yea, but it’s probably the most popular because it’s out of the box ready and easy to fly and has a gimbal mount for the GoPro H3 and it’s well under $1,000. You still need a GoPro H3, which is another $400. Plus there’s a bunch of great tutorials and info on the net about how to use this particular gear, such as Russell Preston Brown’s Take flight series. Russell Brown tells you everything you need to know to fly the DJI Phantom and process the results.

While things this look better this week for using RCMA commercially than it has before this ruling I’d like to point out a couple of cautions:

  • The FAA has appealed the ruling to the full NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board)  which means the ruling is technically “stayed” or on hold until the NTSB rules. But, as Peter Sachs points out, “it will lose in the same manner as it did in the ALJ’s decision. FAA’s stance defies logic.” However, it is remotely possible that the NTSB could make some emergency decree designed to save us all from the perils of RCMA. In which case you couldn’t use your new Phantom. But as Chuck Spaulding commented on another post today, the FAA cares more about 777′s disappearing over the US than people shooting video of houses with RCMA.
  • When laws are created to regulate commercial RCMA (perhaps as long as 1 or 2 years) there may be a lot of hoops to jump through to become approved to fly commercial RCMA. Or your state could come up with laws restricting RCMA use. Either of these could make your RCMA real estate business more difficult.

In the mean time, if you fly RCMA, be cautious and fly safe. Don’t give the FAA more reasons to make the upcoming regulations strict.

Update March 12: Note that Dan Milstein below in comments reports that he has been unable to find insurance that reasonably covers against RMCA risks. He says, “Checking out the above mentioned insurance, it appears to be completely worthless. The policy requires that operators “agree to operate all UAV equipment within the guidelines of the RCAPA organization and the FAA.” Note that it does not say “Regulations.” Worse, RCAPA dictates that operators must avoid flying over persons or property…. I welcome the introduction of real insurance for commercial operators. I just don’t see it yet.”


Here’s Some DAM Useful Stuff For Real Estate Photographers

March 9th, 2014

DAMUsefulAs regular readers will remember, we featured Peter Krogh’s book, The Dam Book – Digital Asset Management for Photographers, as one of our books of the month. Peter’s DAM book is the “gold standard” for explaining how to organize and protect you photos.

Just yesterday I discovered that Peter is now publishing his own work at the DAM Bookshop. I purchased a copy of his new Multimedia e-book, Organizing Your Photos with Lightroom 5 and am very impressed. I’m very interested in the Multimedia approach he uses since this is what I’ve done with my e-book Photography For Real Estate. Peter has gone much farther with multimedia than I did, he has 7 hours of video that go with the book. This is a great multimedia book for both beginning photographers and experienced professionals. For those that haven’t figured it out already, organizing your photos is a major challenge and the sooner you get it under control the easier the job will be. Peter’s approach is very systematic!

I think the big benefit of multimedia books like Peter’s is that they are more like a class. Some people learn better from the audio/visual approach while others learn better with a text book approach. Multimedia provides everything. Peter has inspired me to take my books farther in this direction.

I’ve become an affiliate for Peter’s bookstore so all you readers can get a 10% discount on everything at Peter’s bookstore (except The DAM Book, 2nd edition and products Peter does not publish) by using the check out code: aff-pfre-10-nx.

This Week In Real Estate Video #101 – Two New Videographers

March 7th, 2014

CKemalEksenThis week I want to feature two different videographers almost 15,000 km apart.

C. Kemal Eksen, in Istanbul: Kemal posted one of his recent videos Blue House on The Island on the PFRE flickr forum. Very pleasant video. I especially like the little sequence he puts at the end of his videos where you see him with the camera as he pans to show himself as his name and contact info appears on the screen. Very cool, it’s his branding.

Claudine of on the NSW South Coast: Claudine sent me this video that she just did recently. Claudine says, “ I started my real estate business off by attending one of the Australian Scott Hargis workshops 3 years ago and my business has grown so much since that time looking forward to what this year has to offer. ” Claudine has recently added video to her products.

NTSB Judge Rules That FAA Policy Concerning RMCA Is Not Enforceable Law

March 6th, 2014

PirkervFAAAccording to ”NTSB Administrative Law Judge Patrick Geraghty ruled Thursday that the policy notices the FAA issued as a basis for the ban weren’t enforceable because they hadn’t been written as part of a formal rulemaking process.”

The case of course is the case against “Trappy” (Raphael Pirker that we’ve been following for months.

Congratulations to Brendan Schulman Trappy’s lawyer. Brendan’s comment is: “This is a victory for technology, in my opinion.”

According to the Politico article the FAA can appeal the decision to the DC US Court of Appeals or it could issue an emergency rule banning small drone use.

Here is Judge Geraghty’s rulingHere is article.

