Photography For Real Estate

Tips and techniques for real estate photography

Archive for June, 2007

A Montior For Cramped Angles by Marc Lacoste

Posted by larrylohrman on June 29, 2007


I wanted to highlight Marc Lacoste’s great idea for shooting in corners for those of you that don’t frequent the flickr discussions.

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Posted in Photo Equipment | 8 Comments »

Lightroom 1.1 Moves Closer to Being The Only Photo Editor You Need

Posted by larrylohrman on June 28, 2007


If you already own Lightroom and have used it in the last few days it will have automatically asked to be updated to version 1.1. Version 1.1 is free and has some pretty nice features. The two I like the best are sharpening, noise removal and clarity. Uwe Steinmueller over at outbackphoto.com has one of the best summaries of the new features I’ve run across.

Sharpening now works much like Photoshop CS3 in the area of sharpening. Clarity is a awesome new feature in Camera RAW 4.1 that Lightroom and PS CS3 now use, that allows you to improve the local contrast and detail in an image. On the images that I’ve used it on the effects are quite striking. I like it!

The significance for RE photography work flow is that there are now only two features missing from Lightroom that prevent it from being the only software a real estate photographer will need. Those features are perspective and lens distortion correction. It seems very likely that these are features that will be added to Lightroom in the future. But to it wouldn’t hurt to let Adobe developers know what you think by giving them input on the Lightroom User Forum.

Posted in Lightroom, Workflow | 9 Comments »

Summary of Real Estate Photography Ethics Ideas

Posted by larrylohrman on June 26, 2007

Judging by the traffic on the blog and the number of comments on this subject the ethics of modifying real estate photos is a topic of high interest. So I’ve attempted to  improve the wording and summarize previous posts and comments and suggestions on the ethics topic and create a page that has a link at the top menu bar. You can continue to make comments on the original post below or the new page on the menu bar.

As a related note: Reuters, Adobe and Canon are working on technology that will detect doctored photos.

Posted in BusinessProcess | Leave a Comment »

Proposed Real Estate Photography Code of Ethics

Posted by larrylohrman on June 25, 2007

I don’t know how many of you noticed it but it but HighPix Commercial Photography BRISBAN commented on the post I did titled “When Does Wide Become Too Wide?” They quoted article 35 of the Standards of Business Practice of the Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ). Article 35 says:

“Article 35 – Photographic Representation
Members must not alter or permit to be altered photographic images of properties, digitally or by other means, such that the images no longer truthfully and fairly represent that property.
Notes: Whether the alteration of a photographic representation is misleading or deceptive will depend upon all of the circumstances. For example, digitally adjusting the exposure of a photograph so as to brighten the lighting of the photograph taken on a dull day may well be legitimate. However, removing television aerials or power poles adjacent to the property; brightening up paint work on a house or over-stating the views that might be achieved from the property may well amount to misleading or deceptive conduct. Members may well be liable for misleading representations contained in photographs that have originated from external sources such as an advertising sub-contractor or the seller. The passing on of such photographs by agents to potential buyers can amount to misleading or deceptive conduct by a Member. Members would be well advised to ensure that their contracts with advertising sub-contractors include provisions to ensure that the sub-contractors do not engage in misleading and deceptive conduct, including in connection with marketing representations contained in photographs.”

I completely agree with the intent of this ethics article but I’m find the detail language saying it’s OK to “brighten the lighting” but it’s not OK to “brighten the paint work” confusing and incongruous… are we to mask the “paint work” and change the level of everything else? I think the problem here is having non-photographers write a technical code of ethics for photographers. There needs to be specific language about whats OK and whats not. But it has to make sense to photographers. I know this is a sensitive and important area the needs to be clarified. So, I’d like to propose a code of ethics for real estate photographers:

Proposed REP Code of ethics- Modification of images of properties

Real Estate Photographers should not digitally modify images of properties such that the images no longer truthfully and fairly represent that property. Images of the house and surrounding environment should not be materially modified in anyway. However, image enhancements that do not material change the house or surrounding environment are allowed. The following is a list of what kind of modifications are considered material and which are not:

