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Meet New York City’s Top Real Estate Photographers

In: 
Published: 17/07/2013
By: larry

NYCphotographersTim Wilson pointed out this article to me from back in January of this year in TheRealDeal.com a New York real estate news site.

The author, Andrew Klappholz,  says:

In recent years, a new niche industry has exploded within the real estate industry: listing photography. With the advent of digital photography and growing international interest in New York City real estate, more and more brokers have turned to professionals to shoot their listings rather than taking the photos themselves.

I found it very unusual that the article interviews the photographers,  but doesn't link to their websites. This is a typical old-school newspaper attitude, that if you link to another site readers leave and don't come back. So I've done some research and located all these photographers sites. To me most of the interest in featuring photographers is looking at their work in detail. So here they are:

  1. Evan Joseph
  2. Nico Arellano
  3. John Porcheddu
  4. Michael Weinstein
  5. Richard Caplan

So if you shoot upper-end real estate in New York City these guys are some of  your competition.

12 comments on “Meet New York City’s Top Real Estate Photographers”

  1. Just beautiful work! I love to look at work like this because it motivates me to work harder and come up with better stuff.
    Thanks for posting this.

  2. Thanks for the links! I recall reading some lighting walk-through for one of Evan Joseph's shots. Here's a good quote of his to print out and glue to your gear case when going on shoots:

    When shooting a listing, he said, “I want people to feel like, ‘Wow, I have got to live there,’ not just, ‘Oh, that’s a nice space.’”

  3. @ro

    At least Nico is doing some sort of hand blended HDR/fusion, and based on some of their portfolios I spotted a few HDR shots, but I know that Evan uses multiple strobes (whether for every shoot or not, I don't know).

    Nico charges $150 for the FIRST image! That's one image. One. For $150. For a hand blended multiple exposure. Great work if you can get it!

    One thing I noticed after perusing the portfolios is that much of it really isn't any more impressive than what we see here on the contest page, or on the daily Flickr pool. In fact, I saw several images where a one-point perspective was off-kilter a couple degrees, or verticals weren't quite vertical, or barrel distortion was evident. And many images were of the "super-wide" variety that stretched out furniture at the edge of the frame.

    What I'm saying is, even though these guys are definitely good, I see plenty of that every day looking at the PFRE Flickr page and every month at contest time. What makes these 5 photographers special is mostly the venues they get to shoot.

  4. Jeff is right. The shots are great, but give most of us such beautiful homes and locations and we could do the same. The angles used are pretty standard.

  5. Jeff n Jason I agree - in a city with so much creative talent it beggars belief that these guys are top of the pool. Good not great - and if you are not great in New York then you are just no good

  6. "What makes these 5 photographers special is mostly the venues they get to shoot." While having high-quality subject matter certainly helps, the above websites generally exhibit technical and visual skills that are well above the mainstream of real estate photographers. Not all of the above photographers are on quite the same level in my opinion. A couple show uniformly high quality whereas some of the portfolio images of the others are not quite so exceptional, though still generally above average for real estate photography.

    "The angles are pretty standard." it is much more than just angles. It is about composition, lighting, shooting at the right time of day, advanced digital processing and more. Also, it would not surprise me if some of those photographers are using assistants for at least some of the jobs, which, in addition to helping the photographers to deploy more lighting resources than if working alone and to generally be more productive, will also help them to do some rearranging of the furnishings and decor, which can make for better images. In short, in terms of the technique and shooting process, some high-end real estate photography can be similar architectural and interior photography (although there are typically stylistic differences between these genres, even with similar subject matter). In addition, it seems evident to me that there is generally more digital processing of the photos going on in a fair number of the above examples than is typical of mainstream real estate photography.

    "Nico charges $150 for the FIRST image! That’s one image. One. For $150. For a hand blended multiple exposure. Great work if you can get it!" I can see why he gets the work and why he charges what he does. The results speak for themselves. Furthermore, assuming that he does do substantial compositing work on his images, which would not surprise me, there can be a considerable amount of work in involved with that, both with shooting the component exposures and doing the digital processing and retouching. However, not all markets are going to have the kind of high-end properties, high property values and marketing-savvy real estate agents that will warrant trying to offer this level of photography. New York City is certainly a location that does warrant offering such photography. Also, I would be willing to bet that the above photographers shoot their share of more mainstream properties for their agent/clients, because these kinds of agents tend to view the quality of the photography they use as part of their branding, so a relatively consistent level of quality is particularly important to them. No doubt the fancier properties will tend to receive somewhat more attention in this regard, but there will nevertheless be a base level of relatively high quality.

    So, I would suggest not being so quick to judge how easy this is if only you have the right subject. All too often I see real estate photographers take what ought to be the easiest thing to shoot-a building exterior on a nice, sunny day, with the sun illuminating the face of the building in an attractive manner-and produce a thoroughly un-involving, image, even of a very high-quality subject. On average, interiors tend to be much more demanding of both visual and technical skills than a well-lit exterior. Fundamentally, it is the difference between merely informational images and real marketing images that will make a strong impression.

  7. @Jeff
    Yeah, there's no way around here I can get $150 for an entire shoot, much less the first image. People in general around here are really cheap. My RE package starts out way lower than that and I get realtors freaked out about the price. Funny, they don't want to work for free but they want me to. :-/

  8. @David

    Your own portfolio proves my point that the guys featured in this article are only featured because of the great homes they photograph. Your images are on par with, or superior to, most of what I saw in the NYC portfolios, but have you been featured in any articles lately?

    As for Nico's $150 shot, I was mostly joking. I understand that NYC has a much higher standard of living and so wages are proportionally higher. Still, I stand by my comment that it's "great work if you can get it." 🙂

  9. @Jeff, remember these guys are shooting million dollar plus listings for overseas patrons who will often times buy the property through the images alone, so the realtor isnt going to flip out over $150+ for the shoot...We could all be so lucky...

  10. Jeff, of course those photographers are getting the media attention in part because of the properties they photograph, but even more so I think because it is NYC. What I was responding to was the assertion that a large number of real estate photographers could produce work of comparable quality to the best examples among the group of photographers Larry references above. Certainly, one can find that level of quality, and higher, in other markets, and I am sure one can even find examples of even better quality in NYC, but that is hardly the norm, although I did note that some of those photographers are not consistently showing well-above-average-quality work in their portfolios.

    By the way, as to your reference to the extreme (all wideangle lenses distort to some degree) wideangle distortion and ultrawide views, that has become common practice for real estate photography at all levels. It is not my preference, but I do that sort of thing for real estate photography as well, though not necessarily for every room or every client. I don't show much (or any) of that sort of thing in my portfolio because my intended audience is not only real estate agents, but also architects, interior designers, builders, etc..

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