Getting Started In Real Estate Photography | Bill Reeves | Skillshare

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Getting Started In Real Estate Photography

teacher avatar Bill Reeves

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

8 Lessons (33m)
    • 1. Lesson 1 Welcome

    • 2. Lesson 2 Gear Pt 1

    • 3. Lesson 3 Gear Pt 2

    • 4. Lesson 4 Marketing

    • 5. Lesson 5 The Shoot

    • 6. Lesson 6 Organization

    • 7. Lesson 7 Editing For Mls

    • 8. Lesson 8 Getting Paid

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About This Class

This course is for anyone wanting to work as a real estate photographer. You'll learn about the industry and the tools necessary to get started. We discuss camera settings and photography as it relates to real estate specifically. Finally we cover the business end with lessons on editing, delivery, and getting paid. Two class projects will reinforce the photography lessons with a final project where you will test your knowledge and workflow by completing a mock photo shoot. 

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Bill Reeves


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1. Lesson 1 Welcome: Welcome, my name is Bill Reeves and I'll be your guide through this course. Thank you for being here. If you're wondering what it takes to get started in real estate photography. This is the course for you. I'll share how I got started, what work along some things that you may want to avoid. I want you to take away an approach that is both effective and avoids unnecessary expenditures. I dislike long intros, so let's get started. This course approaches real estate photography from the standpoint of working with Realtors to photograph their listings so they can then be posted in the Multiple Listing Service, the MLS. Realtors may also use your photos and other forms of advertising. Real estate provides many other opportunities for photographers. And I've listed several in handout number one, we'll start the course learning about camera gear, what's necessary, and the goal of keeping it to a minimum. Next, fuel needs software to edit your photos. So we'll discuss a few options with gear and software out of the way, it's time to attract customers to your business. I'll provide a few suggestions to help you develop your marketing plan. Following our discussion of marketing, I'll share with you my approach to photographing a home. You'll learn both camera settings and how I approached very shooting situations. You need software to download an edit your photos. If, if transferring from your camera to your computer is new to you, check online for courses that address your specific camera model. In our next chapter, we'll discuss reviewing and editing your photos. Finally, I'll discuss my approach to delivering photos to the client and getting paid. This approach is far from the only approach, but it is one that has worked well for me, are provided alternatives and handout number two. In the end, develop your workflow around solutions that are easy to use and flexible. What do you need to complete the assignments in this class? Camera? Of course, you'll want one that allows you to adjust settings, specifically enabling you to use aperture priority. You'll also want to try pod to hold your camera steady while taking each shot. On the low end capable camera can be bought for a couple of $100 less if Purchasing used, entry-level tripods can be had for well under $50. Ebay garage sales, Facebook marketplace, and thrift stores are all good places to find bargains. I've been a professional photographer for the past eight years. Ever since I retired. I began by shooting events in real estate. While I still do both, my focus is real estate photography, probably because I enjoy it so much. My passion for photography as a hobbyist dates back into the early seventies. I still have my albums and slides from those earlier days. That about covers this course, except for a sprinkling of assignments to let you practice in better understand your camera when shooting real estate. One final thought, keep learning. There's lots more to learn about photography and real estate. Once you get past the basics. 2. Lesson 2 Gear Pt 1: Gear, specifically camera gear. While I unfortunately operating on the philosophy that more is better, it's not what I'm going to recommend for you. Here's why. The short answer is that keeping your camera bag filled with only the bare essentials allows you to avoid distraction. Concentrate on the task at hand, and learn your gear and what it's capable of. There are lots of things you need to pay attention to doing a real estate shoot. Not having to think about your camera's operations allows you to focus on the property. For your career in real estate photography, you're going to want a digital camera, DSLR, images or digital rather than film. Now thats film cameras can't take wonderful photos. They just don't allow the turnaround time that your clients need. To hit off some confusion as you consider cameras. Here are a couple of terms to understand. Full-frame