Photography For Real Estate

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Archive for the ‘Real Estate Photo of the Week’ Category

Photo analysis of the best real estate photo that I’ve seen this week. Or one that I want to comment on.

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.

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Posted in Real Estate Photo of the Week | 9 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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

Example of a Well Done Property Website – www.kenwandadrive.com

Posted by larrylohrman on March 29, 2007

I just got a e-mail ad for a property in Snohomish (North of Seattle). I get 20 to 30 of these things a day as all Realtors on the Northwest Multiple Listing. The photos most of them put you to sleep. This one grabbed my attention. All the photos are on a property website: www.kenwandadrive.com.

I think this is a stunning example of 1. A good property website and 2. Stunning real estate photography. If you look closely at the images they have the look of blended images and/or HDR processing. The website of the company that did the site (Vista Estate Imaging) indicates these images are done “with natural light”. There are many images that have indications of some manual blending and many have indications of HDR processing. All in all though, this is one of the best jobs of blending images I’ve seen.

Posted in Photo Editing, Photo Technique, Real Estate Photo of the Week | 19 Comments »

They Need Real Estate Photographers Down Here In Mexico!

Posted by larrylohrman on January 31, 2007


We were walking on the beach North of Puerto Penasco this morning and ran across a great ocean front property. I has it’s own marketing website. The setting is stunning. Right out on a rocky point on the Sea of Cortez (no big surf or bad storms because it’s protected). 4700 SF and 2.2 million USD. Very remote and fairly private. You have to go on a several mile dirt road just to get to this point. It is so remote it has it’s own desalinization unit.

This is a for sale by owner and the photography is probably by the owner. This is the kind of home I would love to photograph. There are many opportunities for really stunning interior photos here but of course the owner’s photos just barely shows what the place looks like. The photo above is mine that I took from the beach with my CoolPix. If I had more equipment down here with my than a CoolPix I’d go offer to photograph the place just for fun but I didn’t even bring a tripod… I’m traveling light.

Posted in Real Estate Photo of the Week | 2 Comments »

Stunning Interior Image By Thomas Bliss

Posted by larrylohrman on November 26, 2006


Thomas Bliss is an Architectural Photographer that works out of studios in Gig harbor, WA and Tucson, AZ. I’ve had a link to his site in the list of interior photographers along the right hand side of the blog. Thomas asked me to update the link I have to his site so I was looking through his galleries of images on his new site. I’ve been a fan of Thomas’s work for some time but I was particularly impressed with image #6 in his residential gallery. To see the full-size image on his site go to www.architecturephotographer.com and hover over “Portfolios” and scroll down to “Residential”, then scroll forward to image 6/26.

I love how the fabric patterns are so bright and beautifully lit and the same time exterior is clear and dramatic with the wonderful blue color that occurs around 15 to 20 minutes before sunset. Anyone who’s tried to do a shot like this can appreciate the lighting skill that goes into an image like this.

I ask Thomas for some of the technical information on how he created this image and here’s what he said:

This image was the last shot of a very long hot day in Scottsdale Arizona for Interior Designer Carolyn Morrison. The shot took roughly one hour to set and light. Exterior hot-lights were set to shoot the pool area and palms, roughly 2500 watts. Interior lighting was accomplished using mono-block strobes with a 10 stop range. Strobes are used as gentle fill, and are stopped down to within about two stops of the exterior, shot bounced into 3′ silk umbrellas. Image capture was made with a Canon 1DS Mark II (16mp full frame) and a Canon 16-35mm lens. Whenever I shoot interiors I always shoot RAW tethered to a 17″ PowerBook. Its like having a 17″, 16 million color Polaroid. However easy I just made this sound, its not. Color balance, custom white balance, gels, dimmers, photo correct bulbs in the lamps all had to be carefully adjusted right up to the point where everything was in balance (in my opinion) and then when the light outside was right, we popped off about ten frames, and that was just the beginning. Next stop, post processing. In post, further color correction, perspective adjustments, sizing for the clients usage needs, unsharp mask, saving as 8-bit in both 300-dpi tiffs for print and jpgs for web use. Upload galleries and burn DVD’s for the client, and 12 hours later the client has final images.

Great work Thomas and thanks for sharing the details.

Of coarse in the typical real estate photography situation you are not going to have the time to put in to creating a single image as Thomas did here but I think it is instructive to understand what goes into a high quality image like this and what is possible.

 

Posted in ReaderProfile, Real Estate Photo of the Week | Leave a Comment »

Stunning Real Estate Photography

Posted by larrylohrman on October 23, 2006


Several days ago I got this e-mail marketing piece (click on the image above to see the whole e-mail image. I think this is one of the best executed real estate marketing pieces I’ve seen.

