Ten Beliefs That Suck The Life Out Of Photographers – By Don Giannatti

March 12th, 2015

BeliefsDon Giannatti over at Lighting-essentials.com has a great post about the beliefs that get in the way of being a successful photographer. Beliefs always have a strong influence on our behavior. That influence can be positive or negative. As Don says, “The things that are truly holding you back are your own beliefs. Belief that it IS one of those reasons above. Believing that it is a geography thing that keeps you from excelling, or what gear you use or how many lights you take with you is more damaging than any REAL challenge you will ever have to meet.Continue Reading »

What Do Real Estate Photographers Use For Bags/Cases?

March 11th, 2015

Pelican1510Jarrett asks:

I’m in the process of gearing up for full-time PFRE, and was wondering what other real estate photographers  use in terms of bags and cases. Just ordered a Pelican rolling case to house two camera bodies, four Yongnuo flashes and controller, along with a few lenses and other accessories.

Sounds like you are on the right track. I would say the Pelican 1510 is very popular with real estate photographers because it has rollers, is a hard case and it fits in overhead compartments in airplanes if you ever need to travel. Scott Hargis recommends this case in his book Lighting Interiors along with the close second is the Pelican 1560 which is slightly bigger.

Some RE photographers additionally use a small over the shoulder bag like a shootsac which I talked about on the blog back in January.

Anyone else have advice for Jarrett?

How Do You Decide to Contract Out Your Post Processing?

March 10th, 2015

OutSourcingNick recently ask the following question:

I was wanting your opinion on contracting out all the post processing using websites like Elance and Odesk and if its at all do able in this type of work. I know the urgency agents put on contractors and so I’m curious if employing others off shore would work in the time frames expected. I’ve already made some enquiries and theres plenty of people out there willing to do the work for a fraction of the labour costs charged locally, or mine for that matter. I found a small company from the UK that specialises in real estate photography and they mentioned many of the image changes you’ve written in your books, so with this in mind, is it very common for agents to want additional changes to images as this is one of the only hurdles I can think of when going in this direction.

On the general subject of contracting out your post processing I have to say that I don’t recommend it for someone just getting started. Post processing is an important part of real estate photography and an integral part of your product that you need understand intimately. Once you understand it, you may or many not decide to outsource.

It is possible to develop a shooting technique so there is almost no post processing required. That is, you get it right in the camera. For details on how to do this see Scott Hargis’s book: The Essential Guide to Lighting Interiors. Continue Reading »

Can Agent Clients Submit Your Photos To Large National Magazines?

March 9th, 2015

TermsOfServiceCraig recently ask the following question:

I have an agent/client who says she’s going to try to submit some of my photos to a large national magazine.

First of all, is it even possible that these magazines take submissions or do they contract their own photographers and have specific projects for those in-house shooters?

Also, if this is possible, what kind of compensation are we looking at? Do they pay if it’s a small blurb or just cite you as the photographer? If your photos were to be featured, what then?

You as the copyright owner, get to make the rules. What does your licensing agreement say? With a typical real estate photographers licensing agreement the agent is licensed to use the listing photos to promote the listing on the web and print media. Many national magazines promote current listings particularly if they are very high-end or owned by celebrities.

Here is a recent example in Forbes magazine. The photos in this Forbes article were shot by Ethan Tweedie, on the Big Island (the 2013 PFRE photographer of the year).  Ethan says that the listing agent did a press release for the listing and the usage by Forbes falls into marketing of the property via web and print which is covered by the licensing agreement that he has with the agent. In other words, Ethan was paid by the listing agent and not Forbes. But both Ethan and the listing agent got a lot of great exposure from the Forbes article.

This is not to say that there couldn’t be some other additional usage of your images that the you could license one or more other parties, besides the listing agent, to use.

So in summary, you can’t expect to get paid again for the photos unless the use by the magazine is outside the use that you licensed the agent for.

Oh, yeah, I’m not a lawyer and this is NOT legal advise.

