Photography: Hire out or DIY?

Posted by: lighthouselady

Photography: Hire out or DIY? - 07/13/16 09:42 PM

I'm interested to hear from fellow agents what they do when it comes to photography. Do you spend the money on a professional photographer for your listings or do you piece it together yourself? If the later, have you taken any in person or online courses to up your game?
Posted by: Vermont

Re: Photography: Hire out or DIY? - 07/14/16 05:48 AM

Don't underestimate yourself. As a Real Estate Practitioner, you're the one who should know best what is worthy of conveying in pictorial form; what features make that offering unique, and what defects "you" (as a Licensee) may be required to disclose to Buyers, and which a Photographer may not be aware of.

Real Estate photos are there to convey information . . . . not to win a photo contest; and as a Listing ages, and more information comes to your attention, would you call out the professional photographer to take photos to memorialize each new aspect that you detect or that's pointed out by prospective Buyers ?
Posted by: David Hunter

Re: Photography: Hire out or DIY? - 07/14/16 05:00 PM

We did both. I would do many of the houses, but we also had a professional photography who would do houses too.

So, I guess it all depends. I think it's definitely worth getting a great photographer, but if you like doing photography then go at it yourself. Just don't take crappy pictures. haha
Posted by: Broker John

Re: Photography: Hire out or DIY? - 07/18/16 11:28 PM

We do a combination. Take pics ourselves using cheap $20 tripod and $100 camera that shoots RAW. Then we have virtual assistants that do post processing/photoshop editing. They send us the finished jpg and virtual tours and its great!
The end result is High Definition HDR pictures that really impress clients. I have done the photo editing myself, just takes a lot of time which can be better utilized! I also have a 3rd part website that hosts my virtual unbranded tours so they are kosher with my local MLS rules.
Posted by: estatereal

Re: Photography: Hire out or DIY? - 07/19/16 09:09 AM

would you represent yourself in court? (if you were not a fool??)
would you change your oil?
would you give yourself botox?
would you fly a fly a plane (if unlicensed)

if you are trying to be something you are not and can pay for a better job to be done then it would appear that money is trying to be saved. if you can pay someone to do a better job than you can do, then go for that if you want to be a professional at the highest level.

trump don't wax his own car does he?
Posted by: gitmonee

Re: Photography: Hire out or DIY? - 07/19/16 05:55 PM

shooting decent professional looking photos is not difficult.

You just need $400 in camera gear. If you are low volume, you can do it yourself.

It's all about opportunity cost. Is it cheaper to do it yourself or hire out?

If you are a listing machine, definitely hire out.
Posted by: Vermont

Re: Photography: Hire out or DIY? - 07/19/16 06:08 PM

I wouldn't pull my own teeth . . . . but I manage to floss them all by myself; and I still take the time to butter my bread and comb my own hair. Gosh, I even tie my own shoes; but ONLY because it would take too long to instruct a Professional Shoe Tyer.
Posted by: goasya

Re: Photography: Hire out or DIY? - 08/19/16 02:06 AM

Do a combination.With your knowledge of what will sell better and depending upon how confident you are about the pictures.
Posted by: Thuy

Re: Photography: Hire out or DIY? - 08/19/16 04:18 AM

Just learn how to make good photos and buy some appropriate camera if possible with wide angle lense.

And as being said, it is not a competition.
Posted by: Thuy

Re: Photography: Hire out or DIY? - 08/19/16 04:30 AM

Anyway....some quick guide how to make a good quality photo for real estate job.

1. always make a photo from the corner of the room to have widest angle
2. use flush inside of a room, often even if its daytime (or turn on the lights)
3. don't breathe when you shoot
4. use higher aperture to increase depth of field (to not have blurred margins)
Posted by: ibsellin

Re: Photography: Hire out or DIY? - 08/20/16 05:07 AM

Definitely hire a professional for any listing that is in good condition. So I would not be taking professional photos of fixer uppers and places where the owners have an awful mess that they are not going to clean up. If the house is nice it makes it worth it.

A) it is going to help you sell it faster and for money. So if it is at 3% and your photographer is $200 that means it just needs to bring $7000 more to pay you back.
B) it is going to make YOU look better as the one who does good work.
C) it is something you can add to reasons why sellers should you use you.
D) I think it is the right thing to do for the sellers.

