Home Seller Asks For Photographers Photos Of A Property That Is Not Sold

July 12th, 2015

HomeSellerGiftRandall asks:

I recently was contacted by a homeowner of a house I photographed a few months ago. She asked if I would send her copies of the pictures that I shot. I was hired by a real estate company to perform this shoot and not by the homeowner. My Terms of Service says, “All photos produced for a client may be used by that agent for all marketing associated with the current sale of the property.” Just wondering how do other real estate photographers handle this? Give the images to the homeowner as a gift…charge a fee, and if so, how much? In this case the home has not been sold and is going to be re-listed by another Realtor.

It sounds to me like there’s been a falling out between the home seller and the agent that you did the shoot for but the home seller likes your photos and wants to use them for the new listing. You need you explain how photo licensing works. Not many home sellers understand. After explaining photo licensing to the home seller you could offer to license the photos to the homeowner. But I would get a signed licensing agreement and charge the same as you did the first agent. You would be licensing the homeowner to use the photos for use in selling the home whether it’s for sale by owner or by some other agent. Or if the homeowner claims to not want you use the photos to sell the property, give them to her but insist on signing an agreement that she won’t use them to sell the property. Or just give the photos to her if you don’t care about relicensing them to the next agent. It all depends on how bad you want a relicensing fee.

Licensing listing photos to homeowners only seems strange to those of us here in North America. But it’s very common in Australia and New Zealand and makes a lot of sense.

Matterport vs Autodesk 3D Max Floorplan Video

July 9th, 2015

Autodesk 3DDavid in Arizona asked the following question:

We have a potential homebuilder client that is interested in 3D floorplans that we can incorporate into a 2-4 minute video. These are the kind of videos that are created in Autodesk 3D Max. Here is an example of a similar video.  Do you know of a company that can help us create these type of floorplans.

You could probably find a freelancer that does Autodesk 3D Max at freelancer.com but of course you will have to get setup to take measurements of properties and send them to the freelancer. Don’t under estimate the amount of work that it’s going to take to do that kind of video even if you contract with a freelancer to do the Autodesk work. Continue Reading »

Is Anyone Using Area Listing Sites to Get Real Estate Photography Business?

July 8th, 2015

ListingsightFrank poses the following question:

I’m looking at starting a real estate marketing business in my area. I’d like to take photos/videos of properties and list them on a website and create other marketing material. Do you think a real estate license is required for this? I know you can’t answer as an authority on it with all the various laws, but are you aware of anyone needing a license to market properties that a realtor is selling?

You have to be a licensed Realtor and member of your local MLS in the US to get an IDX feed of ALL the local listings in your area but I doubt that there’s any problem with creating a website where you post all the listings that you shoot for Realtors. I would get the listing agents permission before putting them on your site and probably put the listing agent’s branding and contact info on each.

Back in 2010 there were two successful real estate photographers that did just what you are talking about to promote their real estate photography services. At the time this worked very well for them. Here’s the post where I talk about this kind of marketing. It is worth noting that neither Dan Abraham or John Quarrels do this any more. I see that neither of these sites exist anymore but I don’t know all the reasons why. Note that as stated in the 2010 post this is a marketing technique to sell the concept of professional real estate photography directly to home sellers.

If I had to guess, this marketing approach is less effective than it used to be since the advent of smartphone and tablet Apps like Zillow, Redfin and Realtor.com there you can so easily go into any given neighborhood and see what’s for sale in that neighborhood.

Is anyone still using a local area listing site to promote your real estate photography?

Your Computer Is An Important Part Of A Real Estate Photographer’s Photo Equipment

July 7th, 2015

iMacTim recently brought up the following:

Thank you for all the advice and help that you offer on your site. I am thinking of upgrading my computer system. I currently have Windows but know that most photographers use Apple. I really have two questions:
1. Even though I am heavily invested in PC. Should I consider for the long term, switching to Apple?
2. I would like to know the ultimate system in either, or both – the best and fastest – considering operating systems, memory, RAM, Graphics Cards, and Storage, also something that would be expandable in the future.

