How Much Should You Charge For Real Estate Agent Portraits?

May 6th, 2015

AgentPortraitsChris in New Jersey asks:

I was wondering if you ever did any headshots for the agents you work with? I want to start including that in hopes it will boost business. But I am completely lost as far as what to charge. I was looking around at other people in my area that are doing it, and they are changing anywhere from $250 to over $500 for 3 or 6 pictures. I feel like no agents will pay this much. I was thinking of charging something like $100 and that would be for 3 shots, then maybe add another $100 for each change of clothes (if requested). I just wanted your opinion if this sounds good, if thats too much or too little?

I’ve shot my wife’s agent portrait and shot free portraits for other agents in our office but I’ve never done agent portraits as a product. Real estate agents really do need a lot of help with using good judgement in choosing a portrait for their marketing. It’s hilarious to just look at agent portraits.

I have talked to many real estate photographers that go to a real estate office weekly meeting and just shoot free portraits to meet agents. A well done portrait is something all agents need so yes, this is a good product to have on your list of products but I’m not sure what the right price is.

For those of you that shoot agent portraits, what do you think is the right price?

The Evolution Of The Real Estate Tour – It Used To Mean 360 Virtual Tour

May 5th, 2015

REmarketingMike in Kentucky recently ask me:

Its taken time, but I’m staying pretty busy, I offer both stills and tours, don’t always shoot tours on small properties, in fact it seems that the tours part of my work is getting less important. When I look at the statistics for Photography Marketing Trends for Real Estate it’s the professional photography that gets the highest on the list, well above video, not much, if any, mention of Virtual Tours. I’m wondering if it’s just my area and my clients or it is something that’s happening – or are they mixing in together virtual tours with photography.

After asking Mike some questions it was clear that he was talking about 360 tours. These days the term tour doesn’t necessarily refer to 360 images like it used to. I stopped doing 360 images in 2007. The tour above is my last tour with any 360 images. I see few if any 360s used here in the Northwest (Seattle and Portland). Even back in 2007 about a third of our listing customers didn’t like 360 tours. 360 images are also a huge amount of work for the benefit they provide. So the traditional 360 image for real estate is dying or in many places is dead.

Nowadays, MatterPort is the new 360 image replacement which does 3D images and floorpans. MatterPort requires a bigger investment in gear and time to create images but is popular in some areas for upper-end listings. I think the jury is still out on if it will be a success. I’ve had one photographer in Arizona tell me he lost a client because he couldn’t do a MatterPort 3d tour.

I think that Mike’s comments show that what’s popular in real estate marketing is a very localized and it changes over time. I’ve always thought that a big factor that drives what’s popular in any given area is what the best sales people are selling. If there’s a big tour company or great sales person in your area hawking something to agents you will likely need to provide a variation of that something to compete.

In the overall scheme of things still photos are the most popular real estate marketing product everywhere but there are areas where video, floorpans or MatterPort is a factor.

Lightroom CC/6 Speed Improvements – What Hardware Do You Need To Run Lightroom?

May 4th, 2015

LightroomCC-GPUEric Chan hardware comments
Eric Chan, a Camera RAW engineer at Adobe, made some recent comments in the Adobe forum about the speed improvements in Lightroom CC and 6. He explains that the speed improvements in Lightroom are from using your Graphics Processing Unit (GPU). Here is a summary of his comments:

  1. GPU support is currently available in Develop only.
  2. Most (but not all) Develop controls benefit from GPU acceleration.
  3. Using the GPU involves some overhead (there’s no free lunch). This may make some operations take longer, such as image-to-image switching or zooming to 1:1. Newer GPUs and computer systems minimize this overhead.
  4. The GPU performance improvement in Develop is more noticeable on higher-resolution displays such as 4K. The bigger the display, the bigger the win.
  5. Prefer newer GPUs (faster models within the last 3 years). Lightroom may technically work on older GPUs (4 to 5 years old) but likely will not benefit much. At least 1 GB of GPU memory. 2 GB is better.
  6. We’re currently investigating using GPUs and other technologies to improve performance in Develop and other areas of the app going forward.

The above notes also apply to Camera Raw 9.0 for Photoshop/Bridge CC.

What kind of hardware do you need to run image editing software?
A related subject is what do hardware do you need to run Lightoom? A comment by a PFRE reader on the Lightroom CC announcement post said, “My laptop is an A8 AMD with 6GB of RAM. I figure that’s pretty fast. Guess not!” Yes, this is not enough hardware to run Lightroom well.

