Photography For Real Estate

Tips and techniques for real estate photography

Archive for May, 2007

Real Estate Photographer Directory Guideline Update

Posted by larrylohrman on May 31, 2007

As of June 1, 2007 I will not be listing anyone in the RE Photographer directory that does not have:

  1. Some kind of online examples of their real estate work to list in the directory. This can be a web site with a real estate gallery, a flickr.com real estate photo set or any URL that I can list that shows your work. If you intend to do business with Realtors they should be able to see your work.
  2. A phone number to list in the directory. Realtors are very phone oriented and wanting to do business with Realtors without listing a phone number is contradictory.

Also, I’ll be contacting those of you already in the directory that don’t that don’t conform to this criteria to get added information.

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Posted in Marketing Yourself | 1 Comment »

Photography For Real Estate Book Shelf

Posted by larrylohrman on May 31, 2007

I just implemented a Photography For Real Estate Book Shelf. This is, a list of books that I’ve reviewed some time on a past post or one of the blog readers has recommended the book. The list has links to amazon.com and if you purchase any of these books by clicking on these links some of what you pay for the book goes to support Photography For Real Estate. To get to the book shelf click on the pink button on the left side-bar. Thanks for your support.

And if you have any favorite books you want to recommend to PFRE blog readers let me know.

Posted in Books | 3 Comments »

Real Estate Photography Workflow

Posted by larrylohrman on May 31, 2007


Raye Bellinger of Sacramento asks:

“Would you mind exploring workflow as it applies to the busy professional. Lightroom is nice but other programs like ACDSee Pro are more functional and much faster with RAW files. I would particularly like to see what the well established real estate photographers are using to speed workflow”

Well I don’t claim to be the last word on workflow but I know there are plenty of well established real estate photographer readers that will help me explore workflow.

Let me start out by saying that Lightroom to me is the biggest (and best) thing that has happened to work photographic workflow since I started shooting digital in 1999. The ability to fine tune images with sliders (works both with RAW and JPG) is awesome! I’m still spending time learning how to best use Lightroom. The two resources I like best are the Lightroom videos at lynda.com and Scott Kelby’s, The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Book My only complaint about Lightroom is that I still need to leave Lightroom to make sure all my verticals are vertical. If I could just always keep my camera perfectly level I could eliminate this step.

A second important piece of fast efficient workflow is DXO. I know that many PFRE readers use DXO and like it. I don’t use it yet but I’m thinking seriously of taking advantage of the 20% discount available through June 10, 2007 (Ues promo code 3YRSDXO to get the 20% at the DXO online store). DXO allows lens/camera distortion correction in batch mode and thus allowing you to improve the quality of your images with very little work. You can do all these things in Lightroom but not automatically. You “tell” DXO what kind of camera and lens you have, then DXO does the rest.

Now lets hear from the rest of you that want to say something about workflow. Anyone else out there use ACDSee Pro?

Posted in Workflow | 6 Comments »

Add True Aerial Photography To Your Revenue Stream

Posted by larrylohrman on May 30, 2007


Vince at propertysnaps.com.au reports that he’s added a new revenue stream to his real estate photography business- true aerial photography – the kind where you get in a real airplane. Vince says:

“I have started offering aerial photos from an aircraft. Basically I hire a plane for $250AU per hour and I can shoot about 7-8 properties in an hour, I charge the developers and agents $200AU per site. To get the jobs I just ring around all the agents weekly and tell them that I have a photographer going up next week and we have some slots available, do they have any work they want done?  I also tell them that our normal rate is $380AU per shoot for a standalone shoot or if they go onto this standby list I will do it for $250AU, The word is starting to spread now, last Friday I did 20 jobs and was in the air for 3 hours, I spent about 3 hours on processing and uploading, We grossed just over $4500 for that days work”

Not a bad days work! Vince says he does this mainly for large developers that have a shopping center or large development. However, this kind of aerial photography works for upper-end residential homes too. In the last year or two we have sold several homes where the seller had a nice aerial shot of there home. What some one in our area has done is photograph a whole neighborhood of homes on a speculative basis. Then they come around door-to-door with proofs to show home owners, taking orders for various size prints. The shot above is  a photo one of our clients had purchased.

