I am always excited to work with new clients, meeting people and becoming part of their team is one of the best parts of this job. Yesterday I had the distinct pleasure of photographing a property for Kathran Helps of Royal Service Real Estate in Port Hope. Even though I have the good fortune of meeting and working with many wonderful people, it was immediately apparent that Kathran is the kind of person who truly cares. Everything she did and the way she conducted herself, the care for the presentation of the property and her kind and personable approach was truly extraordinary.
This beautiful rural property just north of Port Hope will make an amazing home for its new owners, and Kathran went above and beyond to make sure all of its virtues were on display. I don't think her clients can possibly know just how hard she works on their behalf!
The beautifully wooded lot near the end of a road terminating into a picturesque forest trail (no through traffic - awesome!)was just a wonderful place to spend some time. I know I didn't want to leave! Its great to be able to walk out onto the porch and just take in the peace and quiet - yet know that you're 5 minutes away from the 401 if need be!
The house itself is beautifully laid out and the interior was magnificently displayed thanks to the efforts of Sherry Wright of House of Esselle, who's staging brought an artists eye to the interior design and really made the home shine. Her vision really brought a simple country home together with the most tasteful elements of contemporary design! It's easy to make beautiful images when the subject is a work of art!
At the end of the day we got everything wrapped up just before the rain came, and I think the images will speak for the professionalism, care and attention to detail that Kathran brings to her work! I really look forward to future projects!
If you ask an architectural photographer to make some beautiful images of a building, he or she will do a few things first:
*figure out which way the building is facing (east, west, north or south – somewhat in between?)
*find out when the sun rises and sets at that spot on the proposed dates of the shoot
*based on that information, the photographer will arrange for a time that puts the client’s desired view in the – quite literally – best light
Depending on the budget and the final concept, he or she may rent boom trucks or sky-jacks, perhaps lights, perhaps close off the parking areas to the building to make sure the views are not obstructed by random vehicles (in extreme cases on high budget shoots the streets may be shut down, etc – just like for a high budget movie production!)
In addition, the photographer will want full access to the building and its lights. Everything is just so, and the final piece – is the weather. Using sophisticated, meteorological reports, a date is chosen. And if the weather plays a trick, the shoot is rescheduled.
A few hours later, a couple of perfect views of a building are captured.
Of course that’s great if you are working with a multi-thousand dollar budget and have complete control over time and all other variables on location… But… Then there is real estate photography. The house needs to be on the market on Monday. The cleaning company was unable to deliver their bins because of a two day bout of freezing rain. You can shoot the house any day of the week you want… as long as it's Sunday. Sunday morning, specifically, because anything after noon is a “no go” with the owners and or the realtor…
And you’re a photographer who is not willing to just say “oh well, it is what it is”, you pride yourself on setting YOUR client apart with exceptional, eye catching photos.
You show up on Sunday. There is a slight wrinkle – it’s a blizzard. Quite literally, visibility measured in feet, not yards, lovely giant flakes of snow falling sideways from a slate grey sky. What do you do?
Well, some variation of this theme happens pretty much all the time in real estate photography. You are not the master of when and how, usually. Your clients understand that it would be better if you were, but that’s just not the reality of the business. From backlit houses and harsh shadows to full on blizzards, it all happens. Sure you could come back and reshoot the exteriors – but you have two other shoots that day (joke’s on you – they’re all facing the wrong way anyway by the time you get there).
This is why you’re a pro – you make it work. Most people could take a decent photo under perfect conditions if they get enough tries at it. A professional is called in to make a great image regardless of what conditions or challenges are presented; to solve problems, to find a way. To put it bluntly, this is what we get paid for.
I was inspired to write this post based on a recent experience. Have a look at the before and after photos. See what an out of the camera shot looked like, and what was delivered to the client. You have to know your craft very well, and when the unexpected happens, you can count on your technical knowledge and artistic vision to fall into place and combine for a result that makes your clients truly happy that they had you on their team.
I was SO excited to find out that Doug McKenzie won the title of Drywall Artist of the Year! But I can't say that I am surprised. I may not know much about the technical aspects of drywall application and all the countless things and years of experience needed to do it right - but I do see many, many homes. And I can attest to the fact that Doug's work stands out immediately. I was blown away by the meticulous attention to detail and tasteful choices of various trim pieces and shapes. The work always stood out because of how crisp and refined it looked - almost like an architectural drawing or a designer's rendering. Except it's real!
And believe me - I am THAT guy... the guy with the camera... My job requires me to spot flaws in order to make the best images possible. And if I can't spot them on site, I can assure you I spot them peering over the pixels on my monitor while I edit the photos for my clients. And the camera SEES ALL! That's why I was really amazed at the quality of Doug's work, even under the anything-but-real-world microscope that is the monitor of a professional photographer.
