We all know that professional photos in MLS are a big plus to your marketing. But with the exception of brokers in the "luxury market", many of us can not afford to pay the guys who do layouts in Architectural Digest to take MLS photos of our listings below the median price range in our markets.
So we do the best we can to take photographs on sight for our listings that we can be proud of. But the complexities of lighting, interchangeable lenses, exposure settings and photo composition escape most of us - who take images with our cell phones and hope for the best. We are not unaware that real estate marketing is extremely competitive but we may be missing the chance to make our MLS photographs as good as we can make them before we submit them to MLS, our own websites or our own written marketing materials that we may display or distribute.
Adobe has offered the Creative Cloud of programs for years (previously the Creative Suite) which are recognized as the gold standard for professional designers, photographers and other experts in the digital space. But Photoshop and Illustrator were expensive and are now only available by subscription.
I used to use a collection of programs from a British company called Serif, but they were not really accepted as professional level programs. For the past four years, however, they have mounted a serious challenge to Adobe with a line of programs that might be compared to Toyota and their upscale cousins, Lexis. Serif had a vision of how they might create an upscale series of programs to sell at a reasonable price (no on-going subscription payments) and the reimagined line of Affinity software was created. They began with a clean slate and designed Affinity Photo, Affinity Designer and, most recently, Affinity Publisher. These take on the core of the Creative Suite by challenging Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. These three products permit editing of vector graphics (Photoshop), manipulation of raster graphics (Illustrator) and editing of large digital documents (desktop publishing such as InDesign).
Each of the three Affinity programs at full price is $50. but all three are currently on sale at a 20% discount to celebrate the recent release of Affinity Publisher. Both Adobe and Affinity offer substantial training on YouTube and both offer a brief trial period of the full software.
I recommend the Affinity programs. (but I am not a compensated affiliate - I paid full price for all three Affinity programs) But the important thing to remember from this blog is that a number of programs will improve your digital images and make you more competitive in your real estate careers. It is an investment in your future which will also benefit you in your personal life. Creative photos will enhance your time with your family and will frequently be appreciated as gifts.
Other programs to look at include DarkTable which will organize your images and permit rapid comparison of similar images or can apply adjustments to a large number of digital images at one time if appropriate to speed up your work flow. (Comparable to LightRoom from Adobe) Darktable also will process camera raw photos which permits you to work at the low level images prior to processing by the camera. GIMP has been a long time alternative to Photoshop. It has a dated interface but will challenge Photoshop in most functions. All of the photo editors I have mentioned will have layer capability, masks and filters in addition to the basic editing commands. DarkTable and Gimp are free.
A future blog will discuss options for video photography.