Posted in Aerial Photos | 6 Comments »

Real Estate Photographer Web Portfolios

Posted by larrylohrman on May 29, 2007

I think is is essential to have some example work to show potential clients. In the process of adding people to the real estate photographer directory I’ve noticed that there are are folks wanting to do RE photography that either don’t have a web site or have a general photography web site with no examples of their work. OK, I understand so you want to make a few bucks with your photography and are just getting started and haven’t had time to assemble a portfolio yet.

Realtors (your potential clients) are promoter personalities and understand the importance of promoting yourself. So don’t be bashful, they love being promoted and will respond well to promotion. Promotion in the real estate business is primarily on the web so to be in the game you need a web presence. And there are ways to easily do this for free. At either picassa.google.com or flickr.com you can create web portfolios for free. But you need some work to present. How do you find some nice homes to photograph?

Here’s how to add some work to your portfolio and meet some of your potential clients in the process. Go out on a Sunday afternoon between 1:00 and 4:00 PM and find open houses. Tell the Realtor you are building your portfolio and ask if you can shoot some shots. They typically won’t mind. In fact they will probably be glad to have someone to talk to. Sitting at an open house can be boring!

Oh, by the way if you get some nice shots that you think are better than the ones they have on the flyer offer to let the Realtor use them. They may call you to shoot their next listing.

Posted in Marketing Yourself | 12 Comments »

Photomatix HDR For Problem Exteriors

Posted by larrylohrman on May 27, 2007



M. James Northen sent me an example of a shot that he used Photomatix to get. M.J. says:

“An immediate results technique is photomatix HDR image for problem exteriors …. North facing homes are a bitch. Sun just never seems right. A gorilla ladder – 11’ up including human standing on the ladder – tripod – camera – two thirds stops from one stop under to one over exposure …. Typically 8 frames. This does not work on windy days. Palm trees flying 2 inches to the left and ghosting. Attaching an image ….. 6,000 sq. ft. $ 5,300,000. This will be the 5th time I have been in this one – mostly for the various trades and now to shoot the entire home top to bottom.”

Yes, I agree, when you are having lighting trouble outside there aren’t very many options but Photomatix is certainly one. I think this is a perfect situation to shoot RAW. If you do shot raw you can get the over and under exposed frames all from the same RAW file and not be concerned that trees move in the wind.

Notice the marketing tip hidden in M. James’ comment. He worked for folks like Stagers, kitchen designers, Granite installers before the Realtor called to shoot the whole house. They all needed photos of their work on this home. Make sure the trade people in your area have your number and know about your work in addition to Realtors.

Posted in Photo Technique | 19 Comments »

Real Estate imaging is About Quick and Good– Sometimes not Perfect

Posted by larrylohrman on May 26, 2007



M. James Northen made some appropriate observations. My recent posts that give some references to info about the fine points of rather involved interior lighting should not be miss construed to mean that this is the way real estate photography is approached. On the contrary real estate photography must be done on a time scale that doesn’t allow the attention to detail that Nathanael Bennett describes in his LightSource interview. The phrase that M. James uses is the title of this post, “Real Estate imaging is About Quick and Good– Sometimes not Perfect”. I think this sums up the approach that real estate photographers are forced take. Here are M. James’s comments:

“There is a lot of discussion about getting the light right using speed-lights or studio strobes; while there is nothing wrong with lighting ….. Real Estate imaging is about quick and good – sometimes not perfect. I am going to sound like a pompous know it all and am willing to take the chance from looking at everyone’s pictures in the hopes that it helps more than insults.

“There is a book that everyone in this genre/industry should read – The confused Photographers Guide to Spot Metering – by Farzad – or something like that. I now that once a person truly understands how their spot meter works they will get better results. I shot probably 85% of my website images with nothing more than an accurate exposure and looking at the scene to see what was important in the light values. No speedlights … no strobes …. No reflectors …. NOTHING. Getting the windows is not everything ….. Conveying feeling is everything.