Allowed

  • Removing temporary objects like garbage cans, cars etc.
  • Changing image saturation, brightness, contrast or color balance
  • Fixing converging verticals, lens barrel distortion or color fringing
  • Removing refrigerator clutter i.e, the photos, post-it’s etc sellers typically have on refrigerators
  • Sky replacement or enhancement

Not allowed

  • Removing or modifying power lines, antennas or power poles
  • Changing any part of the house or landscaping
  • Changing the grass, trees

Photographic Equipment

Use of any particular type of photographic equipment like ultra-wide-angle lenses, tilt and shift perspective control lenses, or filters will never be considered modification of the image.

So what did I forget? Is this too weak or too strong?

Posted in BusinessProcess | 27 Comments »

A Stunning Entry Shot By Matt Stec

Posted by larrylohrman on June 22, 2007


For those of you that don’t frequent the Photography For Real Estate reader photos I wanted to highlight what I think is a particularly stunning photo by Matt Stec a real estate photographer who works out of  Auckland, NZ.

I think that Matt has done an outstanding job of composing and lighting this image. He uses the extreme angles created by the exaggerated  perspective of an ultra-wide-angle lens to frame the image and draw your eye into the interior spaces and out to the distant view. If you look at other examples of Matt’s images this artful use of an ultra-wide-angle lens is a theme of his work. I don’t know what lens Matt works with but I’d guess that it’s something like a fixed 14mm.

I like the way the close-up entry steps pull your attention through the open door to the main interior and out to the distant view. For lighting Matt apparently used a combination of  two continuous lights in the entry and remotely triggered SB-28s in the bedroom. I like the way the areas on either side of the entry walk/bridge are dark and mysterious yet the texture of the stone on the right and the details of the foreground are nicely lit and the interiors spaces and view all are balanced.

Nice job Matt! Feel free to fill us in on any of the details of this image.

Posted in Real Estate Photo of the Week | 9 Comments »

Realtors Who Do Their Own Photography: Gary Harryman

Posted by larrylohrman on June 21, 2007


Since there are many Realtors that read this blog that do their own photography I thought I’d highlight some of the Realtor-photographers that come to my attention. Last June I did a post on Sharon Nyman a Realtor in Key Largo, Florida. Sharon does very nice work!

Another Realtor who shoots his own listings is Gary Harryman, a Realtor in Topanga (Eastern Malibu), CA. Gary was featured in that article in that May 27, 2007 LA Times article that I pointed out a couple of weeks ago. The times article says:

Harryman has had a lifelong interest in photography — he had his first darkroom when he was 10 years old — and has a master’s degree in sculpture. “I see every house as a work of art — specifically, a sculpture. And I try to exhibit it on our website in as flattering a light as a curator does a sculpture exhibition in a museum or gallery,” he said.

His wife, who is also a real estate agent, keeps their website up-to-date. It’s not unusual for her to make changes to it several times a day.

Gary’s obviously uses his site as a powerful tool for signing up listing clients. When the competition for listings is high it helps to have a great, deal closing website. He features large numbers of large (900×600) photos and large flash slide shows with 50 to 70 images. He uses photography to go above and beyond to promote his listings.

Posted in Realtors who do their own photography | 1 Comment »

Expand Your Real Estate Photography Services to FSBOs

Posted by larrylohrman on June 19, 2007

Here is an interesting possibility for expanding your RE photography business to solicit business for FSBOs in your area. This person in the Bay area is promoting their services to For Sale By Owners (FSBOs) in the bay area. I think this is a good idea! Their ad is as follows:

Real estate photography, flyer design, virtual tours


Reply to: serv-353528441@craigslist.org
Date: 2007-06-16, 10:42AM PDT

 

Real Estate Photography

for FSBO (For Sale by Owner) sellers


FSBOSonoma.com
· FSBOSolano.com · FSBONapa.com

FSBOAlameda.com · FSBOContraCosta.com

Free web pages · Photography · Flyer design · Signs
Flat-fee MLS listings (through a third-party broker)

With our high-resolution digital cameras and wide-angle lenses, we can make ordinary homes seem extraordinary. We’ll mail you a CD with high-resolution images and upload all photos onto your (free) FSBO web page. If you order an MLS listing, we’ll arrange for all the photos to be placed on your GreatHomes.org listing, and for one photo to go on your Realtor.com listing. Scroll down or visit RotatingCamera.com to see some of our work. We travel anywhere within our five-county service area.$100 for six photos, plus tax.
 

