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.
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!
TwoSixPix philosophies, tips and tricks, and just a little peek into who I am behind the camera.