I understand if you are in a low priced market where homes run $100-200k it might not be in the budget, so in my market where almost everything is $300k+ I think it makes sense it is not that much. I want to focus on making my clients happy, building my portfolio and brand so I normally use a professional for any good looking listing.
Posted by: WestMIMedia

Re: Photography: Hire out or DIY? - 08/29/16 01:17 PM

Either learn or pay a pro. We've felt every listing represents the agent. So we push to present the best public face we can. That has meant training local agents and teams to take and edit great photos, and arranging meetings with area photographers to cover more expensive listings (and any gaps in schedules). With such a visual world, listing photos get the showing.
Posted by: Dat Moi

Re: Photography: Hire out or DIY? - 09/12/16 05:51 AM

Iam still DIY, we dont need to hire a pro photograper
Posted by: VABroker

Re: Photography: Hire out or DIY? - 09/14/16 06:09 PM

I do it myself with a good Canon camera with additional flash. I take many, many views of the rooms and eliminate the worst ones. You have to be the judge of the photos. If it were an expensive home ($1+million), I get a professional and I can guarantee you it costs more than the $200 someone else quoted. I will say what I find annoying is the order of the photos agents put in the MLS. You'll get the front photo, maybe the rear, etc. but then the next one will be maybe a bathroom or the kitchen. The master bath is 5 photos from the master bedroom. I always start at the front door and work my way logically from the public rooms to the private rooms. With the public rooms, I try to get a piece of the adjoining room into the photo so viewers can see the logic - living room beside the dining room, dining room is adjoined to the kitchen instead of making viewers guess where the kitchen is in relation to the dining room, etc. It makes it more pleasurable to view the listing versus photos that are randomly posted.
Posted by: Neal M

Re: Photography: Hire out or DIY? - 11/01/16 10:04 AM

A good camera doesn't make a good photographer anymore than a good knife makes a surgeon. A property only has one chance to make a first impression and 95% of the time that will be done with the online photos. A professional real estate photographer will take photos of 500 to over 1000 properties a year. He/she will have many times the experience in taking photos as a real estate agent.
Posted by: Dan M Lee

Re: Photography: Hire out or DIY? - 11/10/16 10:58 PM

Correct. We are about to run an ad campaign marketing to both realtors and home sellers in the benefits of hiring a photographer.

I'll post it up here soon, some useful stats in it..
Posted by: Omaxx

Re: Photography: Hire out or DIY? - 01/01/17 12:44 PM

Completely agree with Dan.

I am a real estate marketing professional working for a busy brokerage here in Toronto.

Our marketing team has to edit approximately 95% of the photos that hit our desks.

Aces in their places, your time is better spent focused in other more productive areas.

Sure you might have a low level lease or a low cost tear down that might be an exception, but realize that those photos you have taken reflect you and your brand. Cheap and unprofessional images say a lot about you, your service, and the potential client base that will need your services.

I recently polled our top 30 agents, all 30 used pros to shoot their properties of those 30, 26 had some of the best photographers in the area. Not all pros are equal either actually there is a huge divide between Pro's ans what we call Moe's.

Realize that the majority of time your property images are the first thing other realtors and potential clients see with your name attached to it.
Posted by: AgentAlam

Re: Photography: Hire out or DIY? - 04/07/17 10:47 AM

It takes a professional to do a professional job. A professional real estate photographer can take pics from an angle which makes a small room look larger and a dark room look bright and appealing.
Posted by: estatereal

Re: Photography: Hire out or DIY? - 11/08/18 07:31 PM

i would fire an agent if i hired them and they did it themself

do you dig your own signpost holes with a digging bar and post hole digger? its an easier job to do that than it is to put up professional photos, but i dont see agents doing that part of it...again, if i did, i would fire them as they would clearly be trying to save a buck instead of selling my home like a pro

might be harsh, but its the truth.
Posted by: janeoftrades

Re: Photography: Hire out or DIY? - 11/13/18 03:27 PM

Hire it out.
You should focus on what you're good at and hire someone else to focus on what they're good at.
Posted by: BrianMI

Re: Photography: Hire out or DIY? - 02/11/19 08:19 PM

I own a real estate photography company. I work in the Metro Detroit region and produce high quality images as well as walk-through video tours. I got into it because Realtirs are cheap in general where photography is concerned. Their tendency to jump from photog to photog depending on whoever is cheapest means that the photogs adapt to that. They choose run-and-gun workflows that can get them in and out of houses in 20 minutes flat so that they can make a living at the $150 price point they feel compelled to compete at.

