Posted by larrylohrman on August 23, 2007
I ran across an article by Andrew Brown in The Guardian (newspaper in the UK) via John Knack’s blog, titled We all helped to speed the demise of professional photographers. It talks about the commodification of photography.
This brings to mind the complaints that I hear all the time from RE photographers that so many Realtors don’t want to spend the money to hire a professional because they think they can do just as good or good enough. Yet I see very few RE photographer websites or RE photographer marketing that demonstrate the difference between a good RE image and a bad one. I think examples like the one above from Vivian Toy’s article last February in the New York Times are needed to educate Realtors and others about what a good professional real estate image looks like.
Mike Martin sent me a good example below:
The large background image is one he took with his Canon SD430 perched on top of his 32 foot windsock pole and the small overlaid image is one a Realtor took. To me this is a striking example of what you pay a professional for. In his case the equipment that he uses is unique and worth his fee. In other cases it’s the lighting experience you bring to the table or just having a ultra-wide-angle lens. In many cases it’s just having a good eye for composition.
In any case, I think if you demonstrate and sell with examples the strengths you have, Realtors will see that photography is not a commodity.
Posted in BusinessProcess, Marketing Yourself | 11 Comments »
Posted by larrylohrman on August 22, 2007
Carson Coots over at realestateremix.com is putting together a directory of real estate marketing professionals. Carson describes his inspiration for the site as follows:
“Working in the marketing department for a major home builder, I have had a very tough time locating qualified vendors to outsource our marketing initiatives to… and although I would like to do it all myself, I simply don’t have enough time to get it all done. It really is all about who you know. And I didn’t really “know” anyone who specializes in these marketing services that also understands the unique needs of home builders and real estate. Searching Google for “real estate photography Houston” or “real estate web design Austin” will result in scattered and somewhat useless results. Also, many photographers have pure flash sites, and they don’t rank well. So I decided to make my own directory of marketing professionals who specialize in the real estate industry. I hope to create an outlet for companies to get more reach, while simultaneously providing a great resource for marketing executives to find specialized talent”
Carson’s invitation to join the directory is here. In addition to the directory realestateremix.com has a forum and a podcast.
I notice that there are already some Photography For Real Estate readers signed up in the realestateremix directory.
Posted in Marketing Yourself | Leave a Comment »
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: email@example.com
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.
Order online at any of our websites, or call (707) 479-6569.
Posted in Marketing Yourself | 9 Comments »
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 »
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 »
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.
- On the home page click on the blue link that says “Find a Realtor”.
- Fill in the city and state in which you are looking for Realtor and click search.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 »
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:
- 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.
- 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.
Posted in Marketing Yourself | 1 Comment »
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 »
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 »
Posted by larrylohrman on April 9, 2007
Have you noticed Adobe Album Starter Edition? I frankly don’t even know how I got Adobe Album Starter Edition 3.0 on my machine. It could have been when I installed Lightroom 1.0 or when I installed Photoshop Elements 5.0. I think I even removed it once since I didn’t recognize it or know where it came from.
A couple of days ago M James Northen sent me an example of a PDF slide show that he’d made with Adobe Album Starter Edition. It turns out this pesky little application actually has a good use. M James made this slide-show for one of his clients, Dale Sorenson Real Estate of Vero Beach, FL.
I’ve made similar PDF slide shows with Adobe Acrobat but had no idea you could also make similar slide-shows with Adobe Album SE 3.0. PDF slide-shows are handy because they can be emailed, put on a CD to give to a client or played without an Internet connection.
Thanks M. James for passing this idea along.
Posted in Marketing Yourself | 1 Comment »
Posted by larrylohrman on April 6, 2007
Bruce Vinal of Aerial Perspectives reports that he just got a job photographing a $9.5 million estate directly as a result of being listed in the Real Estate Photographer Directory.
If you want to be listed in the directory leave me your contact information as a comment at: www.larrylohrman.wordpress.com/re-photographer-directory . If you are a Realtor looking for a real estate photographer check out the directory for a photographer near you.
Posted in Marketing Yourself | 1 Comment »
Posted by larrylohrman on March 5, 2007
I’ve mentioned before that one of the best ways to get clients is to attend Realtor meetings. All offices have a sales meeting about once a week. If you call the managing broker they will usually let you come make a presentation to all the agents in the office. Better yet get a Realtor that you’ve done work (and likes your work) for to invite you the the meeting. Referrals are very powerful.
I had a question today about what to do when you get a chance to go to such a meeting. Here is my response:
Put your presentation on hand-outs and give everyone a copy of everything you are going to say. Also, have your name, phone # and website URL all over the presentation.
There are several reasons for this approach:
- You don’t have to worry about getting through the presentation since everyone will have a copy.
- Frequently you end-up not having enough time to get through the presentation… actually it’s better that you don’t get through it all since agents have short attention spans. If they have a copy of your material they will take out of it what they need and want.
- Your main purpose it to connect with the agents and to appear confident in the area of real estate photography.
A couple more suggestions:
- Base your presentation on the NY Times article that I referred to a few weeks ago .