Update Mar 7, 2014: Peter Sachs interpretation of the ruling at (Peter is a lawyer) is:

Right now, you may legally operate a remote-controlled model aircraft in any manner you choose whether for pleasure or for profit. You are not subject to any federal aviation regulations. If you wish to make Advisory Circular 91-57 your “self-imposed law,” that’s perfectly fine and not a bad idea, but legally you are not required to do so. Use commonsense and operate with safety in mind and you should be fine.

Remember, this will change in the future. Once the FAA does promulgate regulations, as it is required to do under the FMRA of 2012, RCMA operated commercially will not fall under the hobbyist (Section 336) exception.

Update Mar 7, 2014: Oops… hold one there folks. The FAA has appealed yesterdays decision to dismiss. According to

The FAA is appealing the decision of an NTSB Administrative Law Judge to the full National Transportation Safety Board, which has the effect of staying the decision until the Board rules. The agency is concerned that this decision could impact the safe operation of the national airspace system and the safety of people and property on the ground.

Update Mar 9, 2014:
Here is article which has a statement from Raphael Pirker.

Removing Objects From Images – When To Do It And When Not To

March 5th, 2014

AppleGateA couple of days ago I got a link to Photoshop Product Manager Bryan O’Neil Hughes’s video about some advanced features for removing objects from images.

It made me think of a shoot I did last spring for an agent in Portland that called me after the shoot and didn’t like the fact that I didn’t move the moveable basketball hoop and tether ball pole that was in the front shot (the stuff flashing on the right photo). He was right, it looked crappy. I should have paid closer attention and dragged both of them to the backyard before I took the shot. But I ended up dazzling him because I said, give me 15 minutes and I’ll send you a new front shot without that stuff in it. I used content-aware fill in Photoshop CS6 to remove the hoop and tetherball pole,  sent him a new front shot and called him back in 15 minutes. He was very pleased and impressed, no one had ever done that for him before. I was pleased because I didn’t have to make a trip back to correct my mistake.

There are many times you need to do this sort of thing so it’s important to stay in practice so you can do it quickly when you need to. But there are limits. Over the years we’ve discussed this subject a bunch. Here is a page where I’ve summarized most of these past discussions. The agent is ultimately responsible for misrepresentation so make sure the agent is deciding what to modify.

How To Improve Exterior Shots In A City Environment

March 3rd, 2014

PhillyRich in Philly sent me the following last week:

I live just outside of Philadelphia, most of my Real Estate Photography work is in the city. I shoot a lot of apartment condos and renovated row homes. Thanks to your blog and Scott Hargis’s tutorials, I am coming into my own as far as interior photography goes.

My big problem is the exterior shots. It’s really a big concern of mine, so-much-so, that I even decided to market myself as an “interior photographer”, simply because I find it very difficult to get compelling exterior shots in a city environment. Most of the time I’m dealing with parked cars, telephone poles, wires, high rises.. I was wondering if there were any tips or tricks out there to help improve my exterior city shots, or as I like to call em “shitty shots”.

One thing that i do try and deliver with every shoot is strong interior compositions, that way at least there is something that my clients can use to draw potential clients in.

Here are my suggestions for Rich: Continue Reading »

Overcoming Fear & Confusion for the New Real Estate Photographer

March 2nd, 2014

FearGuest post by Tony  Colangelo, Victoria, BC: As I approach the end of my second full year as a real estate photographer, I can recall many times when I was confronted with a particularly daunting challenge at a photoshoot. I can also easily remember the confusion and feelings of being overwhelmed and, yes, even a bit fearful in those moments. It’s my guess, though, that all new real estate photographers have felt those very same feelings from time-to-time. So, using my background as a psychologist, I thought it might be interesting to take those experiences to write an article that examines the “psychology” of these strong feelings — both in terms of why they happen and how to overcome them!

For many people, confusion and fear of the unknown is very powerful and certainly an impediment to achieving desired results. As in any new endeavour, when we get into professional photography, we don’t know what we don’t know and our work tends to show it! It’s understandable that poor results are likely to happen in the beginning and we take solace in our commitment to getting better at the next shoot. This is a very healthy and constructive way to respond to the disappointment of not producing Scott Hargis-like images right out of the camera! We all know that the lessons learned from failure are among the most powerful and enduring. In this regard, one could say that there is value in failure.

For many people, however, these healthy beliefs about failure get distorted. These individuals become extraordinarily hard on themselves, to the point where negativity and doubt take root. This starts a vicious cycle whereby they get increasingly fearful about what might go wrong rather than visualizing things going well. I’m sure that we’ve all experienced moments of self-doubt and negative beliefs about our work. So, how do we interrupt these thoughts when they come up? How do we re-align our interpretation of that less-than-stellar work so as to not be so hard on ourselves?

I’d like to offer the following suggestions: Continue Reading »