Best Parts of the Job
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.
Privacy and Tranquility in the Northumberland Hills - 10869 County Road 9, Roseneath, Ontario - Cobourg Area Real Estate Photography
Best of both worlds in the Northumberland Hills?
You guys remember the line from the Batman movie? The one where The Joker says: "Where does he get all those wonderful toys?!"
Well, sometimes I feel like that when Kelly Welton of Coldwell Banker in Cobourg calls me for a shoot of one of her listings. They are always unique, always special in one or more ways and make me think: "I didn't even know that was possible here!"
This listing is no exception and that's why I wanted to share some of my excitement. The property is only 15 minutes North of Cobourg with all of its amenities and conveniences, literally surrounded by endless, protected forests with riding and hiking trails, and a hat's throw away from Rice Lake! Its situated on 12+ acres of beautiful land with interesting topography, allowing for complete privacy yet providing gorgeous views of the surrounding countryside from just about every window in the house.
And then there is the house! A wrap-around, covered porch surrounds the pretty, character filled building sitting on its own hill, like a castle of old, surrounded by mature trees ensuring complete privacy. Even in the barren, snow-less February we have been enjoying this year, you can not see the house from the road or the surrounding properties. Yet, in 15 minutes you're in Cobourg, with all the city stuff you may need! Unbelievable!
But we were supposed to talk about the house. At first glance you'd think this place was somewhat old timey, it certainly has that look - yet the inside greets you with huge vaulted ceilings, anchored by a beautiful, two sided stone fireplace that is the centre piece of the main floor. The entire back wall of the house is pretty much one giant bank of windows overlooking the vistas of the rolling hills and huge patio with a sitting area. During the day this place embodies the words "airy" and "bright".
The current owners have lent their excellent taste to decorating the place in a simple, elegant and tasteful, yet inviting and comfortable, fashion. They're wonderful people and that quality carries over to every detail of their house. It simply feels like home, like a place you want to spend time: from your morning coffee on a summer morning, to a cup of hot chocolate to wrap up a full day of winter adventures. Its one of those places you can immediately see yourself in, feeling at home and just enjoying all that it has to offer.
Once again, Kelly brings a unique gem to the market, that makes me wonder how does she do it?! Give her a call with any questions you may have.
I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I enjoyed making them!
On The Importance Of Art
Maybe it's a bit of a pompous title, maybe it sounds a touch pretentious - neither of those things could be further from my intent. That said, this is going to be a bit of an off-topic post, not directly tied to commercial photography per se, but I hope that by the end of it I will manage to ramble and meander my way to something resembling a conclusion and more importantly, a connection.
Photography, when done right, is an art form. It is a form of expression, it takes skill, and talent, and most importantly vision. As photographers, we all start out from that lofty place, but I fear many of us tend to lose our way. This job is routine, that shoot doesn't pay enough, when it's a higher profile shoot I will go that extra distance but for now this will do... I think we all get mired in this kind of thinking regardless of the profession, regardless of what trade we ply. And it's wrong. It's just backwards if you ask me.
I believe that a true professional should treat every job with the same dedication, attention to detail and creative zeal. There is an old saying: even a broken clock is right twice a day - what sets a professional apart is that they deliver results consistently, every time. That they bring the same preparation and effort to every job, that they wouldn't want to be associated with anything less, and that their clients can rest assured they are getting the best possible value for their hard-earned cash. And yes, when it comes to photography, be it for real estate or for the commercial needs of your business, I believe the same should be true. Anyone can point a camera and push a button - you should expect far more from your professional photographer! And that "something more" should be readily apparent when you see the pictures they made for you.
Let me reference a couple of examples. Lets momentarily remove the "commercial" aspect from our discussion. Lets just talk about art for the sake of art.
