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Do Real Estate Photographers Shoot In Rainy Weather?

Published: 17/03/2016

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DanSkyreplacementBoth Dave in Seattle and Trevor in Orlando ask about canceling shoots in rainy weather. Dave said:

I have what's becoming a serious problem in my business and wondered if you'd encountered it, since you lived and worked up here for so long. And how did you handle it?

Many of the brokers in this area are weather chasers. They used to call to book a shoot and say things like; "dependent on the weather of course". To work around that I decided that every photo on my front page slider would have a fake sky in it... Both inside and out. Now, when they worry about the weather, I tell them the photos they've been admiring were all taken in gray skies (most while it was actually raining, sometimes hard). It hasn't worked.

I think when you shoot in Seattle or any place other than Arizona or the Sahara desert, real estate photographers need to be prepared to do sky replacement on rainy days and have a clearly stated policy about not canceling shoots because of rain. Dan Achatz's YouTube video on this subject clearly demonstrates that it's possible to produce great real estate exterior shots in Seattle in bad weather. I don't know if Dan charges extra for sky replacement, I doubt he does. In Seattle, rain all the time is just a fact of life. You'll have to decide if it makes sense to charge for sky replacement in your situation. Not having to reschedule shoots all the time will probably save you enough time to just do sky replacement for free. It doesn't take that much time once you get the knack of it.

Oh, and here is the PFRE sky library if you need some sunny skies.

Larry Lohrman

14 comments on “Do Real Estate Photographers Shoot In Rainy Weather?”

  1. While I am not in an area that has a lot of rain, I still control the policy for "Bad Weather". If you leave the control with the agents deciding if the conditions are "good enough" to continue, you are setting yourself up for a lot of "last minute cancellations" because it is not "sunny enough".

    My compromise with the agents is that if it is raining (NOT Overcast), I will swing by on another day when it is sunny to get the front outside shots at no additional charge. This give them the advantage of the interior shots done and ready to go while not having to come back an sit around while I shoot the exterior.

    The fact is that the "see outside" interior shots are better when the ambient light inside and out is closer together without the hassle of custom lighting techniques.

  2. I always have a before shot of rainy day and after shot with post editing, my clients say WOW!!! So far none of them have cancelled a shoot. Ask them to trust you and if they aren't satisfied with the images provided then you'll go back out no charge.

  3. I discourage cancellations due to weather. The rationale I use with the Realtor is that the owner went to the trouble to get the house ready. We shouldn't stand them up. I can definitely get the interior, and for quick listing, the one mandatory exterior. Then within a day or two, I swing by between jobs and get the exterior. It has the additional advantage of my scouting the location for the optimal lighting go the front so I can plan accordingly. The owner already knows me, so access isn't an issue, and if they are home, come out and compliment about the interior batch they saw. Occasionally, I will re-take an interior if it is a room with a phenomenal exterior view.

  4. Sky replacement is an option, but if it's a heavy overcast, it's tough to find a sky that is convincing for the quality of the light.

    Where I am in S. Cal, it doesn't stay overcast for too long. I know that it can rain every day for months in Seattle and there might just not be a reasonable work around for that. The area is known for dismal weather. A bright sunny sky might be close to false advertising. It's like taking snow pictures where I am. We get a day of snow every few years, so it's not a lie, it's just not common.

    I hate to reschedule jobs if I can't fill the time with something else. The interior photos take the most time and if I can knock all or most of those on a rainy day, that's great. Returning for a couple of exteriors and maybe an interior view photo is a quick task I can come back and do in a couple of days when the weather clears. My clients are pretty good about waiting until all of the photos are done before putting the home up on the MLS, but they often will tease upcoming listings on their Farcebook page and a nice interior detail photo works well for that.

    I have a client that handles a lot of homes that are refurbed for Fannie Mae and other agencies. I'm doing the exteriors on those when I'll be in the area during the best time of day for lighting. Again, they can tease those properties and I can come back when the interior is finished rain or shine.

  5. Here in UK (areas in North London) it rains quite a lot, so sky replacements is a must & everyone is happy with it as long as it doesn't look totally fake. I don't cancel my appointments because of weather, however if it rains really heavy then I don't have other choice but to come back another day to do the external shots. I must admit I have shooting in a rainy weather, but that's part of my job and I got used to it over the time.

  6. We also insist on going ahead with the interiors and try and get exterior, if possible, and sky replace. Like mentioned above I would rather shoot interiors when over casted anyway, so I turn it into a positive for the home owner and realtor. I can't remember cancelling a shoot due to weather and we don't even have to say anything to the most home owners, the realtor's have already explained the images will be awesome in these conditions. We schedule our photographer to return when they are back in that area as soon as possible, if the exterior can't be shot.

  7. For the 4th day in a row, here in the Sarasota/Venice Florida area, I have been on hold (a couple of hrs. each day) for my photo-shoots, due to heavy fog.
    Home owners have tried to cancel, but I too will always try to shoot the interiors and go back to shoot the exteriors in sunshine.
    Since Sarasota is a seasonal vacation destination city, it is extremely crowded and the traffic comes to a standstill, (like working in NYC again). So, I always try to shoot under any conditions. My agents also back me up, as they want to get the listing up on line ASAP after signing with the seller.
    Living in the sunshine state, I have only had to do a handful of sky replacements which was challenging for me, until I purchased On1 software.

  8. Living in the Pacific Northwest that's pretty much a fact of life. Actually, if there's a lot of shade and sun on the property, creating broad dynamic range, it's oftentimes easier to shoot on a cloudy, rainy day and do sky replacement in post. A lot of my shoots involve mountain and water views that need to be prominent in the listing and I do my best to be flexible enough to get those shot when the conditions are right and come back later for the interior (have one at 11:00 AM this morning in fact). I also ask the Seller if they have any exterior shots they can email me....sometimes I get some really great images that can be used in the listing that way. Probably not a good idea to fly my drone in the rain however. : )

  9. Everyone loves blue skies, puffy clouds and sun drenched facades. There is no right or wrong answer in how we achieve that while scheduling around bad weather.

    Do whatever it takes to get it right in camera. If that fails, do whatever it takes to get it right in post. Keep it all in check and ensure you're doing quality work.

    Just don't feed your clients photos with poor sky replacements, extreme HDR, muddy colors, cooked saturation, terrible tints and flattened contrast.

  10. I think it very generous of Larry to offer his library of sky shots. I seldom need them since I work in S. California, but our heavy photo season falls during the only time we get rain, if we ever get rain, and there are times I need skies so I have taken some sky shots for myself over the years. Also even with perfect blue skies, after a while they can get a bit boring especially with twilight shots.

    What I am wondering, Larry, is if we all contribute what sky shots we have to your library and create a "share a sky", a group benefit. Would that work? It would certainly help with picking just the right sky for the lighting we have been able to achieve for any one property shoot that may be fraught with sky problems. I would be happy to contribute mine.

  11. @Peter - the Sky library that I linked to is all contributions from PFRE readers since 2006. The link has always been on the right hand side-bar of the blog. Everyone is welcome to use the skies. They are all public domain. But I'm not interested in adding more skies to it.

  12. It seems that I am the minority here but I have never done a sky replacement and really have no intentions on doing so either.

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