Several discussions I've had with readers in the last week reminded me that it's been a long time since I've talked about how easy it is to provide how to provide high quality slide shows to your client quickly and easily for just pennies. First of all here's why you need to supply a slide show with your shoot:
- A large image slide show, show's off your work: Let's face it, MLS images are small and look like crappy no matter how beautiful your images started out. Slide shows (that you control) are a great way to present your work to your client before they get mangled. Your clients can then use the slide show link to use as a tour from their brokers site and the MLS.
- Slide show adds value to your shoot: If you include a good quality slide show that the agent can use as a tour link they feel they are getting more value than just a bunch of JPGs e-mailed to them.
How do you add creation of a slide show to your work flow without adding precious time and expense to your work flow?
- Online Storage: You'll need some FTP accessible online storage (preferably in your own domain) to host the slide shows. If you don't already have some bluehost.com is a good source. It used to be $6.95/mo for 20 Gig but just recently they changed to $6.95 for unlimited storage! There may be someplace cheaper but this is as low as I've seen!
- Flash Slide Show Software: Next you need some software that allows you to create professional looking slide shows that anyone on any machine can see without downloading plug-ins or other software. The only technology that does this is Flash. My two favorite Flash slide show packages are Slideshow Pro and Monoslideshow. Slide show Pro gives you more control but Monoslideshow does Ken Burns panning that looks to most people like video. Here are a couple of examples:
- Adobe Lightroom: You can make slide shows just fine without Lightroom but Lightroom makes creating and updating them smooth and effortless. Literally just a couple of clicks once you have Lightroom setup to access your online storage. Slideshow Pro and Monoslideshow can be installed such that all the slide show parameters can be controlled from inside Lightroom instead of editing having to edit XML. When I shoot my wife's listings she always wants to make all kinds of changes to the cropping, changing this and changing that. If updating slide shows wasn't so easy, I would go crazy changing slide shows to accommodate her wanting to tweak every photo several times. With Lightroom, I just say, "yes dear" and make all the changes she wants.
To me the slide show (web module) of Lightroom is worth the whole cost of the software. With the process I described above I think it makes sense to deliver a slide show with every shoot for "free" if you want to increase the perceived value of your product.
Update 4/4: Someone has already ask about Aperture in regard to slide shows before I finished writing this so I need to address Aperture. Unless someone has build a plugin in the last six months or so, Aperture can only create slide shows to Apple's mobile.me service (costs $99/year). You have very little control of the slide shows Aperture creates so I don't find it suited to real estate photography slide shows. The big advantage with Aperture is it's plugin architecture. It's easy to build plugin's for so sooner or later some will build a slide show plugin.