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03-19-2009, 10:14 PM   #1
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Real Estate Photography

Hi - I need some help and / or suggestions ....

I have the opportunity to start taking photos's of real estate for condo developments - if the developer / marketing agency likes what they see, I will get paid, and if not, well I guess I have a starting point to work from.

Anyway, has anyone done any work with house and or condo's? Any suggestions / Tips? Lighting? Staging? Angles? etc. etc. etc.

As for equipment, I have a K10, a 50-1.4, a 77ltd, and the 18-55 kit lens. Hopefully I will be also getting a 1 light strobist kit from mpex in the next few weeks as well.

Any help would be greatly apprieciated!!

Thanks!!

G

03-19-2009, 10:39 PM   #2
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Well, I've never done any kind of real estate photography for profit, but if you are going to be shooting interiors it sems you may need something wider than the kit lens. Interior and architecture photography is often the realm of the wide angles such as DA12-24mm or the Sigma 10-20mm. I've shot interiors of older homes before which we were visiting and found at time my 17-70mm was not wide enough to get in the whole room.

One other thing you will need to watch is perspective as there will be some distortion if you use the ultrawide zooms at the 10 or 12mm end, so you'll need to set up the shot to minimize the distortion and correct it in post processing the images. My limited two cents worth......

Good luck!
03-19-2009, 10:41 PM   #3
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you need 12-24 and a couple of strobes which is a huge investment in money and time learning to use especially in post production.

try seeing what your competitors are offering and then see if you can do better.
03-19-2009, 10:43 PM   #4
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you'll need a bunch of slaves. I'd say 3 optical slaves should do. You'll be shooting everything but the view wide angle. I've never shot the kit lens but looking at your gear I'd say wide is the weak point. Manually adjust flash power so indoor exposure matches outdoor exposure - so when you show a room with a window you can see what's outside.

03-19-2009, 11:15 PM   #5
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Pfre

Photography For Real Estate

Lots of good tips, techniques, and information. There is a corresponding Flickr group too.
03-21-2009, 08:07 AM   #6
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The one suggestion I have is regarding interiors. My experience has been that if you take a picture with the camera at eye level (5-6 feet), there is an usual downward looking perspective. If you simply drop down to about 3-4 feet, you get a much more natural perspective. Try it out for yourself and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Good luck!
03-21-2009, 08:32 AM   #7
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Photos showing perspectives

I found a series of photos I took a few years ago which show the perspective issue I previously mentioned.

This first picture is simply to give you a sense of scale; notice the barrister's bookcase in left-hand side of the picture, next to the door way. This case is about 5 feet tall.


The second picture was taken with the camera at eye-level; the bookcase provides a reference for the camera height.


The final picture was taken by holding the camera at about 4 feet.


I hope this helps!
03-21-2009, 08:47 AM   #8
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This little freeware program can help correct distortion...

ShiftN

Cheers...

03-21-2009, 10:40 AM   #9
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To be good at what you want to do you will need lighting. It's a lot of gear and it will take time learning how to light the areas properly. A tilt shift lens, not sure if Pentax has one, will make a huge difference in your work. This is usually not the type of photography where you just pick up the camera and go with out experience. I wish you the best of luck and would love to see pics.
04-02-2009, 11:39 PM   #10
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I shoot for a friend that has his own biz, as i am a retiree and don't want another full time job. That said, heres what i know about the business in general:

Pricing: it is a competitive market and rates vary. I know that John charges $239 for a complete (interior, front, back, and yard) shoot with a limit of about 25 photos ($10-20 for additional per pic rate). That includes post processing and uploading to the clients server. A slide show with this increases the pkg price. If a client wants single photos for the front, back and yard, he charges $30 for 3 exterior photos which includes post processing and server upload. His clients sell homes from 750k to 5mil. A 5mil house requires a lot more work and he increases his rates based on time spent to start and complete the shoot\upload\slideshow process. I have been offered other fulltime work and would be paid $150 just to go out and shoot, post process and provide either a disk or upload of the finished photos. That offer was in the chicago area as well as an offer in orlando fl (same rates). Lately, there has been a competitor who is offering up to 24 photos plus editing, plus slideshow, plus upload for $79! I've seen his work and it is sufficient, but no where near the quality we produce (John is a perfectionist). But, the agents are leaning to him for price. i suspect the guy will overstretch himself or raise his price once he has established himself as some of the agents are returning to us for photo work.