My experience has been that professional image editing software like Lightroom and Photoshop need lots of RAM to run well. I gave up using just 8 Gig several years ago and have been very happy I did. Now very machine I purchase now is 16 Gig of RAM with a SSD drive. Not using the fastest hardware wastes your time (money) in the long run. Now, based on Eric’s comments above, using a modern GPU with 2 Gig of RAM is also a benefit. Hardware is cheap in the overall scheme of things.

What are others experience with Lightroom CC?

What’s Important For Real Estate Front Exterior Shots?

May 3rd, 2015

FlyerP1Recently Omar asked:

What can I do to improve my exterior shots?

Good to hear you are aware of the importance of exterior shots. In my time working with my wife listing homes it was very clear that exterior shots are the single most important photo of the listing photo set. The exterior shot is always seen by every buyer searching through listings. It can tell the story of the property and entice buyers to click through and see more details of the property. But the biggest factor is it gets the listing agent more listings. My wife and I would get 2 or 4 listings a year just because someone would see the marketing we did for some other listing (usually a twilight shot) photos and say, “…we want you to list our home and do a photo like that”, referring to a twilight photo or exterior photo that we would feature on our property flyers. Note that this is a BIG deal to a listing agent that is getting 3% of the net sales price! Frequently it was a neighbor that had grabbed a flyer from the flyer box. I always use front shots as backgrounds for flyers and brochures similar to the flyer above.

Here are some key factors in getting good exterior shots. My Photography For Real Estate e-book has a whole chapter on exterior shots and has more detail on each of these: Continue Reading »

Congratulations Luke Phillips PFRE Videographer of The Month For April

May 1st, 2015

LukePhillipsApr2015VideoCongratulations to Luke Phillips of London, UK for winning the April PFRE videographer of the month for April. His stunning video captured the attention of the video jurors. Here are the points awarded by the jurors:

  1. 102 pts, #10, Luke Phillips, London, UK
  2. 98 pts, #2, Dino Tassara, Lahaina, Maui
  3. 98 pts, #12, Wes Neil, Los Angeles, CA
  4. 96 pts, #9, Anders Carlson, Kailua Kona, Hawaii
  5. 89 pts, #11, Alasdair McIntosh, York, Yorshire, UK
  6. 82 pts, #3, Andre Francois Mckenzie, Toronto, Ontario
  7. 81 pts, #8, Jonas Haag, Southern Tasmania
  8. 79 pts, #4, Adam Wayland, Charlottesville, VA
  9. 73 pts, #1, Jeff Griggs, El Dorado Hills, California
  10. 69 pts, #6, Taylor Smith, Indialantic, Florida
  11. 65 pts, #5, Ryan Paschke, The Woodlands, Texas
  12. 61 pts. #7, Michael Sosnowski, Falmouth, Maine

Here are Luke’s comments: Continue Reading »

Is It Possible To Build A Full Time Real Estate Photography Business In Mytown ?

April 30th, 2015

SucessInder in Winnipeg Manitoba asks:

I want to start a real estate photography business in Canada. I have some business experience and photographic experience and have the required equipment. I’m not sure how to decide if it’s possible to make real estate photography a full time business that will support my family. My main questions are:

1. How do I determine of the market here is large enough  for me to support my family with a real estate photography business?

2. How do I manage a business in winter?

Assessing the market for real estate photography:
Yes, some cities are more difficult to build a real estate photography business in than others. Here’s what I would do to assess the real estate market in Winnipeg: Google “Winnipeg Manitoba real estate photography” to get a feel for how many real estate photographers there are in Winnipeg. Continue Reading »

Do Real Estate Photographers Need To Worry About Listing Syndication?

April 29th, 2015

Rob on the east coast asks:

What are some better known syndication sights for real estate agents? For example, anyone know anything about a site called Neybor? Are there others out there that are better?

Neybor.com is the syndication site that tourbuzz.net uses for syndication and sends the listing you load to all the major real estate sites. It’s all  you should ever need.

After a long time tracking leads and where buyers came from  to purchase our listings I’m of the opinion that real estate photographers need not get all wrapped up in the details of syndication. Here’s why: Continue Reading »

Protecting The Home Seller’s Confidentiality and Privacy

April 28th, 2015

ConfidentialAn unnamed long time PFRE blog reader recently pointed out the following:

Real estate agents engage their suppliers on trust, that they will behave professionally when in the home sellers home.

I know that I have shot many homes over the years where I recognised the owner as having been in the public eye, for both good and bad reasons!

I recently witnessed one of my industry peers overstep the mark and reveal clues about the owner of a property being sold.

It was a bit like a celebrity listing. In this case, the owner was prominent in business. I don’t know if the owner became aware of it, but the listing agent certainly did, and was very unhappy. Essentially, items in the home (family portraits and certificates on the office wall ) identified the owner.

