Shooting Condo on Peachtree Rd

In the summer my family and I moved to Atlanta area. We are OTP, as they call us here. 🙂 But we very much enjoy it. After 14 years in the middle of the city life in Florida we are now enjoying a little peace and quiet of Atlanta massive suburbia.

I’ve started working with some very good people and talented agents. Had a great shoot with Emmett Carr at his listing at 2828 Peachtree Rd. What would be the tallest building in St Pete, Florida here is just normal average building. Yet the place was full of nice amenities and the floorpan of the unit we shot was very desirable with great city views.

Here’re some shots from our session.

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Opulent home twilight photos on Snell Isle Brightwaters Boulevard

Twilight and evening photos on Snell Isle

Brightwaters Boulevard has become a regular destination for us. We’ve shot photos and videos here for agents from different brokerages and the homes we photographed varied in size and style. There were sprawling mansions, cute cottages, mediterranean estates and modern efficient homes. Twilights are some of our favorite shoots, and this time we had an opportunity to make twilight photos of this opulent home on Snell Isle’s famous Brightwaters boulevard. Before the sunset we even had a little time to do some evening interior and exterior shots. Take a look! Contact us for your own twilight photos, your sellers will love them and you’ll receive the attention of many buyers.

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Twilight In Old Northeast St Petersburg

Old Northeast Twilight Shoot

Old Northeast neighborhood sprawls 30 block north of Downtown St Petersburg and is one of the largest residential neighborhoods in our city. There probably isn’t a style of home that you can’t find here. Tudor, Foursquare, Colonial, Craftsman, Federal and, of course, Soutern Bungalow are all present here in multitude of shapes and sizes. You will also find some Mid-Century Modern and even Neo-Modern style homes in Old Northeast.

This time I was doing a shoot of sort of a mix between mildly Tudor with Federal-inspired brick exterior. Day-time presented a challenge of many surrounding oak trees that cast heavy shadow, yet with sun shooting through the leaves. The contrast of brick layers with such light is not easy on your eye. As a real estate photographer I had to figure something out. The solution was to take twilight shots. Here are a few shots from this session.

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Shooting Empty Spaces – 5 Tips

I shoot real estate in St Petersburg and pretty much all over Tampa Bay. Occasionally I am booked to shoot a brand new home that hasn’t been staged or a vacant home where all furniture and belongings have been removed. One might think, well, that should be easy, in and out in 20 minutes! Not so. Yes, perhaps you will spend less time figuring out your compositions and hiding lights behind furniture but there are still challenges.

1) Beige, beige, beige

Yes, most new construction homes in Tampa Bay have beige paint on their walls. Many have beige tile, beige counter tops and beige rug. Beige! I’m not against beige, neutral works great as a starting pallet for a new home buyer. For a photographer it can be a nightmare. Everything seems to be a blur so you have to work carefully and light the rooms just right to create some contrast.

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2) No place to hide your flash

Sure, you can try your best HDR technique but I try to go further. Even when there isn’t much to show in the room but the room itself it doesn’t mean you have to go extremely wide with your lens. Zooming in just a little gives me extra room along the walls to place my remote lights. Also I often place a light on the floor bouncing it’s light off the wall from about 2 or 3 feet. That provides a bit more light and texture across the carpeted area of the room.

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3) Closets and bathrooms

With one flash in the room and only ambient light in a closet or bathroom they will look as dark holes on the photo. So to create even lighting and some interest beyond the room itself I place remotely triggered lights both in the closet and bathroom. It creates character and mood.

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4) Balancing flash and ambient light

Many times the rooms will not have any lamps to help you with lighting so you will have to add more power to your flashes in addition to whatever ambient light you will get. I use at least two SB-80 Nikons in one room to make the light look more even and at the same time to be able to use fast enough exposure to not blow out the windows too much.

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5) Opportunity to be creative

It’s easy to be creative in a nicely staged homes, lots of compositions to play with. Empty home? Different game. Be creative with your kitchen shots, use all the lights you have to light up the cabinets, to create depth in your photos. Kitchens and baths sell, remember? Help your Realtor sell that home! Take good exterior shots, see if there’s anything interesting in the neighborhood. Offer a short video tour.