Anyone can go to their local Wally Mart or the Home Despot in their town or city and buy a framed "photograph" to hang on their wall. It may even be a pretty enough picture, and may even pass the "50/50" rule, meaning it looks good 50% of the time, from 50 feet away... Just as it does in countless motel rooms and office lobbies across the land. The photographer who made the photo has little or nothing to do with the final product, no human touch, no nuance has been put into the making of the actual piece you are going to hang on your wall. At best, it will be neutral and inoffensive, at worst it will look cheap and tacky.
On the other, polar opposite of that spectrum are real photographs, made by real artists. Crafted by hand, each one printed individually in sweat and toil, sometimes after days of making "working prints" to establish the exact exposure, the dodging and burning needed in specific areas to bring the subject into the exact light pre-visualized by the artist. No two are exactly the same, no one can make an exact copy by clicking a mouse button and letting their ink-jet printer do the rest.
Take my friend Chris Baczynski of Silver Soul Photo as an example. A consummate artist and true master of an increasingly rare medium, he creates beautiful photographs on film. His prints, both black and white and colour, are made by hand in a traditional dark room, and are absolutely striking. Each one is unique, each one has a little bit of his soul trapped in its grains of silver. When you hang one of his prints on your wall, you know you are in possession of a one-of-a-kind piece of his life, captured in that photograph just for you. Even another print from the exact same negative will never be exactly the same, as the artist always improvises in the dark room, much like a jazz musician playing a solo. It may be the same song, but if you go to see the show ten times, you will be treated to ten different interpretations. The advantage of a photograph is the fact that you get to keep that moment, and travel back to it every time you look at it.
But lets say photography is just not your thing, sure you may (I would hope, as a meagre shutter jockey, at your service) appreciate it, find it useful and hopefully see its value, but you're just not that into hanging it on your wall. It's ok, "some folks likes pork chops and some folks likes ham hocks, some folks likes vegetable stew", as the song goes. The same goes for paintings. I understand that here the issue gets a little bit muddied, as many "famous" painters are simply out of reach for the vast majority of the population. Only a very small portion of us will ever hang a Picasso in our sitting room, or admire a Vermeer in the privacy and comfort of our own home. And I certainly understand the appeal of the image, the beauty of some famous works which leads us to choosing a reproduction over nothing at all. I get it. But so many of us will go to one of the above mentioned "big box" stores and buy "prints" of paintings that quite frankly... have nothing to say, are mediocre by design, and their only claim to fame is that they were judged not to upset a vast majority of the population. You buy one of these things, printed in some industrial print house, most likely by under-paid, border line slave-labour in a far away land. OK, I don't want to drift off into politics, socio-economics and the like - but I will say, real living, breathing, creative, passionate individuals walk among us. You may see them every day and not even know it. Talented people who toil to produce real beauty out of a calling, a passion for their work, a desire to make our world a more beautiful place, a need to express something real, something profound and enrich our lives by doing so.
I will use an example of another friend of mine, Aga Niemiec, an Ottawa, Ontario based artist. If you had to label her work I guess you would have to say modern realism and abstract impressionism. She works mainly with oils, but I know she is quite adept at other mediums as well. You can even commission a portrait! How regal is that, huh? But really, none of that matters - what matters is that for really not much more than a quality, mass produced chain-store print, you will have on your wall, forever, for generations to come, a real piece of art. Each brush stroke made by a human hand, never to be repeated, unique, individual, beautiful in a way that only a piece of someone's creative soul can be. I can assure you, there is no chain motel or national brand hotel, or walk-in clinic that will have the same image hanging in it's lobby. You can't buy it at the beds, baths, or whatever is beyond... On a tangent, I always found the name of that store somewhat creepy. What do they mean by "beyond"? Do I want to know? But I digress.
The fact is, weather its an original photograph or a painting, I would argue that each one is a better deal than the mass produced "equivalent" (using the term very, very loosely...). I would stand firmly behind the statement that whatever the cost of an original work of art, it is but a small portion of its real value. Whereas that thing you bought from the monster store... well... I would say you overpaid, regardless of how low the price. It's a commodity. A simple wall covering appliance if you will. Its price is roughly four times its cost to produce, and those are the only factors in that equation.