We’ll use your photos to create a custom flyer of your home in digital pdf format. We’ll send the file to you on a CD so that you can print color or grayscale flyers as you need them on your home printer or at your local print shop. Or, if you like, we’ll print the flyers for you. $35 plus $3 shipping plus tax.

 

Host open houses 24 hours a day with a 360 x 360 virtual tour with four separate scenes. The price includes free uploading of the virtual tour link onto your Realtor.com web page, your FSBO web page and your GreatHomes.org MLS listing. Click here to see a sample of our work, or visit RotatingCamera.com to see a more complete gallery of our virtual tour photography.$130 for four virtual tour scenes.

Order online at any of our websites, or call (707) 479-6569.

   

Posted in Marketing Yourself | 9 Comments »

Real Estate Photographer Oppurtunity in Marin County, CA

Posted by larrylohrman on June 19, 2007

I just noticed there’s another RE photographer opportunity being advertised on sfbay.craigslist.org. It says:

I am the authorized distributor for Obeo, a virtual tour/web marketing company. We shoot the virtual tours you see when looking for real estate to purchase on-line. I am looking to hire a photographer to join our team for the Marin County Area.

The tools required for the job are:

– PC (not a Mac)
– High Speed Internet
– Photoshop
– Reliable transportation
– Camera Equipment: 5 megapixel camera and 24mm wide angle or better, tripod and external flashes
– Ability to present self well in front of client – in dress and behavior
– Flexible or open schedule Monday – Friday 9am-5pm
– Live in Marin County

I will train you on shooting and creating the panorama pictures – it is not difficult.

Typically, orders come in that need to be fulfilled within 3 days. The shoot normally takes about 45 minutes. (When you start, it will take longer until you get use to it.) Then it takes about 30 minutes of computer work. You’ll need to have photoshop for resizing and adjusting contrast etc. Turn around is 24 hours from when the tour was shot. This is very important.

Currently we are doing about 5 tours a week.

The pay is based on the type of tour shot. I mentioned the basic tour which takes about 45 minutes to shoot. The pay for this is $50. The next tour package up takes about 55 minutes to shoot and the pay is $65.

If you have the above items and are interested please send me some samples
of your architectural photography. (If you don’t have any, just take a few
building shots and a few inside shots that include windows.)

Take a look at http://www.obeo.com for sample virtual tours and still photos.

Well maybe it’s an opportunity. I guess you have to decide that.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

When Does Wide Angle Become Too Wide?

Posted by larrylohrman on June 18, 2007


I got a e-mail from Dom, a German photographer that wanted to raise the issue of “over doing it” with ultra-wide angle lenses. He says:

“But there´s one point I´m straightly opposite to yours and that´s the lens.

I would recommend just a 28-35mm lens on 35mm/fullframe (d)SLRs or for digital DX nothing less then 20mm. Here´s why:

If I shoot the way you used to (and most of the ones outside doin´) in the advertising my room seems to be very large and nice, that´s why you all are doing that.

Problem is, that reality can not mess with it. You face that if you showing your client the real estate and his first impression is:
>>Uhh! I thought it was bigger.<<

Bad position to start a sales talk.

If a single wall in a room can not get in one shot you can stitch. It requires some accuracy and time, but that´s why you get paid instead the Realtor doing it himself.”

Dom’s point is that there are downsides to using a lens that is too wide. The perspective looks strange and exaggerated and can make an average living room look like a bowling alley. For my taste the place where wide angle starts to become too wide is around 24mm. Below 24mm perspective starts to look strange because it is vastly different than the human eye. The image above is shot at 16mm. The white coffee table in the foreground has strange distorted look and depth of the room is very exaggerated. This is the effect that Dom is talking about.

