Photoshoot at Surena Rugs Store

Last month I had a great time doing a photoshoot at Surena Rugs. The owner asked me for some advice on proper lighting when they take photos of their new merchandise. And while there I was able to take a few photos of their store. How is your website looking? Facebook page? Your cellphone photos looking just so-so? Call me today (727) 418-9016 and let’s schedule an architectural photoshoot! Interior photos of your shop can make a big difference when clients search businesses and look at their photos online. I have all day, half-day and 2 hour sessions available at different prices!

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Shooting Empty Spaces – 5 Tips

I shoot real estate in Atlanta and pretty much all over Metro Area, like Marietta, Alpharetta, Kennesaw and so on. 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 Atlanta 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.

Twilight Photos In Marietta

What You Need To Know About Twilight Photos In Atlanta and Marietta

Have you ever seen a featured listing in Atlanta on Realtor.com or Zillow and Trulia and it really stood out to you? Chance are you saw some twilight photos of that home. Especially if the house is outfitted with elegant lighting and landscaping is lit up too. It just looks magical. Sometimes I create my own light to accent darker areas of the property. There are only a few minutes of magic light when the sun sets. I get to capture those minutes and create beautiful photos of your listing. I work in Atlanta and Metro area. My pricing is here.

Why not add twilight photos to your listing? Call me today (727) 418-9016 and lets schedule our evening photoshoot!

Here are a few samples from my latest twilight session.

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Time To Use Video In Real Estate Marketing

Are You Using Video In Real Estate Marketing in Atlanta?

Because if you aren’t, you may be missing some clients. I once made a property video for a client and a buyer bought it site unseen after he watched the video on his iPad while on the plane 30,000 ft in the air.

video-in-real-estate-marketingSearch Google for a property address. If that property has a video tour it will pop up in the top of the results! You can place a video link in your MLS, On Realtor.com, Zillow and Trulia. All my video are made with purchased copyrighted soundtracks, so you will never be kicked off if you load it directly to Facebook!

Do you know you can now also directly upload videos to LinkedIn? THIS IS HUGE! Think about it. The more eyeballs you will have on your listing, the higher your chances are for selling that property quickly. And that’s what your seller wants. That is what you want too. I charge $200 for small homes, and $300 for properties over 2,000 sq.ft. Currently I include drone video in all my property video (if drone use is allowed in your area). Call me today (727) 418-9016 or send me a message to schedule your property video! Here are a few samples.

I make real estate videos anywhere in Atlanta, Marietta, Kennesaw and other towns of Atlanta Metro area. Ask me also about property photos, twilight photography, drone pictures and your headshots!

Headshots for Real Estate Agents

In this age of thumbnail profiles your photo, even thought small, is what your friends and clients first see. Before they even read your bio or feed on your wall they see your little thumbnail photo. It’s you in your car, doing the “duck face”, or selfie in the elevator or maybe your bathroom (does the background look sanitary?). It’s all fun! Until you are trying to look for a job. Yes, most HR people will look through your social media profiles and, possibly make some unjustified conclusions. Don’t give them a reason, make yourself look good with a professionally taken headshot.

LinkedIn is a great place to connect and build a network with other professionals. Want it or not, you will be judged by how you look. There are a few reasons you must have a professional headshot if you work in a big city like Atlanta or any small town.

  1. You want to look professional.
  2. It is part of your branding.
  3. You will be taken seriously.
  4. You will look appealing and recognizable.
  5. Makes you stand out.
  6. It’s your shot at doing more business.

I work with professionals in Atlanta and all Metro Area. Give me a call (727) 418-9016 or send me a message to schedule your headshot session!

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

Best Method for Real Estate Photos in Atlanta

Hello, Atlanta Realtor or any other professional who cares about Real Estate Photography. 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.

Realtor Marketing Skills Are Overrated

Stop Marketing and Start Selling

stop-marketing-start-selling-real-estate-tampa-bay-st-petersburgI know, Atlanta Realtor, I may get some critique from you about this post. I recently read an article outlining important skills a Realtor must have in order to be a “good” agent.  They were all good skills but 7 out of 9 were types of marketing know-hows that would somehow prove that the real estate professional has deep knowledge, experience and works very hard for the seller.  Things like taking good pictures, creating high-quality brochures, writing a property description, help you prepare your house for a showing, etc.

I LOVE all these things, and that’s precisely why I don’t sell real estate any more.  I like being a marketer more than a sales person.  A Realtor is a sales person?  Of course!  Last time I checked it’s commission kind of work.  So, if I wanted to list my home for sale, what qualities would I seek in my listing agent?