Canon’s New EF 11-24mm f/4L Lens Gives New Meaning To UFWA

March 8th, 2015

Canon11-24mmI can remember when I first got my Canon 16-35mm wide angle and used it to shoot a listing for my wife. She scolded me severely and sent me back to reshoot several of the rooms where I had racked the lens out to 16mm. She said at 16mm effective the small intimate living room looked like a bowling alley. And she was right.

All you shooters that have Canon full frame DSLRs, think what you could do with this glass that goes out to 11mm! This lens gives new meaning to the term UFWA (Ultra F@#%in’ Wide Angle)!

Seriously though, Canon’s recently announced EF 11-24mm f/4L lens may be as good as the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G ED. The Nikon 14-24mm has for years been considered the best wide-angle lens available. There is a review at lens rentals.com that compares the 11-24mm to all the similar Canon glass and the 11-24mm appears to be close or better than most Canon zoom lenses. Only the Canon 24-70mm resolves better at 24mm and the 11-24 is very close.

Tim Dodd at PetaPixel has a review of the Canon 11-24mm. While this new lens the best ultra-wide-angle lens in Canon’s line up. I’m not sure that if I wanted something better than my Canon 24-70mm and 16-35mm that I wouldn’t rather use a TS-E 24mm f/3.5/ II to shoot interiors. I get myself in enough trouble going wide with my 16-35mm zoom! Besides the TS-E 24mm is $1300 less than the 11-24mm.

What do you think, are any Canon shooters going to add the 11-24mm to their bag for shooting interiors?


Property Video Noir – by Brett Clements and Jo Erskine

March 6th, 2015

FilmNoirToday I got a short cryptic email from Brett Clements along with a link to this YouTube video that he’d just uploaded. It took me a while to understand what Brett is up to.

Turns out the first video was just a trailer. A longer narrated video that has the whole story of the property that’s being sold (24 Paradise Island) is also on the PlatinumHD Facebook page.

The 24 Paradise Island property is being sold by Jo Erskine, the well known Australian filmmaker and artist who has owned the property for 25 years. During that time 24 Paradise Island has been a popular Gold Coast hangout for artists and poets. Brett and Jo collaborated to create this new style of property video drawing inspiration from film noir. I think Jo and Brett have come up with a very inspiring piece to promote the sale of this well known property. Great work!

Jo and Brett have inspired me, I’m off to stream some Bogy-Bacall film noir. I’m thinking the Big Sleep from 1946.

The Digital House Hunt: Real Estate Market Trends Study By NAR and Google

March 5th, 2015

GoogleStudyJason Lusk pointed out the Digital House Hunt study from a couple of years ago to me recently. This study is apparently from early 2013 since that’s when this was posted on the NAR website. Some how, I’d managed to totally miss this study when it came out.

While there is nothing particularly new or earth shaking in this report, the 27 page PDF is an excellent summary of the kind of online marketing statistics for real estate that real estate photographers need to have a grasp of and use in their marketing.

Here are some of the report highlights:

  • 90% of home buyers search online during their home buying process.
  • Real estate related searches on Google.com have grown 253% over the past 4 years.
  • Buyers use specific online tools during different phases of the home search process.
  • There are important “local” search terms and websites for buyers.
  • Mobile technology connects online to offline home buying.
  • Video and YouTube helps satisfy buyers’ research needs.
  • 36% of new home shoppers utilize a mobile device while they are watching TV.

Of course, this report being two years old actually understates the current importance of mobile devices. Mobile devices over took fixed mobile devices in 2014. Right now 30% of you are reading PFRE on mobile devices.

Thanks Jason for pointing this study out to me.


Accepting Kitchen Photos For PFRE Photographer Of Month Contest Through 3/15

March 5th, 2015

StillContestLast month I didn’t have a post like this confirming and explaining the PFRE Photographer of the month contest and several people asked me if the contest was on. Yes, we do it every month. We accept entries from the first of the month to the 15th and then announce the winner about the 23rd of the month. All the details are on the contest rules page. Click “contest” in the menu bar at the top of the blog to go to the contest rules page.

If you are submitting a photo for the contest please read the contest rules page carefully and follow the rules for submitting a photo. This month the theme is kitchens. We already have 12 entries.