Several aspects are noteworthy:

  1. The photography is stunning- the images are all well lit and attention grabbing.
  2. The e-mail piece has been professionally laid out and is distributed in a single 675 x 1550 JPG that shows off the photography beautifully.
  3. All the external shots are done in the sun with a polarizer to get deep saturated colors.
  4. The interior shots are all beautifully lit with a crisp, sharp look.

This e-mail piece presents much like a large brochure even though it is in e-mail format. In addition to the 675 x 1550 JPG there is a link to a PDF for added impact.

I think the most outstanding feature of this RE photography is the front exterior shot. Whether the photographer used some surrounding feature of the property to shoot from or shot from a pole, the elevated 3/4 angle gives this home an attractive look even though the architecture is not all that outstanding. When you look closely this is quite an ordinary home but the photograph presents it very well.

In our area e-mail marketing to agents is rapidly replacing hard-copy only flyers. I get 10 to 15 e-mail pieces like this a day promoting new listings or brokers opens. E-mail is replacing paper flyers.  Some agents consider this kind of e-mail SPAM but many don’t. It’s actually a much more efficient and effective medium to get this information in. If you don’t want it, it’s gone in a click. If it does interest you it’s a better form to keep the information than paper. The trick is getting your piece to stand out from all the others. The best way to make a marketing piece standout is good photography. This piece stands out and grabs your attention because of the photography. 

I think this piece is a great example of what great real estate photography can do for your marketing.

Posted in Marketing, Photo Technique, Real Estate Photo of the Week | 3 Comments »

Photo of The Week – Twilight Shot of Sydney Area Home

Posted by larrylohrman on October 2, 2006


This nicely executed twilight shot was done by Con Poulos who is a real estate photographer in the Sydney, Australia area. I featured an interior shot of Con’s back on August 17. Con sent me a series of shots back in August when we were talking about natural lighting vs using a flash for interiors. An I ran across them again just yesterday and as particularly attracted by this one.

I think this is a particularly well executed early twilight shot. I like how the warm incandescent color of the interior lights complement the blues of the pool and sky. Also, the 3/4 angle (not straight on) illustrates the series of insets and decks that go from camera left to right. Con has cropped out the surrounding buildings. I know from experience that removing from view the neighboring properties and street is always a challenge.

This image would represent this property well if it were the only shot available on an ad. Although, a secondary shot illustrating the view off the balcony in the opposite direction of this shot would be interesting. I assume the opposite direction is street and not a wonderful beach.

The only short coming I see with this photo is that the outside spots are slightly distracting. I mention this since this is a problem I’ve run into myself shooting twilight shots. Some homes have more of these spots than others and they can be very bright. These are not as bad as some I’ve seen. It can be worth your while to spend some time finding how to shut them off. Sometimes they will turn off if you just stand still for long enough, i.e they have motion sensors.

Posted in Real Estate Photo of the Week | Leave a Comment »

Photo of The Week: A View From The Water

Posted by larrylohrman on September 14, 2006

Here’s a photo of a 2.5 million dollar Lake Washington water front home taken from the water front. Wow, what a concept! I think that the water front view is the most important view for any water front home. I see too many photos of water front homes taken only from the homes point of view. Not that the view from the home is not important but the view from the water usually shows the bank and dock better and frequently shows the architecture of the home better than any other view.

I’ll have to admit that getting a shot like this adds some logistical challenges to the real estate photo shot. You’ll need a boat. Preferably a boat that is as high off the water as possible. This is one situation where a heli-cam might be the best choice since you could take shots from different heights and different distances.

This photo gives a good feel of all the water front related features in addition to the yard and architecture of the home. The only thing that bothers me about this image from an aesthetic point of view is the big boat moored on the right hand side is a little distracting because you really can’t see the whole boat.

Notice the three rubber duckies on the arms of the chairs on the dock.

Posted in Real Estate Photo of the Week | Leave a Comment »

Photo of The Week – 1.5 Million Dollar Aerial Shot

Posted by larrylohrman on September 8, 2006

This shot is the primary shot for a rural home on Seattle’s eastside listed for 1.5 million. It demonstrates a very effective solution to the classic problem of a wonderful home that you can’t see because it is so surrounded by vegetation that every angle from the ground is blocked. As you can see from the photo above, there’s just no way to get a good shot of this home from the ground. There is a secondary photo on the listing taken from the ground on the driveway side but it doesn’t reveal the real class of this home.

I don’t know the details of how this shot was taken but it is clearly an aerial shot perhaps done with a heli-cam but it cost the agent at least $350 or perhaps much more depending on how it was shot. It is well worth the cost because it clearly shows the home’s setting, the unique design, the interconnecting decks and the story high wall of windows. This angle and renders the home very attractive where as all other exterior shots in the listing show very little of the home. This is the kind of shot that will attract the right kind of buyer. In the overall scheme of things a shot like this can be a major factor in selling a home.