I have to say it is truly gratifying to see people you work with accomplish such amazing things - and truly humbling to see how much commitment and dedication and just flat out hard work it takes. I had a unique insight into this because I was privileged to take photos of some of Doug's award winning work. For my small part in all of this, I am just really happy that I was able to provide images that convey the amazing work he does into photographs that can be viewed by the world.
Here is a link to the McKenzie Drywall Inc website, where you can check out more of their projects, and click here to visit the Instagram feed announcing the winner! Once again, congrats on being recognized for all your hard work, Doug, so well deserved!
It’s true. There are some sacred rules that shall not be broken. Verticals must be vertical. Horizontal lines must be horizontal. If you go for that one point perspective… you better not miss, its better to not even look like you were trying for it than to be a little bit off. Whites should really be white. Shadows should only be where shadows should naturally fall. Mirrors are portals to the land of the damned and will suck your soul out through your eyes. Trust me. They are evil and can not be trusted. In even the dirtiest house there will be paintings that are so incredibly clean they reflect EVERY little photon that strikes them, seemingly amplified and into your lens.
You are no longer a “civilian”, you can not look at houses on the local MLS, or pass the time waiting for an order of food looking at one of those realtor magazines. You don’t even know what the houses look like. But you do know that the verticals were off in that one picture. You know that the overcooked, lazy HDR made the ceiling joints look like they are damaged by smoke. That someone… someone peed around every single light fixture. How else do you explain those yellow stains on the ceiling? And why are the windows greenish and purple and blue?
But… but is the house nice? I don’t know! Look at these pictures!
...but instead, there are minions of dark forces about, lurking in every corner, everything starts to look crooked and mad... and maybe if you just look a little bit harder you will see that vertical line being a tiny teeny bit off... and in your tired, beat up photographer brain, you see THIS!!! (insert dramatic horror movie music here)
I have to put my hands in my pockets because my fingers are fidgeting and making all the little gestures they would be if I were sitting over my computer… fixing ALL OF IT.
Oh, and forget watching TV. Just forget it. You’re watching a show, the characters are having a deep, heartfelt moment…and you don’t even know who’s on the screen. But you know, oh YOU KNOW, that the camera isn’t level – LOOK AT THOSE CROOKED VERTICALS! And the white balance??? How hard is it to level a camera for crying out loud, on a multimillion-dollar Hollywood production? This is unwatchable… my eyes hurt. My head hurts. I want to turn the TV on its side.
And then there is that one picture, you know the one? From the lovely historical home? The one that’s a 120 years old and you loved it to bits, but oh my goodness… Nothing is straight in those houses… you see… they settle… over the centuries… some beams are a little less than horizontal. Some walls… a little less than vertical. And you used to love it. It was “character”, it gave those special, beautiful houses heart, soul! But now you just sit there with a Rubik’s cube of an image… Trying to make it all straight and you’re ready to scream…
Eventually, in the dark, with a computer screen burnt into your optic nerves, you rock gently, back and forth like Kurtz in the Heart of Darkness… and those brave enough to come close can hear a horse whisper escaping your parched lips:
“The Verticals… The… Ver..ti…cals!!!!!!!!”
I had the great pleasure of working with the folks from McKenzie Drywall Inc., making some photographs to show off the amazing work they do! It was a really great experience because they tackle all kinds of projects - from beautiful custom residential properties, through restaurants and schools all the way to huge multi-residential commercial properties! As a photographer, this is great: I get to take pictures "outside of the box", all with their unique challenges and rewards.
In my travels I see many homes, of all shapes and sizes, in prices ranging from entry level to "am I even allowed to be here?" kind of homes, so while I will never claim to be a construction expert, I certainly have an eye for the final results. I have to say, the custom work done by McKenzie Drywall is exceptional - you simply can not find fault with it no matter how close you look! And believe me, the camera is a harsh mistress - if there is a flaw, it will catch it! But in this case I was very, very impressed with the quality of the work!
And of course while the quality and scope of their projects were breathtaking, they are genuinely great folks to work with. Personable, attentive, really into their work, which is a pleasure to see - you really get the impression that this is not just a 9-5 job, and judging from the relationships they forge with their clients and the quality of the work, the passion for their work is genuine, and runs deep!
I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Robert Vaid of Coldwell Banker in Coubourg while shooting his listing at 2046 Highway 2 in Port Hope.
What a cool property this was - almost low-key and unassuming, yet brimming with unique features, all packed into the charming package of a fully updated century farm house!
The tall hedge and mature trees make this a very private place to call home, yet the 401 is less than 5 minutes away. The first thing that strikes you as unique is all that beautiful, century old wood: from the wide barn board floors, to the beautiful staircase and exposed beams of the living room, and even a "princess" balcony in the second bedroom!
