Taking Real Estate Pictures, Part I… Getting Started

By
Real Estate Agent with Century 21 Results Realty

Point and Shoot camera In real estate photography, there are three ways to go about showcasing listings.

  • Hire a professional photographer to capture the images
  • Do it yourself
  • Skip that whole thing and list it without pictures

In this series, we'll be talking mostly about doing it yourself. However, in many cases, it would be advantageous to hire a photographer. If you are so busy with other parts of your business that you don't have time to do it right, get a pro. If you don't have the skills (and/or you aren't willing to take the time to learn them), get a pro. If you don't want to dedicate the time to get it right, get a pro. These aren't meant to be mean... but to let you know that the pictures on a listing are one of, if not THE most important marketing tool you have.

There is no shame in hiring a pro... I have better than a decade in professional advertising photography behind me, and I have hired photographers to shoot some of my listings. I did, however, go back and shoot more supporting images. And that is a GREAT way to transition from hiring out the photography to handling it in-house. Bring in a pro to shoot the major scenes, then shoot the details yourself. It will save a little money, and not compromise the marketing of the listing. This image shows a Canon EOS 350D digital sing...

There are a few things that you need to know in order to get started in handling your own photography for your real estate listings. Over the next few weeks, we'll be covering them in more detail, individually...

  • Cameras (you don't NEED to have a big, expensive camera to shoot great pictures, but it doesn't hurt)
  • Lighting (this is where the action is)
  • Aperture and Shutter speed combinations (the mechanics of taking pictures)
  • Composition (framing it up to make it work)
  • Tricky Details (those little things that catch us off-guard)

Photography isn't hard, but it does require attention to detail. The techniques are all pretty basic, but stacking things on top of each other is where things can get a little tricky... for example, combining flash and ambient lighting, or balancing inside and outside light. And one of the greatest aspects of modern digital photography is the ability to see immediately the results... in time to correct the images BEFORE breaking down and going back to the office.

Nikon D700 camera

I will try to get specific as often as I can, and the tips will be related to shooting real estate. Of course, some of them might also jump over into your vacation shots and family pictures. Stay tuned...

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Re-Blogged 1 time:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Victor Zuniga 02/09/2012 04:52 AM
Topic:
Real Estate Best Practices
Groups:
Photography
Tech Corner
Online Marketing Help Center
Tips tools and technologies for today's REALTOR
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Tags:
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photography

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Ambassador
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Melissa Zavala
Broadpoint Properties - Escondido, CA
Broker, Escondido Real Estate, San Diego County

I was surprised recently by how affordable pros can be. I spent 199 for 15 photos of a over one million dollars home with ocean views. FOr that price, I also got the video slideshow. It was well worth it!

Feb 09, 2012 04:46 AM #1
Rainer
144,389
Victor Zuniga
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services California Properties - San Diego, CA

Hello Lane,

We do like taking our own photos but also hire a Pro to take photos of certaing listings that require a professionals eye.

Thanks for your post.

Feb 09, 2012 04:50 AM #2
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Lane Bailey
Century 21 Results Realty - Suwanee, GA
Realtor & Car Guy

Thank you both for the comments... 

Melissa - I used to charge $200/hour (including travel time) for things like this.  Under $200 for someone to come out and do the shots, then make adjustments and deliver... sounds like a deal if they are really good. 

Victor - I enjoy it as well.  As long as you aren't shooting your with a phone... ;^ )  Even an iPhone. 

Feb 09, 2012 04:56 AM #3
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Rich Cederberg
eXp Realty - Albuquerque, NM
eXp Realty Agent Albuquerque

Looking forward to your future posts Lane.  Will you be addressing iPhone photography at some point as well?

Feb 09, 2012 05:08 AM #4
Rainmaker
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Lee Jinks
Jinks Realty - McAllen, TX

After reading the title I thought, Oh great, another attemp to give a few hints to make agents think they are photographers.  After reading it, I feel much better.  The only way to get professional looking photos is to hire a pro or become a pro which isn't an overnight thing.

Think about this for a moment.  Why does the agent make the decision on whether a professional photographer is used or not?  Why not show the home owner how important great photos are and then give them a list of professional photographers just like we do with painters, stagers or repair people.  In this way ALL of your sellers get the same treatment.  I have a long list of reasons why allowing the property owner pay for the professional photography works better than the way we are doing it now.  