- This article has some of the most compelling arguments for using a RE photographer I’ve seen for a long time. And who’s going to argue with the NY Times? Include copies of this article in your handouts.
- Feel free to handout copies of my 10 essentials of Real Estate photography. The point in using this is that Realtors will see that these are important items that they are not equipped to do… but you are.
- Just relax and be yourself and you’ll do fine!
Realtors will appreciate the NY Times article. Our managing broker found it on her own and recommended it to everyone in the office but most Realtors have probably not seen it.
Posted in Marketing Yourself | 13 Comments »
Posted by larrylohrman on November 28, 2006
If you looked at the image by Thomas Bliss that I talked about in the last post you visited Thomas’s website (www.architecturephotographer.com ). I was impressed by the clean simplicity and effectiveness of this site. I think it’s a good example of an effective photographer’s website. As I’ve said before, real estate photographers need to have a website to showcase their work. The feature I like the most is the large size of the photos in the galleries.
As you can see from the small links at the bottom of each pages this website is a Flash site hosted at www.foliolink.com. This is a hosting service that provides websites for artists and photographers. They have a huge number of templates both Flash and non-Flash sites. They can host an e-mail server for your domain and they can do e-commerce (so you can sell things). For around $20/month this appears to be a hosting service worth checking out.
Posted in Marketing Yourself | 1 Comment »
Posted by larrylohrman on October 5, 2006
I get questions all the time about what real estate photographers should charge. I always give the following examples of what some of the independent real estate photographers around the Seattle area charge:
- $145 for 15 photos and a buildatour.com slide-show ($109 introductory price)
- $150 for 15 still photos
- $199 for 15 still photos and a flyer design
I now have a new data point. The brokerage we are with (www.johnlscott.com/) signed a volume discount deal with www.circlepix.com/ for the following pricing:
- A Standard Plus Tour with 5 panoramic images and 12 still images for $69.99.
- A Master Tour with 10 panoramic images and 18 still images for $89.99.
- Free audio with voice narration and music
- Free eTour- an email-able version of the tour (allowing portable copies to be burned onto a CD)
- Free flyer-building tools
This volume discount arrangement doesn’t mean that John L Scott agents have to use circlepix.com tours it just means that John L Scott agents have the opportunity to use circlepix.com tours for a discounted price.
I don’t have a feel for what kind of quality you get for this low price. For this price I don’t expect that the quality of the photography will be extremely high. A real estate photographer I was talking to recently called this the “Wal-mart” of real estate photography. However, this is the price point and services that independent real estate photographers need to be able to compete with. Real estate photographers need to be aware of the price, quality and services of their competition.
I’ve been telling real estate photographers for some time that they need to provide a tour on CD and Flyer design. This list of services confirms what I’ve been claiming. Flyers and a tour on CD are the most important uses Realtors have for photographs besides loading still images on websites. Realtors need flyers and tours on CD and usually can’t create them themselves.
Also you should be aware that these prices and services may not be the same in all areas of the US. The smaller towns may not have any real estate photographer services while the larger population areas may have many photographers competing for business. Be sure to research the specifics of your particular market. The best way to research your area is talk to the local Realtors.
Posted in Marketing Yourself | 28 Comments »
Posted by larrylohrman on August 2, 2006
As an agent or real estate photographer you should be aware that the options for using video on your website or to market yourself or your listing are increasing. My belief is that the wider use of video is coming about because
- Its easier and easier to create video. New cameras can frequently create video as an added feature. Video is written directly to the camera memory and are limited only by the size of the memory card you are using.
- More an more network users have highspeed connections to the net.
I’ve been thinking about writing a blog entry about this for some time. Mainly to point out that http://www.video.google.com and http://www.youtube.com will host video’s for free. All you have to do is upload the video then others can link to is, you can e-mail the link to the video or embed it in a webpage. Here’s my little test of http://www.youtube.com. This little video is just 13 seconds but you can post up to 10 minutes of video. One way to use this is to promote yourself or a listing much like a virtual tour.
Recently Sharon Nyman of Key Largo sent me an example of how she is using video. She uses http://www.spotrunner.com to use stills that she has shot to create TV spots. Here are two examples of spots she has had created. Example 1. Example 2.
“…I supplied the photos and the narration. Century 21 has special pricing with Spot Runner for $349 to produce the ad including the voiceover. Once the ad is produced, it can be used over and over. The air time is paid separately. I recently ran 100 spots (all daytime) over a one month period for $950. I used only three networks CNN, HGTV and The Weather Channel.(poplar with boaters here in the Keys). I think pricing would be higher in certain areas like Miami or Ft. Lauderdale. I was going to do an “Agent” ad but the listing ad really says it all without specifically promoting myself. This is my second TV ad…”
This is quite a sophistocated and effective use of video. But you don’t have to be this sophisticated. That is you can create and post the video yourself. One example of this I really enjoy is the www.rocketboom.com/vlog video blog with Joanne Colan. rocketboom.com is a video blog that posts a 3 minute video every day. It’s one of the most popular video blogs on the net. I’m not saying anybody can do this. Joanne is very talented and backed up by a number of other folks.