I know I have many examples on this blog that were shot between 16 and 24mm. When I first got my 16-35mm zoom in 2003 I shot with it at 16mm most of the time. I admit I was infatuated with ultra wide shots. But I got negative feedback. One seller call the photos “cartoon like” one potential buyer called about a listing and ranted on about how I had purposely distorted the images to make them look bigger. Since then I’ve managed to get hold of myself.

Now days here is my rule of thumb: I try not go below 24mm unless there are unusual circumstances like a small powder room or important room that I need to shoot but just can’t do it without going lower. But to me 28mm is just not wide enough. There is a lot (8 degrees) of HFOV difference between 28mm and 24mm. Sorry Dom we’ll have to agree to disagree.

I’d like to hear what others experiences are on how wide is too wide.

June 19 update:

By perspective distortion I do not mean converging verticals. I can tell by peoples comments that many think I’m talking about converging verticals. The term exaggerated perspective is probably a better term. The exaggerated perspective I’m talking about here is making the room look much bigger than it is.

Posted in Wide-angle lens | 19 Comments »

Google’s Gmail and Online Documents Saved Me From Disaster

Posted by larrylohrman on June 16, 2007

About 6 months ago I switched from using Outlook to using Gmail. I also moved many of the files that I use for maintaining this blog to Gmail documents which allows one to keep online versions of spreadsheets and Word like documents. In particular I keep the Real Estate Photographer Directory as a online Google spreadsheet. This allows me to update the directory much faster. I also keep several of the articles (the articles under the “Basics” title at the right side of the blog) that I’ve written with Word on google documents. I’ve been very pleased with how the online documents and Gmail work. Google keeps history so you can drop back to previous versions.

Yesterday when the hard disk on my old laptop died while traveling I was particularly pleased with how I was able to keep going with updates to the RE Photographer directory and keep communicating smoothly without a glitch despite the fact that my laptop is inoperable. I’m currently using a browser on my wife’s laptop or I could do the same with any machine anywhere that has Internet access. Of coarse I have to live without Lightroom and Photoshop until I get back home and keep all my photos on memory cards. Fortunately or unfortunately, I’m working on a rental house so I’m not doing much shooting so photo storage is not a problem.

I’m really glad I moved to Gmail!

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments »

vFlyer Announces Watermark Plus

Posted by larrylohrman on June 15, 2007

Today vFlyer add a service call Watermark Plus which is a image enhancing service offered as part of vFlyer that allows users to merchandise and enhance photos and images by adding text, graphics, logos and watermarks to them – quickly and easily. The service allows online sellers to:

  • Protect photos by adding visible watermarks and logos
  • Enhance photos to attract interest from buyers by adding sales, product and pricing information
  • Brand photos and include contact information by adding company logos or personal photographs

At first I didn’t understand this service because I do this kind of thing with Photoshop. But I forgot that not everyone uses Photoshop as their operating system. This allows non-technical people to quickly and easily enhance photos. A lot of agents in my office have asked me how to float text over photos like I do on brochures and and then rolled their eyes when I tell them. This is a way to get it done for flyer/brochure images without breaking a sweat.

Posted in Marketing | 1 Comment »

Ad on newyork.craigslist.org: $12 per assignment photo taking job

Posted by larrylohrman on June 14, 2007

Drew King who works in the NY area sent me this craigslist ad. Since it will expire some time, I’ll repost it below so everyone can continue to read it:

I am a real estate agent who needs someone to take pictures of homes in the Nassau and Suffolk area (wwww.BrianSilvestry.com) I work with deadlines so I need someone who is very reliable, reachable through email, or better yet text messaging and has a flexible schedule.

I will email you an assignment with an address and you will need to go there and take 5 pictures of the exterior of the house. After that using http://www.shutterfly.com I will need you to email them to me. That is all. I will pay you per each assignment completed $12. It will not take more than a hour including drive time there and back and uploading the pictures.Occasionally I will need you to take pictures of the interior of the house as well but that is pretty rare.