I guess we are getting to that time when I should start making a point, aren't we?
Do you want your business represented by that mass produced big-box store trinket? Or by a work of an individual who leaves a little piece of him or herself in each thing they do? Do you think your business deserves a tired piece of stock photography for its website? Do you think your lobby is best served by an odds-and-ends sale piece?
I would put forth, for your consideration, that no. It is not. That no, you do not want that. In fact, I believe you should strive for the direct polar opposite. Unique work, just for you, from someone who pours their heart and soul into every project they undertake. Find someone who has an insatiable need to do every single job to the best of their ability, who thinks every thing they do is a calling card, a reflection of them. I don't care if it's the guy fixing your car, remodelling your kitchen, or photographing your business. You deserve the best, and your clients will see the difference. You will stand out above the crowd because the people you chose to work with would have nothing else associated with their names.
And buy some art for your home, your office. Something real. Something with a soul, a message, a little bit of someone's irreplaceable spirit forever contained within it. It will make you just a little bit happier every time you look at it.
That, I think, is the tip of the iceberg of the importance of art.
I can't think of a better way to close this post than with an image of an original painting by Aga Niemiec. The pixels of your screen can not fully convey the living beauty of an original work of art, but even in this, digitally diminished form, I am sure it will brighten up your day, make it just a little bit more beautiful. Enjoy.
In the previous post in this series I talked to you briefly about Ultra Wide Angle Lenses and how they are a necessary tool in an architectural or real estate photographer's repertoire, but cautioned about the way these technical terms are used by some less than scrupulous photographers to advertise their services. They often use these terms to make it seem like they have something in their arsenal that others don't, or can't be bothered to use, and further more, like that item is not only necessary, but the very difference between bad photos and good ones.
This time around I would like to tackle my personal favorite: HDR.
HDR stands for "high dynamic range". What is that? Well, it's basically a way to show, in one photograph, more than the camera is capable of capturing in a single exposure.
Lets put it this way - cameras can only see a certain range of light and shadow at any given setting. If everything is evenly lit, all it takes is the right exposure and you have a perfectly competent image.
Problem is, interiors are almost never evenly lit. The sun, even when its behind clouds, is immensely powerful. Room lights are no match for what the sun pumps into a room through the windows, even on a cloudy day. The camera can capture the light levels from the windows - but then the rest of the room will be a black hole. Or, it can expose for the room, but the windows will be a nuclear bomb-like explosion of light, obliterating any kind of details in or around them.
Also, rooms are not usually very friendly to light - half walls, door ways, large furniture, dark paint, or simply the fact that one part of the room is further from the window than the other - all add more challenges for the camera to deal with.
Remember, the camera has a "dynamic range", and you can move that range left or right, but you can't make it bigger. Expose for the dark parts - the light parts will be what photographers aptly call "blown out". Do the opposite, and the shadows will swallow the room, every corner a horror film set of gloomy, inky darkness.
Contrary to popular belief, our eyes do the same thing - thankfully our brains compensate for that. Our brains "adjust the exposure", and interpret what the eye sees, often piecing together information from various openings of our pupils. This is seamless to us, our brains do this automatically and we don't even realize they are doing it. We just see the world around us in a way that makes sense to us - not how it is actually physically lit.
In essence, HDR is a way of getting a camera (or more often a computer back at the office) to do exactly what our brains do.
An HDR photo consists of several exposures (shots if you will) of the same exact scene, but each one with different settings: one that makes the dark areas look great, one that makes the medium areas look perfect and one that tackles those pesky highlights - the really bright parts of a scene.
After this is done, these images are fed into a computer which combines them, using some very complex algorithms, into one picture where everything is (theoretically) evenly lit. In theory, this produces a perfectly exposed picture without eye-gouging highlights or pit of despair shadows.
In theory, communism works really well, too.
