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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.

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.

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.

Geographical Area of Services

Where Do I Offer Real Estate Photography In Atlanta

Currently I service all areas of Atlanta and Metro Area. After 13 successful years in Florida my family and I moved to Atlanta, which has been our dream for a while. I also travel as far north as Canton, Milton, Alpharetta and even Chattanooga without additional trip charges. I’ll be happy to work on projects beyond Atlanta Metro, please request a quote. My services include Architectural Photography, Real Estate Photography, Twilight Photos, Real Estate Videos (Video Tours), Drone Photos and Video and Headshots.

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Why Have Professional Photos & Video For Non-Luxury Homes in Atlanta

Spend Your Marketing Dollars Smartly

Dining Area St Petersburg HomeI was just looking through listings online.  Majority of luxury real estate is featured with good photos and virtual tours.  Very few have home video tours.  The trend is picking up though, I get more and more orders for video alongside a photo-shoot.

To Go Pro Or Not, and Why

The sad part is that homes listed slightly below luxury level, say in the rage of 200k-450k almost never have a video tour.  Quite often even the photos are not professionally done.  There could be many reasons for that: the home is not showcase worthy, needs updating or the real estate agent doesn’t believe spending money on professional photography is required for a successful sale.  All are legitimate reasons (but if you are just being cheap – that’s not cool).

I believe, however, most agents should try and discuss with the owner bringing the home to a showcase state.  Often the sellers just don’t know how, they need some guidance.  Rarely will the sellers turn down an offer to help stage their home, or decline advice on quick updates.

Master Bath home in St PeteYes, sometimes good photos are good enough.  Even if you take them with your iPhone or Android, as long as you know a little bit about taking real estate picture, such photos will be ok for, say, a bank-owned property, or a home where staging or repairing is not feasible or in case of any other distressed or high-risk situation.  Though, good photos, videos and blogging can help you generate leads, but that’s a story for a different post.

Inventory is still low but, if you haven’t noticed, the sales have slowed down just a little in the past few month.  It’s normal, the market will fluctuate.  Yet, you have to remain steady and competitive with your marketing and avoid slacking when times are good!  You can’t afford to cut your marketing dollar just because.  Let me give 3 reasons why professional photos and videos matter during any time:

1) They make your SELLER look good.

Will neighbors Google your listing address to see how much it is? Do they want to see what it looks like inside? Yes and yes!

2) They will make YOU look good.

You have to think beyond one sale. Every listing is a door to a few more. Your listings online are like your business cards, they are also your reputation, what people can expect working with you. Will the potential clients check out your other listings? Will they want to know a little about your marketing plan? Yes and yes!

3) They will bring you BUYERS.

Because buyer not only shop with their wallet, they also shop with their heart, with their feelings. Buyers love to connect with their future home. What could be easier than helping them do it with photos full of character and a video that perhaps will make them smile and then click “Contact Listing Agent”?

Spending Smartly

I’ve filmed a few home video tours of homes that are not considered to be in the luxury or high-end category, yet they also deserved a well-made presentation.  The sellers and the listing agents were happy to have these extra marketing tools.  Smaller homes take less time for video and photos, bringing the cost of the shoot down too.  Providing the luxury level services when selling mid-end properties will pay off in the end.  Why?  Because such marketing services are affordable and sought after by your clients.  Spend your marketing dollars smartly.

Shooting Condo on Peachtree Rd

Peachtree Condo Photoshoot In Buckhead

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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How To Take Perfect Kitchen Shots

st-petersburg-kitchen-photoMost real estate agents in Atlanta 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 Atlanta and Metro Area 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.

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. I’ve now moved to Atlanta and service Atlanta, Marietta, Alpharetta and all Metro Area. Call me (727) 418-9016 to schedule!

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