As a real estate photographer your computing gear is important. Think about it and research what’s the best for you and don’t cheap out. Before I give you my opinion on this subject I should explain my background and biases. Everyone is biased. There is no one right answer but here is mine: Continue Reading »

Three Classic Problems New Real Estate Photographers Need To Deal With

July 6th, 2015

REphotoChallengesI got a question from John, a professional photographer wedding and portraiture photographer that asked:

I upgraded my camera from a D-90 to a D7100 and I still get this reddish brown color cast in a lot of interiors. I have tried adjusting color balance to the flash mode or sunlight mode instead of A (auto mode) with llittle success…. I have tried raising the color temperature manually and that sometimes helped in certain rooms, but not too often. It seems the auto mode works the best then I adjust the color balance in photoshop as needed but this a lot of extra time… Do you know of anything I can do to get more accurate exposures on interiors?

After looking at a couple of John’s example interior photos and asking more questions it was clear that he was struggling with the three classic problems that are unique to real estate and interior photography. He was aware of the color balance problem but he wasn’t even aware of #2 and #3 below. Here are the three classic issues that interior photographers have to deal with that aren’t as pronounced in other types of photography: Continue Reading »

When An Agent Leaves A Real Estate Office Should The Broker Get To Keep The Listing Photos?

July 5th, 2015

BrokerRelationshipLast week Les asked the following:

Your site has great info and it is helping my wife and I as we get started in our real estate careers. I do have a question though…

My wife and i just left an agency for a new agency. The broker from the previous agency is insisting that the pictures we took of the listings we had are now his since he has taken over the listing. he says that when we left the agency that we abandoned the images. I am furious that he continues to use our work and profit by it. There was no agreement in writing. Do we have recourse? I do not give him permission to use the images. May I sell them to him?

First of all I’m not a lawyer so this isn’t legal advice, just my opinion. I think in the case you describe there are a couple of things to think about:

  1. Yes you own the rights to the photos and could probably stop your previous broker from using them. But in most situations the broker has the rights to the listing when a listing agent leaves the office.
  2. My experience from being an agent with my wife for a long while in the Seattle market is that in the big scheme of things having a great relationship and reputation with all the brokers and agents in you local market is much more important than a few listing photos. One day you are going to be on the opposite side of a transaction with your old broker and if you don’t have a good relationship with him you won’t be able to do a good job representing your client  like you need to.

So yes, you are probably right, the photos are yours but in the over all scheme of things what happens to these listing photos is inconsequential! Just walk away! If you were a photographer only rather than a Realtor my answer would be different.

Quick And Easy Way To Get Higher Google Ranking For Your Website

July 2nd, 2015

Google PlacesI revisit this subject periodically because it’s something everyone with a website needs to do. Last week someone ask about how to improve the Google ranking of their site.

Google ranking is always related to a specific search term. The search term you are interested in as a real estate photographer is “real estate photographer your-town“. The idea is, when an agent in your-town does a google search for “real estate photographer your-town” you want to be listed as high as possible on the first result page so searchers see your website listing and click on it.

Here is a quick and simple way to get your site high on the first page of search results exactly where you want it: Sign up for Google Places. Being registered on Google Places has a several of benefits:

  1. When someone is using google maps and searches for “real estate photographer” it will show your business and site with a little map pin.
  2. Also when someone googles “real estate photographer your-town” you are right up there on top with the search results… unless there are a bazillion other real estate photographers registered on google places in the same location. Ultimately where you are ranked will depend on how many people registered before you.
  3. If you are so lucky to be the first real estate photographer in your town to register you get top ranking immediately!

An example of this is that I registered with google places in about 2008 when I did the first post on this subject and in my sleepy little town (Salem, Oregon) I got top ranking since I was the only real estate photographer registered on google places. Now there are still only one other real estate photographer registered in Salem. So if any one googles “real estate photographer Salem Oregon” there I am up towards the top of the page. However, many folks in Seattle that read my post registered with google places and didn’t get as good result as I got here in Salem. In Seattle if you register with google places you don’t even get on the first page for the search term “real estate photographer Seattle” because there are pages and pages of real estate photographers in Seattle. So you can see this works way better in locations where there isn’t massive competition.

Oh yea, I should mention. After registering your business with google places google will send you a letter with a pin number on it that they want you to use to verify your information. This is just to make sure your address is not bogus. If you don’t go through the verification process eventually your business listing with google will go away.

