What Realtors Should Do to Get What They Want Out of a Shoot?

March 11th, 2019

Rohnn in Missouri asks:

What am I, as the Realtor, paying a real estate photographer for? The final image as interpreted by the photographer or the initial image in raw format? What if I do not like the final composite/HDR image? I am also a photographer with Lightroom and Photoshop experience.

It sounds to me like you are not getting what you want from your real estate photographer!

I would say that it’s up to you to negotiate with your real estate photographer to get what you want for your money.

  • Most real estate photographers are expected to give you a finished product that you can upload to your MLS.
  • Most real estate photographers have their own idea of what a finished product is. Something like 25-30 finished JPGs.
  • It’s not unreasonable to expect the photographer to check in with you to see if there are special features of a property that they should be trying to capture.
  • Good photographers should be trying to understand if there are any stylistic considerations that you personally would like and to give you that kind of product.
  • If it’s just post-processing you are having an issue with, I can’t see why any photographer would be opposed to supplying you RAW images.
  • However, if you are not getting the composition you want and are asking photographers to go back and reshoot, you should also expect to repay them for the extra time and effort.
  • If you are capable of shooting listings and frequently not getting what you want from photographers, at some point you might consider just shooting your own listings; it doesn’t take that much time.
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14 Responses to “What Realtors Should Do to Get What They Want Out of a Shoot?”

  • Just as I would never hand over negatives in the film days, I would not hand over RAW files either. They are just a step in the process of a finished image just as negatives are.

    It is the job of the client to make sure that the photographer they are hiring will produce images that they want. I don’t know any photographer who is professional who does not have a full portfolio of images that illustrate their approach and style. So the client can look at the portfolio before hiring the photographer and pretty much know what to expect. If that photographer’s style is not what is wanted, then the client is free to find a photographer whose style is what is wanted.

    Photography is not a production line product but a creative service. Final results are always more like a prototype and as such are all original problem solving visually. So nothing can be guaranteed, but the style can be pre-determined.

    I would suggest that if Rohnn does not like the rendition, perhaps a talk with the photographer to explain the end result wanted would be a good idea and see if the photographer can re-process the images more in the style Rohnn wants. Perhaps redo a couple first to find the style wanted.

    We have to remember that in shooting a RAW image, the photographer creates that image with the final image in mind and that includes what he or she will be doing in post. Sort of how you expose and develop film. But Ansel Adams created different styles of print from the same negatives over the years going from low contrast to much higher contrast as time went on. So digital photographers can do the same thing.

  • “I can’t see why any photographer would be opposed to supplying you RAW images.” – I would beg to differ. Actually, I would say the exact opposite. I don’t know of any photographers who would give up RAW files unless there were heavy fees associated with the transfer. My editing process is just as much of my service as the act of taking the image. A RAW file is not a final product and therefore would never be provided to a client.

  • Any good business relationship should have solid communication as it’s foundation. As the Realtor you should be letting the photographer know what you expect. For me, the photographer, I always ask if there are any special considerations for each listing I shoot. A quick walk through of the house with the realtor should clear up any questions either of you have. If it is a matter of style where the conflicting tastes occur it may be time to find another photographer. Someone (Scott Hargis – I think also I’m paraphrasing ) said photographers should find agents that like the style in which they shoot. Real Estate agents should do the same thing. In my business I learn after a few shoots what an agents prefers and from there it’s generally smooth sailing. My business is such that I don’t have a huge client list in fact I have “weeded” a few out recently. Not everyone has that luxury but it makes life easier as I don’t work with anyone who complains constantly. I always offer to make any changes (no charge) so it pays to get it right the first time. Regarding providing RAW files, I don’t. I provide finished JPGS only. I have had requests but don’t provide them. Why? Probably a topic for another day. As a point of interest – none of the agents I am currently working with have the time to edit photos anyway. Most have assistants that are incredibly busy too. I would expect that shooting/editing photos would be a very inefficient use of time for an agent who is working full-time. It would seem to be near impossible with the constant calls, texts, meetings, appointments, etc. that agents routinely deal with. So to answer the above question – you are paying for the final image (JPGS) as interpreted by the photographer who knows exactly what you are expecting.

  • You can take your own brackets and outsource them to BeePec and have professionally edit images your own way.

  • “Photography For Real Estate
    Helping Real Estate Photographers Be Successful”

    That’s the heading here, Larry — but sometimes I wonder. I may be obtuse, but telling a customer the following:

    “If it’s just post-processing you are having an issue with, I can’t see why any photographer would be opposed to supplying you RAW images.”


    “If you are capable of shooting listings and frequently not getting what you want from photographers, at some point you might consider just shooting your own listings; it doesn’t take that much time.”

    Isn’t helping me be successful at all. In fact, I might think the opposite. If I give someone my RAW images, and they hack them up to shreds, then they show them to their peers and say “look at this crap – I wouldn’t use this guy”. Regarding the idea that “shooting a home doesn’t take much time” is the kind of thing that Realtors new to the business LOVE to hear. Those are the same people that are our future customers. Should we convince them early in their career to start their own photography business too?

