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This Week In Real Estate Video #91 – Do You Need to Do Video and Stills

Published: 04/01/2014
By: larry

MattVanEmmerikThis week's video is a video from Matt Van Emmerik's portfolio that I like.

If you read yesterdays post which is a summary of Matt's business you probably noticed Matt's assertion that:

HD video is not the future of Real Estate marketing, it is the present and if you don’t learn it well and offer it, you will eventually be weeded out of the market I firmly believe. It’s not easy to do, is time consuming and there are many pitfalls and expenses with a huge learning curve, but it’s incredibly fun, creative and lucrative so my advice would be to get started now instead of thinking a good photo is all you need. In my area I gave myself a one year jump on the competition and now it seems every Tom, Dick and Harry is trying to crack into the market so I have to keep ahead of the game. In this game quality wins over price unlike the photo market because any realtor can use their internal video systems to put together iPhone videos so they need something with WOW factor to convince them to open their wallets. Do NOT cheap out on video gear as it will show in your work.

Regarding Matt's statement that, "...if you don’t learn it well and offer it, you will eventually be weeded out of the market...". This is probably true for some markets but not all markets. Certainly there is or will be an advantage to doing both still photos and video. However, I see the best of the best focused on either stills or video, and I'm not sure that will change. For example the agents marketing, Casa Estrella, hired Scott Hargis to do the stills and Quentin Bacon to do the video. Maybe this is an extreme example, although Casa Estrella is listed at $4.4 M, it's not super high-end property. Another example is Brett Clements (one of the best videographers in the business). Brett is such passionate video believer he won't even talk to you about stills!

My guess is that you can't talk about this subject in absolutes. Matt's assertion is probably true for some markets and for some people. But I think there will always be people that specialize and are good enough at their specialty that they don't have to do everything to be successful.

25 comments on “This Week In Real Estate Video #91 – Do You Need to Do Video and Stills”

  1. Yes, this is very beautiful! The one thing that bothers me is the jerking of the images, what causes that? I've seen that in very many other videos too.

  2. With the quality of this video I could very well become a fan. Style and technique were impressive. Keystoning held to a minimum and shadow detail presented with remarkable clarity. This was not done with an iPad. The person behind the camera definite a pro as was the editor. Great job.

  3. Use of highly produced video will be the norm where the potential listing commission is well into four figures ($20k+). RE photographers should keep in mind that every listing doesn't sell. I saw a pricing idea based on % of sales price. I would gladly pay a percentage fee if the photographer were willing to share my risk!

  4. "Regarding Matt’s statement that, '…if you don’t learn it well and offer it, you will eventually be weeded out of the market…'. This is probably true for some markets but not all markets."

    I second this and appreciate you stating its practical limitations. Embracing such categorical statements as a marketing strategy risks overlooking the best tool for the job at hand.


  5. @Larry - Thank you very much for the kind words and postings! This video was done to test the market. I was hired to photograph this 4 storey unit. I shot this video for free as a marketing tool at the ski hill in hopes word will spread to the rental companies about what options are out there. I didn't put a lot of effort into it with regards to script and voice over or lifestyle footage because it was for free. Of course I will amp it up more once I start generating work up there.

    In 2010 I lived in Australia and met Brett Clements and was offered a position in the company. Believe me his facility on the Gold Coast is very impressive with unreal amounts of equipment!! The work VISA thing was a hassle and my tourist visa was running out and in the end it was the best decision to come back to Canada. Platinum HD does offer photography and videography though. Their company works in the way that once you're hired and trained on your own, you take a region and make it your own turf and they take a percentage of all shoots, but ultimately you must do both or have two people in your business to do both. That is what I was told there back in 2010. Hi Brett if you're reading this and remember me!

    I feel the company that offers both services is more convenient for realtors everywhere. I think this can be compared to contract home builders, wedding planners, vacation companies and wine tour companies. If you can get everything you're looking for in one place it's less headache for the client. If they have to call two companies, then try and coordinate both of them for the same day which is inconvenient for the companies as they will be tripping over each other and annoying the home owner too, it makes it a logistical nightmare. Being able to call one company and know that they will have both services done at a better price than two separate companies, plus the convenience factor will win them over I believe and am seeing with great success. I would really like to hear from realtors on this subject though as it's a very interesting point Larry brought up.


    @Jerry - Thanks for the compliment. The jerking that's happening is probably your video card in your computer or slow processor on your mobile device which I'd be interested to know….

    @Win - Thank you!