versus crop sensor. A full-frame camera means the sensor that part of the camera that it actually records the image is the same sizes the film in a 35-millimeter film camera. Conversely, a crop sensor camera has a somewhat smaller sensor. A crop sensor camera produces images that have been prompt in a bit. That's the consideration and real estate. A typical full-frame lands used in real estate would zoom between 1635 Paul, a crop sensor camera would require a ten to 18 zone in order to capture the same wide angle. Other than size, what's the difference? Price? The bigger the sensor, the higher the price. Low-light performance, the bigger the sensor, the better the camera can see in the dark. You'll need a camera that offers shooting modes, not just automatic. Don't confuse modes with scenes. A feature found in every point and shoot camera. Scenes include options like landscape, close up, night, firewall, pet. You get the idea. Modes will usually include aperture priority, shutter priority, manual, auto, et cetera. We won't be using auto and you'll be happy to know we won't be using manual either. You can use manual if you like, more power to you. But most photographers consider aperture priority. There go to mode. And an even vaster majority of real estate photographers do all their work in aperture priority. This isn't the course to teach you everything there is to know about camera settings. But we will spend some time understanding those settings you'll use in real estate. Here's a short version of aperture priority. Your camera's lens has an adjustable opening that let's say in the light, the bigger the opening, the more like rushing in. The smaller the opening, the less like a trickle rather than a torn. How much light actually gets to the sensor? Well, that's the job of the shutter. Your camera shutter covers the aperture, blocking any light from getting in until you press the shutter button. How long you allow the shutter to open controls how much light enters a camera. A properly exposed image requires a certain amount of light to a correct. It makes sense that you can achieve that amount in two ways. A large aperture, which would require a shuttered BE open a short while, or a smaller aperture, leaving the shutter open longer. Both can achieve a properly exposed image. Either way, same picture right, wrong. A tiny aperture opening will keep everything in your shot in focus. A large aperture will only have a small portion front-to-back that's in focus. While this may be highly desirable in portrait photography, a beautiful person against a blurred background. Not so with real estate, we want everything to be in focus. One final note on aperture priority, and it's a quirky one. The bigger the number, the smaller the opening. So an F 22 aperture has a small opening, while on F1 0.2 would be very large. Aperture priority will allow. I prefer to set a fixed aperture while the camera automatically adjusts shutter speed and other camera settings to achieve a properly exposed image. A typical range for apertures used in real estate photography is anywhere between F8 and F 11. Somewhere in this range will allow the image to be in-focus front-to-back. Before we continue our discussion of photography gear, Take a moment to do assignment one. 3. Lesson 3 Gear Pt 2: Your camera, maybe one that allows you to change lenses. Or your camera may have a built-in zoom feature that allows you to adjust from wide-angle, both soft. Regardless. A must-have for real estate photography is the ability to shoot wide angle. So what is why consider this a 50 millimeter lens is considered the equivalent of what the human eye sees. Smaller than 50 millimetre would widen the shot and take in more of the c greater than 50 millimeter and you're zooming in. My go-to lens for real estate. And the choice of most real estate photographers. He's a 16 to 35 on a full frame camera, or a ten to 18. When I'm using a crop sensor camera. Be careful when selecting wide angle lenses. Extremely wide lenses can create a fisheye effect where the vertical lines begin to curve in on each other. This is definitely to be avoided when shooting real estate. One last comment on lenses, also known as glass in photography circle. This is where to invest your money once you've met the minimum gear requirement. Camera manufacturers come out with a new or updated camera every year or so. Lenses are much more stable. They don't routinely get replaced with a new model. And they tend to hold their value longer than cameras. Often they produce better images. Tripod. These are absolutely a real estate photography requirement. Remember, you're shooting an aperture priority. So the shutter speed is dictated by the camera. You might get away with handheld for exterior shots, but I'll guarantee you interiors won't nearly B as well lit. You must have a tripod. They can be pricey by the best your budget allows. The less expensive ones tend to be made of light aluminum or plastic. If that's what you have. Trying weighing them down with something like sand bags or weights. Your camera requires a battery to operate. Without a battery is pretty much a Christmas ornament on top of your tripod. No doubt your camera came with a battery. Whether you bought the camera new or used. One battery is just never enough. 