  • Well the last thing I would tell a realtor is “…you might consider just shooting your own listings; it doesn’t take that much time.” This is a key opportunity to sell your services! In all honesty though, I suspect that this realtor just isn’t happy with anyone’s photography. Likely best to just move on…

  • It’s not as simple as that.

    Shooting digitally is a multi-component process. Each item in the workflow is done looking towards the next step in the process. How I shoot is dependent on how I process and vise versa. I couldn’t expect to break that into an in-cohesive workflow with multiple players that don’t work in concert.

    Case in point, as it relates to BeePec. They are really talented retouchers, but… their style of retouching works around images in natural light. If I send them a sequence of 4 frames, (1 flash, 2 ambient, and 1 flashed window pull), they disregard the first and last frame, and do what they can with the two ambient frames, and the result isn’t what I intend. The finished product then looks like their style instead of mine. I use them for what works for me, Day-to-night and virtual staging, and they are awesome at that. I wish I could get them to develop a retouch process that works for my shooting style, which is quite common among us RE guys.

    Point is, you can’t disconnect shooting from processing and expect superb results.

  • Nobody gets my RAW files. Period.

  • “…What am I, as the Realtor, paying a real estate photographer for? The final image as interpreted by the photographer or the initial image in raw format?…”

    Wouldn’t it be infinitely easier to take this question directly to the photographer in question?

    “…What if I do not like the final composite/HDR image?…”

    Then find another photographer whose work you like. Also, why is it a given that the final is a composite/HDR? Regardless, if you have one bad shoot, and you don’t think the photographer is going to be able to deliver what you want on a consistent basis, it’s time to find a new photographer. It’s not much different from ordering a meal at a restaurant. If you were served a plate of fried chicken you didn’t like, would you be posting on a blog about what to do?

    “…I am also a photographer with Lightroom and Photoshop experience….”

    Well — let’s exand on that just a bit. The OP is also someone who has a record going back YEARS of coming here and elsewhere to utterly disparage the entire industry of real estate photography. Given his repeated insistence that “photos don’t matter” and “photo quality doesn’t matter” — isn’t today’s question especially pointless?

  • Well said Scott.

    Like many others here, I would never hand over RAW files—I’m pretty surprised Larry suggested that.

    This realtor needs to better communicate their needs and ask the photographer to fix the photos or find another, better, photographer.

  • Peter D’Aprix – WELL SAID Peter!!

  • Scott’s answer is spot on. Like his food analogy.

    Simple answer – check the photographers website. If you like the pics, hire them. If not, hire someone else.

  • I have a look that I try to provide on a consistent basis based on each home. I’m not trying to make an interior that’s dark hardwoods light and bright and vice versa. I’m also trying to be as accurate as I can for MLS destined images. I’m always trying to pull feedback out of my customers to make sure they aren’t having issues with what I deliver, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to start doing run and gun HDR images because there are agents asking for that. It’s not my style, it’s not the direction I want to take my photography and it’s not what I want to be known for.

    I agree with the other comments about not delivering RAW images. My goal is to get as much done in camera as possible but, there are plenty of times when I’m creating a series of exposures with post production in mind to get to the final image in my head. That is also the reason I charge much more if somebody wants to approve each image as they are made. I have to fully light the composition where I might have made my base exposure and then put a pop of light in adjacent rooms and spaces that I’ll add in as layers in PS. Doing it that way means I’m packing 5 speedlights and not 10 or more. It wouldn’t work to drop all of those images on somebody else and expect that they would know what the intention is. They might as well pay the premium and we’ll shoot the home together.

    I think of what I do as providing a service and not delivering a product. My goal is to hand over images to my customer that are ready to use in their various marketing materials so they can sell a home and look good doing it. I encourage them to request all of the different sizes that will be using so I can export them into folders so they aren’t even having to resize anything themselves (it’s dead simple to do that in LR). I’m not creating any value by just bringing the gear and pushing the button. If I’m not creating value, I’m not worth more than a day’s gear rental and minimum wage for the labor. I’m not going to survive on that.

  • Of course the client should pick a photographer whose work he or she likes. But it is a bit more complicated than that, because no matter how perfectly a client matches with a photographer, there will still be images the client does not like. The real question is what to do in those cases.

    In my opinion and experience, this is where “over delivering” relly helps the photographer. Thise who want to charge per image this does not work, but quite frankly it is not that hard for me to move my camera in the living room to an extra spot or two beyond my fav comp(s), hit it with a ceiling bounce and get an ambient. It just isn’t that hard, it doesn’t take long, it satisfies the client because he now has more of a chance to swap out the images he does not like with ones he does. This is a time honored saying as well, so there had to be some merit to that: underpromise and overdeliver.

    But sure, if it is consistently the processing the client has a problem with, I think another photographer is the only solution.

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