You do not need to come to our office or anything. I will pay you at the end of the week using either paypal or I may send you a check.

If you feel you can do this position, please send me a resume, I do need someone right away to start.

What you need to do it is to be reliable, have your own digital camera, be able to complete work on deadline and short notice and have a phone that supports text messaging. I will email or more likely text you an assignment and I will need it to be done as soon as you can. It’s better if you can do it that day but also okay if you can complete it by early the next afternoon. “

Wow real estate photography is a tough business in NY! I notice the ad was posted on 5/18/2007 almost a month ago. Wonder why no one has jumped on it? Drew’s comments are:

“I don’t know about you, but out here on the east coast our cars run on
gasoline. I filled up Sunday,$77.50 for 20 gallons…. $12 wouldn’t
cover the damn tolls into Long Island much less the gas…..

Tell me is it Taboo to ask what people are charging for their services?
I’m not shooting architectural, for magazines. I shoot houses for sale
and property for rent. I can’t expect more than $75-$100 an hour and
when it boils out before taxes with gas, tolls, cd’s, etc Im down to
$50, take out 40% for the government, then health care… well you get
my point…. “

Thanks Drew for the link to this ad. Drew thinks he won’t apply for this job! Anyone else?

Posted in Marketing | 14 Comments »

Statistics That Drive Real Estate Photography

Posted by larrylohrman on June 13, 2007

A recently released study of the California Association of Realtors use of Technology by Leslie Appleton-Young, Chief Economist of the California Association of Realtors (CAR) reaffirms the trends in the Real Estate that are driving the demand for good Real Estate photography. Here are a few of the report’s findings:

  • About 3 of 4 (73%) adult American in the US were Internet users in April 2006, an increase of 66 % from January 2005.
  • REALTORS with high-speed Internet access increased from 71% in 2003 to 95 % in 2006.
  • A digital camera was the most important technological purchase or upgrade considered by most respondents this year, because it could provide Realtors an electronic version of pictures and could be used for marketing of listings.
  • Communication via telephone continued to be the primary means of communication, as indicated by 69% of all respondents.
  • Online marketing has become increasingly attractive because of its low cost and efficiency in attracting the attention of would-be buyers and sellers.
  • 76% of Realtors use multiple pictures and/or slide shows for their online listings and 37% use virtual tours.

Another study, also by Leslie Appleon-Young, that analyzed the Real Estate market in California for 2006 also indicates that home buyers are using the Internet much more that in the past.

The bottom line is that, as one would expect, home buyers are moving more towards using the Internet for home buying. This trend is the underlying driving force for real estate photography.

Posted in Marketing | 1 Comment »

Another Way to Keep The Walls Straight

Posted by larrylohrman on June 12, 2007


Cheri Irwin reports that her new Manfrotto 682B monopod with retractable legs has sped up her work flow by helping keep her camera straight. She says:

“Since falling walls always seem to be an issue for us, especially those who shoot off-tripod, I found a really great item. I have been shooting on a tripod for some time now, but I hate that it doesn’t give me much flexibility in the case of photographing tight, cramped spaces. Even then, I was still having trouble getting my tripod completely level, and then you still have to take into account variances in terrain, i.e. a rug on the floor that is not easily moved.

So I started looking at monopods, but I didn’t like the idea of not being able to leave my camera on it without fear of it sliding off of whatever I might lean it upon. Can you imagine the horror of your camera slamming to the floor? In my research, I found a monopod made by Bogen/Manfrotto with retractable legs. I shot with it for the first time today, and it is the perfect solution! It fits in really tight spaces, I can leave my camera on it and walk away and best of all, it is a sure thing for getting perfect verticals! I see that converging Verticals will now be a thing of the past for me. No need to fix any of my lines, since they are already perfectly lined up. And of course, that breaks my editing time nearly in half!”

Thanks Cherie for passing on your experiences with your new purchase.

Posted in Photo Equipment | 14 Comments »

Stunning Presentation of a Simple Little Home

Posted by larrylohrman on June 10, 2007


I wanted to highlight and comment on Aaron Leitz’s front shot of a simple little 1950’s style home in Seattle that he posted to the Photography For Real Estate group on flickr.