“I am not saying that these days I don’t arrive with enough gear to light or blow up Madison Square Garden, but I still like to leave as much of it in the truck as I can, including 5 more Vivitars which I am enjoying. I just finished shooting an assisted living facility – recognizing the range of the scene lets me use much of the available light and fill in holes with the speedlights rather than blasting it with strobes on stands. While Real Estate imaging is about the rooms …. It is also about selling and highlights and shadows illustrate a room to it’s best. I can evaluate a room pretty quickly these days …. But still use a meter to fine tune things …. And bracket in half stops either way – aperture and shutter.

“A weekend with Farzads book and really understanding spot metering and scene range – will raise the bar on a lot of shooters results.”

Good advice! Thanks M. James for keeping me down to earth.

Posted in Books, Photo Technique | 2 Comments »

LightSource Podcast Interview with Nathanael Bennett

Posted by larrylohrman on May 24, 2007


You may have noticed that back on the Scott Hargis tutorial on how to light a room in the comments Geoff Wilson recommended the LightSource Podcast (E041) that features an interview with Interior and Architectural Photographer Nathanael Bennett. I listened to the Podcast and also recommend it. The interview features:

  • Getting started in architectural photography
  • The challenges in architectural photography
  • Balancing strobe light with ambient light and room light
  • Color temperature issues
  • Required equipment for location sessions
  • Exposure tricks and settings
  • Tripod selection
  • Camera positions and tripods
  • Perspective controlled lenses
  • Using light modifiers
  • Choosing between continuous or strobe lighting
  • Dealing with white balance
  • Multiple light setups
  • Using negative light for de-emphasis
  • Helping the client tell a story
  • Remote triggering of strobe lights
  • Time of day for great exterior photography
  • Advice for budding architectural photographers

This is not real estate photography since Bennett says he carries huge amounts equipment and spends 3 hours setting up each shot. However, Bennett shoots with a Canon 5d and PC lens and his process has much in common with real estate photography.

Note that you don’t have to have a iPod to listen to this Podcast. You can download iTunes for free. Then go to the iTunes store under Podcasts and search for LightSource. Then subscribe to LightSouce, download episode 41 and listen to the Podcast on your Mac or PC. Or you can just download the Podcast directly from the LightSource site.

Posted in Photo Technique | 3 Comments »

Interesting Natural Light Series by Michael Asgian

Posted by larrylohrman on May 22, 2007


The last few days I’ve been talking to Michael Asgian who owns www.panostar.com. Michael showed me a recent series of work that he did for a “sophisticated” client who was looking for a very specific “heavy look” in photos to market their home. These photos will be used in a historical home magazine. When I first saw these photos I though for sure that Michael was using Photomatix but michael says “No Photomatix”. Michael shot this series of photos with with a Canon 5D, Sigma 12-24mm and available light. He said that he used some masking in Photoshop but mostly available light. I think these photos have a very interesting and unusual look. The reason I thought these were done with Photomatix is the accentuated look of the shadows that the interior lights cast on the walls and ceilings. Michael says the image above with the dark blue ceiling was particularly challenging to shoot.

Michael also does 360 virtual tours with a Canon 20D and Sigma 8mm fisheye lens. Here are some examples of the 360 tours that he does:

www.panostar.com/117francisco/
www.panostar.com/3704woodbine/
www.panostar.com/4viajaquima/
www.panostar.com/3527copperkettle/
www.panostar.com/505j/
www.panostar.com/1314oldranch/

For these 360 panoramas Michael shoots 6 frames around with the Sigma 8mm on the Canon 20D. The 20D works well with the Sigma 8mm for panoramas because the cropped format of the 20D maximizes the amount of pixels you get with a shot because the frame is filled with the image. I use the same lens on my full frame 1Ds and don’t get as many pixels because the image circle fits completely within the sensor boundaries and many pixels are unused.

