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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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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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.

Virtual Tours and How To Use Them Correctly

When I shoot real estate in Tampa Bay agents often request a virtual tour.  I always suggest doing a full-motion video tour instead but virtual tours are still popular and they are less expensive than video tours. A virtual tour is an online slideshow often provided with background music and some property info.

Here are 6 observations I made in regards to virtual tours and things you need to be aware of when using virtual tours:

1) Quality. If you use crappy photos, you will have crappy tours. The quality is often reduced even further because some brokerages use automated virtual tour providers who pull the photos from MLS where they’ve already been reduced in size and quality.
2) Number of photos. If you are using an automated tour, all your clients will see is a slideshow of photos they have already seen. Offer value to your clients, edit your tours separately and add more high-quality photos to it.

3) Music is cheesy. It take only a couple minutes to login to your tour and change the music, don’t go for preset cheesy tracks. Some providers will allow you to upload your own song.

4) Load time. I’ve only found a handful of VT providers where photos load quickly and with good resolution. Most of the tours will be turned off before they load by the potential buyer.

5) Your listings go to Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia and other outlets. Check at least these 3, make sure your virtual tour link shows up.  Your virtual tour will not upload to Realtor.com automatically. VT vendor has to be approved by PicturePath and Realtor.com and they have to upload manually. Some big vendors who might have a contract with your broker are able to upload them from MLS to Realtor.com immediately but remember, login to your tour and upload high-rez photos. If your broker has such agreement with a vendor and you decide to use your own, the broker’s vendor’s tour will have priority and will show up on Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia – you have to make sure you place your own link on MLS and then update it on Realtor.com.
6) You can plug it in (embed it) VT tour vendors provide with HTML code of the tour, so you can copy/paste it on your blog easily. A little harder with social media, though. You can post a link on Facebook, for example, but it will open a new window when you click on it. It won’t play directly on your Facebook wall, like YouTube videos do. Facebook doesn’t like when people leave their site, so I can bet you that your exposure will be limited. Much better to post a photo or a video. Fortunately you can convert a virtual tour into a video format and host it on YouTube or Vimeo, though quality of images will be reduced.

If you stay aware of these details about virtual tours – you will get the most out of them. If you need a virtual tour provider or a real estate photographer in Tampa Bay, send me a request or text/call me at (727) 418-9016 and I’ll be glad to work with you.

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.

How To Take Perfect Kitchen Shots

st-petersburg-kitchen-photoMost agents will admit that updated kitchens and baths significantly increase the “sellability” of a home. Not only will it sell quicker but also for more money. We spend a lot of time cooking, eating and bathing. And having these activities in a nice, updated setting is simply a pleasure. Not to say that moving into a new home without the worries and thoughts of investing in updates is a positive thing for most home buyers.

As a real estate photographer in Tampa Bay I could add that the first introduction to a potential home is done via photos or video tour that clients find on Realtor.com, Zillow or Trulia. So when you have a new listing, will you make sure to showcase the important spaces correctly?

Kitchens are often small and require focus and good composition to present it properly.

Here are a few tips on how to take good kitchen shots

straight-on-kitchen-real-estate-photography-tampa-bay1) I personally love straight on shots with high focal length. Meaning try to avoid using extremely wide angle lenses when shooting a kitchen. The bigger the focal length the more realistic the photo will look. Of course add a couple corner shots too.
2) Level your camera with the bottom of the top cabinets or slightly higher. Nobody cares to see what the cabinets look like underneath. Taking a shot from your belly hight might be appropriate for a living room but not for a kitchen.
st-pete-fl-kitchen-photography3) You are selling counter space, so remove most of the objects from the counters, even coffee makers and toasters. Trust me, the kitchen will look more spacious and easy for an eye to take in.
4) Got cabinet lights? Turn them on. Microwave light? Turn it on.
st-petersburg-real-estate-photo5) A small vase with flowers can work nicely, just make sure you don’t block anything important with it. You could also look in your fridge, find some fruit and place them in a bowl on your island or counter.

The rest is your technical skills with camera settings and lighting. It’s all in your hands from here on!  To get more ideas on how to take good kitchen photos visit my Kitchen Shots album on Flickr.