This is a great example of the challenge that most real estate photographers are faced with every day. That is, the home isn’t a multi-million dollar place that takes your breath away. Rather it’s a simple little place that unless you were hired to market it you probably wouldn’t even notice. Still you need to see and present it’s most important features in a pleasing, attractive way so that a buyer flipping through hundreds of images of homes on the web will notice this one.

I think Aaron has done a stunning job of visually presenting this simple little home. He’s chosen a three quarter view that shows some depth and is shows that this little place in what looks like an alley (very common in older neighborhoods in Seattle) with a little garage in the back. And it has a pleasant little arbor and trellis fence that could easily shield the walkway from the alley. Showing the alley for information is important but Aaron’s been careful not to shot too much alley. Also, the image is sharp and has perfect color balance (which shows crisp whites) which I’m sure will make this image stand out on the NWMLS. Also, Aaron indicates that because last week was a typical overcast, drizzly day in Seattle he replaced the boring gray overcast sky with one that has a little blue.

Nice job Aaron this single image will go a long ways in attracting a buyer.

Posted in Photo Composition, Photo Technique, Real Estate Photo of the Week | 7 Comments »

vFlyer.com Listing Widget

Posted by larrylohrman on June 9, 2007


Last week I had to post our rental home on craigslist.org. Since I use vflyer.com to create my craigslist ads I was looking around on vflyer.com and noticed they have added some new features since the last time I was there.

To me the most interesting feature is the listing widget feature. This is a feature that allows you to create a little Flash display window that displays all your vflyers. You can then embed this little window on blogs and web pages (click on the image above to see an example). I can’t embed it directly on this blog because wordpress.com blogs do not allow the embed HTML tag so I created a page with the widget on another site. The way you would use this widget is if you had a vflyer for each listing you could put in on a Realtor site and it would display a list of all the vflyers.

There are other new widgets that you can use only if you have one of non-free accounts. This is a list of the different levels of accounts and what they can do. If you have a $9.95/mo account you can embed video on vflyers.

Posted in Marketing | 1 Comment »

LATimes Article: Shoot — It’s For The Web

Posted by larrylohrman on June 7, 2007


The recent latimes.com article by Ann Brenoff is another must read real estate photography article for your marketing kit. Much like the NYTimes article I featured last February, this article gives a some good real estate photography statistics and some shooting tips from Santa Monica-based Nick Springett and Everett Fenton Gidley, the big guns of real estate photography in the Santa Monica area. The article contains a bunch of great quotes and insights. One insight I particularly liked is quote by Everett Fenton Gridley (photo above links to his web site) that full screen  flash slide shows make it so web viewers don’t have to open and close each photo by clicking on it. Gridley says:, “You have to make it easy or they’ll quit on you”.

Be sure to explore Everett Fenton Gidley’s web site. The images are masterful and there are many links to recent property sites that he and his team have built. I declare Gidley the king of property sites. His portfolios and property site examples show how he implements his “…make it easy or they’ll quit on you” site design. One click delivers the whole portfolio or the whole property site content. Very simple and effective use flash slide shows of large images.

Posted in Marketing, Marketing Yourself, Photo Technique | 10 Comments »

Unbelievably Bad Real Estate Photos Hall of Fame

Posted by larrylohrman on June 7, 2007


Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Realtor Norm Fisher has put together a hilarious presentation on how unbelievably bad real estate photography can get. The “hold on, I think we are going over” shot is my favorite.

If you watch the presentation to the end you’ll see that this “tour” does more than show bad photos, it is a promotion of what Norm and his team will do if you become his listing client. Nice job Norm!

Posted in Photo Technique, Virtual Tours | 9 Comments »

Reader Shoots San Francisco Property Listed for $55,000,000

Posted by larrylohrman on June 7, 2007


PFRE reader John Grow sent me a link to 2901 Broadway St, San Francisco , a property currently listed for $55,000,000 that he just photographed. Notice that John has used plansantours.com for the tour of this property. Wow what a view!