Posted in Photo Technique | Leave a Comment »

Tutorial On How To Light a Room – By Scott Hargis

Posted by larrylohrman on May 21, 2007


I was about ready to ask Scott to describe his approach at using the “Strobist technique” he uses to light a room. Turns out he’s already done a nice tutorial with examples over on the Strobist discussion group. Scott describes this technique for building up this shot with 4 strobes. I thought the readers here would like to see it. Nice job Scott!

If I haven’t mentioned it before the strobist blog is a great place to pick up a lot of good information and techniques on how to raise your lighting technique to the next level.

Posted in Flash Technique | 13 Comments »

This Weeks Flickr Theme – The Most Challenging Home You’ve Shoot

Posted by larrylohrman on May 21, 2007

This weeks Flickr posting theme is challenging shoots. Challenging situations can be learning situations.

The photo above is easily the most challenging listing we’ve ever had. We were selling it for a personal friend otherwise we’d probably never taken this listing. This little home was built in 1904 and had two wild and crazy renters living in it. It was on an acre of land on Seattle’s east side about 15 miles from down town Seattle. At the Highpoint exit off I-90 for those that are familiar with Issaquah. It got water for a spring. It’s septic system was failed. There were 4 inoperative vehicles, several cords of wood and various other junk in the front yard. The renters kept loaded hunting rifles in the kitchen because there was a black bear that hung around the backyard. Some time after we sold this property one of the renters was arrested for illegally shooting the bear close to I-90.

Everything about this listing was challenging. despite the fact that this place is a “dump” it got more traffic than any other listing we’ve ever had. While it was on the market it was the lowest priced property on the east side area of the MLS. Our phone rang continuously and there were so many buyers and agents looking at this property that after the second day on the market the neighbor literally closed down the access road to this property. After about a week we had 10 offers. It was listed for $140,000 and sold for $170,000.

My biggest regret is that when photographing this place I didn’t get any portrait shots of the Bunk and Aaron, the renters. They were both real characters. I shot photos of everything but I missed the most important part of this property; the characters that lived there. I won’t make that mistake again!

Posted in Flickr Themes | 1 Comment »

Getting Started In Video – Conversation With Fred Light

Posted by larrylohrman on May 20, 2007


There were several questions raised about how to get into the area of shooting real estate tour video so I consulted Fred Light who works in the Boston area and has been shooting real estate video for some time. Fred has been featured in Inman News and newsday.com. Fred also does a blog on video. The link on the image above is a recent shoot Fred did of an historic property in Amherst, NH.

I posed the following questions to Fred:

What equipment would you recommend for some one getting started in real estate video?

Well… my opinions aren’t always in line with Realtors…. but I really do think that you owe it to your SELLER to offer the best quality possible. Like many things in life…. garbage in, garbage out. So I think it’s important to have the best camera you can afford. When I first started about a year and a half ago, I bought a little Sony Camcorder for about $400. The quality was OK… but I just didn’t think it was ‘good enough’. Once you compress the hell out of the video (!) to get it online, you lose SO much quality – if you start with low quality, the end result is pretty muddy. (just look at most videos on YouTube).

Real estate interiors are generally LOW LIGHT shoots. If I was just doing some panning shots, you COULD set up some lighting, but since I do pans AND a walk through the house, it’s pretty impossible to light the house evenly as I walk from room to room. So, the most important thing is to get a camera that does well in LOW LIGHT (using just the home’s interior lighting)

So, I bit the bullet and bought a high definition camcorder. Not a professional camera though, but a consumer version – which had just come on the market (at that time it was about $1500, now they’re around $1000). The quality difference was pretty amazing. Hi def cameras seem to do the best in low light. The one thing that you HAVE to have no matter what camera you use is a tripod. Otherwise you’re just presenting a real estate version of Uncle Tom’s vacation videos – which will make you nauseous.