I’ve just discovered these uses of video within the last few months. This technology is developing rapidly.
Posted in Marketing Yourself, Virtual Tours | 2 Comments »
Posted by larrylohrman on July 26, 2006
Last week I talked to André Gant who is a professional photographer working out of the San Antonio, TX area. As you can see from his web site André does mostly weddings and portraiture but is in the process of expanding his work to include real estate photography. The photograph above is one of the series he showed me that he took to for a proposal to a builder in his area. André took a series of shots of the builders new homes and made a presentation to the builder to show what he could do. This is an effective way to expand your business. Medium and large scale builders are constantly in need of recent images to promote their product on web sites and in brochures. For a real estate photographer, A few relationships with builders can go along ways to keeping a constant flow of business.
I André’s interior shots are nicely lit. He uses A Quantum flash system on his Canon 5D with a single umbrella when shooting interiors. For those of you not familiar with flash umbrella’s you setup your flash unit (triggered remotely from a wireless transmitter mounted in the hot-shoe of your camera body) to flash into a silver or white coated umbrella. The light from the umbrella is diffused and reflected towards the room you are shooting. For more information on umbrellas see “lighting 101” on the strobist blog.
I’ve not tried using an umbrella with my flash system but after seeing the results that André is getting with one I think I’m going to add an umbrella to my kit. Using an umbrella requires a lighting stand or extra tripod to mount the umbrella on so there’s more gear to carry but it may well be worth it. More on my results with a umbrella later.
Another tip André passed along it that with a given placement of the tripod he shoots shots with and without flash and then is able to pin register two images shot in different light as layers in Photoshop. By doing this you can easily blend elements of one image with the other image creating a composite of two or more images shot from identically the same position. This is similar to some of my previous posts on dealing with burned out windows.
As André says, “..photography is photography” so these techniques he is use to using in the wedding and portrait environment work just fine doing interiors.
Posted in Marketing Yourself, ReaderProfile | 3 Comments »
Posted by larrylohrman on April 1, 2006
I know many readers of this blog are Photographers that are in various stages of building a business of photographing listings for Realtors. Janie from Indiana fits that profile and asks two great questions:
1. What is the best way to market myself to agents?
2. What should I charge?
Here are my answers to Janie:
Promoting your self:
· Website: Eventually I would have a website where you could display your work. Agents are going to want to see examples of your work and a website is the best all around way to display your work.
· Direct Mail: If you don't have the money to start with to build a good looking website another great way to promote yourself is to make some good looking postcards that have your work. I would use a Jumbo postcard (8.5 x 5.5"). I use www.expresscopy.com for creating postcards. They make postcards from PDF files you send them. I use their Jumbo postcards that are laminated on both sides. These laminated postcards have a very elegant, professional look because of the lamination. The way to build an agent mailing list is to use websites for real estate offices in your local area which typically have the address of the office and a list of agent names. Once you build the mailing list send everyone on your agent mailing list a Jumbo postcard with some stunning examples of your work about every 3 or 4 months.
· Referrals: Once you get started if you do a good job for agents the will refer you to your friends.
· Visit agents at their meetings: Almost all real estate offices have meetings once a week where all the agents come and discuss various things. Vendors routinely go to these meetings and promote themselves to agents. If this is your kind of thing I'm sure you could just call the broker at the various offices in your area and ask them if you could come say a few words to promote your product. Have some thing to had out like business cards or better a jumbo postcard that has examples of your work and your phone number on it. Use the Jumbo postcards like business cards.
What to charge:
· Of course what you charge depends on what your services are… I see a lot of photographers just shooting conventional photos and delivering about 15 shots to an agent on CD or via the web. To me these photographers are defining their services too narrowly. What agents need is not only about 15 shots interior and exterior of their listing but they need flyers and virtual tours (here is one of our recent listings: www.johnlscott.com/79059 Be sure to click on the "Virtual Tour" link and then the "more listing info" link on the upper right hand area of the virtual tour). For our listings I do conventional photos, double sided color flyers and a virtual tour. Many agents would like to have someone just take care of the whole thing like I do for my wife's listings. And would be happy to pay up to $250 for the whole thing. You want to focus on the agents that do "upper-end listings" (that is expensive homes). In our area this is $900,000 to $1,000,000 and above but what is "high-end" will vary with location. Seek out these agents and look at their marketing these agents are likely to spend more on marketing.
· I think you have to charge $100 to just show up at any given location with in about 30 miles of your home just like any other service you buy.
· A local photographer charges $199 for 15 web images and a designed flyer. You could also charge about .25 to .30 per flyer to supply the flyers if you have a color laser printer. I have a HP-4650 laser printer that turns out double sided color flyers for about $.10 each.
· Virtual Tours: As you can tell from my blog I like buildatour.com virtual tours that you can buy for $9.95 each. You could easily charge $20 or more on to that for setting it up for an agent.
Posted in Marketing Yourself | 2 Comments »