The June PFRE Photographer Of The Month Contest is Closed – Video Contest Open

June 15th, 2015

JuneStillContestAs of today, the PFRE June Photographer of the month contest is closed. I’m turning the entrants over to the jury for voting. As usual the entries are in the PFRE still contest flickr group.

We have a great bunch if images from entrants around the world. As usual, there is much to be learned from studying these images reading the comments and seeing how the jury votes.

Feel free to join the contest Flickr group and comment on the photos. Don’t worry about influencing the jury the have assured me they can think for themselves.

We are now accepting entries for the video contest through June 22.

Is There Any Way of Making Sure Your Real Estate Photos Are Not Being Used Without Your Permission?

June 14th, 2015

302151-residential-95f2je-oLast week Russell asked:

Today I got a call to shoot a listing, which by chance I had already shot several months ago. It turned out that this home had been completely remodeled by a “flipper”, so it would indeed need to be re-shot.

This got me thinking about a couple things:
1) What is a “standard” charge for licensing of images after the home sells and is back on the market? (assuming nothing has changed and doesn’t require a re-shoot)

2) Short of “web surfing” location addresses for a sale, does anyone have a way of making sure their images are not being reused by another agent?

Charge For Image Reuse:
My take on a reuse charge is to charge the same for every licensing of the same images. Or if this bothers you charge slightly less since you don’t have to make another trip to the property. What do others charge for reusing images? Continue Reading »

Automating Lightroom With Presets, Templates, Collections And Virtual Copies

June 11th, 2015

AutomatingLightroomLightroom is at the center of most real estate photographers’ post processing because it can do much of what real estate photographers need to do to process a shoot. So the speed that you can use Lightroom can have a huge impact on the amount of time you spend post-processing a shoot.

In these two tutorials (Part1 and Part2) Julieanne Kost shows or to take advantage of presets, templates, collections, virtual copies and more in order to eliminate much of the repetitive post processing tasks as importing, tagging, developing, exporting and sharing. Be sure to get Julieanne’s PDF of all the shortcuts for Lightroom’s develop module on her blog.

Listen To Fred Light Tell The Story Of Building His Real Estate Photography/Videography Business

June 10th, 2015

NashuaVideoTours400Many long time PFRE readers have read about Fred Light and his real estate video company Nashua Video Tours here before.  Fred is a pioneer in this business and is most well known for his video walk-throughs of real estate.

This 55-minute interview on the Digital Convergence Podcast is well worth listing to for anyone building a business in real estate photography or videography.

What Is The Best Way For Real Estate Photographers To Straighten Verticals?

June 9th, 2015

UprightKelli asks the following:

I have been a professional photographer for many many years but I am interested in real estate photography as opposed to family/senior. I am having a really hard time getting my verticals right and I would love to perfect this before going public. Do you have a resource (blog post/video tutorial)? I searched your blog and most the posts on this subject are really old, I didn’t know if there was update software or hardware to help.

Kelli is right while I’ve done a lot of posts over the years on the subject of verticals I’ve not done one since Lightroom 5 has been out. Since the release of Lightroom 5, it is the best and fastest way to straighten verticals. There are many other ways to straighten verticals, but Lightroom is amazingly fast and easy. This single feature is worth the cost of Lightroom for a real estate photographer! The Lens Corrections panel contains everything you need to quickly straighten verticals and horizontals.

I find that if I just get the verticals close in the camera that a click on the Auto button in the Lens Corrections panel gets them right on during post processing. This video tutorial explains all the features and details. Note that there was no changes in this area between Lightroom 5 and 6/CC.

Why Not Defer Some Or All Of Your Real Estate Photography Shoot Fee To Closing?

June 8th, 2015

DeferredPaymentBecause real estate listing agents don’t get paid until a sale closes, the deferred payment option keeps coming up. Keith recently ask the following:

I’ve read lots of posts about business models…pay up front, pay at close, pricing, etc. None of the pay at close really seems to address a combo – pay a bit when I shoot…remainder when it closes. There were posts about premium pricing but nothing about pay both. I’d propose $50 or 75 up front + $200 – 300 at close. Providing my adequate compensation. I still get ‘something’ up front to pay part of expenses. Paying at close is the same as home warranty – pay a small application fee…when home sells, $300 fee comes out of proceeds and new owner has 18 mo warranty policy with 3rd party. Thoughts about this?