Yet many photographers out there advertise that they use HDR as though it was a magic bullet, had no faults and anyone not using it is selling you short.
This is simply not true, for several reasons:
Now, I know I seem very negative towards HDR, and the fact is, I don't believe it to be the best way to produce a quality image. For decades - long before computers and digital imaging - photographers have taken wonderful architectural and interior images. They used lighting and knowledge of their craft. But, it is not HDR itself that bothers me the most. As with the previous post on this theme, it's the lack of honesty that bothers me. It is taking your clients for people of questionable knowledge, and of course, exploiting the fact that they are not, one and each, a photography expert. It's pulling wool over your client's eyes, a smoke and mirrors show. It's the attempt to razzle-dazzle your clients with terminology you hope they won't understand in order to make yourself look somehow more special. I can't stand that and I would never treat my clients this way because it is not how I would like to be treated.
And to wrap this up, here is the final bit of "dirt" on HDR: it is advertised as a magic bullet without which good interior photos could not be achieved, something special for which you should feel lucky you're not being charged extra. In fact, it's the quick and dirty way to do things. It allows just about anyone to "set and forget" their camera to fire off several frames at different exposures, and then a computer to mangle those images into the final product, quickly and with a minimum of effort or skill on the photographer's part (and trust me, it shows!). Yet it is sold as something special that you, the client should be impressed with.
And in the end, serious photographers with skill, talent and experience actually have a slang term for HDR: they call it
I know, its less than tasteful, but very descriptive. Steer clear of photographers who advertise their gear or their magical computer software instead of their skills and talent, customer service and dedication. The photographs should speak for themselves and the latter two items should be apparent from the first time you speak to the photographer you're considering.
I Think I Want a Bobcat!
I recently had a chance to work with Two Rivers Marketing on a photo shoot for a Bobcat dealer publication, and it was a great experience. I can't say enough kind words about Kendra from Two Rivers Marketing, an individual who is truly an asset to her organization. The business side of things was so well looked after, so efficiently and professionally handled that I can only imagine they have many, very happy clients. You can really tell a great deal about a company by the people they hire, and I know that the team at Two Rivers is top notch. Click on their name or here to check out their web site, they do some great work!
But now... why do I want a Bobcat? You know, one of those little construction machines that move earth, dig holes and do just about anything you can imagine? Yup, those are the ones! I have to admit, there is really nothing a photographer could really need a Bobcat for, but the gear-head in me (and to some extent the little boy playing with Tonka toys in the sand box... but lets just keep that between us) just grins at the prospect of one of these awesome little machines!
I had a chance to meet John Russell from Bobcat of Durham East in Courtice, who was the subject of the article along with his client James.
James Dennison is the owner of ASTONIA Landscaping, a company with a long and stellar track record - check them out, they have been doing beautiful work since 1975! Both gentlemen were a pleasure to work with. I could tell by the way John and James related to one another that the team at Bobcat Durham East really treats their customers like family, and that the support does not end with the sale. After meeting John and James I couldn't be happier to know that these two hard working guys will be highlighted in print and I am very proud to be able to play a small part in it.
Of course, it was an apocalyptic looking day, with 40 mph wind gusts and a sky the colour of lead, and water in various degrees of freezing was pelting us on and off, just to make things more interesting. Now, given the conditions, you could really excuse John and James for being a little less than impressed with having to stand there and listen to some guy with a camera taking time out of their day to tell them to shake hands yet AGAIN... But no. They were a pleasure to work with, handled all the challenges with great humour and a gracious attitude.
I can tell you, the old US Postal Service motto that "neither rain nor snow" etc., certainly applies to these guys - and to top it off they did it all with a smile. A big thank you to them for their time and a great experience.
And if I can somehow figure out why a photographer needs a Bobcat I will be calling John for sure. Seriously. If any of you can think of a way that would not raise any Revenue Canada eye brows, leave it in the comments. I know where I will go to buy one!