Continue Reading »

How Can You Improve The Clarity Of The View Through The Windows Of Homes You Shoot?

April 27th, 2015

JLSlivingRobert asked the question:

I’m a real estate photographer who uses Enfuse and Lightroom to process my images. I’d like to find a way to improve the views through the windows of houses I shoot and I was wondering if Photoshop Elements 13 might be a good solution. From what I understand, I need to be able to create layers and merge the layer with the correct window exposure with the layer for the correct interior exposure. I don’t know that I need the full power of Photoshop (along with its steep learning curve) so I thought Elements might be a simpler way to get the result I need without the expense or learning curve with PS.

This is a classic real estate photography problem: how to capture the view outside and the room inside when the brightness range is way beyond what your camera can capture. In fact this very problem lead to my starting this blog! In 2000 my wife listed a $2 million property on Lake Sammamish in Issaquah, WA. Mrs Seller demanded that I come up with a photos that showed her beautiful home that also showed the great lake view. I couldn’t do it, and I couldn’t find any books that explained how to do it either. Look at the burned out windows on the right side of this living room (west towards the Lake) completely burned out! I’m still embarrassed!

OK so now that I’ve had 15 years to figure this out, how do you do it? There are several ways: Continue Reading »

Enfuse E-book Now Included With The Enfuse Video Series

April 26th, 2015

EFREPnewadWe’d like to announce that as of April 22, 2015 we have included Simon Maxwell’s e-book on Enfuse with the Enfuse video series. So you now get both the video series and the e-book for $125 USD. All video subscribers can now download the e-book PDF directly from the page all the videos are on.

I’ve already gone through the purchase records and refunded the $30 USD purchase price to everyone that has purchased both the e-book and the video series as of April 22, 2015.

In the future, if there are any of you that have purchased only the e-book and would like to also subscribe to the video series, go ahead a subscribe to the video series, then let me know and I will refund  the $30 you paid for the e-book. Note that this offer does not apply for people that purchase the hardcopy book from Lulu.com. The hardcopy book sales is completely separate from e-book and video series. Lulu.com doesn’t even tell me who purchases the hardcopy books – sorry.

I know, several people asked about this when we launched the video series I was skeptical at first about the logistics of doing this but I think it is important because it’s clear that many people want to get the information in both types of media.

Congratulations Brandon Cooper PFRE April Photographer Of The Month

April 24th, 2015

2015April-BrandonCooperCongratulations to Brandon Cooper, in Fort McMurray Alberta, CA. Brandon is an agent in Fort McMurray. You dazzled the jurors with your master bedroom shot!

Here are the results of the jury voting:

  1. 61 pts, #31, Brandon Cooper, Fort McMurray, Alberta
  2. 22 pts, #29, Ethan Tweedie, Big Island, Hawaii
  3. 14 pts, #13, Tony Colangelo, Victoria, BC
  4. 14 pts, #24, Jonas Berg, Gothenburg, Sweden
  5. 10 pts, #5, Seth Parker, Huntsville, Alabama
  6. 8 pts, #9, Hamish Beeston, Bristol, UK
  7. 6 pts, #18, Cynthia Walker, Huntsville, Alabama
  8. 5 pts, #30, Brian Doherty, Boston, MA
  9. 3 pts, #10, Matthew Stallone, Woodbridge, ON
  10. 3 pts, #17, Anders Carlson, Kailua Kona, Hawaii
  11. 2 pts, #21, Ling Ge, Aliso Viejo, CA
  12. 2 pts, #25, Ady Mace, Leeds, UK

Here are Brandon’s comments: Continue Reading »

What Do You Think About The New HDR Processing In Lightroom CC/Adobe Camera RAW?

April 23rd, 2015

HDRinACRNew HDR Processing Is In ACR: A feature of Lightroom CC/Lightroom 6/ACR that is probably getting the most attention is the HDR feature (at least from real estate photographer). First of all, as Julieanne’s video shows this HDR feature is not in Lightroom at all, it’s in Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) 9. This means this feature is available to Lightroom, Photoshop, Bridge and probably Photoshop Elements users that have Adobe Camera Raw 9.

Image Rendering Looks Good: I’m not a big user of traditional HDR software but I like the concept of this new HDR feature makes more sense to me than other HDR processing software. The thing I like is that you don’t have a bunch of strange, unintuitive sliders in the tone mapping process that you use to try and tame the tone mapping process. Rather you use standard, well understood tools (the sliders in Lightroom or ACR) to control the visual aspects of the image AFTER the bracket processing in a RAW file. To me this process doesn’t even seem like HDR processing because it doesn’t create wild and crazy, radioactive images which you have to work like crazy make look normal. The image rendering looks to me more like what you get out of Enfuse processing.