2s better. I like to have 34, maybe the verge of obsessive. They weren't on batteries. 2's a minimum, but also consider the length of time you'll be shooting and the characteristics of your camera. How many shots do average per charge? Finally, batteries of the same brand name as your camera are probably best. But like most things, best as expensive. I have always purchased off brands that fit my camera and to date have not had an issue. The lower price allowed me to buy more batteries and they usually come with an additional charger. It's what works for me. Slash I don't use one. All my real stakes photography is done using natural light. I find this works best for achieving natural colors. And since everything is shot using a tripod, long exposures are to concern. If you choose to use a flash. One is rarely sufficient to light an entire room. You'll need several hidden throughout the room, as well as remote triggers to set them off. I just can't recommend their use. Typically, your camera will store images on an SD card. You want to make sure you have cards of sufficient size to store the number of images you plan to shoot. Like batteries and SD card is critical. Be sure to have a backup or to. These cards aren't super expensive. So use one of the major brands. A list of miscellaneous items could go on and on. Here are a few items you might not have thought of. Shoe coverings for those homes or prefer you not to wear your shoes indoors. Or always wear socks. A ladder for achieving a different angle. Or simply turning off ceiling fans. Door stops, the whole doors wide open when shooting through a doorway. Again, this is not an exhaustive course on photography, but since I discussed shutter speed and aperture, but one other ingredient in the mix is ISO. Remember earlier I told you that proper exposure was achieved by adding the correct amount of light while ISO influences what that correct amount is. In other words, the sensitivity of your sensor. High ISOs don't require as much light. Lower ISOs need more. For those of you that came from film days, remember film speeds of one hundred, one hundred twenty five. And then they came out with 400. That was all about the sensitivity of the film. Today's digital cameras achieved the same thing with ISO. Fortunately, most DSLR's have an auto ISO setting. Now works really well in most situations. There really are only two image formats to consider. Jpeg and rock. The most basic cameras will only shoot JPEG. Jpeg is a compressed file, meaning the resulting file size is smaller than the data actually captured by your camera. It achieves this by deleting what it deems to be unnecessary and then adjusting the image tool kits best, at least according to the cameras manufacturer, the image may be just fine. If not, the amount of adjustment you can make in your editing software is limited because of the smaller amount of data. Raw files do not delete any of your image data. So in editing there is more information to work with. Generally, raw files will require editing and will need to be converted to a JPEG before they can be used by your client. Whether you shoot in JPEG or raw, you will need to add a true images. Horizons need to be level, walls need to be vertical. Choosing an editing software can be daunting, since the options available seem endless. Price range from free, too expensive, and everything in between. Adobe offers a photographer's plan for $9.99 a month. You'll get Photoshop and Lightroom, as well as online cloud storage and a variety of other less used applications. This is a plan I currently use for realize some people are opposed to subscription-based software. Another software that I'm familiar with and also think is very good is fast Zone and it's free. Fast Stone is a great image viewing software and has a respectable amount of editing capabilities. That's two out of what seems to be an endless summer offerings. My advice, pick a software and stick with it. Learning everything you can about how it works, when it will no longer do what you need to do, then explore other option. Trying to find the perfect solution is a rabbit hole best avoided? Before moving on to the chapter on marketing, Take a moment to complete assignment two. 4. Lesson 4 Marketing: Now that we've covered gear, software, and even a cliff notes version of photography. It's time to think about attracting clients. How you do this will depend not only on how much you're willing to spend, but also you're comfortable and I'll touch on a few marketing tools for you to consider. This list is in no way exhaustive. I'm sure I've missed more than I've listed. You'll need business cards. My first ones included by pricing for the year I started. I did this to force myself to pass on my card, knowing I wouldn't want to use them in the coming years. With the old pricing on the back. I thought