Commercial Photography - its one of those intimidating, mysterious terms. Most photographers invite you to contact them for a quote and give you little or no idea of what it is you're actually asking about. After all, its obvious to us, photographers... Well - it isn't obvious to you, my client. I would like to shed some light on the subject.
Commercial Photography is just images made for the use of a business - be it for advertising, website, products in their catalogue or simply because you want to proudly display a photograph in your lobby.
Unfortunately, I have to concede to my "call me for a quote" colleagues on one subject: because it is such a broad category, it is difficult to give an idea of pricing. It would be akin to saying "How much do groceries cost?"... Well... that depends, right? What type, how much or how many, for what period of time?
The price of commercial photography depends on the amount of use the pictures will get - both how and for how long they will be used.
Real Estate photography is actually a form of commercial photography - quite frankly, it is about as commercial as photography gets! So why the distinction? Well, real estate photography is a very specific, very defined type of commercial photography. The images are used for the sale of the property. Their useful life is generally limited to the life of the listing and that can vary from one day to several months, but generally speaking they have a very narrow window in which they can do their work for my clients. Its important, crucial work - and therein lies the great value, but it is very narrow, specialized in scope.
Commercial photography takes into account how long the pictures will be used, in what media (bill board? vehicle wrap? magazine? posters? website?) and how widely they will be distributed (are you a local shop that wants a picture for the website and their ad in the local free press? Or are you a majour sports apparel company which will use the images on billboards in all the big cities around the world for years to come?). Basically, to be fair to the client, the commercial photographer charges based on how much use you will get out of the images, to ensure that every one has access to our services at a fair price.
Having said that, I find that many smaller businesses - the single location, "mom & pop" shops and local artists and crafts people - are really intimidated by all this talk about licensing and the prices that sometimes go along with commercial photography. They usually don't know (and why should they!) what licensing is, what media and territory are, and all that legalese mumbo-jumbo. They know their business inside and out - it is up to us to make sure we make our business accessible to them and worth their hard earned money!
With those people in mind I have put together a couple of packages aimed specifically at these types of heart and soul, local community businesses. The packages are described on our pricing page for commercial photography, please click here to have a look for yourself!
Obviously, if those do not fit your needs, I will have to concede to the age old "please contact us for a quote". I really hate the idea of doing it, but I assure you, its the best way to get together and come up with a solution that best meets your needs!
In either case, please feel free to leave a comment, or better yet, contact us through our contact page and we will be more than happy to talk shop, any time!
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
And how does that apply to real estate photography? As in any type of photography there are trends, and of course there are competitive individuals trying to convince potential clients why they should hire them and not the next guy. There are two items that particularly stand out: Ultra Wide Angle Lenses and HDR. HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography is a subject that deserves its own post, and I will tackle it in a future instalment, but in the mean time lets have a look at the Ultra Wide Angle Lens.
What is an "Ultra Wide Angle Lens"? Well, its a fairly arbitrary designation for lenses with a very wide angle of view. There is no universal definition for what makes a lens "ultra", and even discussing what makes a lens "wide angle" is a discussion that gets into technical terms and subject matter that really should be of more concern for the photographer and not the people hiring a photographer. You simply shouldn't have to wonder "how?", that's what you're paying a photographer to do.
When you hire a plumber, you don't wonder what wrenches they own - you just need to know they're qualified, have a good reputation and will fix your plumbing. When you take your car to a mechanic, you trust that they will fix your car - what tools they own is irrelevant, you're paying for their expertise.
The same principle applies to photographers.
So how does this relate to "Ultra Wide Angle Lenses"? Well, in a couple of ways.
First of all, some would have you believe that the wider the lens, the better the photos. Your listing will magically look more spacious, and that one bedroom bachelor will appear like a penthouse loft, with enough room to play basketball indoors.
That's simply not true.