    @Thomas - I would definitely entertain the risk/reward split and have presented the offer to clients before. However the reward would also be much larger than what I charge up front which scares them away every time. The bottom line is that high quality videos are much more than a home marketing device for you. They are actually proving to be more valuable as a marketing service for realtors. I can't tell you how many time my realtor clients are in a listing presentation and they pull out their iPads and show the home owner the video they will provide for their listing and get the papers signed immediately. There's no comments like "we'll call you with our decision on who we're using" they sign the papers right then and there because it shows them that you're not afraid to spend some money marketing their home. For that alone it's worth the investment.

  6. @ Gary - Thanks for your comment. This may be a very valid point as Larry too pointed out and it will be interesting hearing a realtors perspective on it. I do know that in my area I gained at least 10 new clients that had existing photographer they were happy with. They were reluctant to make the switch at first because of loyalties but in the end their photographer was not able to do the videos they wanted and it wasn't cost effective to hire us both. They are all over the moon happy with my services now and haven't looked back. That was in my first year of doing video.

    I went through the same frustration when I saw video coming onto the scene. I saw how expensive it was, new software, hardware, education, trial and error and thought to myself "great I'm going to have to start from scratch and learn the whole business over again". I thought my clients would still use me for stills and I thought that because I wanted to believe that. Eventually I decided I'd better get started because if I don't someone else will and I'll be starting over alright, just in another field all together. Unless your clients are your family, they are going to go with the most convenient and cost effective solution for them. You have to remember you're trying to sell yourself to a salesman/woman. It's like selling ice to an eskimo! To do it you have to be creative and stand above the rest.

    When my videos started getting noticed my main competitor in town called me up and congratulated me personally. He said and I quote "You have caused me quite a stir and a lot of money and time. Kudos to you". He later gave up on the video and referred work to me because of it. I understand he is trying video again with little success and it's because he's not passionate about it. He does this business as a business for the money, not for the creative side of it.

    My point is nobody likes change and we try and tell ourselves that it's ok to have two services separate because we fear the change, but once you dive in head first you'll see it adds new life to your passion and career and bank account which is an added bonus.

  7. @Matt - Certainly can't argue with your success through videography--and am happy to hear you're experiencing that! I believe that Larry's point is that a listing falls somewhere upon a continuum of needed real estate photography/videography marketing services, such that videography would produce no greater advantage over photography alone, in some cases. Without having any research in hand, I suspect 'higher-end' listings would benefit more from videography, where it may make no significant difference for 'lower-end' listings.

  8. I would argue that exceptional still photography become more valuable the higher the listing price. While I certainly understand the added value of video, still is not going away. So while I think that video and still, are two distinctly different disciplines, if you can do both well, I say offer it. Like Matt says, a one-stop shop is certainly an advantage

    I would also completely agree with Matt, that if you are going to offer video, it had better be really good. Because if it doesn't look significantly better than what they can produce themselves with their iPhone (iPad), or point and shoot, they are not going to pay much for it. I'd even go as far as to say, that your video better look as good quality wise as the still photography you are currently offering.

    Matt, you mention "not to cheap out on video gear", what do you consider essential gear to produce quality video, aside from creative knowledge/ability?
    I.e, what are you currently using?



  9. If you're going to be servicing the real estate industry you "must" provide an agent with stills, there's no if's and but's about this. An agent needs stills for various marketing materials other than the tour. You can't paste a video as the curb shot on the MLS.

    You also need to be able to put both media into one attractive presentation. You can't just give them a link to the video on Vimeo or Youtube and send them a zip file with photos.

    I think we are in the business of providing real estate professionals with marketing services rather than providing them with stills or video. So if you're serious about being in this business you need to be able to provide your clients with a complete solution.

  10. I'm from the opposite camp. I started offering only video, then started offering stills about a year later. Today, 75%+ of my business is stills AND video, with the rest being video only or stills only. I absolutely don't believe video will every replace stills, so having good still photos should still be goal #1 for any Realtor.

    I find that most agents are VERY busy, and the idea of being able to get everything done with one person, one invoice, and one babysitting job on site is far more appealing than having to deal and coordinate with separate vendors. I've had a number of people ask if I do floor plans as well. The reality is that I don't - I would rather stab myself in the eye with a needle! It's not something I'm the least bit interested in learning or doing, and I also can't be in one house for 5 hours, especially when I'm shooting 5-8 houses a day. So I'm now working with an outside vendor to do my floor plans, so my clients can call ME for photos and video and I arrange for the floor plan guy to come out right before or after me (so we don't bump into each other), and I invoice for all three services (with a markup on the floor plans). So again, it's one call and one invoice for everything. But I will not do anything that I don't enjoy, and floor plans are right up on the top of that list.

