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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When I shoot real estate in Atlanta 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 Atlanta and Metro Area, text/call me at (727) 418-9016 and I’ll be glad to work with you.
Stairs, Stairs, Stairs
In Atlanta, just like in Tampa Bay where I lived before moving here there are many two or three story homes. For those who want to own a large home few options exist other than building up. I enjoy taking photos and video of such properties as they often offer quite interesting picture compositions.
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!