We’ve discussed deferred payment here a number of times and the overwhelming majority believe it is a bad idea. I don’t think that partial payment up front changes anything about this apporach. Here are some points that you should consider:
  1. Successful agents have enough income that that can pay for their marketing costs up front. In the long run, photographers are better off working for successful agents that pay up front.
  2. Any photographer doing this kind of closing payment type of arrangement should get the contract in B&W and even have the payment listed on the closing documents so your fee must legally and automatically be paid. The problem is, the photographer doesn’t communicate with the Escrow officer who sets up the closing documents. It has to be left up to the listing agent.
  3. Typical listing agents close far less than 100% of the properties they list, so the payment on closing arrangement is extremely risky for the photographer.
  4. Doing this kind of thing means you have to take time, to track the sale of the home. Not something that most photographers want to spend their time on.
This kind of risky arrangement and a lot more work than is necessary. In the long run I doubt it is worth the extra work it requires. The photographers shoot price is small in the overall scheme of selling a property. It is not unreasonable to expect to get paid up front. Has anyone had a positive experience deferring photo shoot fees this way?

How To Shoot Brackets So You Capture The Whole Brightness Range Of A Room

June 7th, 2015

Yesterday HEV asked the following question:

How do you deal with lamps that are just too bright? Especially if you do hdr and/or flashless photography?

There are a bunch of ways to shoot brackets but my favorite is the way Simon Maxwell describes in his Enfuse For Real Estate Photography e-book and video series. Simon’s approach to shooting brackets ensures that you capture the entire range of brightness in the room you are shooting. Bright lights to dark corners.

Generally it works as follows: You use the histogram on your DSLR LCD to do this. Most modern DSLRs have this. The images to the right are from my LCD. The top one is the starting point (first bracket) and the bottom is from the last bracket. You can  shoot as many as you want in between. I’m using a 5DMKII with the brightness histogram on and in LiveView. Here are the steps:

  1. Lock the body down on a sturdy tripod.
  2. Set the camera in manual mode and set the aperture. I’m using f/5.6.
  3. Use the lowest ISO you have. I’m using ISO 100.
  4. As you move the little wheel (on Canon bodies this is the wheel just behind the shutter release that speeds up the shutter speed the histogram will move to the left. Keep moving it left until the histogram just barely touches the top of the histogram scale. Take the first bracket.
  5. Move the wheel that controls shutter speed so the histogram starts to move to the right. On every DSLR, I’ve seen each click on the thumb wheel is 1/3 of a stop. So go three clicks for every stop you want to have between brackets.
  6. Keep going shooting a bracket every stop until the histogram crawls up the right side and just starts to touch the top. Take the last bracket. Now you’ve captured the entire dynamic range of the scene exactly.

When you process the brackets for each shoot, you don’t have to use them all and if you’ve shot in RAW you can do adjustments before you process the brackets to deal with bright lights. Simon describes how to decide which brackets to use to get good results. While this may take a little more time than using the Auto Exposure Bracketing feature, it makes sure you have the whole brightness range of the room,

What’s The Status Of US Small Drone Rules That Apply To Real Estate Photography?

June 4th, 2015

PeterSachsI have a lot of people asking, “what’s the status of small Drone rules that apply to real estate photography?” What I always do is refer people to Peter Sachs’ Peter is a lawyer, drone activist, photographer and small drone pilot and has the best description of the state of US drone law that I’ve seen. In this video, Peter talks about small drone legal issues as of a year ago. Not that much has changed in the last year. The problem with the detail description on is that the description is pretty involved and takes a while to dig through. I thought I’d take a crack at boiling down Peter’s Current US Drone Law page to some significant bullet points (this should not be considered legal advice): Continue Reading »

Update On PFRE Coaching

June 3rd, 2015

CoachingJustin gave me some feedback on his experiences with the PFRE Coaching process recently:

I’m interested in learning and building up my knowledge base by picking the brains of a couple of your coaches. I’ve e-mailed one coach twice in the span of a couple of months and received no response either time. I believe that if you’re going to advertise yourself on this site, you should be available or if not, at least be able to communicate that information to prospective clients. Also, I’d like to see a way for clients to review coaches? That may help prospective clients decide who best meets their style.

I’d see a way to tell if coaches are currently accepting clients or not. That may require coaches to regularly update their page depending on their schedule, but if doable and not too onerous on them, that would be a nice feature.

Continue Reading »

Is There A Business Opportunity For Real Estate Photographers In Providing Matterport Tours?

June 2nd, 2015

matterportLast week several readers pointed out that Zillow is now allowing Matterport 3D models on listings. Dave asked the following:

This morning I got an email from Inman News about Zillow now serving up 3-D models on listings. The system in question is: Matterport.

The direction our business has been taking, as you’ve also mentioned, is getting away from 360-degree panos and immersive tours to quality stills and/or video. That being the case, I was curious as to your take on this latest 3-D model technology.

Continue Reading »

What Is The Best Real Estate Photography Lens For Nikon APS-C DSLRS?

