Congratulations to Doug McKenzie of McKenzie Drywall Inc. - Drywall Artist of the Year WINNER!!!
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!
A warm TwoSixPix welcome to McKenzie Drywall Inc.!
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!
To Art Or Not To Art
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!
This is really a lovely, well kept home in perfect shape, well appointed and very tastefully finished - for more photos have a look at the slide show HERE! Enjoy!
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!
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!
TwoSixPix philosophies, tips and tricks, and just a little peek into who I am behind the camera.