    Agents want to do as little work as possible and be at the house for the least amount of time possible. I can't blame them either, so I make all that happen with one phone call. This year I'm actually implementing an online booking calendar, so agents can book their OWN appointments without the back and forth between them and me and the seller that has gone on in the past which is an amazing waste of time. Last year I could easily spend 2 hours every night on the phone returning calls, emails, texts, and scheduling and rescheduling appointments. It's a nightmare during the busy season. Anything that makes it easier for the customer is a WIN/WIN.... especially if it makes it easier for ME. 🙂

  11. I agree video is not for every listing right now as the cost can't be justified, however I have now developed a new format that is cost effective for smaller / cheaper homes which I think is going to be very popular and won't cost me as much time on site. The great thing about Video is that it is extremely power for SEO on YouTube and Vimeo and gains a lot of hits for realtors sites when embedded. This alone is worth the cost. It's more than just showing the home to potential clients, much more than that. Like I said before, it's a marketing tool for realtors.

    I think the whole point which some are straying from is that Photography and Videography (together) is the future for real estate photographers. If you ONLY offer photos or you only offer videos you're going to see less and less work as the years go by. When I say Videography is the present in our business I don't mean solo. I mean combined with photography.

    @Fred - I too have been asked to do floor plans and I too can't bear the thought of wasting that much time at a house or afford it for that matter. I don't even get involved in the process but do refer a guy locally and let him take the business.

  12. In my area, stills are a tough sell so video is right out. I enjoy shooting stills and I am looking at adding floor plans if I can develop a work flow that make FP's profitable. If I start getting calls for video, I'll probably find a videographer to partner with for those jobs. Justifying the additional gear and becoming competent in video production is too expensive at this point. There are very few upper end properties where video would be considered a standard marketing tool. I don't do staging either, but I have talked with a stager that will service the area I am in and we are both looking out for cross-refferrals.

    @Fred, please post when you have an online booking systems that works for you. I've been thinking lately of trying to have at least a calendar online that agents can look at to see when I have open slots. It has to be something simple that works with WordPress so it's not a chore to keep updated. I can't keep track of how many times I've been called to see if I am available and never was called back with a booking. If an agent can pull up my schedule while they are on the phone with an owner, maybe that will be easier for them.

    Any Realtors® want to comment on what would make it easier on you when you look to engage a photographer?

  13. Ken: Unfortunately, after looking for years for something I could use "off the shelf" I came up empty. Many came CLOSE, but just wouldn't work for me. I need to be able to set specific days for specific geographic areas AND be able to change them at will based on demand, time of year, etc. I just can't have people making appointments willy nilly... I need to group things together so I'm not driving 200,000 miles a year....

    So I hired a company to write a program to do exactly what I want. It took four months to get it done, but wasn't ready for testing until March of this year, which is when my busy season started, so had to abandon it until now. Will start testing in the next week or two and hopefully all bugs will be out when the @#$$@# hits the fan in a few months.

    Basically on online system where they can log in, see a map, click their area, and all of the available time slots for that area will appear on the calendar. They make their appointment, which sends me a text which I have to confirm (with one button) or deny if I need to massage the time a bit based on other appointments or issues which I can see. It's all geography based so I can stay out of the city during rush hour, group nearby appointments on the same day, and group further away appointments together, etc. - all which will save me time. Also, I can move those areas around based on demand, time of year, etc. Clients can't see any of my schedule - only the times I'm available in THEIR area. If they need to change their time, they just log on and set up a new time. The goal is they can do this AT their listing appointment WITH the sellers, which will give them the most lee time to get ready, give me the flexibility to accommodate their schedule, and eliminate all calls from the agent to me or the seller to arrange the shoot.

    It will also save my life as I won't be scheduling appointments while balancing my iPad calendar on my lap as I'm speeding to my next appointment... 🙂

  14. Iv'e just decided to go with a gopro 3 black with a steadycam smothee. I know the gopros are not great in areas with low light so I am looking into some handheld lighting and possible some portable lights that I can place ahead of my shoot.

    This will mean the best of both worlds - I'll be able to continue to offer the quality and I won't break the bank!

  15. Here's a Realtors point of view. Three key points:

    1. Video can make a home not only sell, but can sell for more money. As a realtor, I have proof of this. So it's a huge benefit for the sellers and also the realtor. Added exposure means more potential buyers will see the home. I have had people fly in to look at a homes based solely on the video.

