How Do You Promote Property Video?

January 11th, 2015

VideoMarketingLast week Andrew asked:

I am working on a video service that I hope to make available to my clients in a few months… in presenting the video service to my clients, I want to offer my agents some guidance as to how best to deploy video as part of the agents’ marketing efforts for a listing AND to promote themselves as a Listing Agent. I have my own ideas on how this can be done, but what I’d like to know from your readers, is how have their real estate agent clients made the most out of the videos that have been produced for them? and how have their videos been deployed (with success) by their clients?

As Andrew pointed out I did a post on this subject back in 2011 but it could use updating and refinement so here’s my updated list of ways to promote property video: Continue Reading »

SlideShowPro Discontinuing Their Product – What Are Your Alternatives?

January 9th, 2015

SSPClosureIf you have a SlideShowPro account you got an email today announcing that SlideShowPro is shutting down. Several readers asked today what they can use as an alternative.

The SlideshowPro site explains that their closure is a result of the fact that the majority of their products were Flash based and the Internet has evolved beyond Flash, mainly as a result of mobile devices that do not support Flash.

What are your alternatives if you’ve been using SlideShowPro? Continue Reading »

Announcing Real Estate Photography Workshops In Berlin By

January 8th, 2015

Screen-Shot-2015-01-08-at-2.27.25-PMOliver Zielinski, of in Berlin, Germany announced yesterday that he will be launching a series of real estate photography workshops in Berlin. Here is the page describing his workshops (use translate in your browser to translate from German to your favorite language). Oliver describes his real estate photography workshops as follows: Continue Reading »

Accepting Entries For PFRE Real Estate Photographer Of Month Through Jan 15

January 7th, 2015

GeorgeGutenbergJan2014Just a reminder, we are accepting entries for PFRE real estate photographer of the month through Jan 15. The theme this month is exterior twilight shots. The photo to the right is last years winner for this theme by George Gutenberg, Palm Springs, CA.

Here are the entries so far. An here are the contest rules.

The video contest will start on Jan 15. See the video contest rules here.

FAA Grants First Commercial Exemption For Real Estate Photography

January 7th, 2015


NAR President Chris Polychron, released a statement today on the Federal Aviation Administration’s decision to grant the first drone exemption to a real estate professional in the U.S.:

“The FAA has taken a positive step by approving Realtor Doug Trudeau’s application, member of the Tucson Association of REALTORS®, for an exemption to fly an unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones) for commercial purposes. Images captured using UAV technology will provide residential and commercial property buyers with more information and visual insights than they’ve ever had before.

“NAR looks forward to the release of the FAA’s proposed regulations for UAVs, but in the meantime, the exemption process is a way for real estate agents to take advantage of the new technology. We are now compiling resources for our members who might want to apply for the Section 333 exemption so that they can legally and safely use UAVs for their real estate businesses. NAR will continue to educate our members about new technology and innovation that can enhance the experience of buying and selling real estate.”

Here are the details of Doug Trudeau’s exemption which lists the conditions and limitations.

This certainly sounds encouraging on the surface. But it remains to be seen how difficult it will be of you or I to get an exemption like Doug did. Better get in line there 215+ requests for exemptions. Certainly the Conditions and Limitations section of the exemption gives an indication a what the rules are likely to be going forward. This is a significant positive step forward. Thanks to all the readers (Dave, Chet, Chad, Jim, John and Felix) that sent me links on this subject today!

A New Level In Property Marketing: The Penthouse At Soul

January 6th, 2015

AuroraBrett Clements of PlatinumHD in Brisbane sent me some info this morning on a recent in a high-end property marketing project that PlatinumHD did for McGrath.

The website is Kind of a tour on steroids. The subject property is Aurora, the Penthouse at Soul (levels 70-73 of the Soul building) at the corner of Cavill Ave and The Esplanade in Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast, Queensland, AU. This penthouse is up for auction this coming March. If you are looking for a quaint little getaway in the Southern Hemisphere you might want to join the bidding on this property. Expect the opening bids to be well North of $50M USD. But it’s worth it! As Catherine Phillips from DBI Design says, “we’ve created the most amazing beach side living experience possible.”

I have to say that MaGrath, Brett and his PlatinumHD team have taken property marketing to a whole new level with: Continue Reading »

Real Estate Photographers – Always Shoot RAW!

January 5th, 2015

Over the holidays, Willie asked:

“Why shoot in RAW instead of jpeg?.