I give this shot two thumbs up!

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

Photo of The Week – Natural Light Only or Lighting Equipment?

Posted by larrylohrman on August 17, 2006

This last week I’ve been talking to Con Poulos of Sydney, Australia about natural light shooting versus using lighting equipment. Con is a real estate photographer that does both 360 virtual tours and still interior shots. His website is http://www.spinpix.com.au/. Con sent me several recent interior images that he’s shot without using any lighting equipment. The image above and below are the ones I like best. These were created by shooting multiple images, probably one image exposed for the windows and at least one other image exposed for the interior and then combining the images in Photoshop using masking. That is, taking the best parts of each image and combining them into one beautifully exposed image.

Anyone who’s tried to create an image like the one above will appreciate how difficult it is to expose the interior and the view out the window in one image. Con has done a stunning job! But, he’s done it by spending allot of time in Photoshop combining multiple images. I’ve found that sellers of view homes expect shots like this that show both the interior long with the view.

If you are interested in the gory details of combining multiple images I recommend Katrin Eismann’s book Photoshop Masking & Compositing . On pages 225 to 240 she specifically has examples of creating interior and exterior real estate images using multiple images. The rest of the book covers related aspects of combining multiple images with masking.

Con’s question to me was what kind of pro-lighting equipment does he need to use to reduce the amount of time he needs to spend in Photoshop to get this kind of image.

My answer was that lighting equipment will indeed reduce the amount of time you need to spend in Photoshop to get such images as these. Many real estate photographers do work very close to this with external flash units either Canon, Nikon, Metz or Quantum TTL flash systems (typically around 50 watt-seconds). The positive side of these TTL systems is that they are very portable and very automatic. However, there are always going to be rooms that are too big to light. And with artificial lighting systems you will always fight unnatural looking shadows and reflections. The next level of professional lighting systems that have more power (~100 watt-seconds and above) can be fired into transparent umbrellas to get a better quality of light but you must sacrifice portability.

Ultimately you find creating great interior images like these is a balancing act between time spent in Photoshop with the amount of lighting equipment you carry. That is, no lighting equipment means spending allot of time in Photoshop and allot of powerful lighting equipment means almost no time in Photoshop.

Many real estate photographers tell me that they are under time pressure to get in and out of a home in around an hour because the agent they are working for is waiting for them to finish. This is because the agent is personally responsible for the home while you are there. In my state (Washington) an agent can be fined up to $5000 if they leave a contractor unescorted in a home. Other interior photographers that work for builders tell me they take more time per home and spend a half a day to a day shooting a home. If you are going to shoot a home in around an hour, there’s no way you have time to setup much lighting equipment.

I personally take around 2 hours to shoot a home of around 3000 square feet and use a single external Canon 580EX Speedlite that will fit in my pocket. Since I’m a licensed agent I don’t have to be escorted in a home so this removes the time pressure. I also frequently take two or more trips to the home looking for good light or because I forgot some critical shot.

Posted in ReaderProfile, Real Estate Photo of the Week | 3 Comments »

What’s Important When Shooting Real Estate Photos?

Posted by larrylohrman on August 15, 2006

 

I’m going to pick on realestatejournal.com’s home of the week again to point out a few things I think are important when shooting real estate marketing photos. This week’s home of the week is an $11.5 Million home in the Boston area. I think the lead photo needs some work and given the photos shown of this home I’m not sure I’d have used it as the lead photo.

On the positive side this photo does say “large estate” but other than that it’s uninspiring. After seeing the 10 photos that present this property I did some googling to see if there were more photos available for this home. Yes, there are more and better photos. The listing agents website has a much better presentation of the property. The lead photo here is much more inspiring. It’s brighter, more attractive and it also says “large estate home” with out having the 4 garage doors showing. Why this photo was not used as the lead photo in the realestatejournal.com presentation I don’t know. Probably it’s due to the whim of who ever put together the article at realestatejournal.com. Frequently when you submit photos to any publication the agent doesn’t have control of photo selection or even words. The virtual tour of this property shows even more photos not shown in the still presentation.

The problem I want to point out with the lead photo is the horizontal alignment one. This problem seems all to common with real estate photos. I believe it’s an absolute must that horizontal lines that one would intuitively expect to be parallel with the top and bottom of the photo frame must be horizontal. Roof lines are always effectively horizontal so they should be rendered horizontal. I always use horizontal guides to see how things line up. And then use Photoshop or Photoshop Elements to rotate the photo and re-crop. I’ve drawn lines on a copy of the photo above to highlight the alignment problem.

