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Shootly - An Uber Like App For Real Estate Photographers and Clients

Published: 25/04/2016


Updated 6PM Pacific, 4/27/2016:

This last week Aric, a PFRE reader in NYC pointed out a short podcast that talks about Shootly, a new IOS App that allows people to hire professional photographers much like you would hire a cab with the Uber App. The podcast focuses mainly on the Dronography (Drone photography) part of the App but the App allows anyone to hire a drone photographer, real estate photographer, event photographer, portrait photographer or sports photographer.

While the Dronography part of Shootly would be very useful for real estate photographers that don't have a drone or agents that want a professional licensed, insured drone photographer, the part of Shootly that caught my attention was the real estate photography part. My question is, would this App be useful for  real estate photographers in finding some extra business in their area?

I couldn't figure out from the App or website how Shootly works for the person hiring the real estate photographer or how the business process worked for the real estate photographer. So I managed to contact Garrett Henricksen, the CEO and Co-Founder of Shootly, Inc. Garrett graciously answered all my questions.

Here is my summary of my conversation with Garrett:

How Shootly works for the real estate photography client:

  1. You download the App, create an account, and give the App your credit card.
  2. When you want to schedule a real estate photography shoot you give the App the location and the time and date window for your shoot. And a description for whatever special requirements you have.
  3. The App lets you know that shoot will cost you roughly $195 an hour.
  4. A Shootly registered real estate photographer contacts you and you negotiate all the details of your shoot.
  5. You get the photos the same day (or at least within 24 hours) and your credit card is charged for the agreed to shoot price at the time of photo delivery. Shootly has a delivery mechanism built-in.

How Shootly works for the real estate photographer:

  1. You apply to be a registered Shootly real estate photographer.
  2. Shootly contacts you and verifies that you are up to their standards for a professional real estate photographer, make sure that you have insurance and then train you in how to use the Shootly business process.
  3. Once you become Shootly registered you get customer requests in your service area.
  4. You negotiate with customers and agree to what the shoot requirements are, what the photo licensing is and decide if there are any other products that will be delivered with the shoot like tours floorplans etc.
  5. Licensing: based on everyone's input from this post, Garrett says they are going to change their ToU statement to read "All photos produced for the client may be used by that Realtor for all marketing associated with the current sale of the property in accordance with local MLS rules. Please note that the photos(video) will be copyrighted by the photographer. A license is granted only to the agent and their MLS and NOT to any other party. Any usage of the photos by a 3rd party, including but not limited to architects, builders, stagers, designers, sellers or buyers is prohibited unless approved in writing by the photographer."
  6. You do the shoot and deliver the photos the same day via the Shootly delivery mechanism.
  7. The photographer gets paid the agreed to shoot price minus the 20% Shootly cut within 48 hours.

The state of Shootly implementation:

  1. Shootly has been in the Apple App store since November 2015 and the developers have been working on refining it.
  2. Shootly is currently operational only in the Los Angeles area.
  3. Shootly is preparing to expand services to the San Francisco area and the New York City area in the near future. They are expanding slowly because they want to work out any and all problems that come up as they occur.

Shootly appears to me to be a very reasonable business process that should work well for both agents that need shoots and for professional real estate photographers that want to add to their shoot schedule and/or beginning real estate photographers that want to get exposure to their local market. A useful service for everyone.

What does everyone think about the way Shootly works? Any readers in the LA area that have tried out Shootly?

Update April 27, 2016 6PM Pacific: After another exchange with Garrett he says that based on everyone's comments on this post they are going to change the Shootly ToU (Terms of Use) to  the text to in #5 above. He thanks everyone for their input!

Larry Lohrman

13 comments on “Shootly - An Uber Like App For Real Estate Photographers and Clients”

  1. There are several companies now that look to become the middleman between a photographer and their clients. Attracting new customers is always a challenge for any small business, but once the connection is made, the middleman is no longer a useful part of the relationship. Accepting payments, especially via a credit card, used to be expensive and difficult to set up. Now, it's very easy. Delivering photos electronically is simple and there are several methods that visitors here have shared on several occasions.

    An important question that didn't seem to be covered is who "owns" the customer after the first transaction. Does a photographer have to sign a contract that prohibits them from taking further work from a client directly as inferred in the FAQ? Is the photographer required to take work only through Shootly? What happens if the photographer doesn't or can't deliver images to Shootly's schedule? What other significant contractual restrictions are placed on the photographer? Are there any other fees besides the fairly healthy 20% commission charge on each job? Shootly charges a cancellation fee in some cases; does the photographer get all or a portion of that fee?

    There isn't any real business information on the website. It seems that they only way to get more information is to install their app. Due to the proliferation of malware and data harvesting, I don't install apps on my mobile phone and counsel others not to unless they can be assured that the app only does what it is advertised to do and doesn't compromise personal information.

    The FAQ states that a photographer or airborne menace is assigned to customers and they are not able to choose. Customers are also not able to view the portfolio of specific photographers. Getting different photographers each time is a complaint that is often stated in conjunction with other photo service suppliers.

    This should scare photographers:

    12.2. Users Retain Rights to Created Work. Once the User has paid the Service Provider for the Created Work, the User that ordered the Created Work through the Service retains ownership and/or other applicable rights in such Created Work. For the sake of clarity, neither Shootly nor the Service Provider has the right to claim ownership of any Created Work for which the User has fully paid. The Service Provider may not sell or use, reproduce, publish, publicly display such Created Work for any purpose without User’s prior written permission.