This reminded me of the days years ago when we used to have heated discussions here on PFRE about whether or not you should shoot RAW. The video to the right by Jared Polin is a funny argument from that era. Nowadays there’s no discussion. Always shoot RAW, no exceptions! Here is my response to Willie:

The reason to always use RAW is that when you shoot JPG the camera makes all the exposure, color, saturation, sharpness, etc decisions and bakes them all into the file before you even get your hands on it. On the other hand with a RAW file you get all the data directly off the sensor and you get to make all these decisions about finishing the photo yourself.

You can see this at work when you work with a JPG vs RAW file in Lightroom. With a RAW file you can adjust the exposure or white balance in either direction by a large amount and you can move the highlights and/or shadows + or – by a huge amount. However, try the same thing with a JPG file and you can’t change the look of the image that much.

The important reason real estate shooters should shoot RAW is that you can take one shot and then move the typically overexposed windows with the Highlights slider so you can ssometimes even see the view out the window and then move the underexposed interior with the Shadows slider so it looks brighter. This is a huge benefit and time saver that makes the larger file size of RAW files well worth it.

Is there anyone left that will take Ken Rockwell’s side of this argument?

Creating Your Brand: How to Stand Out in Your Market

January 4th, 2015

StandoutThe following is a guest post by Tony Colangelo, Victoria, BC. Tony is an active PFRE coach. In this article, Tony describes the basics of the approach he takes with his coaching clients.

A few months ago I wrote an article for PFRE that spoke to the importance of managing fear during the early stages of one’s pro photography career. It was drawn from my time as a psychologist and highlighted the importance of successfully addressing fear ­ particularly when confronted with a daunting challenge at a photo shoot. The feedback to the article was wonderful! So, I thought I’d start the new year by writing another psychology-driven article, one that focuses on how psychology can be applied to one of the most important aspects of business success: establishing an effective ‘brand.’

To set the stage for this article, let me share with you that after being a psychologist for many years, I shifted careers and accepted a role on the business-side of the counseling organization that I worked for at the time, an industry-leading firm here in Canada. I was with them for almost 16 years, the last half of which were as a senior vice-president, overseeing all aspects of the business, including sales and marketing. Of note, is that in my last 5 years in that executive role, we went through FOUR mergers & acquisitions! As you can imagine, all that change caused much stress within the company. Indeed, not only was there an undefined corporate culture, we inherited an expanded product/service line without really having a cohesive way of speaking to it. This ended up confusing the marketplace, our customers, and even our own employees! To address this, we went through a formal and exhaustive “branding” process, using one of Canada’s top branding/marketing companies. In short order, they helped us to understand who we were, the value we brought to the marketplace and how to tell our story in a compelling way. The results from implementing our branding efforts were clear and immediate. Prior to going through that process, we typically won about 40-45% of all our submitted bids to prospective corporate customers. In the year following the branding, we won 70% of those bids, generating millions of dollars of additional revenue!

This article provides an overview of the method that was used at that time. It’s an approach that I’ve subsequently adapted for use with my coaching clients, as part of PFRE’s coaching network. This adapted approach incorporates marketing essentials into a step-by-step brand development method that includes structured exercises/activities. Continue Reading »

Obama Administration And Congress May Be On The Verge Of Acting On Commercial Drone Regulations

January 2nd, 2015

DJIPhantomEveryone, except some commercial pilots, think that the FAA has been too slow to take action on proposing long-awaited rules for commercial drone operations. It is well known that the FAA will not make their September 2015 deadline for regulations.

According to a recent article over at the

Every year the ban (of commercial drones) remains in place, the United States loses more than $10 billion in potential economic benefits that drones could provide, according to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, a trade group…

“We need some sort of process that allows some of the low-risk operations,” said Jesse Kallman, the head of regulatory affairs for Airware, a drone technology company backed by Google Ventures. “I think Congress understands that, and hopefully they’ll take steps in the coming year to address that.”

That appears to be what some key lawmakers have in mind. “We in Congress are very interested in UAS,” Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said at a hearing this month, referring to unmanned aerial systems, or drones. “We understand UAS are an exciting technology with the potential to transform parts of our economy. … It is our responsibility to take a close look.”

On the other hand, the point of view of the many airline pilots is expressed by 737 Captain Ben Berman:

As a (Boeing) 737 captain, I’ll be damned if myself and 178 other people are taken down by a 12-pound or a 50-pound or a 150-pound piece of metal coming through my windshield,” said Ben Berman at a recent forum hosted by the Air Line Pilots Association. “There are too many near misses occurring every day like this.”

It’s a tough job taking care of this issue to the satisfaction of everyone, but it is important that the US make significant, meaningful progress on this issue soon (as in 2015) or the current chaos will just escalate! The FAA is not providing good leadership, let’s hope someone stands up and exerts some leadership on this issue!

