How Scott DuBose Combines Efficiency and Quality

September 17th, 2018

I just got around to listening to Rich and Brian’s interview with Scott DuBose.

I was particularly interested in this interview with Scott because he has been participating in the PFRE blog community for a very long while. Scott won Photographer of the Month for January 2012.

I think Scott is a great example of a PFRE success story because:

  1. The quality of Scott’s work. His website illustrates the quality of his work.
  2. He is an example of a one-person PFRE business. He does everything himself.
  3. He is super efficient. Twenty minutes on site for each shoot. Twenty minutes a shoot post-processing time. 900 shoots a year.

Listen to Rich and Brian’s discussion with Scott to get more details on how he does all this. Scott is a great example of what is possible in this business!

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22 Responses to “How Scott DuBose Combines Efficiency and Quality”

  • The one major thing missing from the web site is where Scott is located and the area he services. There are some keywords, but Google and many other search engines rank page text much higher than meta-data. The photos look great. I don’t see how they are from 20 minute photo sessions and only a minute of editing. Really strong coffee?

  • The photos are beautiful. Love the one on the upper right quadrant of the sample page. Although I must admit that it would take me hours to shoot photos like these. A nice twilight photo like that one would take me at least 1/2 hour to post. I guess I’m slow 🙁

  • Right, “And on the seventh day he rested”. This is a joke, correct? If you believe this, I have some ocean front property in Arizona I’ll sell you. All I can say is, “Prove it”, because I don’t buy it.

  • Cocaine is a helluva drug. Lol.

  • Would love to see the editing process Scott 🙂

  • His speed may be accurate WRT the average home he is shooting. We are seeing the best of the best in his portfolio and it is hard to believe that the dusk images alone were part of a 20 minute shoot.
    What is instructive is his focus on efficiency. I know I need to re-think my process as I spent 4 hours on my last shoot. However another point made was that the very volume of shoots reduces a lot of shots to a reflexive process.
    When I am in my busy season I can race through a house but at the same time I have less fun as I am so busy I don’t get to enjoy the process.

    A volume business hints at aggressive pricing coupled with great images and service. IOW he is robbing himself as he hinted by raising prices and cutting the number of shoots from 1100 to ~900 a year.

  • I was keenly interested in this episode and as an experiment, I’m going to try the one-light run and gun approach and not take the time to bracket as much. I know the 20mins was based on a 2,000 sf home, but Scott didn’t mention how many shots he takes. If he is only delivering 10 photos that’s only 2 mins. a shot. I can easily spent that much time finding the right composition and adjusting the tripod. I would love to see a video of Scott in action. I would also like to know what single handheld light he uses. Speedlite of larger moonlight?

  • Looks like a few of you commented before you listened to the episode. Scott works in the San Francisco area (it does say that on his website BTW) and he didn’t say one minute of editing, he said on a typical 2,000 sf house he can do it in 20 minutes shooting, 20 minutes post, and mostly from his laptop, sometimes in the car outside the shoot!
    I’m sure in certain situations the shoots take longer (dusk, talkative owners/brokers, unique properties, aerials, etc.) but I think his 20/20 process is referring to what he can do under ideal circumstances.
    And he mentioned that he would do a video demo of his post production process. I’m hoping he does as I’d love to see it. Considering he does over 900 shoots a year, he definitely has this down to a science. If he could do something like the Scott Hargis lighting tutorials, I think they’d do very well!

  • I’ve known Scott for several years, have had the pleasure of having dinner with him a few times and observed him on one photo shoot. Scott is the real deal. His instincts for composition are incredible. He moves through the house like a ninja – no chit-chat, all business, in “the zone”. Just setup, shoot and go to the next room. He knows the perfect angle the second he walks into the room, with his head on a swivel he’s scanning the moment he breaches the doorway and walks directly to the right spot.

    He also has an eye for detail and is always asking questions, on a never-ending quest to find a higher level of perfection for his craft.

  • Sorry, I still can’t buy it. As I said before….prove it. Show me an unedited video (shooting and editing) with a timer in it, then I’ll believe it.

  • Takes me 20 minutes just to bring the equipment in from the car, set up the equipment, and do a walk-through with the agent. I am skeptical to say the least. Does this guy have a life? I got tired just listening and visualizing myself collapsing on the spot with that work load. Holy cow.

  • I listened to this podcast while editing and felt there was a key unanswered question as mentioned above as well. The key thing is how many photos is he delivering to the client for a 2,000 SF home? How many of those are interior and how many exterior. It doesn’t matter what the size of the home is, it all comes down to how many photos are being shot and delivered.

    I provide Photography, Videography and Aerial services and did what I refer to as 700 Events in 2014 and 2015. That can be Photography only, Photos and Video, or Photos, Video and Aerial. I also do all the video shooting and editing so 700 events that year would equate to about 1,100 photo only shoots. I also had ZERO life both of these years and with a family now it was not a business model that I could keep doing for very long by myself.

    I stepped up quality and that meant more time shooting and editing and now shoot about 450 events tops and make 30% more than I was making. I plan on doing this same change again as my quality continues to improve and the aerial and interior work is now spreading into much higher paying avenues such as interior designers, stagers and builders that see the value in what I provide.