How Much Should You Pay A Real Estate Photography Contractor?

March 4th, 2015

ContratorPayChris posed the following question yesterday:

Our real estate photography business has grown quite a bit and I am anticipating needing to have 1-3 photographers on call for the busy spring / summer season. Does anyone have a recommendation of what to pay? I am scheduling the shoot and delivering the shots. I just need to pay for onsite photography and editing. I have paid 33% of the package price. Others are asking for $25 / hour. Anyone have a system that works well for paying? I’m talking sub-contractor work, and they have their own gear.

Excellent question! The big tour companies pay as little as $30 to $50 a shoot which most will agree is too low. I see from your site your basic shoot price is $249. I suggest that 33% to 50% of the billed shoot price would make sense. Although this only makes sense because your shoot price is relatively healthy. If you were charging $100 a shoot you’d be down there with the big tour companies. I’m sure where the $25/hour is coming from is average earnings data.

I think you should consider several things when deciding what to pay contractors:
  1. Travel costs shouldn’t eat up the contractors wage. Establish a service area outside of which you charge extra. This would control travel costs.
  2. I think contractors should be payed for the quality of work and reliability. That is, start someone at a lower rate until they demonstrate their quality of work and reliability. A contractor that can deliver the quality you want and be dependable is very valuable to your business and should be paid more.
  3. You should track what a contractor is doing to the point you know approximately how much per hour they are making even though you aren’t paying them by the hour. I think a business owners should know if contractors are making a living otherwise you could loose good people. Many newbies would take on a contracting job like this and not even knowing if they were loosing money. Many cities in the US (Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis, Chicago) are moving towards a  minimum wage in the area of $15/hour.
  4. I would be concerned with maintaining a consistent high quality product that you show on your site when you are hiring short term  temporary contractors. I’d establish some quality standards and do some training so you make sure you keep your quality high.

How are others out there deciding what to pay real estate photography contractors?

Some Background About Enfuse and Exposure Fusion

March 3rd, 2015

EFplusflashThe discussion and comments on Monday’s Enfuse video series announcement brought up some understandable confusion around the terms Enfuse and Exposure Fusion. The two terms actually mean the same thing. Exposure Fusion was first described in a 2007 paper by Tom Mertens, Jan Kautz and Frank Van Reeth. The most significant point about Exposure Fusion is that it is an alternative to HDR. It’s similar because it uses a series of bracketed exposures but it’s different in the way it processes the bracketed exposures. Exposure Fusion is easier to control than HDR so it’s easier to get more natural looking interior images.

The term Enfuse comes from the name of the an open source implementation of Exposure Fusion by Andrew Mihal. This open source Enfuse software is used as core code for at least two (perhaps more) pieces of software for processing bracketed images. LR/Enfuse, by Timothy Armes, a product (the one Simon talks about in his book and video series) that provides a Lightroom interface to Enfuse and EnfuseGUI, by Ingmar Bergmark, a standalone software product that provides a user interface for Enfuse that works on Mac or Windows machines. Marc Weinberg has a review of EnfuseGUI on his blog. While, EnfuseGUI is fast, it does not have a batch mode, nor does it work with RAW files. These last two items are why Simon’s workflow uses LR/Enfuse.

I should also mention that Photomatix has a Exposure Fusion processing mode although I don’t know if it uses the open source Enfuse code or if HDRsoft.com has their own implementation of Exposure Fusion. Wayne Grundy’s PhotoTech Blog tests all the many variations of Exposure Fusion implementations and concludes that LR/Enfuse delivers natural looking images with a minimum of fuss.

The Quicklapse Technique by Sanchez & Olaso

March 2nd, 2015

SonBrullHotelArt Sanchez, sent me a link to this video today which illustrates a new technique that Art and Miguel de Olaso have developed recently they call Quicklapse that allows them to obtain 8K video resolution. Art and Miguel want to share this new technique with the PFRE community because they believe it is particularly well adapted to shooting objects that don’t involve a lot of movement – like architecture.