Why Not Use A $400 HD Video Camera For Real Estate Video Instead of A 5DMKII?

January 1st, 2015

5DMKIIIJason asks:

I have a question I would like to ask. I have a 5d mk2 & slider and find it quite difficult to video a home interior because of the lighting. So would it be easier to keep the 5d for the still shots and invest in a 400 USD HD video camera that auto adjusts everything. I don’t want to spend loads of time on the video as the agents won’t pay for that kind of quality.

I’m sure readers out there that shoot regularly shoot real estate video will give you plenty of advice on this subject, but here’s my basic answer:

The 5D MK2 (and DSLR Video cameras in general) bring some huge advantages to videographers over cheap HD video cameras of the past. The biggest is probably the ability to use high quality wide-angle lenses that are either not available or only available on super expensive video gear. I have an old Sony Camcorder that was pre-5DMKII and the lens is crappy and the video is aweful compared to my 5DMKII with a Canon 16-35mm. I would never recommend a cheap camcorder to anyone for RE video. Better to not do video that provide a crappy product.

Yes, you’ll need to deal bright windows, but when you are shooting a series of shots with a slider, it’s not that hard to plan the moves so each clip has a fairly constant brightness and you are not panning across bright windows. All this takes practice and you may need to charge more than a still shoot to cover your shooting and editing time.

It sound’s to me like your market may not be ready for video. I don’t think real cinematic video makes sense everywhere. Markets like Seattle, Hawaii, Southern California, Florida, New York, Brisbane, London, etc. where there are a lot of high-end luxury properties are good Video markets but not everywhere is like those markets. You may be better off doing some “tactical” video clips and include them with tours. This would allow agents to make comments about the listing or have a little video where it really makes sense and it wouldn’t be as big a time investment.

What other feedback do others have for Jason?



Top 10 Most Popular PFRE Blog Posts in 2014

December 31st, 2014


Here are the top 10 posts during 2014. Only one of these posts was written in 2014 (#7) so these posts represent the classic areas of interest of real estate photographers over the last 7 years. Note that #1, #4 and #5 were written in 2007 and 2008:

  1. Wide-Angle Lenses For Real Estate Photography: How wide is Wide?
  2. Choosing Gear To Get Started In Real Estate Photography For The Least Cost.
  3. What Should You Charge For Real Estate Photography?
  4. My Formula For Pricing Real Estate Photography
  5. Interior Lighting With Multiple Strobes: By Scott Hargis
  6. Unbelievably Bad Real Estate Photos
  7. Yongnuo YN-560-III: The Only Flash You’ll Ever Need For Real Estate
  8. Bracketing With Flash For Exposure Fusion and HDR – Revisited
  9. What is The Best Lens For Real Estate Photography
  10. Eight Ways To Deliver Photos to Your Client

An interesting fact about this list is that #2  and #3 have 10,000 views more than #4 and #1 have 10,000 more views than #2 so the top 3 posts are in a popularity class all their own. These are obviously the core interests of real estate photographers.

Does Anyone Have A Great Way For Color Matching A Room While Maintaining Warmth?

December 30th, 2014

DesignerBrad wants to know:

We photograph many homes for interior decorators and color matching is a must. The wall color, carpet, pillows and furniture. An interior decorator goes through a great deal trying to color match various components of a room and we as photographers try to recreate the image on paper or digital images. However, things like grey cards do not work as it depends where they are placed in a room. A grey card placed in different areas can create many different hues / colors when trying to eyedropper the grey card for white balancing. The same is true of the expo disc. The only way seems to be to over light the room, but then it takes on a sterile or plastic look and looses the ambiance. Does anyone out there have a great way for color matching the room, maintaining the warmth or ambiance of a scene? In addition, we usually are requested to do different angles of the same room, which of course, creates new problems as the lighting changes….but the colors must all match, from photo to photo. These requirements are different than real estate photography, or, maybe they aren’t. Any suggestions?

Shooting for designers and decorators is different in many ways than shooting for real estate agents. You’ve highlighted one of them. Designers and decorators are going to be much more demanding in this area than real estate agents. Agents are typically not trained in the visual arts and their goals are different. Most agents would not even see of care about the color differences that you refer to.

My advice would be to make extensive use of grey/colorchecker cards and to expect to spend more time at the shoot with the client viewing the results on a tethered laptop. This is one reason why you charge more for a shoot for a designer than for a real estate agent.

Do You Know What Your Net Income From Real Estate Photography Is?