I could kick start my business with really low prices. Bad idea. I won't say much in this class about pricing. To large extent, once you can charge is influenced by your market, know your costs, gas, tolls, camera equipment, and place a value on your time, all your time, travel, shooting, editing, and delivery. In fact, a fair return. Another must have is a website someplace to show off your portfolio. Adobe's photographers plan comes with a free website. But there's no shortage of companies offering to host your work. Researchers, your friend here. Tip number one, cold calling, not everyone's favorite thing. That might be its biggest advantage. There aren't a lot of folks out there doing cold calling. Your objective is to distinguish yourself from the competition. And this would certainly do that. Cold calling isn't just picking up the phone, going door to door and introducing yourself is probably even more effective. At a minimum, you'll want to leave the person at the desk a handful of business cards and ask that they put one in each agent's mailbox. Better still have something to hand out. A flyer, a CD with some of your best images, advertising handouts like pens and calendars. Maybe a phone campaign is more your style. These can be especially effective once you've had a face to face. But then it's more of a follower authentic campaign. Keep in mind, many real estate offices don't have a dedicated receptionists. The person you meet are the one who answers the phone, is often one of the officers, agents. This duty is commonly known as floor time or harm on the floor. Often real estate offices will hold weekly meetings, usually coinciding with a tour of new listings in the area. Tendons by agents is optional but recommended. So you'll usually have good turnout. You can approach the broker or office manager and ask if they would like you to sponsor one of their meeting where you will present or discuss your services pricing and why they should select you for their next listing. Oh, and you'll want to bring donor. Explore the many options available online to help you gain exposure. Summer free, especially the neighborhood publications. Others will have a fee associated with them based on how many readers they attract. Facebook pages, maybe one of the easiest to create. Once you are online, the challenges to get noticed by as many people as possible. This is where your advertising dollars come in. Seek out advertisers specializing in real estate. I'm not talking about placing an ad in weekly flyer or a spot in the Yellow Pages to either of these things still exist. Search out firms targeting real estate. I use a service called property blouse. Prices are reasonable and there reaches extensive yet targeted. I've found this to be an effective tool. 5. Lesson 5 The Shoot: Once I get an assignment and the realtors provided an address, I like to look the property up online. Zillow usually has photos of the property taken from a previous listing. They aren't always the latest images, but it does provide an idea of what to expect. Before leaving home. You want to double or even triple check that you have everything you need, especially backup batteries and SD cards. Did the tripod jetpack, and finally, our review camera settings before arriving and take a test shot to see that everything is working. No need to tell you to arrive on time early is even better. Dress professionally. Of course. I personally don't approach the home until the realtor arrives, remembering that they are my customer, not the homeowner. Before I begin shooting, I like to do a walk-through with the realtor. This accomplishes several things for me. One, the number of rooms, it's surprisingly easy to miss an entire room when shooting a large home or one with an unusual layout. It also let me ask the realtor to point out anything they would especially like to emphasize. Finally, the walkthrough, it gives me a heads up on issues I'll need to address, such as clutter, fans, blinds and window shades, lights, and mirrors. I've provided a handout I share with real tours on the best way to present a home. I prefer to shoot the Hallstein. What is to me a logical sequence? I start with the exterior front, then inside the living room, dining room, kitchen, ANY family room. And finally the common bath, then onto the master bedroom and bow remaining bedrooms and any additional bathrooms. Occasionally, the garage gets shot, but not off. Then I'll side. In addition to the rear of the house, I pay special attention to a pool and any outdoor living spaces. All rooms are critical. But I feel the front kitchen, master bedroom, and pool, or the money shot. With all that said, sometimes the house or the owners will dictate a different sequence. In the end, it doesn't matter. Choose whenever you're comfortable with and or the house dictate. For myself, I find it helpful to be consistent from one house to another. For the situation permit. I avoid reviewing photos with a realtor at the end of the shoot. A small screen on the back of the camera does not provide a great representation. And setting up a PC using involves more time than the real fear is ready to commit to. For major rooms, I'm trying to get at least two shots are generally look for corner to set up in and try to include three walls. Smaller rooms sometimes will only allow for a single shot. Bathrooms are generally tight. Avoid having you or your gear show up in mirrors. I always shoot horizontal. Generally, I will have blinds and shutters open, allowing as much light as possible. Tanner the room. There will be times though, when you want to close the blinds and the shaves. If the light coming in is creating harsh shadows. 