The Perils Of Doing A Twilight Shoot In The Sunshine State

July 1st, 2015

D7K_5788The image to the right is from a twilight shoot that Eric Hilton isn’t likely to forget soon. Here is Eric’s description:

I live in the Sarasota/Tampa area (the lightning capital of the nation) and was setting up for an evening shoot with one of my favorite realtors. Today was extremely hot and humid, but very sunny and a beautiful sky.

I was standing on an aluminum ladder, waiting for the landscape lighting to come. As I tripped the shutter (2 second delay), I saw a bright flash and heard the loudest explosion. A huge thunder/rain storm came from no ware, and lightning was shooting across the sky sideways, and striking all around.

The agent was very impressed that I stayed outside and tried to get her the shot she needed. She said to me “now that’s dedication” I said, no, that’s stupidity.

I decided it was a good time to grab my equipment, run into the house and change my shorts. When I hit the review button on my camera, I saw the image above.

This was the 2nd time in a few years, that I have been so close to being fried on a photo shoot.

One of the joys of living here in the sunshine state, and still beats shoveling snow in NY.

Real Estate Photography Licensing For Rental Properties – How Should it Work?

June 30th, 2015

RentalLicensingCarlos recently posed a question on photo licensing that I don’t think we’ve talked about. His question is as follows:

My niche is the vacation rental market, mainly condos and I have one main client which sends me the majority of my jobs.

I have become aware that the client rental management company may be sold or bought out by another group in the near future and I know the sale of the client company will also include my property images as well (I’m sure the client company assumes the images are theirs to include with the sale of the company).

I’m wondering what should happen with my images. Should I enforce copyright and ask for a fee to sell the images along with the sale of the rental management company, or should I just let it be to not ‘rock the boat’ since this client is the majority of my small business revenue and I’m confident they will continue using my as their photographer. My inclination is the first, but I’m a bit at a loss as how to approach the owner/broker.

I know the images are key to the rental business model especially since most people book a rental after viewing the property images on the web. Unfortunately, there is no written agreement as far as terms of service or copyright terms of the images between me and the client company (which is my fault for not defining). Since these images are for rental listings they are used for long lengths of time, sometimes years. I know as the photographer I hold copyright and only license the images, but without defined terms I don’t think the client company will see it this way. My question is how would you or other PFRE members approach this situation?

On another note, I’m about to raise my pricing and will include terms service and copyright terms more specific to rental properties vs. for sale properties… any thoughts on this would be appreciated from PFRE community. I’m also wondering what insights the PFRE community may have about pricing PFRE for sale properties vs. PFRE for rentals properties.

Continue Reading »

June Video Contest Will Be Extended Through July

June 30th, 2015

VideoContestSince we only have 4 entries for the June video contest we are extending the June video contest through July. That is, you can keep submitting your video contest entries through July 22 and the video jurors will then vote on the June and July entries together.

What Do You Need to Get Started Shooting Some Property Video?

June 29th, 2015

SonyA6000Brent who is a Realtor in New Zealand asks:

I list a lot of homes in an affordable price range and they typically sell within 4 weeks. I use a professional photography for stills on nearly all my listings. I am an avid photographer, have the gear (although dated) and can take my own photos however I do see the value in using a professional.

Now I would like to start doing some video. My photographer can do it but he takes forever and charges more than my clients want to pay. He does an amazing job but for most homes it’s an overkill.

So I would like to start shooting some simple videos. i have tried my Galaxy S5 but I want something a better than this.

So what equipment do I need? A full frame dslr is over Even a nice APS-C (7D mark ii) is probably more than I want to spend NZ$3000). Something smaller is also more appealing.

So what about a mirrorless with interchangeable lenses? I have looked at reviews but just get confused because their are so many options and none of the reviews seem to focus on video. So a nice mirrorless with a nice wideangle lens for videos would be what?

First of all I think it’s important to understand that shooting property video is far more difficult than it looks. It’s not even similar to shooting stills! Fred Light a very long time videographer in Boston made a classic comment on one of the previous posts I did property video. Fred said: Continue Reading »

As A Photographer How Can You Use Social Media To Promote Your Business?

June 28th, 2015

SocialMediaPeter in New York recently asked:

Would you know of photographers who would share their knowledge how they use Facebook, Pinterest, Flickr, and those sites to promote their business. I would love a “how to & why ?”.

