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Real Estate Photography Question and Answers – #8

Published: 23/06/2014
By: larry

QandALinda's Question: Since I'm doing mostly video I was leaning toward the Tokina 11-16 for the f/2.8, since you cannot use a tripod like you can for stills, at least for the walk-through videos that I do.  My question for you is, given that I'm only gaining less than a stop (2.8 - 3.5), do you think the Canon 10-22 still trumps the Tokina? The Tokina costs less, but I'm willing to pay what's necessary for the better lens.

Answer: This is a tough call that probably only you can make. On close calls on important issues like what lens will meet your needs people sometimes don't realize that you can try out lenses very inexpensively. If I were you I'd rent (see: the Tokina ($38/five days) and the Canon lens ($41/five days) and see which you like best for your use.

Matt's Question: Would you mind telling me if I've effectively grasped the concept of straightening the verticals on this last flyer I shot/edited ? I shoot with a Canon 24-105mm 4.0L. I always shoot at 24mm. I use the lens profile correction on Lightroom, then fiddle with the vertical settings in your instructions until I feel I get the best result, but I still feel like I'm not getting it right.

Answer: No, almost all of your verticals are still way off! The first step is to be thinking about keeping verticals, vertical while you are shooting. Use the left and right side of the camera frame in the viewfinder to keep your camera level in the front to back plain. It's tilting the camera up or down that makes the verticals off. If you need to, shoot with a tripod that has a built-in level or put a bubble level in the hot shoe. But you can also see the effect while you are shooting in the viewfinder - all verticals must be parallel to the vertical edges of the viewfinder frame. If you do a good job keeping the camera level, front to back, when you shoot there's very little that will need to be done in Lightroom. The LR 5 Upright/Auto feature (in the lens correction panel) will do the job automatically for you if the verticals aren't too far off. The lens profile just corrects barrel distortion, not verticals. Here is a link to a summary post on the subject of verticals.

Steve's Question: I was talking with a fellow Realtor who told me that when the professional photographer, he uses, does her work he comes in and takes one photo of each room with no lights.  I reviewed the photo company's website which was advertised in our Florida Real Estate Magazine and they said their field photographers do not process. They obviously do so in house.  Maybe they are taking HDR  Maybe something else....Your thoughts?

Answer: There are a handful companies, like out of Seattle, that have proprietary post-processing techniques that can do better than most photographers with a few RAW files. I have a hard time believing they do it with one exposure. If you listen closely, when she presses the shutter release, the camera captures 3 photos. These companies are VERY tight lipped about their process. They've been in business for about 7 years and no one I know has been able to reproduce their exact process. They keep all their post processing guys locked up in a back room. Vicaso's process is probably a variation on Exposure Fusion or HDR with some clever Photoshop work.

Jake's Question: Which software you use for creating flyers for listings. I've been using Photoshop, which works, but its a bit cumbersome with resizing photos, rearranging layouts, etc. Do you have a solution/workflow that basically gives you a template that you can fire off these printouts without too much fiddling around?

Answer: Not that many real estate photographers create flyers for agents because most real estate offices have internal free resources (secretaries answering phones that need something to do to fill in between phone calls) and company templates to create flyers. The process of creating an effective flyer involves writing some marketing copy and a review cycle or two with the Realtor that is tedious for photographers. That said, in some situations, flyers can be a natural add on product for photographers that have clients that care about how their flyers look. Along with my Business of Real Estate Photography ebook I include Photoshop templates for flyers, postcards and brochures that I used for years to promote my wife's listings. You are right, Photoshop isn't the ideal application to for flyers. Nowadays I'd use Adobe Indesign. Most real estate offices use MS Publisher to create flyers but frankly I'd rather use Photoshop.

Realtors who are really into professional looking marketing materials use sites like because they provide professionally designed and integrated marketing materials.

In the end having a few Photoshop templates is an inexpensive approach unless you have Adobe Indesign.

13 comments on “Real Estate Photography Question and Answers – #8”

  1. On the flyer question, I'd suggest TourBuzz. you can shoot your Realtor's photos, upload them, and then give them an administrator panel. There's a simple flyer template and very nice slideshow. They can also download photos in several resolutions.

  2. Matt,

    I just bought the Manfrotto 410 3 way head for my tripod. I have been using a video tripod and fiddling around with adjusting the legs to get things level. I can't believe how much time this new head saves me. Verticals are dead on out of the camera thanks to the bubble level on the head. Adjustments are super quick and easy. Why didn't I buy this sooner?

