All you English speakers, don't be intimidated by the fact that Oliver's site is in German. If you use the Chrome browser it will recognize what language the site it in, knowing that you normally read English and offer to always translate the site for you. Pretty cool, this helps remove language barriers. I ask Oliver to tell us about his business and real estate photography in Germany. Here is what Oliver has to say:
In Germany pure real estate photography is not that much developed as in countries like the U.S., Australia or New Zealand. Of course there are excellent photographers that concentrate on architecture and interior photography, but most professionals in that sphere conduct RE photography as a side discipline and are actually specialized in wedding, headshot or product photography. The third and by far largest group of image contributors are hobbyists and employees of RE businesses who are condemned to shoot for their masters. This hate-love relation is reflected in mostly unflattering RE photos in common classifieds of Sunday's newspapers as well as in the major RE internet portals and even in the glossy handouts that go with every property on sale.
But things have changed gradually over the last months. Realtors realize that it is no more alone their personality or their state that sells a home - it is the presentation, too. The reason for this is the anonymity and the comfort of online search results. Homebuyers decide to see the property (or not) even before they shake hands with a Realtor. Within split seconds they sort out and instantly forget those with a bad level of visual presentation. Therefore the selling side starts to invest more in professional photography, they either recruit a professional or start to educate themselves or their staff to shoot on a significantly higher level. Thus the real estate photo industry in Germany is growing significantly.
With PrimePhoto - Immobilienfotografie I have identified a possible business model in this area. PrimePhoto (www.primephoto.de) has been one of the main strands of my own public relations agency Z MEDIA - Corporate Communications (www.zmedia.de/english) from 1996 on. I am a photographer from my teenage years on (which was three decades ago). First it was an ambitious hobby but as soon as I started my agency it became a standard offer for my clients. Amongst them were housing companies, contractors and public utilities which always needed professional photographs of their properties - sometimes just for documentation, sometimes for commercial advertising. From time to time some of the managers even wanted to have shot their new home. For about half a year now I have developed PrimePhoto as a pure RE Photography service. In that time I conducted lots of research, some programming, and much networking not only within the industry. From day one on I am a frequent reader of Larry Lohrman's PhotographyForRealEstate blog, which was a superb source of inspiration and education. And two weeks ago I have delivered to Larry the first copy of the translation and layout for the German edition of his e-Book "What Realtors Need to Know about Photography" (via GermanoMedia (www.germanomedia.com) which is another service of my public relations agency).
What distinguishes my real estate photography service from many others is
that I will operate PrimePhoto in three directions:
- I take photographs of real estate property. The first assignments are already rolling in. Customer friendliness counts: The images delivered are prepared in several formats - some of them ready to upload to the major online portals. Several basic packages contain a different number of images as well as some other form of presentation.
- I offer a photo retouching service for clients who decide to shoot themselves. Also here I have the first stacks of images delivered last month.
- I will offer seminars to realtors, home sellers, home stagers, architects and contractors who want to improve their shooting skills. This is about to start shortly. Seminars are a service of my agency anyway.
This across the board approach is a result of my analysis of the German real estate photo market you have read in summary at the begin of this article.
On balance I am very satisfied with how this business has started. I think this is also a result of my personal style of a straightforward communication - for me there is not much to hide. On my website and blog tips and tricks for better photos and a gear list can be found as well as a very simply structured price list. And I give advice for preparing properties for a professional shoot. My clients can download a starter's handout which contains a short price overview, a contract on the usage of the photos, a checklist with +50 tips to prepare their property for photography and a schedule of a typical shooting.
This all shows my expertise for this mission, and even more important, it helps to build trust and honesty on the client side. Trust and honesty are the most important basis for a successful start into a new business relation.
I'd like to thank Oliver for his work translating What realtors Need to Know About Photography and repeat my offer to make this e-book available to anyone else that would like to translate it to another language.