What’s Missing Is Batch Processing: It appears to me that even though the image rendering looks good and can quickly and easily be tailored to your personal taste after after bracket processing the feature that is missing for professional real estate photographers is batch processing. LR/Enfuse and Photomatix both have this and it is essential for high volume work. Maybe I’m missing something but I don’t see a way to match the the missing batch processing feature with the new ACR. I still recall Dan Achatz telling me back in 2008 that he processed all his HDR images from a shoot with Photomatix while he was driving to the next shoot. At first I thought he was pulling my leg, but he was serious! The batch processing feature has a lot to do with Dan being one of the most prolific real estate photographers in the Seattle area.

So what do all you hardcore HDR/Enfuse people think of this new HDR processing?

Getting The Best Possible Quality Photos On MLSs and Syndicated Sites

April 22nd, 2015

MLSphotosBill in Cleveland says:

In Cleveland the MLS is taking photos from the Realtors at 2048 pixels wide then they the MLS knocks them down to 640 pixels for their use but when they send them on to Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com they are sending the 640 resolution and not the 2048 res. I believe it is a software problem that is causing this, and they seem not to be interested in correcting the problem which most software techs that I know say it is an easy fix. What are other MLS’s doing in this regard so agents do not have to go to all these sites, claim there listings and reload the high res photos. My big concern is they pay me to deliver high quality and resolution and the the MLS screws it all up. There is such a huge sharpness difference between 640 and 2048 res.

Continue Reading »

Adobe: You Did A Sloppy Job Of Transitioning From Lightroom 5 To Lightroom CC

April 21st, 2015

LightroomCCToday was Lightroom 6/CC release day – I hope yours went better than mine! For a while today I felt like shouting at someone at Adobe.

My upgrade struggle:
I’ve had the $9.99 subscription to Creative Cloud installed on my iMac for about a year but never installed  the version of Lightroom that is distributed via Creative Cloud. Rather, I have been using a version of Lightroom 5 that I had before I got the Creative Cloud subscription. Mid-morning after watching Scott Kelby and RC hype the new version of Lightroom CC on the Lightroom Killer Tips broadcast I noticed that my Creative Cloud application had a version of Lightroom CC ready to install so I installed it. But it wouldn’t run. It just flashed the menu bar and didn’t come up. I thought the problem perhaps was perhaps because Lightroom 5 was still installed so I uninstalled Lightroom 5. Still didn’t work. After taking a long bike ride to cool off and think about what to do,  I decided to upgrade my Lightroom 5 to Lightroom 6. Soon as I installed the Lightroom 6 update Lightroom CC started to work. Huh!! And when it converted my 2015 Catalogue it left out the last few months… #$&! I’m finally running on Lightroom CC but I think Adobe did a really crappy job with their update process. Continue Reading »

Help! What Can I Do To Get More Real Estate Photography Business?

April 20th, 2015

help!Richard in New Mexico is struggling to get started in real estate photography and needs help. Here is his account of his efforts in the last fourteen months:

Beginning February 2014, I began concentrating on residential real estate photography. I have over 50 years experience as a photographer and have worked every area of photography except residential real estate. I began my career in 1961 as a photojournalist. Now, being retired and other causes I need to start working again. So I purchased a realtor list from Info USA. It contains over 600 realtor names, physical addresses, email addresses and phone numbers. I then signed up with Mail Chimp and began an email campaign sending out one email every week. In every email I attempted to offer something of value even if it was outside real estate photography, like how to shoot your children and things like how to shoot a winter snow scene without it looking gray and gloomy. About once a month I offered a monthly special or around the holidays a holiday special. These offers where everything from a discount on a listing shoot to a nearly free family portrait or a business head shot. Well after 14 months I have had a grand total of two residential jobs and four commercial shoots. The fee for the resident jobs was $200.00 each and each of the commercial job were about $550 with the largest being $1,250. Gross income $3,300 for the year. Further on every offer I made in the emails I have NOT had one realtor take my offer. Several times I offered my $200 package as a 2 for 1 sale. Other offers were for a 10-20% discount plus an Ala-Charte item for FREE. My packages are priced as follows: GOOD $99.00, BETTER $150.00, BEST $250.00 and PREMIER starting at $450 with preview walk thru required and I provide a written estimate of cost based on wants and needs. Here is the hooker, last week I offered a $250 photo package for absolutely FREE…No Charge! FREE! Not one Realtor call for an appointment!!

There are several problems that I see in your marketing: Continue Reading »