    If you are shooting that kind of volume with that little time invested you’re obviously not charging very much per shoot, therefore you’re cranking out shoots, spending all of your waking hours shooting and editing with weekends as well playing catch up for the same amount of money as the guys shooting 1/2 the shoots but charging more and working less. I don’t think the 20 minute per shoot for 15-20 photos which I deliver is possible or even close. I would spend an hour at the house in ideal conditions and another hour to 1.5 editing. Would be interested to see the workflow happen in an unedited video both shooting and editing as well.

  • I don’t doubt Scott’s time on site and what he’s spending on editing, but it is dang fast. Number of photos per job is a big factor and square footage isn’t. I’m always looking for better ways to capture images as good as possible and only needing to spend a minimum amount of time in post. I just don’t see the clear path to 20 images in 20 minutes. I’m old and slow for one thing. Rich quoted his time at around 90 minutes and that’s close to what I take for 15 images, but I always like to have 2 hours blocked out in case I walk into a home covered in dark cherry wood, black granite and heavily tinted windows where everything that doesn’t suck up light throws it back as a specular highlight.

    I always spend time talking with agents. Partially since I’m a chatter box to start with, but I also learn a ton about the current market and real estate selling in general. I also get a good take on what is most important to each of my customers. I also want to maintain that personal connection. I do like to concentrate on just making the images once I get going though. I have to think my way through each composition like I’m teaching somebody. It makes me look more at what could be problem spot like reflections and hot spots so I can adjust or make exposures to fix things later. Just my initial walk-thru is around 5-10 minutes all by itself. Agents don’t often suggest anything that I wasn’t already going to do, but asking for their input is always a good service point. Scott’s approach may not work for me, but I’m sure I could learn something if I knew the details of his workflow.

  • If he isn’t sharing his process, what is the value of the podcast? I admit I didn’t listen to the whole thing.

  • Time matters, unlike an auto repair shop, where the fastest mechanic is usually the best. Interior photographers I hope to emulate abhor quick shoots & high volume. Chasing the dollar -vs- striving to improve your skills seperates at some point.

  • Sorry, I still don’t buy it. All this guy is doing is blowing smoke up your you know what. Don’t be so ready to believe everything you see or hear on the Internet. What he claims is just too far fetched to be true. He would have to be Superman and The Flash all in one and it just ain’t true!

  • His work is great and we can all see that. I take 2 to 3 hours to shoot a 2500 square foot home. Yes that is slow compared to many and I use off camera flash the Scott Hargis way. I am also talking to the agent and sometimes homeowner so that kills some time on the shoot. I also deliver at least 25 images and sometimes up to 40 if there is a lot of wanted detail shots. Each client is different in what they expect for photos. The editing is about equal in time. I have no idea how he can edit in his car and move on. Even if he delivered 10 or 20 pictures how can you edit that quickly? I think the results would not reflect the great pics on his website. However he is not on trial and he has his business. Scott has nothing to prove to anyone except to his clients.
    Power on Scott! Yes we would like to know your secrets.

  • I haven’t listened to the podcast yet but I know Scott DuBose has been around the PFRE online scene since at least when I started 7 or so years ago, and he was one of those guys who would always offer help and critique when asked. I have zero reason to doubt what he says. Good luck to you Scott!

  • He does great work and for anyone to be that busy you have to have help. I bet the 20 minutes or so editing is time picking top 5’s and uploading them to the cloud where his editor will go to work on his choices. Most people that busy have a source doing their editing. He must have his business down to a science.

  • Hi everybody, I just became aware of this post, sorry for the delay. I must have been editing 🙂

    I wanted to get more into process on the podcast. I do shoot quickly, but I’m not sprinting. Just getting the angles I want, shooting with purpose, shooting with post-processing in mind. Mainly flash-ambient, ceiling bounce… not over the camera, out in the room. As an example, flash bounce into the room, shoot ambient, done. Or walk the flash into the room for ceiling bounce, step to one side – shoot, step the other side – shoot, ambient shot, done. Mask myself out, add ambient, adjust color, done. Camera/tripod/flash.

    20/20 is real, I do it every day. Large homes take longer of course. Do I recommend this for everyone? Nope, especially if you’re not confident in your post processing. And yes, my web site pics are best of the best. I try to deliver consistent results, always same day delivery.

    BTW I’m usually not one to promote myself, I’m just sharing that efficiency is possible.

  • And I don’t usually edit in my car, that would be weird. But Starbucks, local library, anywhere there’s wifi… I’ll build some slack time in the schedule to edit. Much rather do that than wait until the end of my day.

  • I have never witnessed Scott in action. I will say though, it is not hard for me to believe at all. While I can’t say I have done 20/20 on a 2000 sq ft house, I have done in the ballpark of 30/30. But honestly that is when I am in a certain mood.

    I shoot the same as Scott and we have even compared notes in the past. I probably avergare 1.5 shoots a day, so speed is not a big deal to me. If speed was a big deal, I do not know if I could get it to 20/20, but I know I could get close. It sounds like I am making this about me, but I am not. Just wanted to back up this assertion that you can produce high quality, lit work in unfathomable amounts of time.

    I have often said that one of the biggest misconceptions about compositing is that it is slow. The opposite is true. People who do not know what they are doing yet tell you it is slow. PS is a beautiful thing, and when you are able to leverage the power of blend modes and actions, there is nothing more efficient in real estate photography in my opinion.

    Lastly, I would just like to commend Scott on the ingenuity and vision that it would obviously took to come up with this almost abominably efficient workflow.

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