Ok, here’s a short list:

1) A good listing agent is a great negotiator, a sales person of great skill
2) Knows transaction flow in and out
3) Knows contract, addenda and any deal related paperwork very well
4) Knows real estate news in his community
5) Knows inventory and pricing well
6) Well-connected with vendors and other agents
7) Great closer and problem-solver
8) Great communicator who keeps things under control
9) Delegates tasks

Marketing skills?  I’d put those at the end of the list.  Why?  Because marketing can and, in my opinion, should be outsourced or delegated.  You can control your marketing, you can be the face and voice of your marketing, you can be involved in it somewhat on your personal time (like blogging), but putting together brochures, editing videos, taking pictures, fixing websites – is time that should’ve been spent building relationships, finding business, working with your sphere of influence and with your leads.

Some may say: I can’t afford to pay someone else to do my marketing.  What you can’t afford is spending your time on it instead of focusing on generating business.  Trust me, I’ve made that mistake.  Even your most creative marketing efforts that will generate you leads are worthless if you are not working those leads.

Do you eat your lunch alone?  What are you doing with your 500+ friend list of Facebook?  Your 10 closest friends – do you know what’s going on in their family life?  Do you know 5 most successful people in your town and do you know if they have a Twitter account?  Do you follow?  Answer these questions before you spend two hours making a brochure or thinking about your marketing plan.

I hope you know WHY you got into real estate.  I hope you are taking your “why” seriously and your vocation as a full-time job.  There isn’t much room for you in real estate business these days if you are not.  In the last 10 years the way we do real estate evolved rapidly.  However, if you are new to this business or struggling to build it to a level of success – I have some thoughts to share with you. But that’s in my next post…

Buckhead Condo Views

Living In Buckhead

As a real estate photographer living OTP in Atlanta Metro I always enjoy a trip to Buckhead or Midtown to shoot another condo in some highrise. Photographing a condo is very different than shooting a house in the suburbs. There’s a lot more glass and reflective surfaces, so I have to pay close attention to how I position my lights. The rooms are smaller yet there are many cool details I should showcase in my photos. Great condo photos is what will make the listing agent stand out and create more interest in potential buyers. Here are a few shots from some recent condo photoshoots. Ready for your photos, video and drone pics? Contact me today!

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Tell Your Story – Reach Your Audience With Quality Media. Domain Homes

livingroom149I have worked with Domain Homes for a couple years now.  I could see passion in what they do and their enthusiasm for creating a brand name that is recognizable and carries a great reputation. My passion was to work with such passionate people. I wanted to come along and help them in this pursuit. Idea after idea, project after project, Domain Homes has grown into a reputable company in Tampa Bay whose brand is well recognised.

Quality Photography

design-center188For Domain Homes it was not a question wether they needed to present their homes with great photography. They wanted quality and consistency. Every model home was photographed and featured with a video tour.

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They wanted more. They honored owners of the lots they bought from, threw parties for them and presented gifts. When a kids baseball league found some of their equipment stolen Domain Homes stepped in and purchased new item for them. They also kept the story-line going with photos and video.

When I suggested we create a video presentation of their Enclave Model in the style of House Hunters – they jumped on it without hesitation. The video is now on their YouTube channel and uploaded directly to their Facebook Page.

Results

back240For a small Tampa home builder they created a strong following on Facebook and you will find their daily posts on Twitter and regular videos on YouTube. The awareness of their brand is huge in Tampa Bay. People in St Pete know of them, Tampa Heights, Seminole and Safety Harbor – all heard about Domain Homes. Not an easy task when you are competing with national new home builder giants. Same goes for builders in Atlanta, Marietta, Alpharetta and other Metro Area towns.

How To Win With Print

How to win with print

Print-marketing-tampa-bayWith the perpetual Internet (r)evolution, we’ve moved from print articles to blogs, from paper advertising to Google Ads and from magazine-featured spots to Facebook Pay-Per-Click.   However, when done well, print can bring a powerful message the Web can’t.  Gone are the days when mainstream buyer browsed classifieds in the paper for real estate deals.  Placing ads in local well-known publications in Altanta or Marietta will help you with your personal branding and name recognition, but probably won’t do much directly to sell your listing, or will it?