Feb 09, 2012 03:37 PM #5
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Lane Bailey
Century 21 Results Realty - Suwanee, GA
Realtor & Car Guy

Rich - Yeah...not for shooting property.  I LOVE the cameras on my tablet and my phone, but I don't shoot properties with them.  There just isn't enough lens there to make a great image. 

Lee - You don't have to be a pro.  I know a lot of non-pro shooters that are better than a lot of pros.  BUT, if you are going to do it, you have to be committed to doing it right.  Just like we don't half-ass our contracts, we shouldn't give a lack of care to the other parts of our business.  In my opinion anyway.

Feb 09, 2012 03:47 PM #6
Rainmaker
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Lee Jinks
Jinks Realty - McAllen, TX

I'm not saying one has to make money at it to be able to achieve pro quality photos.  I think the problem is that today the agent decides whether the property deserves pro quality photos.  If this agent doesn't have the skills and doesn't have the money to pay a pro, then their decision of whether the property deserves pro quality photos is skewed. Shouldn't that decision be made by the property owner?

Feb 10, 2012 10:29 AM #7
Rainmaker
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Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

When I was young I invested thousand in Film Cameras, Lenses, and related toys.  I have not bought a real quality digital yet.  

I think Digital has hurt the art of photgraphy.  Without a need to pay attention to film usage people just take lots of pictures, rather than trying to make each picture count.  Then they just fix them on the computer.  

Feb 10, 2012 10:49 AM #8
Rainmaker
252,797
Lee Jinks
Jinks Realty - McAllen, TX

I agree that digital has hurt the art of photography in that way, but I also believe digital has helped the art of photography in that the student of photography gets instant feedback and the student isn't reluctant to try new things.

This afternoon I'm meeting some athletes at the gym to shoot the cover for a local magazine.  I plan to shoot from straight over the subject looking down from a pole (pole aerial photography).  Without the ability to see what the camera sees on the pole (live view video feed), this type of photography would not be practical.

In terms of digital photography making the average agent think they are a professional photographer, I won't argue.  We used to take one shot of the exterior with a Polaroid camera.  Quality wasn't important because almost no one saw the photo.  Today, with the internet, photos have become too important to not do them well.  And if you don't have a passion for photography, you probably aren't doing the property owner any favors by shooting it yourself.

Feb 11, 2012 07:17 AM #9
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Lane Bailey
Century 21 Results Realty - Suwanee, GA
Realtor & Car Guy

Lee - I think that the agent should decide if THAT want to pay for it, and the seller should decide if THAY want to pay for it.  I have dealt with a LOT of sellers that would never have spent that money, but I was perfectly willing to.  And there have been a few ocassions where I wouldn't have been willing to spend the money.  Luckily, I have skills..   ;^ ) 

I shot back in the days of film (actually had my 'Blad out yesterday) and still have a connection to the thought process.  When I was shooting for money, I used a LOT of film.  I have vacations where I would drop 30 rolls of film in an hour or two.  And I had jobs that require a dozen shots and used 100 rols of film.  Now with digital, it is WAY easier to get the shot.  It is also a lot easier to just burn off the shots.  But, because it is so much easier to do almost all of the way, it almost seems harder to find people that can do it all of the way. 

Gene - Ditto.  I do keep thinking I need to run out and get a new Nikon digital SLR.  Of course, I ran across a Sinar view camera... started thinking about how much fun it would be to shoot some 4x5 film again. 

Feb 12, 2012 02:27 PM #10
Rainmaker
252,797
Lee Jinks
Jinks Realty - McAllen, TX

Great, you get my point.  What I'm suggesting is that the agent educate the seller as to the importance of photography in the internet age.  I don't think we do that today.  You wouldn't allow the seller to list the property for twice what it would possibly bring.  A good agent would educate the seller on what it would take to get the highest price in the least amount of time. That's all I'm suggesting when it comes to marketing photography.

On the film vs. digital discussion, I shot film in high school, but never really developed my skills as a photographer because I didn't have the money.  Today a kid could mow a few lawns, buy a camera and start learning the art of photography with very few limits.  I've come across some very good young photographers these days.  I don't remember that many exceptional young photographers back in the film era.  And don't get me wrong, I love film.  I'm just pointing out an advantage that digital has brought to the world of photography.

Feb 12, 2012 11:52 PM #11
Rainmaker
1,328,761
Cheryl Ritchie
RE/MAX Leading Edge www.GoldenResults.com - Huntingtown, MD
Southern Maryland 301-980-7566
I made a point of finding Part 1 since Part 2 was so helpful.
Nov 11, 2012 11:32 PM #12
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