The second problem is the lighting. The trees tell you this was shot in the winter and good lignt is probably hard to come by in the winter in Boston. However, I find you have to come back many times to get good light. Getting good light outside takes more time and return trips than shooting the interior. Some homes I’ve been back to 4 or 5 times to get good light.

Another issue I have with the series of photos of this home is there is no kitchen. As one of the most used rooms in a home I think it is essential to include a shot of the kitchen. In fact when photos any key rooms are missing on a photo presentation of a home my assumption is that the agent/seller is trying to hide something. Key rooms are kitchen, living room and master and for upper-end homes the master bath. An expensive home needs impressive key rooms or I’m suspicious! The reason I’m suspicious is when we have a listing with a awful kitchen the temptation to leave out a photo is large. However, it’s better to make what ever is there look it’s best. After all that’s your job as a real estate photographer.

Posted in Marketing, Real Estate Photo of the Week | Leave a Comment »

Real Estate Photo of the week

Posted by larrylohrman on August 5, 2006

I’ve decided to start a new feature of Photography For Real Estate. I’m going regularly feature a Real Estate photo that I feel is noteworthy. I think it’s worth while to think and talk about why a photo works or doesn’t work. So I’m going to do a short analysis of why I think a photo works or doesn’t and I encourage readers to use comments to agree or disagree or add to the analysis. It’s always easy to say “yea, I like that photo” or “no, I don’t” but it’s always harder to say why and what factors make it work or not work.

The above photo is my first choice. It came to my attention as the primary photo on an e-mail flyer. The reasons I like this photo are:

  • I like the light. The light feels bright and crisp without being too bright. I think the quality of light is to some extent created by the broken clouds. The shadows are not extensive so they don’t distract.
  • The high angle of view is what first caught my eye. My guess is this is taken from the window of a home across the street. This high angle of view is always hard to get and always enhances the shot. If this home were shot from street level it would probably be ugly and a struggle to get keep the walls vertical. This high angle look is why people pay for heli shots, shots from telescoping masts, shots from balloons and the like. A side benefit of the high angle is you can see the roof material and the fact that the home has skylights, some thing you wouldn’t see from a street level shot.
  • It’s probably an accident but the fact that this is a 3/4 view (that is not straight on) gives the home depth and allows you to see one of the sides of the house.
  • The photo gives a feel of the neighborhood. That is, you can see the spacing between homes the landscaping, a peek at the backyard without these things distracting from the main strong image of the home.
  • The home has a pleasant design. Of coarse the photographer didn’t have control of the design but let’s face it the design or street appeal is a big factor in the feeling of the photo.

This agent is doing a nice job of marketing this home and neighborhood with great images. Here is the virtual tour. I’m partial to this type of flash virtual tour with a series of photos. I’d rather the photos were a bit larger but this is a nice tour.

So what do you think? Don’t be bashful. Use the comment feature.

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

$20 Million Home Deserves a Breath Taking Photo

Posted by larrylohrman on July 31, 2006

I was talking to a blog reader last week about the fact that most Realtors need some visual education so the can see what is a good marketing photograph and what images are lacking. This week’s Wall Street Journal’s home of the week is a $20 Million home in Honolulu.

I think the lead front photograph on a listing should take your breath away much like the lead front photograph on a home featured in a Architectural Digest article. I don’t feel this lead image does a good job of marketing a $20 Million home.

Here’s why:

  1. If I had only the four images of the home that are shown in the realestatejournal.com article I use the second or third image instead of the one used. They appear to be done with a polarizer and are far more interesting than the front shot.
  2. The front shot appears to be done without a polarizer and consequently is very washed out and dull. Some photoshop work could help this image out but it would be difficult to compensate for not using a polarizer. Shooting with a polarizer would make the clouds more defined and sky bluer and improve the over all color contrast.
  3. The composition is lacking although I do like the clouds. The clouds need to be more dramatic which is what a polarizer would do. The composition looks a little like a drive-by shooting done without stopping. I don’t like all the driveway in the shot. Franky, a shot of this kind of home needs to give some feeling of why it’s priced at $20 Million or it’s not going to generate interest.
  4. I want to see what this home looks like from the beach or water. That’s what home like this is all about… living on the beach! I don’t care what the driveway and garages look like. It would be different if the home was grand or architecturally stunning from the front but it’s not. The front of the house is rather boring… so don’t even show it.

This article happens to be formatted so you can see all 4 images by only scrolling but that’s unusual for a listing most of the time the single lead image must generate the interest to motivate people to click/look futher so you ideally want to take people’s breath away with the lead image. This one doesn’t do that for me. This feels to me like a $200,000 photo on a $20 Million listing.

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