Practice and get these things under control and you will produce good real estate photography even when you are shooting empty homes.

Taking Real Estate Interior Photos – What Is The Best Method?

Before I go into details, I have to say that the described methods of taking real estate interior photos is a matter or preference and justified cost. I’ll show and explain why I prefer a multiple lights set up over single mount-on flash or HDR.

I’ll try to explain using this small simple bathroom. This is from today’s photo shoot, there’s no editing (just brought a little brightness up on HDR), straight out of the camera.

This is an HDR photo

(high-dynamic range), which is accomplished by taking several shots at different exposure settings and then blending them using software. It is not a bad shot. What HDR allows you to do is produce a single shot with everything in it exposed properly: the windows are not blown out and the shadows don’t go to extreme black. I’ve seen decent HDR shots when a photographer takes at least one shot with flash before compiling them. When no flash is used (like in this shot), lots or orange and yellow colors show up in the picture, which can somewhat be reduced in photoshop. But overall look is very flat.

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This is a shot taken with a mount-on flash.

The issues are obvious, heavy shadows, much brighter in the foreground, and some areas are not lit properly. It is possible to achieve a good shot with a mount-on flash, but the setting has to be just right. preferably no fans or other standing object in the front as they will cast shadows. The best way to take a shot with single flash, when possible, is by pointing it up or even backwards towards the wall instead of forward. That will give you a larger bounced ray of light and will soften the shadows. Another problem with this method is that it’s harder to accommodate much of ambient light, so the interiors end up with lots of flash light, and little natural light.

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In this shot I used three speedlights.

One in the shower, one bouncing off the wall near floor to lighten up the front of the cabinet and one more above my head, bouncing into the wall behind me. I had little time to play and adjust the lights, but you can see how much more definition there is in this photo. There’s also a doze of character, which potential buyers can easily identify with.

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In my view using a miltiple lights method for interior real estate photography will produce more interesting photos. They more often than not will take a little more time in the field (I often spend two hours shooting a 3,000 sq.ft home, where an HDR or single-flash shooter can be done in one hour). But there’s a little less time used for Photoshop manipulation. I personally enjoy spending more time behind the camera than in front of the computer screen.

I shoot real estate photos and video in Tampa Bay, and some times a little further. You can see samples of my work on Flickr.

Connecting Shots In Real Estate Photography

Connecting shots are done with a perspective in mind where two or more room spaces are presented in one image. The idea is to show the flow of the area. When properly lit the photo can almost give a 3-D effect and make you feel like you are inside the home.  You don’t have to use an extremely wide lens, you can often take a good connecting shot at 24mm or even longer. Try taking one and allow your potential buyers walk with their eyes from one room to another.kitchen587kitchen581Living Room St Petersburg FL Real Estate Photography

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Staircases Are Big Deal In St Pete Homes

Stairs, Stairs, Stairs

living250in St Pete, we often have very small property lots. For those who want to own a large home few options exist other than building up. Two or three story homes are very common along the water of Pinellas County. I enjoy taking photos and video of such properties as they often offer quite interesting picture compositions.

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Usually one of the main features of a large two-story home is its’ staircase. I’ve seen some that involved glass, beautiful rod-iron work, elegant all-wood staircases, some made of oak, some with cherry steps, curved, straight, round, multilevel, I’ve seen them all. Perhaps you could use some inspiration for your next home. Here I am sharing my photos of a few cool staircases with you. Enjoy!

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Tampa Bay Stairs Photos

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Money Shots – Part 2 – Kitchens

Good Kitchen Photos Will Make You More Money

Or, at least will create a lot more interest in your home.

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Dining rooms are becoming forsaken ground in many homes. No, not so much because we’ve become so unsocial and informal. Often it is because the kitchen is now the center point of our home. It’s a place which your family and guests gather around during a warm cozy night while you cook your favorite meal and serve martinis.