    2. Just because there's a video, doesn't mean the home will sell. It's not the "golden egg," so don't over promise. (Marketing and price) sells real estate. Video just helps in the marketing.

    3. Realtors are always defending the commissions. Most feel we charge too much and get paid too much (another topic). Great photographs and video is just another service that realtors can provide their sellers. Like Matt says, it's all about service. If a seller is to pay a certain commission, doesn't it make sense to go with a realtor that provides the best service - the most service - too get the best exposure and complete the sale?

  16. @Charlie - Great feedback and perfectly explained from a realtors perspective! You're right that home owners are constantly complaining about commissions and when they see their realtors isn't afraid to spend money to get the job done, it tells the home owner that agent believes he / she can actually sell the home and is not just collecting listings for popularity and the off chance another agent brings the buyer.

    @Paul - I hope you're kidding.

  17. @Fred Light, Wow! I was thinking of a basic calendar and your scheduler seems to have all of the features one can dream of. I was looking at WordPress themes and found some designed for small restaurants and BnB's that included a reservation calendar. I didn't like the layout they had, but perhaps the right restaurant theme could make a good PFRE template. In the mean time, I am trying to find a calendar plug-in that will get me going. How much did it cost you to get your system coded? Maybe it would be worth packaging and selling once it's ready.

  18. Matt--really nice use of pans and slider. A couple of moves were a little fast for my taste, but overall I thought it was really, really well done!
    @JerryK, I think its probably your video processor; especially since you've mentioned you've seen it many times before. Everything looked exceptionally smooth to me.

  19. Ken: It was expensive... a good year's salary for sure. But it will save me HOURS of time every day, so it will pay for itself pretty quickly. If things work well I may sell it... (like I have nothing else to do)... LOL

  20. I can't tell you how many photographers I've stolen clients from because they weren't shooting video yet (or they did a really poor job of shooting video). Now's the time to jump in and learn! Especially if video isn't big in your market yet!

    When I started no one was doing video in Seattle. I begged clients to let me show them what I could do and when I delivered the video they didn't even know what to do with it. It took less than a year for things to turn around and now I'm having to turn new clients away because I can't keep up with the demand for video. It's a good place to be in.

    And now for a shameless self-promotion - if you're ready to learn I'm offering property video workshops over the next two months. San Francisco on 1/17 (only a couple spots left - sign up soon!), Boston on 2/7 and Atlanta on 2/28! More details here:


  21. We actually started in video like Fred and then picked up the photography and pretty much do a equal amount of both, most of our shoots require photography and stills. Just in the past yr we have seen a lot of our competition start to pick up video but it is one of those things that you cant just jump into. I think you have to have the passion for it and do the home work in order to bring a great product to the table. We have found most trying to under cut us in price and offer un realistic pricing for images and video but the end result actually has helped us as the old saying goes you get what you pay for. It has opened up more eyes to video and allows us to be able to point out the diff between what we are bring to the table vs the others. Either way its great to see the technology been used.

  22. Before I was a real estate photographer I was a wedding video producer starting way back in 2005 cutting my teeth on wedding videos working weekends while I worked my corporate day job managing 100+ staff and a team of 5 assistant managers at a very busy 24/7 Brisbane Airport location. I than took myself off to the Queensland School of Film and Television part time gaining more understanding about video production before I took my long service leave and changed my life in 2007 becoming a real estate photographer full time for a steady income, as online video production was still in it's baby stages at that time. I introduced video for real estate to my client base way back then in 2007 just after you tube got started and I recall saying to my photography peers who laughed at me at the time 🙂 That online video will be the future, better get on board now, not only in real estate but also for corporate and commercial businesses thanks to social media applications like you tube. I agree with Matt regards learning both skill sets... While video was my first visual craft, I had to introduce photography if I was to consistently feed my kids and keep a roof over our heads. But I'm glad I persisted with video because it's reality right now today. I think it is possible to do both crafts very well... In my experience I have found the photographer adapts to video far quicker because of the thousands of still frames one has taken during their hobby or profession. The photographers knowledge of light, exposure, colour and composition comes from the repetitive craft of framing that one static image and what is one of the primary skills of making a great cinematographer? It's lighting, how to master light and exposure to articulate a story through motion. Photographers have the head start already when it comes to adding video to their product and services. Like photography, the talent to do video well is acquired through repetitiveness.

  23. Here in Sarasota Video is taking off like crazy. It is doing so because it sells homes. Here is an example of a video we did last december and it ended up selling a home that was trying to be sold for 4 years. You better believe the agent is going video next time as well.

    WE are doing a combination video/stills.

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