Using the widest lens available usually produces very distorted images. No one will be fooled into thinking the subjects are larger than they actually are, but they may very well be put off by the unrealistic proportions, the distorted shapes and uneven lighting. Just think, how many living rooms have you seen in listing photos that look like bowling alleys? The far wall appears like a tiny little square at the end of a long, distorted tunnel? Yup, that's an Ultra Wide Angle Lens, used improperly.
How often do you see a kitchen with a fridge that appears to be 10 feet wide, while the sink at the far end of the space looks like its not big enough to be a cat's water dish? Again, an Ultra Wide Angle Lens, used improperly.
How about that football-shaped clock on the wall? You know its actually circular, but its so distorted it makes the whole room appear like its being viewed through a fun house mirror.
These are the common issues I see, very frequently, in real estate listing photos taken by supposed professionals.
Your client's are not stupid, they know when something doesn't look right. Furthermore, human beings are very visually stimulated creatures, even if we can't quite figure out what is wrong with a picture, we are still put off by an overwhelming sense that something isn't right.
Basically, yes - an architectural photographer will own one or several wide and ultra-wide angle lenses. There are situations where those tools are indispensable. There are photos that simply could not be made without the unique abilities of those tools.
But just as important as knowing that, is knowing when and how to use them properly. That's the difference between knowledge and wisdom.
A distorted, poorly composed photograph is a tomato in a fruit salad.
I firmly believe that a photographer is hired to produce an image that can be used by his or her client to accomplish a task - weather its a portrait or a set of real estate listing photos. The photographer will have a portfolio of their work, and based on that, a client can determine weather or not the photographer's work meets their needs, their standards. A photographer should be open to dialogue, should be able to readily propose a plan of how they intend to serve their client's needs and be ready to answer any questions the client may have. That's what a professional does. Saying "hire me, because I bought this super-duper expensive lens and use industry jargon no one understands in hopes of impressing you" is pretty laughable, its insulting to the client's intelligence and its border-line dishonest.
Beauty and Character: 56 Millstream Lane, Hampton, Ontario Real Estate Photography
Had the pleasure to photograph a beautiful 145 year old home in the hamlet of Hampton (Durham Region, North of Bowmanville/Oshawa).
First things first, it's always a pleasure to work for a consummate professional like Kelly Welton of Coldwell Banker in Cobourg, Ontario. Kelly is a real pro, but even more importantly a wonderful, caring human being.
The owner did an exceptional job with this home - she has exquisite taste and it shows in every detail. The house is fresh and bright, it's inviting and has all the modern amenities, yet its character and history is wonderfully preserved and showcased. Bravo.
Located on a gorgeous piece of land, bordered by a large pond, this property is nestled in a quiet corner of this already quaint, historic community. Have a look at some of the photos:
Almost the entire East edge of the property backs on this beautiful, historic pond (its called Millstream lane for a reason - it's not one of those new fangled, computer-generated subdivision street names - there was a stream, and a mill in this area many years ago). That's approximately 400 feet of this beautiful piece of nature providing you beauty and privacy!
This property is truly a hidden gem. I think anyone who walks in the front door and has one look at the close to one acre of beautiful property nestled between a quiet, tree lined lane and this gorgeous pond will immediately feel at home. This place is more than a house and it was a pleasure to photograph.
The "Hero" Shot
There is a trend I noticed when looking through some listings the other day: lack-lustre exterior shots! And I am actually talking about listings where the agents "get it" and obviously (sometimes more...often less obviously...) hired a "professional" to photograph their listing.
I can tell you, as a photographer, sometimes we get caught up in things that are important to us, the things that we find challenging, or things that we think we do better than others. And I noticed that by and large, even properties with decent photos of the interior spaces have... well, sub par exteriors.
I am NOT even talking about TWILIGHT shots for your listing - although, looking through listings I can't think of a better way to stand out above the crowd! It seems that almost no one does these, and I don't know why. You're trying to get people to look at your listing, and nothing combines the qualities of "eye catching" with "inviting" and "welcoming" like a beautiful twilight. But I digress.
