How you exploit others without knowing it

Services for Real Estate Pros with StoneHome Photo & Video

It's funny. I used to scoff at the franchise photography companies out there (you know the ones that many agents and offices use--I can't name them for fear of being sued for defamation). Why did I scoff? Well, when I started out as a photographer, I called "the big company" in town and asked if I could work for them. I just wanted to make some extra cash before setting off on my own. I spoke to the owner of this franshise and he explain, quite impatiently and rudely, that not only do I require specific equipment (slr camera, wide lens, panorama head, tripod, flashes) but that after I travel to a property, shoot all the photos and panoramas and travel back, that I would have to put it all together on my end, including editing the photos and panoramas, and email it to them for posting. On top of it all, I wouldn't get any credit for the photos or anything--they get all the rights. And guess what they offered to pay me, and what they pay other photographers, to do all this? $35. That's right. Guess how much they charge you, the realtor, for this? $149. Guess who keeps the difference? That's right, the franchisor. 

As a photographer, let me break down the time it takes to do a shoot:

- travel to property: depends, but an average 45 minutes each way - total 1.5 hour

- photo shoot at property: 1 hour

- panoramas at property: 30 minutes

- editing photos at home (ie, selecting the best of the bunch, white balance, color, saturation, shadows/highlight correction, etc, etc, etc): 45 minutes

- editing panoramas and stitching them together: at least 1 hour, often times much more

- posting it online (uploading takes quite some time): 20 minutes 

TOTAL time it takes a photographer (from my experience) to properly shoot MLS photos and panoramas, travel back and forth, and edit it all: 5 hours!

Now, at $35 for 5 hours of work, that's $7 per hour, folks. OH, and I didn't deduct fuel/travel costs and wear and tear on vehicles.


Funny, a recent client hired me because she had a bad experience with this franchise photography company. Apparently, the photographer arrived late, was rude to the realtor during the shoot, spent no more than 5 minutes "snapping" a bunch of photos, and quickly did the panos. The end result was a series of bad photos and cheap panoramas. Disturbed by the photographer's haste and rudeness, as well as the quality (or lack of) of the photos, she called the owner of this company and tried to explain her experience. The owner was rude to the agent and explained that he has hundreds of other clients that don't complain about their work. I couldn't believe my ears. I felt really bad that my new client was treated this way and I wasn't surprised--at least not by the haste of the photographer. After I agreed with her about the owner of the franchise company being rude and all, I also added, "So, what did you expect from a photographer getting paid $7 per hour?"

I hope I made my point. 

I think it's time people realize this fact and hire me instead (hehe), because I pay my employees (ie, me) a fair wage and, as a result, the quality of our work is above par. That's the benefit of having a small business that doesn't exploit others. 

I hope if you do decide to stick with the big franchise company for your real estate photography, that you do so knowing that the photographer is being ripped off. At least offer him/her a tip when they come to shoot your property.

By the way, I no longer scoff at these companies. Rather, I hope they drive their quality down so far that realtors will gladly hire someone like me to do better work. Keep at it, big guys!

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Stone Home Photo + Video is a real estate photography and videography company serving the Toronto and GTA real estate community. We offer: Property photos, HD video tours, MLS photos, Virtual tours, Panoramas, High-resolution photo, Head shots/portraits, Feature sheets, Brochures, Fliers, & general Real estate marketing.  

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Peter - Toronto Real Estate Photo & Video
StoneHome Photo & Video - Toronto, ON

Oddly, I just had some email me their resume to work with me and guess what 4 letter photography franchise they are leaving because they couldn't justify all the work for just $35. It's odd how I got this email the same day I posted this message. :)

Nov 17, 2009 12:58 AM
Janice Ankrett
Burlington, ON
Staging Professional

Peter, as with so many things - you get what you pay for ;)

Nov 19, 2009 04:59 AM
Marcia Hawken
Naples Luxury Specialist

Peter, Soooo true.  I wish you were in the Naples area! 

Nov 29, 2009 09:43 PM