One other thing I use which definitely separates me from most is a Steadicam, which allows me to walk around, up and down hallways, stairs, etc. all the while keeping the picture steady. There are a number of them on the market, and plans for making your own online for $20-$30 bucks. I bought one for a couple hundred dollars (which was of one of the cheaper ones offered). I found it to be nearly worthless. I finally bit the bullet and bought a real Steadicam ($800). It’s really an amazing piece of machinery, although you’d hardly think it was worth $800 by looking at it. But it’s VERY light, reducing the fatigue that you get holding the camera for long periods. However, the one ‘little’ omission all of these companies make in their sales pitch is in regards to the learning curve. Buying the steadicam is the easiest part – learning to USE it properly takes LOTS of practice. HOURS of practice. (Hell, I’m STILL practicing!). It’s not a quick fix, for sure – but the results are great. Especially with real estate – it really gives you a feel for the layout of the house and the relationship from one room to another.

Do you do a significant amount of editing before the video is posted?

Yes, and originally it was VERY time consuming, but I’ve started to get the time down … finally (practice, practice, practice!) But for a 4-5 minute video, I can edit about 30 minutes of footage in about 40 minutes. Then I need to write the narration, record it and lay down the narration, which takes another 30-45 minutes. Then it needs to be compressed to Quicktime and Windows Media Video.

I notice on your website you support QuickTime and Windows Media. Are these the only two media formats that one needs to support?

Flash is the most compatible (97%), but I still think the quality is still NOT there. It’s OK… but not great. QuickTime is really HIGH quality, and fairly quick downloading… and something like 65% penetration – higher on Macintosh computers (it’s gone up since iTunes came out)…. WMV is less quality, longer download time and buffering, but I think still better than Flash – also a 65% penetration rate (higher on Windows computers). So I offer QT as the first choice (and best quality), WMV as a second option and Flash as a third option. That way EVERYONE can see it – but hopefully more will see it in QuickTime. I’m still trying to figure out to go all Flash as it would make MY life much easier. In fact, just today I was experimenting with an abnormally lengthy (8 min) video on an historic home I did the other day (I usually try to keep i under 5 minutes)…. and was trying some different options. Again, when you’re presenting a half million to several million dollar house, I think QUALITY is imperative, or you’re doing a disservice to your seller.

Fred also sent me a copy of his check-list that he gives to home owners so they are prepared for the shoot. Thanks Fred for all the “getting started info”.

Posted in Video, Virtual Tours | 2 Comments »

The Future of Video in Real Estate Marketing?

Posted by larrylohrman on May 18, 2007


Recently I took a car trip and was catching up on my Podcasts. I listened to an episode of the Inside Digital Photo Podcast that interviewed Dirck Halstead. Halstead is the famous Photojournalist that covered the Guatemalan Civil War at age 17 and was awarded the Robert Capa Gold Medal for his coverage of the fall of Saigon. After spending all of his entire career shooting for print media (newspapers and magazines) Dirck is now preaching that all photojournalists should be trained in video. His argument is that most newspapers are “hanging by a thread” and are not going to be a significant force in the future because the web is going to become the dominant media for journalism. And video will be the most effective medium for the web. He claims that many newspaper still shots are now “grab” shots from video because young photojournalists are using HD video cameras. He sited The Dallas Morning News and The San Francisco Chronicle.

I was struck by the parallels I’ve seen in Real Estate marketing in the last several years. The web has become the dominant media with in the last few years. When I started working full in real estate in 1999 we ran a weekly ad in the local Issaquah Press and actually got calls from the homes we ran in the ad. We also advertised in the Sunday Seattle Times. This last year we stopped running our weekly ad in the local paper because it was no longer effective and get very few calls from ads we run in Seattle Times. Between 1999 and 2007 print media advertising in real estate has completely been overtaken by the web.

What does the rise of importance of the web have to do with video? Video is a natural media for the web. Over the last couple of years it’s getting easier and easier to use video on the web. The great training videos on Lynda.com are an example of the new innovative use of video. Will something like this happen in real estate marketing?

I know some think it will but I haven’t seen compelling use of video in real estate marketing. Sharon Nymann in Key Largo showed me this spot ad she had made over a year ago. But this is not shot with a video camera; it’s made from a series of stills that Sharon shot herself. You can create video sequences like this with programs like Imagematics.