Clients: If you are out during the day, stop in at open houses and leave a biz card with your services. be sure to introduce yourself and services to the agent showing the house.

Drop a biz card or ad with the real estate offices in the areas you will work. if possible, talk to the agents directly. usually the agents are out, so ask if the admin assistant will put one in each of their in-boxes.

Run an ad on craigslist.com (free) as a real estate/architectural photographer. list your services and have them call or email for pricing (you can then do your sales pitch).

Use one of the free web hosts like flicker, picasa, etc and put up samples of your work. be sure the site is listed on your biz card/ad. once you get established, your own biz site is a good idea (establishes credibility)

Equipment: 8-14mpx camera, 10-20mm lens or 12-24mm lens, sturdy tripod, and flash (at a minimum). carry xtra memory, batteries etc. If you need a new lens, the Sigma 10-20mm is less expensive than the Pentax 12-24 and works well on the K10D, not so good on the K20D (in my experience). Shoot between 12-14mm with the Sigma to avoid room distortion, 10-11mm in those tiny powder rooms and correct for perspective in photoshop. A fisheye can also be used, but you will need to correct the distortion (I have a Rokinon 8mm manual fisheye as backup).

The Shoot: first, go around and turn on every light in the house, put toilet seats down, move any extraneous 'stuff', close closet doors. with paper and pen, list the rooms you are to shoot and check them off when room is done, then move on to next. Setup tripod and camera/flash and shoot several exposures from the same spot (I always shoot raw). then try another angle and repeat exposures. take one or 2 flash shots from each position also. I use the timer to minimize the chance of camera shake and make sure shake reduction is off when on tripod. You can set the K10/K20 to shoot 3 different exposures one after the other or do it manually. you will have to adjust white balance for natural, flourescent and incandescent light. Check your pics before moving the camera.

Software: Photoshop offers the best manipulation of photos, hands down. I shoot raw and then edit in pshop to correct or enhance the pic. I shoot mostly without flash and take a pic or 2 in the darker rooms with flash to do a merge of the photos when necessary. By doing various exposures on a tripod, pshop can be used to pull in windows that are blown out in an otherwise good exposure.

Services: Offer only what you have the skills to do or hire someone to fill the gaps. College students in the arts are usually looking for xtra money... talk to instructors as well. Agents often need updated portrait photos. Offer to shoot all the agents in an office at a good price to get into the door or offer it as an intro perk.

agents often ask to see samples. good to have a dozen or so 5x7's in a small folder/album just in case.

if you are a web builder/designer, the agents often want a site created. john makes $1200-3500 per site

Listing brochures - John does their brochure layouts with his pics. not sure what he charges for that. I suspect a 8 pic layout is $50-100

hiring a contractor (like me) I get $25 per exterior shoot encompassing front, back and yard plus a $10 gas fee for 3 shoots or less. if i do 4 or more shoots, i forgo the gas fee (behooves him to give me more work in a day). If i do a interior with exterior shoot, i get $10 per photo used in the slideshow plus gas for 3 or less, no gas for 4 or more. I end up making $25-45 per hour (not bad for part time work) depending on number of shoots and proximity to each other.

sample photos here were taken using a tripod, K10D or K20D, metz flash on camera when needed, Sigma 10-20mm or Pentax 12-24mm lens (no other lighting equipment

I'm now using the K7 Hdr 1 function with on camera Metz 48 AF1 to shoot real estate. The results are excellent and the HDR has reduced my post processing times by 2/3rds in conjunction with using CS5, Topaz Labs Adjust plugin.

