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Real Estate Photography


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17 replies to this topic

#1
Timbali

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Anyone have any experience here? What are the advantages and disadvantages? What gear is needed? What kind of paperwork is involved? What kind of money can be made? Talk to me!

 



#2
Merco_61

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When it comes to gear, the most important piece is a good tripod. It has to be sturdy but quick to use with spirit levels both for the legs and the head. I use a ballhead, others prefer a pan-tilt. A free-standing ladder to shoot exteriors handheld from can be used to get another perspective. You will need a body with lots of DR at base ISO, so a D810 or D750 are preferable over a D4 or D5. You will need lenses, either quality zooms or primes that cover at least 17-70, preferably the 14-105 range with as little distortion as possible. I use a 14-24 and 24, 35, 50, 85 and 105 mm primes.

 

You need a hefty chunk of third-party insurance and a property release from the house owner. The margin for shoots for real estate brokers is not large, but it doesn't take that much time either. If you can get a foot in with some architects, the margins are in a different league, but the effort needed is much greater as well. I don't know the  pay scale in the US, but I suppose it doesn't pay that well.



#3
nbanjogal

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I don't know the  pay scale in the US, but I suppose it doesn't pay that well.

 

It probably depends on location, but in general it doesn't seem to. One of my P52 colleagues gets about $75 a shoot--and this is a skilled photographer. I think he must depend somewhat on volume because that isn't much when time and effort are factored in. I know a few others photographers who do this, and they complain about being undercut by newbies and about real estate agents who decide they don't want to pay for good photography and instead post photos they took with their phones. (Those agents are not smart agents--with so much of the real estate business being done online, the importance of good photos cannot be overstated.) Perhaps if you get in good with agents who deal in high-end property...but then you'd better be able to deliver high-end photos.



#4
Dogbytes

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I've always found that, to make decent interior images, I've needed to light them. Just an off-camera strobe through a white brolly will do 'normal' sized rooms. Maybe that's just small Victorian houses here in dark, dreary England though :D



#5
Merco_61

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It is probable that our like for white or off-white walls and beechwood furniture in the nordic countries makes for less need for extra light for interior shooting. I hadn't thought of that. I usually get by without more than sometimes a reflector screen.



#6
nbanjogal

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I've always found that, to make decent interior images, I've needed to light them. Just an off-camera strobe through a white brolly will do 'normal' sized rooms. Maybe that's just small Victorian houses here in dark, dreary England though :D

 

 We do it here too. I have, and I know many others who do as well. (RE photography is not my gig though--I've only dabbled in it.) It sure makes a difference! 



#7
nikdood17

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I was a professional photographer for 30 years but I had a real estate salesman's license for eight years, too. In the Olde Days a realtor would hire a professional photog who specialized in real estate photography and s/he had lots of equipment on hand, including several strobe heads and umbrellas. As mentioned before, some realtors these days will shoot photos with their pocket-sized digital camera or cell phone. What most of those items lack is a good wide angle lens and some small rooms cannot be shot correctly without the wide angle. I can understand a not-too-bright realtor thinking s/he can get by with highly inferior photos but why would someone trying to sell their $3 million home put up with such nonsense? Is there a general madness abroad in the land where everybody thinks a bad photo is good enough?

It's a tough racket for the photog wanting to get in. The billion dollar real estate company I worked for offered a very good professional photographer's service plus 50 4-color 8x10 high quality flyers for very little money. So cheap I hired him  rather than do it myself.



#8
fallout666

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just like other people said about gear. also going to take time and patience too. since your still learning for patience and time find work you want. like some people said not each area will same thing some city's you can make good money other place not so well. also fact with people wanting to use smart phones to save time and cash that other big issue. most people do not have time for patience any more. we live in world where people want something now instead of later. i just starting out learning my camera. when i get better i might try to see if can do photo work for people but since learning going to take awhile. not sure where you live but do research. since never know if their to many people fight for work or not enough people around to do work. so find what best suite you and not them. since your one putting all money in to camera and gear. that way you do not over spend when you find out this not what thought be. 



#9
Merco_61

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Nikdood17, I think the strange mindset is—Grog have camera, plenty good. Why Grog pay others to take pictures? Grog do himself! Grog proud of result! 

The problem is that the result is awful but the caveman realtor thinks it is good as it looks like nice holiday snaps.

 

What I don't understand either is the seller accepting that kind of unprofessional conduct when they pay a hefty fee for the help in selling their property.



#10
Ron

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I think the "good enough" mindset is one of the main things that's killing professional photography. People and companies who are more than willing to pay an exorbitant fee for a tray of mini hot dogs in a blanket, want a pro to work their party for nothing... and then hand over the memory cards. When the photographer balks, they get uncle Louie, who has a new iPhone, to do it and upload the images to Facebook. To their mind, that's good enough.

 

--Ron



#11
BennyFr

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My humble experience shows that real estate agents are fond of HDR so be prepared to master both this technique and photo editing. And one more thing you can't do without in this genre is a tripod. If it's just for hobby, it might be quite expensive.