It was a really unique place to shoot, lots of fun and the kind of challenge a photographer just loves! And it was a lot of fun to watch a true pro and just a really personable guy like Robert at work! You could tell from the rapport he had with his clients that they were in very good hands and the level of personal attention was remarkable. Like I always say, this is in many ways the best part of the job - meeting new people and working with them! I look forward to any and all future collaborations, as this was truly a pleasure.
Some people would say that real estate photos live a very utilitarian life, usually quite short and with an almost depressing singularity of purpose. Get people to notice the house. Get people to see that it is a nice house. Give them an idea of what type of house it is, and finally play a role in having them see the house.
As a photographer and an artist first and foremost, I would like to think that these pictures also play a role in showing people a home, not just a structure, and showing it to them through their heart's eye. Not just conveying information but conveying a feeling that will hopefully be the one they feel when they think of the word "home".
As such, I firmly believe that a listing should include photos beyond just: "these are the rooms, this is the front of the house, this is the backyard, shed, pool, what have you".
I think that homes have a character, a personality, a spirit. This is most obvious in older homes: the brass door knob, smoothed by thousands of turns by hundreds of hands over the years! The skeleton key that opens all the old locks in a house. A room that just begs for a piano, or a painters easel - even if they are not pieces that are included with the sale of the property, they speak to the home's character and spirit.
Perhaps a statuette in the back yard, or an old, old tree. Maybe it's a unique piece of trim, a banister lovingly worn to a satin beauty by the people who leaned on it, in good times and in bad.
I think all these things are important, that they're special, that they're something that speaks to us on a level beyond utility and practicality. And I think it is never time wasted taking these pictures, as I don't think it is time or money wasted to include them among the listing photos.
Perhaps I am just a sap. Maybe I am the one who "doesn't get it". But I really think human beings respond to that aspect of making a decision about their greatest single expenditure. And I think it would be foolish to overlook that.
A place to call home at 72 Bannister Street in Bowmanville, and a warm welcome to yet another new client!
Had the distinct pleasure of working with Jim McKay of Right At Home Realty - this lovely home in south Bowmanville is literally minutes away from the lake, and near by sports facilities and parks. For those who commute, its very conveniently located near the 401, yet you would never know when relaxing on the porch or in the spacious backyard!
Jim was a consummate professional and the attention to detail in this property really showed. I can only say that very little will be left to the new owners of this home, just move in and enjoy!
I had the pleasure of working with Errol Lewis from The Red Pin Brokerage on a property in North Oshawa, located at 2307 Bridle Road. The home is a really spacious, well laid-out house with plenty of room and amenities, and it really conveys the warmth of its owners. I believe that people infuse their homes with their spirit, and the owners here are such warm, wonderful people that I just know the house will be a great place for the family who chooses to make it their new home!
The North Oshawa location of this home is really a home-run from every perspective: it is close to the amenities of the city, schools, shopping (only minutes from down-town) yet it is literally a five minute drive from the country! What is really unique here is that despite this, the house is really easy to access with connections to the 401, the 407 and all majour arteries being conveniently close at hand! You really can have it both ways with this home!
The house itself is spacious, airy and bright and filled with all the modern conveniences, such as an upstairs laundry and multiple bathrooms, all tastefully finished - as is the large basement. The pride of ownership really shows here!
176 Milroy Dr in Peterborough and Welcoming a New Client
The best part of the job for me, are the people I have the privilege to work with. At a glance, I would say that doing what I love, what I have a passion for would be the best part - and it is in many ways - but none of it would be possible without my clients. Ansel Adams said that there are two people in every photograph: the photographer, and the viewer. I would go as far as to say that in this line of work, there is a third person, equally important to the whole process, the client. A person who commissions the work, who's notion of how a professional operates and the standards they adhere to, set the wheels in motion. This past month I had the pleasure of welcoming Troy Gaffoor of Royal LePage as a new client when we met at this charming bungalow in Peterborough, Ontario.
It was immediately apparent that Troy is very good at what he does, and his willingness to roll up his sleeves and go to work for his clients became even more obvious as we begun the shoot. Energetic and resourceful are words that come to mind, and as much as this made it a pleasure to work with him, I know that those qualities pay true dividends to his clients.
The home itself is truly charming, both because of its bright and spacious lay out and because of its unique location. It resides close to a green space on the crest of a large, sweeping hill. This offers something unique in a home located in a city: a view! One could picture sitting on the porch looking over the vistas stretching gently to the horizon. It would truly be a lovely place to call home, and it is deceptively close to all the amenities of the city, yet gives you the feeling of space and light, both inside and out.
Once again, it was a real pleasure to welcome a new client aboard, and I truly hope this is the first of many projects we will undertake together. If you would like to contact Troy, please click on his name and it will take you to his email address, the images link to the listing on his web page. I know you will be in good hands.
TwoSixPix philosophies, tips and tricks, and just a little peek into who I am behind the camera.