June 1st, 2015

Sigma10-20Don says:

I am currently exploring the area of real estate photography. I am shifting my business from weddings to real estate due to health issues. Weddings are just more of a strain on me than I can handle at this point in my career. I currently own Nikon gear and use a D200 APC format camera. From what I’ve been reading, I will need to purchase a wider lens than I currently own. My problem is that I would like to go to a full size sensor on my next body. The obvious issue is how much lenses cost that will cover a full frame sensor. I hate to purchase an APC lens and then have to buy another lens when I move up to full frame. In the meantime I may have to build some business and use what I have until things get rolling. What are your suggestions for a good lens in the APC format? I’ve been looking at Sigma, Tamron and Tokina as far as prices go. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Continue Reading »

Congratulations Travis Rowan – May PFRE Videographer Of The Month

May 31st, 2015

TravisRowanCongratulations to Travis Rowan, of Maui, Hawaii who the video jury voted the May 2015 PFRE  videographer of the month with this stunning video.

As usual with these contests, there’s a lot to be learned from looking at the juror comments in the contest flickr group. Thanks to the jurors who had the time to post the comments. Note that I also have direct links to each video on the video numbers below.

Here are the points awarded by the video jurors:

  1. 113 pts, #5, Travis Rowan – Maui, Hawaii
  2. 89 pts, #9, Jacob and Jamie McNeil – Vancouver Island, British Columbia
  3. 85 pts, #7, Anders Carlson – Kailua Kona, Hawaii
  4. 82 pts, #3, David and Tina Barger – Tucson, Arizona
  5. 80 pts, #1, Rob Guillory – Calabasas, California
  6. 75 pts, #6, Owen Fielding – Hobart, Tasmania, AU
  7. 74 pts, #4, Andre Francois Mckenzie – Toronto, Canada
  8. 70 pts, #8, Michael and Laura Sosnowski – Portland, Maine
  9. 54 pts, #2, Matt Parvin -Southport, North Carolina

Thanks for the time spent by the video jurors! They make this contest work. Here is Travis’s description: Continue Reading »

10 Rules For Real Estate Photography Success

May 28th, 2015

ElonMuskElon Musk has been one of my hero’s for a while. I just started listening to the newly released biography on him by Ashlee Vance and the more I learn about Elon, the more he amazes me. He is the most driven person I’ve ever heard of. Learning about the details of his life and creating his businesses is giving me new appreciation of how important it is to have focus and drive.

Today I stumbled across this video summary that contains a list of what Musk thinks is important for success:

  1. Never give up
  2. Really like what you do
  3. Don’t listen to the #littleman
  4. Take a risk
  5. Do something important
  6. Focus on signal over noise
  7. Look for problem solvers
  8. Attract great people
  9. Have a great product
  10. Work super hard

These 10 rules all apply in one way or another to building a real estate photography business. Musks simple geeky style of explaining these adds a lot!

Is A 22 mm Wide-Angle Lens Wide Enough For Real Estate Photography?

May 27th, 2015

Olympus11-22Gene says:

I am a Realtor with an Olympus E-500 digital camera and interested in taking interior photos. There are two lens you recommend. The 7-14mm f4 and the 11-22mm f2.8. Big price difference between the two. Is there a big different in the photos and is it noticeable? I am not a pro but do want to take some nice interior photos on my listings.

First of all, the Olympus sensor size makes the focal length multiplier for these lenses 2.0 which means the 7-14mm is effectively a 14-28mm lens and the 11-22mm lens effectively a 22-44mm lens. The other important fact is that the sweet spot for shooting interiors is around 24mm (effective). That is, 24mm is wide enough to show interior spaces well but not so wide images have strange, distracting perspective distortions.

The 7-14mm is twice the price of 11-22mm and the quality is better but probably not twice as good. The added cost is to get that ultra-wide-angle. My experience is that you can get buy very nicely with the 11-22m since it with hit the sweet spot of 24mm and go slightly wider. For many years, before I moved to digital, I shot listings with a fixed 24mm and was very happy with the results. Just be aware though that the 11-22mm will not give you that ultra-wide-angle views that the 7-14mm will give. Some Realtors like this ultra-wide look but many readers here will argue that not being able to go too wide is a good thing.

Is there anyone that has experience with both of these lenses?

Does The New Merge to HDR Feature In Lightroom Replace LR/Enfuse

May 26th, 2015

EnfuseLR6Dwayne asked the following:

I have used Photoshop from it’s first edition. Now I have the new Photoshop CC along with Lightroom CC. I’ve never used Lightroom before but have seen a lot about Enfuse. My question is: now that LR has it’s own “Merge to HDR”, do I really need LR/Enfuse? The LR version seems to work faster than LR/Enfuse. I have Photomatix Pro 5 but I am not happy with the garish colors it sometimes gives and I end up desaturating everything. Your thoughts?

Since Simon Maxwell (author of the Enfuse e-book and video series) is the expert on the LR/Enfuse plugin because he uses it intensively, I asked Simon to weigh in on this subject. Here is Simon’s answer: Continue Reading »