I wanted the high quality flash/ambient composite workflow images that I saw experts creating online. I wanted the best. Nobody in my market offered it. So I had to gear up and start creating it myself. Eventually people called and asked who my photographer was. I told them that it was me. They started hiring me. They were willing to pay the higher rate.

Eventually that took over my life. I put my real estate career on hold for the last couple years as that business grew. This year I will hire someone so that I can return to taking listings.


If you are going to do this yourself (likely a bad idea in the long run) then all I can say is that you should learn how to do it right. Here are a few tips....

1) Keep Your Verticals Vertical - this is the cardinal rule. Every architectural photographer knows it. We mark out who is “in” and who is not by looking at vertical lines.

The vertical edges of your cabinets in the kitchen need to be parallel with the sides of the frame. You need to always have the camera level to do this. Never point the camera up. Never point it down. Always level and your verticals will be vertical.

Agents like to “get more island” in their kitchen shots. So they raise the camera and point it down to see that island countertop. The result? All the vertical lines bend off the side of the screen in a v-shaped patern. Agents who hire their friend the family photographer have this problem too. Their friend has descent gear and some editing skills but never took a class and just assumes all photography is the same. We see the skewed verts and know what’s up.

2) PhotographyForRealEstate.net - this is the super blog. Central command for all things real estate photography. Spend enough time there and you will find your way.

3) Flickr Group - look up the Photography for Real Estate group on Flickr. People post reall good images. They get feedback. Spend hours there. Learn what makes a great image and what does not.

4) YouTube - search “real estate photography tutorial. Also search for and subscribe to the channel of Rich Baum.

5) Shooting Spaces - a real estate photography podcast. Find it using whatever app you subscribe to podcasts on.

6) Eventually You Will Need To Master Flash - ambient light simply cannot cut it. Even shooting huge sets of brackets. I just shot a cherry kitchen Saturday that brought this to bear. It was a nightmare. Cherry kitchens might as well be black. And with the sun at a low angle streaming in through the window over the sink? It was probably 25 stops of dynamic range. I took three ambient and one flash RAW frames with the new a7iii camera. Didn’t matter. The ambient light shots were worthless in that light.

But the fact that I had a 680 watt portable studio strobe with me saved the day. I just darkened the ambient till the entire frame was black. All that was normal to the eye was the rectangle of the window in the center of the frame. All black. White rectangle. Turned the nFlash to half power and fired.

Perfect.

Well...one step from perfect. That kind of flash power catches on hanging light fixtures and casts shadows where they don’t belong. Good thing I had my ambient shots. Layered the ambient on top of the flash frame in Photoshop, switched it to luminosity lend mode, hid it behind a black mask, and used a soft, low flow white brush to “paint back in some ambient” where the flash shadows are....and they just vanished. Merge the layers, save back to Lightroom, desaturate just the orange color channel (bacause heavy flash will bring out orange witchin the cherry cabinets...and done.

Now it was perfect.

The funny thing is that that was the only way to create an ideal image on that day in that setup in those light conditions....but somewhere in that town some agent was shooting the same kind of kitchen with their iPhone X and wondering why it looked horrid when just 30 days ago the images came out “just fine”. The reason is the other kitchen had off-white cabinets...not nearly black ones. It was overcast clouds creating diffuse light filtering in the windows....light so perfect that anyone can create a winning image. That’s why.

Anyway....if you want to shoot you own images...do it right. Get the training, get the gear. Do it right. I have sellers all the time telling me how glad that their agent hired a professional. They then proceed to rip on all the terrible photos agents throw up on the internet making the Homes look second rate. Here’s the hard pill to swallow....if you are shooting with a cell phone or hand-holding a DSLR or using a DSLR in any automatic mode and just accepting the results that come out....these sellers are saying these nasty things about you.

Don’t be that guy. Do it right or hire it out.