#12
TBonz

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I think the "good enough" mindset is one of the main things that's killing professional photography. People and companies who are more than willing to pay an exorbitant fee for a tray of mini hot dogs in a blanket, want a pro to work their party for nothing... and then hand over the memory cards. When the photographer balks, they get uncle Louie, who has a new iPhone, to do it and upload the images to Facebook. To their mind, that's good enough.

 

--Ron

 

I pretty much agree with this, however I think it is more about understanding what "good" is.  And it is across all types of photography.  Many folks do not understand the difference between a snapshot, a good photo and a "publish" quality photo.  And that doesn't even touch on the financial side of it, but if a person can't tell the difference between those types of photos, there really is no need for them to pay what it takes for a true professional.  

 

I have worked with and around several excellent photographers and I have had them and quality editors critique my work..  I did that to learn and improve.  They caught some things that I had totally missed and that is why they they are full time wire service photographers.  I would call myself semi-professional.  I have been published many times but that isn't my point...While I wouldn't suggest that photography is an inexpensive hobby, digital photography and the capability of even the lower end cameras / lenses have brought lots more people to photography.  I think that's great, but with that comes people who take decent photographs and are more than happy to give them away.  

 

I can also go to the local hardware store (or some chain) and pick up all of the things I need to do pretty much anything on my house and I'm not suggesting that doesn't take work away from carpenters or electricians.  However, it is unlikely that my friends would ask me to redo things at their house with or without offering to pay me.  Unfortunately I find way too many people who WILL ask me to shoot without offer to pay.  The good news is that lots of them have realized the difference in quality!  :)



#13
Ron

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I pretty much agree with this, however I think it is more about understanding what "good" is.  And it is across all types of photography.  Many folks do not understand the difference between a snapshot, a good photo and a "publish" quality photo.  And that doesn't even touch on the financial side of it, but if a person can't tell the difference between those types of photos, there really is no need for them to pay what it takes for a true professional.

 

That was pretty much what I was alluding to. And, it's not just in photography... I often cringe when I read a story in the newspaper. Don't they hire copy editors anymore?

 

--Ron



#14
nbanjogal

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That was pretty much what I was alluding to. And, it's not just in photography... I often cringe when I read a story in the newspaper. Don't they hire copy editors anymore?

 

--Ron

 

Ahem, as someone who currently works in the publishing industry (as an editor even, ha ha), I will just say that they seem reluctant to pay for competent, experienced folks who can do a good job at copy editing (or even basic proofreading). I've watched senior staff members (you know, the people who actually know what they're doing) get laid off or forced into early retirement during restructuring. I don't think legally they're allowed to say it's because those senior salaries are too expensive because that would probably be age discrimination, but the cynic in me is not surprised by how convenient it is that mostly inexpensive, junior staff members are left. Unfortunately, I'm sure this happens in many industries.



#15
ScottinPollock

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When I considered going after this market, I simply looked at the local listings. Predominantly it was just straight out of phone HDR, blown out flash, dark shadows, and not a straight line in the bunch. Exteriors taken at the worst time of day, and it all just had me scratching my head.

Maybe they just don't know any better, or no one that knows what they're doing has approached them. Nevertheless, it was pretty clear their standards are pretty low.

#16
Ron

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Ahem, as someone who currently works in the publishing industry (as an editor even, ha ha), I will just say that they seem reluctant to pay for competent, experienced folks who can do a good job at copy editing (or even basic proofreading). I've watched senior staff members (you know, the people who actually know what they're doing) get laid off or forced into early retirement during restructuring. I don't think legally they're allowed to say it's because those senior salaries are too expensive because that would probably be age discrimination, but the cynic in me is not surprised by how convenient it is that mostly inexpensive, junior staff members are left. Unfortunately, I'm sure this happens in many industries.

 

It goes back to what I said in my first comment. The "good enough" syndrome. In a lot of places running copy through a spelling and grammar checker seems to be all that's necessary. Some places probably don't even do that. It's unbelievable. As I said, I cringe.

 

 

When I considered going after this market, I simply looked at the local listings. Predominantly it was just straight out of phone HDR, blown out flash, dark shadows, and not a straight line in the bunch. Exteriors taken at the worst time of day, and it all just had me scratching my head.

Maybe they just don't know any better, or no one that knows what they're doing has approached them. Nevertheless, it was pretty clear their standards are pretty low.

 

Down here in south Florida we have some really excellent real estate photographers but they tend to work the high end market. You know, the stuff that gets published in Architectural Digest. Those guys pull down some big bucks (and they earn it!). The middle tier market is pretty much as you describe. Hastily taken iPhone photos with blocked up blacks and blown out highlights. Not always but in more than a few cases.

 

--Ron 



#17
leighgion

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I pretty much agree with this, however I think it is more about understanding what "good" is.  And it is across all types of photography.  Many folks do not understand the difference between a snapshot, a good photo and a "publish" quality photo.  And that doesn't even touch on the financial side of it, but if a person can't tell the difference between those types of photos, there really is no need for them to pay what it takes for a true professional.  

 

 

 

That's the crux of the matter. Digital technology has democratized access to the tools and techniques of photography, but taste and a sense of aesthetics isn't an issue so easily changed by tech. Being able to take a photo is easy. Taking a good one is harder. Knowing whether it's good or not is even more complicated.



#18
dcbear78

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A drone is almost an essential tool in this industry now too.
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