Posted in Real Estate Photo of the Week, Virtual Tours | 6 Comments »

Combining Real Estate Photography And Tour Hosting

Posted by larrylohrman on June 6, 2007


I just ran across an article and audio interview over at Small Business Trends Radio on how Kelly Thomas the founder of www.sihometours.com has combined real estate photography with tour hosting as a business. There is a 50+ minute audio interview at the bottom of the page. I noticed this article because Kelly signed up for my real estate photographers directory today.

As Kelly describes in the interview apparently there are a number of folks around the country doing this same thing. After listening to the interview I’m not completely clear on the whole business model. I can totally understand how the tour hosting goes together with the real estate photography but I’m not completely clear on the motivation for creating another local real estate site. If it generates as much traffic as Kelly says, you could also make money from the advertising. In our market area there are so many great local broker sites like www.johnlscott.com and www.windermere.com that buyers don’t even use the national sites like www.realtor.com very much. However, I know that situation is not the same all over.

I think it is hard to beat the combining a home tour with your home photography services. My favorite DIY tour is www.buildatour.com. As Mark Reibman says, “…about 80% of clients are wowed by it.” For $9.95 you can’t go wrong.

Posted in Marketing, ReaderProfile, Virtual Tours | 6 Comments »

How To Find Real Estate Photography Clients – Part 2

Posted by larrylohrman on June 5, 2007


I can tell by comments and the flickr discussion threads that I need to say more about finding successful Realtors to sell your real estate photography services to.

First of all the technique I described yesterday of researching who the listing agents are in your area is not so much about sending post cards as it is finding out who your potential customers are. As several pointed out face to face is always the best marketing technique. And one way of meeting Realtors is going to their meetings. Gary Weinheimer was lamenting…

“I’ve spent the last two days marketing to local Realtors and I’m a little confused. I kept getting “we just don’t have money for your services”. … So why then should the realtor pay for my services? It would be easy just to tell the client that in order to get a quicker turn around that they need to bring in a photographer to shoot their home and the cost is going to be _____.

It seems to me that none of the Realtors that are in my area don’t have the vision to see past what they have been doing forever. Well obviously that’s not working right now. I have people contacting me from the Chamber of Commerce where I’m a member begging me to shoot their home because their Realtor “isn’t doing anything” to move their home”

Gary is right the majority of Realtors don’t want to spend money on a real estate photographer. Of the 80 agents in my office is would guess that only 5 or so would spend money on a real photography. One of the major reasons is that there are a large percentage of Realtors that are not very successful. So one of the downsides of going to Realtor office meetings is that many at the meeting may be down on the concept of hiring a real estate photographer. And there is a high probability that the most successful listing agents will not even be at the meeting! Don’t be discouraged.
This is why you want to do your research on real estate web sites. That is they only way to find out which Realtors are doing lots of business and are going to be more receptive to your sales pitch. The top 20% of Realtors do about 80% of the business. You are looking for that top 20%. They will appreciate your services.

Click on the image for this post to look at the web site of one of the top Realtors in the Seattle & Seattle Eastside market. As you can see Tere knows the value of good real estate photography. Do you think it might have something to do with her success? She even uses top notch photography to promote rentals… notice the $25,000/mo rental complete with a Dale Chihuly chandelier and Steve Jensen totem pole. What I don’t understand is why the photographer would not include a shot of the Chihuly chandelier! I’m a big Dale Chihuly fan. Here is my 360vr (you have to look straight up) of one of his chandelier installations in Bellevue, WA

Posted in Marketing Yourself | 8 Comments »

How To Find Real Estate Photography Clients

Posted by larrylohrman on June 4, 2007


In the last week I’ve explained how to find real estate photography clients to several people so there are probably others out there that need to know the same thing.