Today expensive print ads in glamour magazines are almost a requirement for high-end luxury real estate agents.  Thousands of dollars every month for one or two glossy pages.  Understandably, magazines are eye candy to behold while relaxing in your favorite chair.  But without proper call-to-action, “pretty” is all they will remain.  On a shelf.  On a coffee table or in your bathroom.  So, should you still use print ads?  Yes, but be smart.

So how do you do it right?

If you plan to continue investing in print ads, think about how you can maximize your return.  It’s not cheap, so do yourself a favor: stand out.   In fact, be stunning!  Standing out in amazing ways can actually be very simple.  Here are a few suggestions:

–          A good rule of thumb – don’t overdo it, stay simple and to the point.

–          Make your images pop but not so much as to appear fake.

–          Keep your wording concise and creative.  You can have a little fun, but don’t be silly.

–          Less is more, so keep your personal glamour to a minimum.  Remember, the ad is about your services and your clients’ homes, not so much about you.

–          Don’t show off your 17 designations, only a doctorate degree is worthy of presentation.

–          Hire a professional photographer to do your magazine shots.

–          You can’t go all out on print but cut production quality.

And Now A Few Big Points

1)      Showing off your social media in print. 

I’ve seen print ads with Facebook and Twitter buttons but no address next to them.  Think!  I can’t click on paper!  And if I find your YouTube channel and you have no videos there – you are disingenuous.  Sorry, that’s how clients think.  Give them a “why” (remember previous post?) to connect with you.  If you are open, list your personal Facebook address and say: “friend me on Facebook and see me share the best real estate deals downtown”.   Don’t just show your phone information, say “my real estate advice is free, call me any time”. And how about “Subscribe to my YouTube channel.  You will love my home videos!”

2)      QR-codes.  Yes or no? 

Meh…  Leave those to for an instance when you can’t have much wording or where the only thing you can fit in is a QR-code with just a few words.  Possibly on your window at eye level. Think like a consumer: where and why would you scan it?  For me it’s when I am on-the-go, in the street, in a hurry, holding a postcards near a restaurant, a perk on a window, a special deal, etc.

I’ve tried to love QR-codes, but they are just plain ugly.  Another important note – always explain what the client will see or get once they scan the code.  “Scan and see a list of all upcoming waterfront listings in Snell Isle”, “Scan and watch exclusive video walk-through inside this home”, “Scan to get 2 free martinis – no joke!” – and so on, be creative!

3)      Bleed-through is hot!  

I’ve seen some hideous frames and graphics around images in magazine ads that absolutely make no sense.  Editors allow you to do this because, well, because you pay.  But look at magazines’ covers and pages, what do you see?  Images often bleed-through (no framing) with words posted over the image.  The fonts are beautiful, often custom made.  Images are crisp and shot from perfect angles.  A lot of this is subtle but little things like that can create a million dollar look without big expensive.  Simply watch the style trends, or have custom templates created by a cutting-edge web design company.

4) Call to action.

Perhaps you are a successful agent and you have several luxury listings you’d like to show off in a slick local magazine.  You have beautiful images, but you can’t possibly give ALL the information about every home on one page.  (FYI, If you’re trying to do this your ads are ugly.)  So, lead them to your website where they can see more photos and learn more details.  Also consider the general appearance of your site.  Do you have dedicated pages for each property you listed?  How about buying a custom URL with something like www.oldnortheastbungalow.com and if that one is taken, you can use something simple like www.1234MapleStreet.com .  Then place that web address over the picture in bold font, and say “see more photos, description and video interview with the owner on this site”.  What interview, you say?  I know, it’s scary, but you can do it.  Record yourself interviewing the owner about why they bought this home and what they love about it.  Make a short 2 minute video and place it on your site.  Buyers love it! Oh, and that one homeowner browsing through the pages of a magazine, they just might like your creativity.  You never know where your next listing will come from.

What now?

So, you made it look good, you made it smart and creative and you have a great call-to-action layout.  Now who pays for your ad?  I’ve heard of agents who hardly pay for their print advertising because their vendors love to pick up the tab for them.   So you never know…

Otherwise, this is when you can partner with other service providers. Put their name on your ad and give them business that comes from your print advertising.  Be sure to follow the legal guidelines.

It’s going to be a while before (if ever) print advertising will go out of style in Atlanta or anywhere else.  Why? You can roll a huge glossy page and put in your pocket – something you can’t do with a tablet or laptop.  And a two-page magazine spreads can be impressive and hard to beat. Computers and mobile devices are making a huge footprint in our history, but paper and magazines still bring about feelings and emotions that our digital friends never will.  Print is here to stay, so make your print ads a powerful tool.