The Importance of Workshops and Coaching in Learning Real Estate Photography

July 7th, 2017

Some recent discussions with people just beginning real estate photography reminded me that many people need help understanding how to get good real estate photography training. Below are some important ideas on this subject.

Workshops are one of the very best ways to learn real estate photography. You just can’t beat face to face training. However, since real estate photography is a niche, workshops on real estate photography are few and far between. There is only a handful in the US every year and they are going to be far more expensive that a Scott Kelby Lightroom workshop. Scott Kelby can charge just $99 because he will typically get several hundred attendees per location. Also, you must be prepared to travel to the location where the workshop is. Don’t wait for a workshop to come to your town; it ain’t going to happen! Plan on spending a couple thousand dollars to take a workshop. But it is well worth it! Spend more on training that you do on equipment. I’ve done announcement posts for the two workshops in September. One in Orange County, CA and one in Ottawa, Canada.

Coaching is probably the next best way to get good training. If you haven’t seen it, here is the list of coaches that I recommend. These people are some of the best in the industry.  Expect to pay $100/hr and up for their time. They all have different ways of coaching. Some use the phone, some use Skype, and some of these coaches will come to your location and spend one on one time with you but expect to pay for all their costs. Check them out and see which approach works for you. You can contact them via their website listing on the PFRE coaching page.

Both of these approaches are probably more expensive than learning other subjects but you are not likely to find real estate training in your local area.

What are readers’ experiences with using workshops and coaching?

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2 Responses to “The Importance of Workshops and Coaching in Learning Real Estate Photography”

  • A quick testimonial from me about my experience with coaching and workshops:

    A couple of years ago I felt like I hit a road block in my development. I was busy, shooting plenty of homes each week for real estate agents, but I knew the work I was producing was not the finished images I saw in my head. And they certainly weren’t even close to the images I saw in magazines and from all the other shooters I looked up to in this forum and elsewhere! Looking back now, it was junk. Embarrassingly so. I had recently took the leap from HDR to off camera flash, and although all the instructional videos were extremely helpful (I feel like I watched them all many times over), something still wasn’t clicking. The learning curve was brutal and my homes were taking longer to shoot and much longer to edit. I still felt my work wasn’t improved enough to justify a price increase, so in essence I was working more and making less.

    I made a decision to take a chunk of money I had set aside to upgrade my gear and invest it instead into some one-on-one coaching. I remember seeing some of Iran Watson’s early work on a crop sensor body and middle-the-road lens and I said to myself, “Until I can make an image like THAT with the gear I currently have (which was comparable to his), I don’t need better gear. Gear isn’t my biggest limiting factor.” After interviewing a couple of coaches, I found one that seemed like a good fit and began the journey.

    Over the course of about a year, I poured myself completely into the coaching. I did the homework. I put the principles into practice. I hammered away at everything that was thrown at me. I surrendered to the process and really went all in. It wasn’t always a smooth ride. There were definitely growing pains along the way. Some months I did more sessions, and when things were busier with my shoots I cut back a bit. All in all, I spent around $4,000 USD over the course of a year on one-on-one coaching.

    Looking back, I can honestly say it was the best investment I’ve made in my career to date. There is tremendous value in working so closely in a one-on-one environment. Techniques that would have taken me weeks, if not months, to reverse engineer and figure out could be learned over the course of an hour. I had so many “A-HA!” moments during the coaching that I filled multiple notebooks that I still refer back to today.

    My coaching experience culminated with a trip to a workshop. Again, I can’t recommend this environment enough. Not only was it awesome to be surrounded by people who geek out about the same exact stuff you do, but the hands-on instruction was instrumental to my continued growth. It doesn’t get much better than being behind the camera with a photographer you greatly admire, watching them work and getting to ask all the questions you have. I look forward to attending another one soon! That trip all in cost me around $2,000 USD (workshop fee, flight, hotel, etc…).

    Although you can’t always see it when you’re in it, looking back, I have noticed a dramatic improvement in my work. Since my coaching and workshop experience, I have been able to increase my fees and I’ve begun to shoot for more higher-end clients (interior designers, architects, high-end builders, etc…). I no longer shoot for the real estate agents that want the cheapest price and same-day turnaround. I happily lost some clients that I didn’t like working for anyways and gained some that I could have only dreamed of shooting for two years ago. The $6,000 I invested has been recouped many times over in income and the additional bonus of me shooting less and earning more.

    I would encourage anyone looking to take their craft to the next level to look into coaching and/or attending a workshop. Benjamin Franklin said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, but involve me and I learn.” The one-on-one involvement has been a game-changer for me. If anyone has any questions about my personal experience, I’m happy to speak to them directly. Please feel free to drop me a line.

  • Well said, Michael! I and I’m sure others here, have witnessed the great strides you have made in your photography as a result of your investment in yourself.

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