Since your primary clients are Realtors you need to understand that all Realtors specialize in either working with buyers (buyers agents) or sellers (listing agents). As a Realtor it takes a while in the business to build up a customer base of sellers so most Realtors that are starting out in the business work with buyers and as a general rule listing agents are Realtors that have been in the business for quite a while. So as a real estate photographer you are going to want to find and get to know listing agents. And if you have a choice you want to what to work with Realtors that list upper-end homes. Upper-end is different in every location; it’s just the more expensive homes. Upper-end listing agents are more likely to retain your services as a photographer because upper-end sellers demand top notch, professional marketing. So how to you find Realtors that specialize in listing upper-end homes?

A good place to start is Realtor.com (click on the image above). This is a national real estate listing web site where you can find most all of the homes for sale in the US.

  1. On the home page click on the blue link that says “Find a Realtor”.
  2. Fill in the city and state in which you are looking for Realtor and click search.
  3. Bam! you have a list of Realtors in your particular city that have listings and have subscribed to Realtor.com’s services. Mind you, this is not ALL the listing agents in this city but it’s the ones that are promoting their listing nation wide.
  4. You’ll notice that across from each Realtor there is a “View my listings” button and a “Got to My site” button. If you click on “view my listings” it will show how many listing they have and how much they are selling for AND you can see what kind of photography they use to promote their listings.
  5. Then if you click on “Go to my site” button it will take you to their web site where you will always find their phone number, e-mail address and buy law, their office address (where you can mail them a post card!).

Use this process to research who the listing agents are in your area are and what offices they work at. Once you find what office agent work at you can usually find their brokers web site that will almost always list all the agents that work in that office.

So what do you do with all the Realtors names and addresses that you have in your potential client database? You send them a snazzy post card every three months or so until they give you a call to say, “I need a photographer”. I like like jumbo (5.5×8.5″) laminated post cards that have color on both sides. On the front of the post card put the best shot you have, full bleed (the image goes right off the edge) with catchy text floating over the image that makes it is clear that you are asking for their real estate photography business. Then on the back side you give all the details. The idea is to dazzle them with the large glossy image and get them to look at the back for more information. Be sure to put the URL of your web site that has more examples of your work and your phone number… Realtors are phone oriented. Realtors will appreciate a good marketing piece.

Posted in Marketing Yourself | 4 Comments »

Sell Real Estate Photos To A Client Multiple Times

Posted by larrylohrman on June 3, 2007


Last week M James Northen sent me some examples of postcards (click the image above to see his PDF that has 6 examples) and a brochure that he created for a client.

These are great examples of how real estate photographers can sell the same photos they sell to a Realtor client for the MLS a second and third time. And you will be a hero in the process. Using three photos to create a standard size post card like the example above is easy, takes only minutes and you don’t even have to leave get out of your chair. Once you get some layouts setup you can make a post card at the same time you prepare images for the MLS. I make post cards in Photoshop. Make your layout at 300 pixels per inch (because this kind of printing takes a lot of bits) and save it as a PDF. You will need a PDF for each side. Then login to your printers web site (I use expresscopy.com but there are others- see the resource page just under the blue banner at the top of this page) upload the PDFs and go through their order process and you’ll have the postcards in two days or less. Before you make your layout go the the printing site your going to use and find out the details of their layout guidelines.

Real Estate marketing is a very post card and brochure intensive business. We send out between 300 and 1000 post cards for every home we list (unless the market is very fast… in 2005 homes sold before I could get the post cards printed) and we usually send out another 300 to 500 post cards when the home sells. Then 2 to 4 times a year we send out 1000 jumbo post cards to the area where we do most of our business. All these post cards keep the phone ringing with sellers that want us to help them sell their home. It takes 200 to 500 brochures for us to get a home sold. We print our brochures with a laser printer for low and mid-priced homes but for upper-end homes we print them on heavy stock with a glossy surface at Kinko’s or expresscopy.com.

I suggest that to make the whole process go smoothly you need to have a limited number of good looking templates so the agent can choose which style they like and then you can just plug in the new text for each new post card or brochure. You don’t want to design a new brochure or post card from the ground up each time.

All the Realtors I know need some one to make all their post cards and brochures and they would much rather have the same person do the post cards that does the photography. But for some reason many photographers don’t make use of this opportunity.

Posted in Marketing | 6 Comments »