December 29th, 2014

NetIncomeSteve Vandel recently sent me the following:

A week of so back, you had posted a poll on income for RE photographers.  It made me realize, that while I have a decent grip on my gross income, I did not have the same for my net income.  I have decided that next year I will be more organized and track my expenses on a monthly basis, something I usually wait for tax time to do.  I’ve updated a p&l spreadsheet that tracks income from multiple sources and has several expense categories relevant to RE photography.  I am happy to share with anyone that might find it useful. The excel file is here in my dropbox.

Steve is right on. It’s super important to understand what your expenses are on a month-to-month basis. As Steve suggests, this would be a great new year’s resolution. to track your gross vs net income monthly.

Thanks Steve for sharing your expense tracking spreadsheet!

How Not Photographing Real Estate For 2 Years Made Me a Better Real Estate Photographer

December 28th, 2014


This is a guest post by Mike Miriello.

I began my professional photography career photographing approximately 400 listings a year for 65 different agents. I voluntarily handed that contract off to another photographer just shy of 3 years later because I had a different photographic opportunity offered to me, and I couldn’t pass it up. The offer was to be the University Photographer for James Madison University. So what’s this got to do with getting better at real estate photography? Well, when I stepped away from photographing real estate full-time, I was still photographing boutique/luxury apartments and completed projects for builders for my business. I began to see things from a different perspective. The space was the same, but the client was different. The client didn’t want to show 2 or 3 corners of the room, they wanted an intimate perspective of what they physically created. They didn’t want one shot of each room, they wanted to see multiple shots of the same room from slightly different positions to show the details of their work and to give the viewer an understanding of how each room connected. Most importantly, they weren’t dictating their terms to me, they were asking me for my services to help show off their work – they trusted me to do what they were hiring me to do. I do not want to imply that all agents give their photographers a hard time, I’m saying that shooting for clients who have different incentives direct their photographers differently.

Over the 2 years I didn’t shoot real estate, and instead shot for the apartments industry and builders, I gained a significant amount of experience telling a story about a space in a much different fashion than I did shooting strictly for agents. Due to building a different kind of portfolio, I was able to gain the attention of a competing agency who wasn’t interested in hiring my business to photograph 400 listings a year, they were only interested in 15-20 listings each year, at a much higher rate, and those listings are only to be their premier properties. The most important lesson I took away from this experience was that marketable skills can be gained by photographing non-directly-related subject matter. Thanks for reading!

About Mike:
Mike Miriello is a photographer located in Harrisonburg, Virginia. He specializes in interior and architectural photography, wedding photojournalism, and corporate photojournalism. In addition to specializing in those areas, Mike also serves as the University Photographer at James Madison University. Mike can be found at

How Are you Pricing Real Estate Video?

December 26th, 2014

Denise recently asked the following:

I would be interested to hear how other photographers price real estate photos when asked for an add-on video tour.  Even if you structure a tour using the same or similar images from the stills, there is obviously added work to put together the tour video.  Realtors of course would like the video just thrown in or at minimal cost.  I am starting out at the videos and would value advise to structure a fair fee where I’m not taken advantage of nor pricing my services out of the market.  As I see it producing the tour is nearly as time consuming as the rest of the editing and should be an added cost of nearly the same value as the shoot.  Maybe I’m off base.  Feedback and advise?

There are a number approaches being taken to property video out there. What you charge depends mostly on which approach you use. Since doing video is more generally more difficult that shooting still photos it should be priced as a separate product, not an add-on, unless you are referring to YouTube videos generated from stills (#4 below):
  1. Cinematic video: in this approach you use a slider and/or a crane to shoot a unique story or view of the property and use a music track to narration soundtrack. This type of video is much more difficult and time-consuming than doing a still shoot so you need to charge much more (2 or 3 times a still shoot).
  2. Walk through video: in this approach you use a stabilizer of some type and walk through the property showing the major areas of the property. This kind of video is going to take as much time as a still shoot so you’ll need to charge at least as much as a still shoot, probably more.
  3. Tactical video: allows you to shoot short video clips and insert them into a traditional tour of still shots. Perhaps the agent introducing the property or clips of features that benefit from video. This approach takes much less time on site and editing so you’ll need to charge more than stills but not that much, unless you need to spend a lot of time with the agent coaching and directing them. This is probably the place to start out in video. This is real video and can add real value but it is not as difficult and you don’t have to charge as much as #1 or #2 above.
  4. Automatically generated YouTube “video” from still photos: There are many ways to automatically generate this kind of “video” and there are thousands of them out there. They cost very little to generate and they really aren’t video they are just stills presented in a different, lower quality form. charges $5 to automatically generate a branded and unbranded youtube video from your still tour. I think you are better off forgetting this option!
What you charge for any of these should carefully consider your local market.