  3. TourFactory has about 100 different templates of flyers to choose from. It gives you a high resolution PDF file for download.

  4. Matt,
    As an industrial photographer shooting film, I had to photograph inside and outside of manufacturing plants. When I couldn’t shoot with a View camera; we used a Nikon 35mm camera and a 28mm PC Lens. The results with the PC lens were stunning. From what I’ve heard, Canon makes a 24mm tilt Shift lens that produces incredible images, and allows you to keep your camera level as you shift up or down. The two issues with this lens, is that you need to shoot full frame to get the wide view, and you need to layout about $2,200. If you are shooting with 24mm most of the time, this might be the lens to invest in. I always feel that a photographer should invest in great glass, as digital bodies become obsolete every few months. But fine glass is something you will have forever…………… mostly.
    The other alternative offered to the architectural (or landscape) photographer with very deep pockets is to invest in a technical camera, like the Alpa (my dream camera) or Horsman super wide cameras which are Medium format and have built in tilts…….nothing is finer.

  5. Its amusing to see a few weeks ago the talk of the big box companies taking over and screwing independents with pricing etc

    Yet people pay tourfactory for their tours? Umm....tourfactory is just like OBEO etc, they have their own photographers........

    Why on earth would you support a company that is no doubt trying to steal your business at any given time?

  6. There is no requirement for the agent to hire a TF photographer. Agents can provide photos acquired or shot on their own. Yes, it is a fact: I am a TourFactory authorized photographer. TF is a marketing tool RE agents appreciate and I am held to a higher standard as well as benefitting from TF marketing.

  7. I've used TourFactory for almost 5 yrs and wouldn't go anywhere else at this point. I shoot my wife's listings, process them through Photomatix & Photoshop, then upload them to TourFactory (where I bought the annual Platinum plan with unlimited tours) and finally point the resulting tour to a property-specific URL I buy through for $10/yr. Nice and easy for a newb.

  8. @Win

    I personally have no issues with tourfactory or any of the other big box companies (there are 2 in my area), but there are photographers out there that are constantly complaining about the "big box" companies ruining this industry.

    A quote from a few weeks ago on a discussion about these companies:

    "Without naming names, this sort of nonsense should be called out for what it is. At the least it is very exploitive, at worst it is predatory.

    Simply put, Tourfactory is in fact one of these

    I know tourfactory's name comes up alot when photographers ask about tour options, Im not sure if photographers realize tourfactory also provides photography just like OBEO etc

    It just amazes me that photographers can whine about these companies like OBEO, but turn around and fork over thousands to a similar company.

  9. Well, we are RE photographers. If I do not perform to acknowledged RE standard I loose, it does not matter if I am in the box or outside the box. My biggest "competition' is the realtor with the iPhone camera, my best reward is the quick sale of a property where my photography produced a great and positive interest. Oh, did I mention, I get paid for my services as well. I also have repeat and expanding referral business. So what's with that…?

  10. Skip the tour companies. While I use Tourbuzz, the brochure is very elementary. It is basically good to have something written after viewing the tour, but nothing like would lay out on the counter or place in a sign info box. For me personally, I use InDesign and as I establish a new template check with my printer down the street making sure I have bleed marks correct. With place holders for photos, relatively simple to change out photos. Writing script is a bear and the reason they don't pay me enough to do it for others. Since I don't see brochures as a significant additional profit center, I usually recommend that the use a firm that specialized in marketing, like XpressDocs. They have a variety of templates to provide the photos for. In addition to brchures, they have postcards and other printed material - often with matching style for branding - such as postcards and mailing campaigns all at reasonable prices that is difficult to compete with.

  11. @Win

    Didn't ask for an explanation of your business, I personally have zero issues (re read above) with who works for what company, its all competition regardless whether its big box, small box or independent.

    And as for "So what’s with that…?", not sure what answer you are looking for or why you are getting so defensive, but hopefully you run your photography business better than you read my friend 🙂

  12. @Jake - Indesign is the leader for layout software, but many designers also use Quark Express. There are numberless other less mainstream applications that you can get that might have a less rich feature set, but could work well for you and save you money. I have heard from several print shops that MS Publisher is to be avoided. In fact, those shops will not accept files in MS Publisher format. Apparently, the integrity of the layout varies from version to version and items have a tendency to shift around, fonts get substituted and colors go all wonky.

    Search the web for flyer templates as your first step if you don't want to create the layouts yourself and see which native formats the company supplies them for. Again, InDesign and Quark are the big boys, but other applications might be able to import those formats. I've seen templates in the $6-$12 range. That's a fantastic bargain.

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