    The ToU goes on to grant Shootly usage rights in perpetuity and worldwide.

  2. If this is anything like Uber, stay far away from it, It is a bad deal for you. I did Uber for a while and it is a very bad deal for its drivers. You buy your own gas, put a lot of miles on your car, run up your maintenance costs on your auto and make Uber lots of money while you make below minimum wage for your time after you factor in all your expenses. I personally don't see the advantage of an app like this because the realtor will, in most states (at least where I live), still have to be there with you to shoot the job. I believe it is a law here that unless you are a licensed realtor, they can't leave you there alone. As Ken Brown above questions, "Who will own the client after the first shoot, you or Shootly?" Doing photography is also similar to being a doctor, in that realtors develop a relationship with you and trust you. With Uber you deliver the person and that's it, it's not an ongoing relationship. The article 12.2 in the Shootly agreement that Ken Brown points to is a deal breaker alone. This totally reverses the U.S. Copyright law. I, for one, would never agree to their terms and use this service and I hope that new photographers to real estate don't get sucked into this bad deal. Establishing relationships with realtors requires hard work and face-to-face contact and there is no short-cut, easy way out like this app.

  3. Just looked at the Shootly app in the App Store. Didn't download it, but based on the notes above by Ken and Larry, was wondering that reviews of the app were. No reviews, and the note "We have not received enough ratings to display an average for this app."

  4. A 20% commission!!???!!!???!??? The agent sets the date and time. Same day delivery. Heck NO!!!!!!!!! Only the truly desperate would agree to those terms.

  5. Hate!!!! Let's just ruin every part of this industry why don't we....

    Look, this industry is already unregulated, which makes it nothing short of a free-for-all with no standard of quality, and no prequalifications. Awesome, right? Now let's add flying machines to it. dumbassery.

    And the very last thing I'd want is s middleman. Sheesh already.

  6. Good idea, however needs more polishing of policies...

    For example, this kind of killed for me. From their TOU...

    12.2. Users Retain Rights to Created Work. Once the User has paid the Service Provider for the Created Work, the User that ordered the Created Work through the Service retains ownership and/or other applicable rights in such Created Work. For the sake of clarity, neither Shootly nor the Service Provider has the right to claim ownership of any Created Work for which the User has fully paid. The Service Provider may not sell or use, reproduce, publish, publicly display such Created Work for any purpose without User’s prior written permission.


  7. @Ken, Larry Fields, Michael - Section 12.2 of the Apps TOU doesn't match with the discussion I had with Garrett... he told me the photo licensing was negotiable between the client and the photographer. I asked Garrett to clarify this for me.

    @Larry Gray - Shootly is very new, that's probably why there are no reviews in the tech press. I should have asked Garrett how many registered photographers they had but I didn't think of that.

    @Neal - it seems to me that if the hourly rate is $195, 20% isn't a disaster. This is far better than most national tour companies.

  8. @larry - Maybe they should change their "Terms of Use" then. This is copied directly from their website.

    "12.2. Users Retain Rights to Created Work. Once the User has paid the Service Provider for the Created Work, the User that ordered the Created Work through the Service retains ownership and/or other applicable rights in such Created Work. For the sake of clarity, neither Shootly nor the Service Provider has the right to claim ownership of any Created Work for which the User has fully paid. The Service Provider may not sell or use, reproduce, publish, publicly display such Created Work for any purpose without User’s prior written permission."

    This is identical to what Ken Brown quoted above. Something doesn't seem quite right here and throws up a big red flag to me. Thanks, but no thanks.

  9. Usage rights and other rules of engagement aside, I don't think 20% is unreasonable if the company has spent the time and resources developing, testing, and marketing the app to real estate professionals and other potential clients. If the app brought me guaranteed business, it's more profitable for me to pay the 20% cost for each new client and have a busy shooting schedule than it is to spend my own time and money marketing myself (which pays $0 per hour until more people book with me). However, as others have noted, I would be very curious how the terms of use govern ownership of the client and whether or not we are permitted to work with this client again outside the framework of the app and its commission structure.

    Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but I'm concerned that this "on-demand" service model would potentially attract the sort of client that we all dread: waits until the last minute, probably not a seasoned producer (unless their usual photographer is not available), and probably can't tell bad photos from good. If the app is quoting prices for us ("roughly $195 per hour"), that's already a problem, and there are so many opportunities for scope creep here. How many photos are we expected to deliver per hour? I know photographers who only produce 6 photos in that timeframe, and others who get 35, depending on technique and the expected standard of the finished product.

    If I had my druthers, the app would be structured so that photographers who apply to be affiliated can put in the number of photos per hour they feel comfortable quoting, set their own prices for the shoot and other products such as property websites, and display their portfolio in the app so that clients can review the speed, style, and quality of work they will actually be getting for the price quoted. Basically a directory service that takes a commission from the total amount of the shoot, based on the price the photographer quotes and the client agrees to. The work I produce will have different requirements for shoot length and turnaround time, and will look much different than a photographer who uses no lighting and batch-HDR processes the images. Each method has a purpose based on budget and time constraints but it's not an apple-to-apple comparison when we are both locked in to an hourly rate set by the app.

  10. So true Brandon, I agree. Except for the part about who owns the images I, too, wouldn't mind paying 20%, but I also would need to control the same things you mention.

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