Art and Miguel have written a detailed description of their technique on their Blog. The following is a summary of the technique:

The Quicklapse technique is a way to generate ultra high resolution real time video. By capturing continuous bursts of still images and applying interpolation algorithms in post-production to fill up the missing frames we are able to create unsurpassed video quality. Continue Reading »

Announcing The Enfuse For Real Estate Photography Video Series

March 1st, 2015

EnfuseAnnouncementSimon Maxwell and I are pleased to announce the release of Simon’s new video series entitled Enfuse For Real Estate Photography. Click here or on the image to the right to watch Simon’s introduction to the video series.

We have created a new website (EnfuseForRealEstatePhotography.com) just for the purpose of delivering this streaming video series.  So there’s no downloading of large video files or DVDs to bother with. Just watch the videos (hosted by iPlayerHD.com) on any device you have, streamed directly from the website. The videos work nicely on SmartPhones, Tablets, Laptops, Desktops with large screens.

This video series consists of essentially a video version of Simon’s e-book. Here is a Table of Contents of the video series. The fact is many people learn better from a video tutorial presentation than from a book format and I think you’ll agree that Simon is very accomplished at presenting material in a tutorial format.

To subscribe to this series go to the promo page here on PFRE or directly to the subscribe page on enfuseforrealestatephotography.com.


Checkout Scott Kelby’s New Lightroom Show Podcast

February 26th, 2015

TheLightroomShowIn case you missed it, Scott Kelby and RC Concepcion started a new podcast called The Lightroom Show. This is a once a week podcast that covers all aspects of Lightroom.

If you’re not familiar with podcasts, they are great, just download a podcast App on your smartphone or tablet, use the app to subscribe to podcast via iTunes or other podcast aggregator then the podcast is automatically downloaded to your device each week. Then you can listen/watch to the podcast anytime you like. Some podcasts are video and some are just audio. The Lightroom show is video so you get more out of it when you can watch the video too, but it works just listening too.

Scott Kelby is the author of the number one best selling book on Lightroom (Lightroom Book for digital photographers) so very likely this is going to be some of the best information and tips on Lightroom you are going to find anywhere.

How Do Real Estate Photographers Deal With Rescheduling?

February 25th, 2015

SchedulingRoy asked the following question about real estate photography rescheduling:

A number of times in the past I have had to deal with Realtors that are having some work done on the home (staging, repair, remodeling, clean up, landscaping, etc…) and they want to schedule me for the shoot immediately (with no time to waste) after the work is done. More often than not, the scheduled work is running off schedule so they call me to reschedule. This shows no respect for my time while they want things done at the snap of a finger. How can I communicate to them to book me when the job is 100% done without sounding like a jerk? I thought of imposing a rescheduling fee but I think they would just give the job to someone else who is more willing to flop around with their volatile scheduling.

Your question is a tough one. Having been a listing agent with my wife for a 10 years I totally appreciate the listing agents situation. Home sellers always want the property on the market yesterday! And getting all the required work done is frequently a struggle and never happens as planned. Agents wanting a shoot done “at the snap of a finger” is frankly the nature of this business. Continue Reading »

How Do Real Estate Photographers Handle Window Blinds?

February 24th, 2015

WindowBlindsToday Kelly asked me:

How do most real estate photographers handle window blinds? Do they raise them all the way up to let in more light and show the view? Open them at an angle? Open them completely but not raise them?

I think It’s impossible to make any blanket statement about what to do with blinds. Rather, be creative, and use blinds to help create your image and control the ambient light. Pay close attention to window blinds because they can have a big impact on the amount and quality of the light.

Here are a couple of examples that illustrate great use of window blinds:

  1. Use window blinds to control the light in the room. Just today I noticed this example in the PFRE flickr group where the photographer used the blinds to “balance the light in the room.”
  2. Here’s another example in the PFRE flickr pool where the light is very bright and the photographer was shooting into the window and was forced to close the blinds or the window would become too distracting.

There may be times when the best thing to do is to raise the blinds to see the view, if the view is important, but be careful with this option, because many older types of blinds, look unusual and unnatural when they all the way up. There are some types of blinds with modern design that look better than others when completely up.

Does anyone else have advice for Kelly?