Perhaps I have bias for still photography. For now I love making little video clips of my grandson but I just can’t get into using it for real estate marketing.

Posted in Marketing, Trends | 16 Comments »

Kodak is Re-Inventing Itself

Posted by larrylohrman on May 15, 2007

Via Future of RealEstateMarketing.com 

Posted in Real Estate Photo of the Week | 1 Comment »

White Balance For Twilight Shots

Posted by larrylohrman on May 15, 2007


I was looking through the twilight photos over on the new Photography For Real Estate group photos on flickr and noticed the big difference that white balance setting makes in the look of a twilight image. The image above is one posted my M. James Northen. Notice the difference between the interior light color of this image and most of the other twilight images where the light is that characteristic orange color of incandescent lighting. Of course the difference is the image above was shot with the white balance set for incandescent light and the images with orange looking interior light were shot with white balance set for daylight.

I like the effect that using incandescent white balance has on the sky color in addition to rendering the interior lights nice an white. My first thought when I saw this image was, “he must have changed all the interior lights to daylight balanced bulbs”. Then I realized that would be crazy… all you have to do to get this look is set the white balance on you camera to incandescent!

Actually, M. James said he used an ExpoDisc to set the white balance. ExpoDisc allows you to use the custom white balance feature on most DSLRs to get the white balance right-on for each particular shot.

Posted in Photo Technique | 5 Comments »

We’re Back!

Posted by larrylohrman on May 15, 2007

Sorry about the interruption! In the process of implementing a new domain name photographyforrealestate.net I got some name server pointers mess up and the blog has been inaccessible since about  2:00 PM  PST yesterday (May 14th). I’ve learned more than I want to know about name servers in the last 12 hours.

Everything should work the same as it did before that change. You’ll notice that when you type or use the old link “larrylohrman.wordpress.com” it will magically change to “photographyforrealestate.net” before your eyes. This is brought to you through the magic of name servers.

I’m told that some RSS readers may have difficulties with this magic so you may have to update your reader about the new domain.

Phuu, I’m glad thats over.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

More on Photography For Real Estate Photo Discussion

Posted by larrylohrman on May 14, 2007

In the first day we’ve gotten a bunch of great twilight photos along with a bunch that aren’t twilight photos. I notice that most of the participants at this point are folks that are already familiar with flickr.com so I thought it would be useful to run through the flickr basics for flickr newbies. Here’s how to get started if you haven’t used flickr:

  • First of all you can view the photos posted in the Photography For Real Estate group without joining Flickr. There is much to be learned by just looking at the photos and reading the comments about the photo setup etc. If you want to leave comments, participate in discussions or post your own photos for feedback you need to sign up for a flickr account.
  • Go to http://www.flickr.com and register for a free flickr account. Flickr is a photo sharing and discussion site. You will need to get a free Yahoo Id in this process because flicker is owned by Yahoo.
  • Once you’ve registered go to your flickr home page and upload some photos that you think you might want to share with others.
  • To join the Photography For Real Estate group go to the group page  and click on the “Join Group” link along the right hand side.
  • Once you are a member of the group you can post a photo to the group photo pool by viewing the photo full size (double click on the thumbnail) and then clicking the little “Send to Group” icon.

There are two great benefits I see having a group flickr associated with this blog:

  • Being able to participate in individual photo discussions. On flickr you can carry on a public discussion on any image. This can be extremely educational because there are a huge number of talented photographers out there to give you feedback or you can “listen in” on the feedback that others are getting.
  • Being able to initiate a discussion of your own in the area of real estate photography. Carry on a discussion in the comments area of the blog is not ideal for discussion although it does work where as the discussion area of the flickr group is more like a forum and better for discussions.

Have fun.

Posted in PhotoDiscussion | Leave a Comment »

Photography For Real Estate on Flickr.com

Posted by larrylohrman on May 13, 2007


Aaron got me going on a way to use flickr.com to give Photography For Real Estate blog readers a way to post and discuss their own images. Flickr is also a way to get your portfolio of real estate work out there (for free) so it can be seen.

