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Ethical Photography - "Pro" vs "Amateur" agent who has a Camera

Services for Real Estate Pros with Hot Shots Digital (HotShotPros.com)

Professional Photography has now become a part of many real estate agents marketing arsenal when listing a property for sale. For many agents however, professional photography is simply a "TERM" that they use to describe amateur images taken from a high dollar camera that they purchased to hopefully save them money on advertising their listings. As a professional photographer, I can certainly understand that the bottom line is important however many who claim to use professional photography and do it themselves are, in my opinion, unethical. And... are doing a huge disservice to those who do utilize professional photography services or actually are a photographer "By Trade".

Of course professional photography does involve a decent camera and equipment to make the photographers job a bit easier, but the real advantage that the "PRO" photographer has is the vast amount of experience in shooting, composing, and editing that make them a valuable asset to real estate marketing. 

Below are a couple of examples that I've put together that show what the camera does by itself, and what the Professional photographer does with the camera. Although this does not accurately represent the angles that an amateur would typically use, I hope that you can see the difference. All of the following images were taken with the exact same camera...

Professional Photography vs Amateur with a Professional Camera

Professional Real Estate Photography in Denver ExampleAmateur Photographer with Professional Camera

Professional Photography by HotShotPros of ColoradoAmateur Photography with a SLR camera







































Professional photographers have honed their skills in not only taking a snapshot, but also in the art of editing. A professional will create imaging that is magazine worthy and creates emotion. The professional will always ask themself... "Does this photo portray an emotion, a feeling, does it make a statement, and even more important... will it make them stop and look?"

I hope that this post helps at least one person to understand the difference that can be made by using a professional photographer.

Comments (8)

William Feela
Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No.

Pro makes a big difference but if the amature took just a couple more minutes they could improve greatly

Mar 14, 2013 08:28 AM
Nathan Strauch
Hot Shots Digital (HotShotPros.com) - Denver, CO
Colorado Real Estate Photography & Video

I completely agree with you William, however, I doubt that the amateur real estate agent photographer will have the skills that a seasoned photographer has. Nor will they have the knowledge or wherewithall to spend several minutes at the editing table to make it perfect.

It's a lot like any other trade. It's a trade and the tradesman does it best. For instance... I have a pipewrench, the time, and the know-how to fix my sink... however the plumber will definately do a better job.

Many of our homes photographed have had "Out of State Buyers" place earnest money on homes before they even visited the property in person simply because of our photography that we provide.


Thanks William for the comment, and I hope that you have a great year!

Mar 14, 2013 08:44 AM
Debbie Reynolds, C21 Platinum Properties
Platinum Properties- (931)771-9070 - Clarksville, TN
The Dedicated Clarksville TN Realtor-(931)320-6730

Nathan, You certainly know your trade and make the difference between average and great.

Mar 14, 2013 11:21 AM
Nathan Strauch
Hot Shots Digital (HotShotPros.com) - Denver, CO
Colorado Real Estate Photography & Video

Thank you Debbie!

Mar 14, 2013 12:40 PM
Lee Jinks
Jinks Realty - McAllen, TX

Real estate photography has been a passion of mine for many years so I agree that marketing photos should be good.  In fact I want every photo in my MLS to be what we would term "pro quality."  What I've been trying to figure out is how to accomplish this.  

I don't want to offend you, but I do want to point something out that you may not have considered.  The agent that needs to use a professional photographer is one you have termed, "unethical."  I really doubt this agent will start using professional photography just because someone has called him unethical.

I suggest we photographers find ways to help agents.  In my experience, the number one barrier to getting agents to use a professional photographer is cost.  The biggest frustration for photographers is that we can't charge enough to make a decent living.  My proposal is to partner with the agent so that he promotes the photographer's services to the seller when the listing is taken.  The agent will help the seller understand the importance of professional quality photos and then ask the seller to employ the photographer.  If the seller understands the importance photos play in real estate marketing, they will be more than willing to pay for the photographer.

In this scenario everyone wins.  More of the agents listings will have pro photos (even some sellers won't be willing to pay for photos) making the agent appear more professional himself.  The seller wins because of the advantage the photos gives him (shorter marketing time, higher sales price).  And the photographer wins because he can charge an appropriate rate for his skills.

So what do you think?  Am I off my rocker?

Mar 14, 2013 02:55 PM
Nathan Strauch
Hot Shots Digital (HotShotPros.com) - Denver, CO
Colorado Real Estate Photography & Video

I had to laugh a bit, because you are definitely not off your rocker Lee

I guess the better way of saying it is that when someone says that they use a "Professional" for anything at all... they are insinuating that they are using someone who does this as their trade.

For instance, if I were to say that I was a "Professional Real Estate Agent" or even a "Professional Plumber" I am not telling the truth by any stretch of the imagination. Even though I have completed all of my classes to be a Colorado Licensed Agent, and have worked in the home building industry for years - which has given me enough training to plumb an entire new home... if I told people that I am a Professional... I would be exactly that... "Unethical" because I'm lying. (even though I do have the qualifications)

While it's true that some agents have to do their own photography, they should not say that they do it professionally as that is not their "Trade" and the statement is untrue.

I do think that you're on to something there where we should find ways to help agents, and cost is always the hurdle. Unfortunately, the Real Estate Photography Industry is inundated with amateurs who start a biz every year at this time, and further lower the costs and perception of the real Pro's worth. The only way to really overcome this as a professional photography company is to make sure that your clients homes are selling and be the best at what you do. For instance: One of many things we do is that we always help market a clients listings through social media and video to make them stand out.

We have suggested at one time to partner with our agents as you suggest to split the cost or even forward the cost to their sellers. This while well received by some, was looked at as ridiculous by others because many agents in our Colorado area use and pay for our services themselves and they would lose prospects at the listing presentation if the seller had to absorb costs before the agent started. This does work well however for many of our clients who offer discount or Flat fee listings.

So, no I don't think you're off your rocker, we've all had these types of ideas if we're in the Photo Biz. The best advice to any Real Estate Phoptographer is simply "Make sure that your work is better, and you offer as much as you can to make them succeed."

Thanks so much for the discussion Lee, keep it coming my friend!

Mar 15, 2013 12:22 AM
Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

Cameras, equiptment, software all well and good but creativity, knowing how to slice and dice and capture to shock and awe and make the connection. Video does it so well if wired, put together right!

May 11, 2013 11:50 PM
The Tour Guide

Nathan, have you considered offering a new service? Floor plans.

Mar 17, 2015 11:43 AM