I thought I'd pass on my technique. I tried off camera flash lighting by strategically placing units to illuminate various room areas. That works, but is time consuming and requires additional equipment and flash adjustments. Currently, I use the metz 48af-1 with either the K7 or K10D, usually camera mounted (and bounce the flash). I shoot a 0, +1, -1 ev ambient light exposure and then flash shots (metz in manual mode) at 1/4, 1/2 or 1/1 (depending on lighting) or in slave. I also adjust for the room lighting, ie, tungsten, flourescent, etc. I select 2 images for post processing, one ambient and one flash and pull them into CS5. I then overlay the ambient with the flash, align the images and crop for alignment differences, reduce the flash layer to 50-70%, apply a slight 's' curve in curves, smart sharpen the image and save. Small tweaks can be made for hue/ saturation etc. I found this process to be easier, faster and cheaper than using multiple flash units. A legit copy of CS4 was purchased for $200, about the same cost of 2 additional off camera flash guns. When using the K7, I often just use the HDR1 setting and overlay that image with the flash image. Saves even more time.

Last edited by ivoire; 09-15-2010 at 09:05 PM. Reason: update for K7
04-04-2009, 06:56 PM   #11
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Well, on this, the people who *hire* you will tend to want wider lenses for interior work: it tends to make spaces look a lot bigger than they really are. This tends to generate initial enthusiasm, put a lot of people out, and disappoint the heck out of customers. These real estate agents are usually like business school kids who have read up on 'sales techniques' and various inspirational seminars. Thus, they have a tendency to be 'inspired' about if they can only get someone in the door, they can sell a postage stamp, and thus expect things of *you* that pretty much just cheese off all concerned. I've seen some great silliness just recently. People misled to think they could fit eight in a little house that was actually a little tight for two people given to spooning together.

Remember that said real estate agent is *your* customer, not your employer.
The customer is of course always 'right.' To their face. But if you just happen to be presenting them with things that make them money, who's proud? They are. Not you.

'Advertising seminars' tend to make them want ineffective things. Like, for you to exaggerate the apparent size of something. Most of their customers can't judge perspective like a photographer can and are only going to end up annoyed when they schedule a tour and things aren't as they seemed to be billed.

So I would suggest, use a real wide to document, ....cover all the prosaic ground, ... and throw in something too pretty to ignore in other spaces which is more according to more like 'true normal,' (say, 43mm equivalent) that'll actually establish some kind of realistic scale. Don't tell your paying agent , just make some shots pretty and put em in there, among any shots that make an 8x16 dining room look like it could host twenty.

If it works, they'll come back.

Last edited by Ratmagiclady; 04-04-2009 at 07:09 PM.
04-04-2009, 09:27 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by ivoire Quote
I know that John charges $139 for an complete (interior, front, back, and yard) shoot with a limit of about 15 photos.
Geez, its not worth getting out of bed for!
04-05-2009, 04:25 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by WerTicus Quote
Geez, its not worth getting out of bed for!
Its all about volume. On a yearly basis 2 photogs I know of who shoot realestate each make approx $100k per yr. That kinda puts it in perspective. I recently shot 16 rooms in an hour, did 3hrs of post processing and was paid $160. $40 an hour for part time work is fine by me. It has paid for my photo equipment and a few month long florida vacations.

Last edited by ivoire; 04-13-2009 at 06:43 PM.
06-08-2009, 06:37 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by alohadave Quote
Photography For Real Estate

Lots of good tips, techniques, and information. There is a corresponding Flickr group too.
check out one of their latest posts
Photography For Real Estate The First DSLR With Built-in HDR
08-12-2009, 07:34 AM   #15
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I just finished my first real estate shoot with the K7 (and Da12-24mm + Metz 48). I was very impressed with the white balance, much improved over the K20D (no more need to adjust for a yellow/orange tint). The HDR1 function was excellent and I used about 60% of the images taken with that setting (resulted in greatly reduced post processing time). The battery life is amazing, about 30% more shots compared to K20D. I had to do a rush job and was a bit worried using the K7 for the first time, but I'm quite pleased with the results. The interior was dimly lit with large rooms and brilliant outdoor light (makes a well lit room shot very difficult). Here is a link to the slide show from the shoot (front images were done by another individual with a Nikon D200 + Tamron 12-24mm, all others with the K7).

http://3difocus.com/slideshows/312-E-Ninth/

Last edited by ivoire; 08-12-2009 at 07:47 AM.
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