Here’s the way it will work. Every week I’ll introduce a theme on the blog for flickr posting (This weeks theme is post “your best twilight shot”) and PFRE readers will post one or two of their images with this theme that they would like to show off or get feedback on. For now let’s limit the number of image posts to 2 per week. Aaron has already posted two of his images out there.

I’ll put links on the blog to both the the flickr stream of photos and the discussion. I’ll also use the flickr side-bar widget on the blog to display the flickr group photo stream.

Feel free to give me suggestions on how this is working. I’m relatively new to flickr and thanks Aaron for getting me started on this idea. I’ve been thinking about it for a while and just needed a push to get started.

Update: One added note is in addition to posting to the “Photography For Real Estate” group if you tag your photos with the tag “photographyforrealestate” then they will show up on the side bar of the blog.

Posted in Marketing Yourself, PhotoDiscussion | 11 Comments »

Scott Hargis Images on Flickr.com

Posted by larrylohrman on May 9, 2007

I just noticed the Flickr.com photostream by Scott Hargis a San Francisco area real estate photographer. Scott has added some commentary to each of his interior shots about his lighting setup. Scott uses multiple (3 or 4) strobes for his lighting. I believe he works with a 20D and 14mm lens. Great example of what can be done with multiple strobes.

Scott’s website www.scotthargis.com has a nice gallery (made with Lightroom Slideshow feature) of his new work.

Posted in Lighting, Photo Technique, Real Estate Photo of the Week | 5 Comments »

Don’t Forget About Polarizers When It’s Sunny

Posted by larrylohrman on May 8, 2007


This is the time of year when real estate photographers need to make sure they have a polarizer in their bag.

It’s easy to forget that when it’s sunny outside you should try a polarizer on all your outside shots. In bright sunlight a polarizer makes colors rich and saturated. This gives an outdoor photo a real punch. It can also give the sky and clouds increase contrast in many cases.

I was shooting the home above that we listed for a professional photographer. After showing him the photos he suggested that I use a polarizer. For some reason I’d completely forgot about the wonderful effect that a polarizer can have on an outside shot. After this shoot I never forget my polarizer. The disappointing thing is that I’ve never figured out how to put a polarizer on my Sigma 8mm fisheye lens that I use to shoot 360 images. The front of the lens is curved so I haven’t found a way to mount a polarizer on it.

For more info on polarizers see:

Posted in Photo Equipment | 2 Comments »

Draganfly R/C Helicopter: Inexpensive Aerial Photography

Posted by larrylohrman on May 6, 2007

John Sembrot just pointed out an post from last year that talks about the Draganfly R/C helicopter that would be great for doing sub aerial real estate photography. This build it yourself rig is only $2500, only one fourth the cost of most electric helicopters that I’ve heard about.

If you trace back the links to the company that sells the kit (Draganfly Innovations, Inc ) they have a great little video on their site that describes the Draganfly.

Posted in Aerial Photos | 3 Comments »

Top 5 Selling DSLRs As of February 2007

Posted by larrylohrman on May 5, 2007

popphoto.com reports the top 5 DSLRs for Feb. Canon Digital Rebel XTI and Nikon D40 took the top two spots respectively. The D40 has moved from #3 to number #2 since January of 2007.

I’ve been talking to agents that are in the process of upgrading from non-DSLRs and they are choosing to upgrade to models on this list. One point of discussion has been does the Sigma 10-20mm auto focus on the D40. After some research our interpretation is that it does since it has an auto focus motor in the lens (the D40 doesn’t have an auto focus motor). It also appears that the SB-600 and SB-800 will work on the D40.

If any one has experience with these combinations please let us know.

Posted in Photo Equipment | 6 Comments »

The Most Important Photo of A Home

Posted by larrylohrman on May 4, 2007


Several discussions I’ve been having recently brought up various aspects of the fact that the front exterior photo is THE most important photo in real estate marketing. The reason is that time and time again the listing agent is required to choose a single photo that is either featured most prominently (as on web sites) or the only photo (as in print media ads). This single has the job of creating enough excitement to get the prospective buyer to click a link for more information or make the call to the agent to ask for more information. Many MLS’s require this photo to be an external photo.