To answer Peter’s question my first reaction is to point at a photographer that is doing a great job of using social media to promote their business. My example is Ethan Tweetie (www.ethantweedie.com). Ethan has explicitly told me that social media is working for him. You can see for yourself by simply Googling “luxury real estate.” Where ever you are Ethan’s name will likely be on the first page towards the top of the search results. It’s clear that Ethan is doing a good job at this his recent Google+ post points out his photos are in the July 2015 Architectural Digest for the second time this year.

So I think it is possible to look at Ethan’s use of the various social media sites and see how he uses it. Here is my summary: Continue Reading »

My Response To The Issues Raised With This Months Photographer Of The Month Contest

June 25th, 2015

ContestI want to respond to everyone about a couple of issues that arose with this months PFRE Photographer of the month contest. Here are the two issues:

  1. Theme definition: Some people felt that Tony’s winning image didn’t conform to the theme of  “Large interior adjoined space.”
  2. Voting process: Some people thought that various entries that didn’t receive any points should have gotten points.

My general attitude on the PFRE contests is that their purpose is about getting feedback from the best shooters and raising the quality of your work, not whether the points awarded to everyone that entered is perfectly fair and rationally justifiable. The fact is a huge amount of the voting process is subjective and personal opinion.

I want to do everything I can to REDUCE the number of entries in this contest and spend less time on it. Getting 30 entrants to follow the 10 existing rules takes too much of my time. There is no way I’m going to make the rules more complicated. I may even put a cap on the number of entries. The month we had 60 entries was insane…. too much work for everyone involved in the contest.

My response to arguments about justifying the voting process and how and whether points are awarded is that I want to only announce the winner and perhaps the second and third place. No announcement of points, just who won first, second and third. I want to eliminate these discussions completely. They have no value. I actually did this for a few months but gave in to a reader that wanted to have a detailed history of points awarded. I still may go back to this scheme that doesn’t even disclose points and voting process. What other photographic contest discloses the voting process and points and let contestants argue about whether everything is fair and fuzzy feeling? None that I know of. Continue Reading »

What Do You Charge To Shoot 1 to 3 minutes of UAV Video For Real Estate?

June 24th, 2015

Anthony recently asked the following:

I’ve searched here and the flickr group, but the answer to these questions still elude me. What is a reasonable rate for basic video? What is a reasonable rate for drone flights/photos?

We’ve done a poll for standard real estate video that is fairly recent but we’ve never done a poll for Drone video so let’s do it now!

I expect this pricing will vary a great deal depending on the demand in your market as well as the complexity of the shoot.

The The demand here in rural Oregon is strong. I’ve gotten several requests for UAV video to market acreage and I’ve seen some great UAV video done to market large acreage property in central Oregon.

Congratulations Tony Colangelo, Victoria, BC – June PFRE Photographer of The Month

June 23rd, 2015

2015JuneTonyColangeloCongratulations to Tony Colangelo, Victoria, BC, Canada.  Another close competition again this month with a 3 way tie for 2nd place.

We had some discussion about how this theme (large interior adjoined space) is a bit fuzzy as to what it really means. Matthew Stallone and others took exception to whether Tony’s image is a fit for the theme. Next June, I’ll either refine the definition or come up with a completely different theme.

This is Tony’s third win. He won in June 2014 (for the same theme) and August 2013.

Here are the results of the jury voting:

  1. 25 pts, #19, Tony Colangelo – Victoria BC, Canada
  2. 10 pts, #12, Dennis Frost – Nanaimo, BC, Canada, 10 pts, #28, Adrian Jones – Clifton, Cape Town, South Africa, 10 pts, #29, Brian Doherty – Boston, MA
  3. 5 pts, #10, Alasdair McItosh – York, UK, 5 pts, #11, Robert Morning – Los Angeles, California, 5 pts, #21, Seth Parker – Huntsville, Alabama
  4. 3 pts, #13, Hamish Beeston – Bristol, UK, 3 pts, #18, David Lane – Miami, Florida
  5. 2 pts, #3, Thom Neese –  Omaha, Nebraska, 2 pts, #17, Ryan Wicks – Kent, England

Here are Tony’s comments: Continue Reading »