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Many kitchens now have eat-in areas bars and islands making it so easy to simply dine and wine right there, close to you meal preparing spot.

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An often repeated by agents statement is that updated kitchens and bathrooms sell the house. In my opinion it is true, since the kitchen sets a general mood and feel for the interior of your home.

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The colors you choose, the style of cabinetry, type of couter tops, hardware design and appliances brands – all will speak so much about your house.

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My job is to carve out a few photos of your kitchen in a way that will transcend the limits of the actual picture and pass on the kitchen’s character to your potential buyer. For me it means finding a good composition, showcasing most important and interesting features while creating a perfect balance and contrast of light.

Money Shots – Part 1 – Living Rooms

Money Shots – Part 1 – Living Rooms

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Let’s pause and think for a minute: at what rooms do you spend most times looking when searching for a home?  What room photos do you just scroll through and which ones you observe with extra interest?  I guess the answer will be – the photos of a room you will mostly spend your time in (not sleeping in!), a room in your future home that most visitors will see – your living room.

living room Snell ArcadeWhen browsing through listings you look for character, rooms size, windows placement, floors type and other features.  Sometimes you just like how the home feels based on the photos.  And when you are a buyer you don’t like surprises during your first showing, you want the room to look as close as possible to what you saw in the picture.  This means the size shown in the photo must (or should) reflect true scale of things.  Often this is hard to achieve because the mind of a seller and real estate agent wants to showcase the whole room in one shot.  This is possible with the use of an ultra-wide lens.  However, shooting a room at a focal length under 15mm will make the room look larger than it really is.

living room kitchen Brightwaters BlvdShooting with an ultra-wide lens is sometimes useful, especially in tightareas like small bathrooms. But with larger rooms most of the time it is not necessary.

Here’s why it’s better to shoot above 15mm:

– You will have better shot compositions

– You will have more “out-of-shot” spaces to hide extra flashes and thus have a better lit image

– Room size will look close to reality – no surprises for buyers

The interesting thing about human mind is that we can easily complete an image in our head if we only see a portion of a subject, so sometimes it’s ok to cut off a portion of a sofa or a large frame, especially if there are two of them side by side.  So, if I can’t show a whole room in one photo how do I showcase it to the buyer?  Take another shot from a different angle or corner of that room, make a connecting shot with the kitchen or dining room.

living room Snell IsleMost MLSs will allow up to 25 photos, so impress your potential buyers with money shots: living rooms, dining rooms and kitchens.  Trust me, most bedrooms have 4 walls and a bed in the middle, one picture of your bedroom is usually enough for marketing purposes. Small bathrooms or half baths?  Not really necessary to showcase at all.  Much rather find a few cool architectural features and add their photos to your marketing portfolio.

Photos of your living room are your money shots.  Make them stand out, spend time finding a good composition and work on your lighting – it will pay off.  And if you are busy selling and can’t take the photos yourself, you can always hire me, I’m available to shoot anywhere in Tampa Bay Area.  Check out my photography portfolio, video tours and pricing.

Shooting Photos And Video At Snell Arcade

Photo And Video Shoot At Snell Arcade

front Snell ArcadeOne of the exciting things of being a real estate photographer is that you often get to enter some very unique properties.  I’ve been in hundreds of homes, condominiums and townhouses in over 4 years of both my real estate and, now, photography career. I primarily focus on luxury real estate, that’s where I can fully apply my photo and video production techniques.  Many of such homes are new(er) construction, which I love to shoot, but sometimes I am invited to take pictures of a historical gem.

There’s a lot of history tied to Snell Arcade and I was excited when a Smith & Associate agent, Brian Sprague, invited me to shoot his new listing, unit #210.  I’ve once visited a penthouse on 7th floor and was very impressed by the updates, unique balconies and its’ open, yet sophisticated layout.  This new place was on the second floor and much larger, with two good-size bedrooms and two and a half baths.

You can Google about the history, of this early 1920’s building, the club that was here, Mr. Snell’s office at the very top (which is now a two-story loft) and people that worked here.  But today I simply wanted to share a few photos and a short video with you.

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