Because of the importance of this single photo as much time, thought and expense should be focused on creating and choosing this single photo as all the other photos put together. You want grab the attention the potential buyer. It’s difficult to state rules for doing this. Twilight shots are just one approach. Some homes require an aerial low altitude aerial shot because they are so obscured by vegetation or neighboring homes. Frequently, just making sure the sky is not burned out will allow the sky to add emotional punch. Finding an unusual angle other than street level can add interest.

One thing that makes a boring exterior shot is a straight-on front shot that makes the home look like a flat facade with no depth. It is usually more interesting to take a “3/4” shot where you can see that the home has depth or even reveal details of the side yard or backyard.

Some homes are just plain ugly. We had a listing last year that was so ugly that I used a twilight shot so you couldn’t see much of the home.

This actually worked quite well by covering up many aspects of the home that were not attractive in the daylight.

Many times a straight-on shot accentuates the garage, large driveway or street these are usually not all that interesting. In short, do everything you can to make the front shot look great.

Now that you you’ve gone to all that work to make a great front shot, a little known fact is that when you use a photo on the MLS as the first photo, it becomes public domain:( at least that is the case on the NWMLS in the Seattle area.

Updated: 5/6/2007

For condominiums where a photo of the front of a particular unit in the condo is not inspiring I recommend a wide shot that shows the whole condominium structure and it’s surrounding environment so the buyer has a feel for the setting. Here is an example:

On this condo listing I even marked where the particular unit was we were selling. Not very cool, I admit but we wanted to show where the unit was because this was a very desirable location next to the greenbelt. I believe in this front shot you want to convey as much information as possible. A photo like this shows where the unit is as well as well as a complete feeling of the whole condo environment.

Posted in Marketing, Photo Technique | 6 Comments »

Lynda.com Online Videos For Photoshop

Posted by larrylohrman on May 3, 2007

In the past I have not liked training videos but recently I subscribed to the lynda.com podcast and ran across the podcast by Deke McClelland on the new photomerge feature in Photoshop CS3. It was short and effective. The free lynda.com podcast actually covers many different applications, not just Photoshop. Then after registering my version of Photoshop CS3 I chose the one month free subscription to lynda.com that Adobe gives as gift for registering.

I really like the design of these online videos. Unlike most other training videos I’ve used these are “chunked” in to 2 to 10 minutes on specific subjects. It’s great, you can skip around and look at just the subjects you want and easily come back later and find a particular subject that you want to watch again.

The series I’ve found particularly useful so far is “Photoshop CS3 New Features”. Since its too early for any of the Photoshop books to be updated for CS3 this is a great way to find out what’s up the CS3 upgrade. In fact, this is the best description of the new CS3 features anywhere. In addition to the series on CS3 new features there is a series on Photoshop CS3 Advanced Techniques, Beyond the Basics and CS3 Essentials. There is also a series on Photoshop Elements 5.

At $25 per month for an online subscription, I think this a great way to become more effective with either Photoshop you use.

By the way there are a bunch of Photoshop and photography how-to podcasts (free via iTunes). Many of these are video podcasts. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Adobe Photoshop Lightroom
  • Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Killer Tips
  • Creative Photoshop with John Reuter
  •  lynda.com
  • Photoshop TV
  • Photoshop for Digital Photographers
  • Lightroom for Digital Photographers

Posted in Photo Editing | 4 Comments »

Real Estate Photographers Wanted Page

Posted by larrylohrman on May 3, 2007

I frequently get requests from Realtors around the country looking for a real estate photographer in their area. This is what gave me the idea for starting the RE Photographers directory. But all too often there’s not a photographer in the directory in the location the Realtor is in.

So to address this problem I’ve added a “RE Photographers Wanted” (there’s a link on the horizontal line of links just below the blue header bar) page where anyone that’s looking for a real estate photographer can post a comment with their location and contact information.

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