Lets forget about twilights for a minute - they are an additional cost, they require an extensive skill set, and are more time consuming. But lets just talk about the standard real estate photo shoot. It looks to me like most exterior shots are shot almost as an after thought, and edited much like it too.
No real creative composition. No understanding of how the human eye views images. No respect for perspective (that's a whole other series of blogs in and of itself). Just an "oh yeah, we need a front of the house!" shot.
It is beyond me why this happens as a front shot of the house is usually the first one shown, and I know that many MLS services in the USA and Canada at least, REQUIRE that the first shot be of the front of the home.
People! You are simply NOT getting your money's worth if that shot is not done well. This is your elevator pitch, this is your one chance for people to want to see more. That's why many real estate photographers call them "the hero shot". Its the single most important image supplied to you because quite often its the one that determines if anyone looks at the rest.
Let me wrap up by offering up some pointers:
I guess this post is addressed to the real estate photographer as much as to their client, the agent: have the decency not to charge people for a blow off job on the single most important shot of the set. And realtors, know what can be done by an actual professional, as opposed to a guy with a camera who pushes a button so you don't have to.
Real estate photography is actually quite difficult to do well: you have to deliver numerous views, you can't be on site very long, and you have to deliver them quickly! You have to be a competent architectural photographer, but also have the mindset of a commercial photographer. Oh and did I mention you have to do it QUICKLY? Its not easy. Hire a real pro. I promise you will see the difference. And so will your client's. The current ones, and the ones who's business you are yet to earn. Make it right, make it count!
Especially in your "hero shot"!
Lets Talk About The Weather
No, seriously - lets! There are so many misconceptions about the weather and photography, I thought I would tackle at least one of them (or maybe a few... we shall see!).
I recently heard this little chestnut:
"I only want my listings photographed on sunny days because they will look brighter."
OK. First of all, that might just sum up why you NEED to hire a professional photographer.
Sunny weather does not show up on film (or in a digital camera) the way the human mind interprets what the human eye sees. Sunny days mean one thing: really bright light and really deep shadows.
A pro will find a way to photograph a property inside and out on a sunny day and make it look great - that's why you hire us - but it is not only not required, but (dirty little photographer secret coming up!) its really not preferable.
Cloudy, overcast days are the best - the clouds work like a giant soft box. You know, those big square things you see at fashion shoots, pointed at the models with flashes inside them? Those are called soft boxes. Why? Because they make the light "soft" - meaning, shadows fall off gently and gradually (softly) rather than showing a harsh demarcation between highlights and shadows. If you want to see what I mean, just have a look at your own shadow on the gound - on a bright sunny day it will be a dark sharp edged shape. On a cloudy day you will barely see it and what you do see will be soft edged, almost etherial.
Cloud cover is mother nature's soft box. Sure, grey dreary skies don't look very perky or inviting - but that's why your professional real estate photographer knows how to either manipulate or replace them with beautiful blue skies, with white fluffy clouds.
And don't even get me started on the interiors - on sunny days, the light piles in through the window in a gleaming, blinding shaft - everything else is a cave or oceanic trench of shadow, murky and dark.
Again - a pro will know how to handle this with lighting and proper exposure, but it will look no better than if photographed on an overcast day.
That's a little insight into how photos are made, and that with proper technique, anything can be overcome - furthermore - what seems to be the better answer... quite often isn't. That is what professional photographers are for, we figure it out for you, and deliver consistent results every time.
But let's cut to the chase - you, a real estate agent - don't often have the luxury of waiting for the perfect weather, the perfect light. A pro will make sure that your pictures look every bit as good if shot on a sunny day, as they would on an overcast one. And they will probably sweat less (figuratively and literally) if the sun is hidden behind clouds!
Don't hesitate to drop me a line if you would like to learn more photography secrets, just chat or book a shoot. Look forward to hearing from you!
TwoSixPix philosophies, tips and tricks, and just a little peek into who I am behind the camera.