6. Lesson 6 Organization: Organizing your photos is important, not just for real estate photography, but any photography you shoot. The number one rule is whatever approach you take that you use it consistently. Now hopefully the approach you've chosen is one that is logical and enables you to find your images months, even years after the shoot. Here's the method I use is not the only method, but it's one that has worked for me over many years. Use this modified if you like, or choose something entirely different. Again, what's important is that you select carefully, consistently. First, I haven't drive exclusively for photos. If you can't or don't want to pick a drive with plenty of free space. Hi, Start with a folder named photos. Beneath that, a sub-folder for the current year. Then every time I go on any kind of shoot, I create another sub folder with the month, day, and description of the shoot. Say for example, on September 25th, 2020, I photograph a house at 1-2-3 Elm Street. Those photos would resign and the following folder. Once you have your photos back home and in the computer, it's time to start editing. So what are you looking for? First of all, sharpness. If it isn't sharp, don't offer a low-level. Shots need to be level. Verticals need to be vertical. If your camera was pointed slightly up or down during this shot, you'll get distortion. Some editing softwares are able to correct this. If you can't correct the shot and becomes unusable. Another editing task is sensor. Does. Your camera's sensor can attract dust, especially when changing IMs as often. Your lens maybe dirty because you forgot to clean up before you left the house. Either of these can show up on your downloaded images. You will need to correct this. Unfortunately, they probably appear on every photo. Most editing softwares provide some sort of spot removal feature. Learn to use it better, still. Learned to avoid it from happening. Lighting conditions. Sometimes you will include bright light in dark shadows in the same shot. Cameras can struggle with this without complex flash or studio lay. These situations are tricky. Fortunately, most editing softwares have tools to help with this. Light and shadow areas to reveal what is hidden. Down, down highlighted areas, again to reveal what the bright light is hidden. This is where raw photos, as opposed to jpegs really performed. The raw image gives you significantly more data to adjust. Personally, I enjoy an overcast day to shoot interiors. The light is diffused and avoids most of these issues. If your image contains an unwanted areas, use the crop tool to eliminate if possible, tried to retain the original proportions. Instagram takes square photos. Mls does not. In my area, the MLS does not permit watermark. Here area probably doesn't either. Check first before adding them. 7. Lesson 7 Editing For Mls: Realtors want your images so they can post them to the MLS, allowing other realtors To find the property and show it to potential buyers. And mill S has a preferred format that can vary from one state to another. Here in Florida, I sighs my images 3 thousand pixels on the long side with a maximum dpi of 300. These settings should be apparent in your editing software. Of course, jpeg format. Be sure you know what your MLS requires and deliver your images in that size and format. Since you didn't review your images with the real true prior to leaving the property, you now need a method for them to preview and select the ones they want. In my business model, realtors paid based on the number of images they select. I have a 15 out of 25 image package with a per image price for any photos over 15 or 25. This leads me to choices, watermarked images for them to select from. Once they make their selection, I then send them an invoice and deliver the final images without the watermark. Once I get paid, I seldom used this approach. Since I limit my work to agents where I haven't established relationship. I use an honor system. I send my customers every image ready to use. They then tell me how many they've selected and I build them accordingly. This works for me and I've never been disappointed with the results. Plus, I can always go out to Zillow and see how many they ended up using. You'll need to deliver your images somehow there on your hard drive and need to be in the hands of the realtor, storing them in the cloud in a folder that only you and your client can access. His or rather good way to accomplish this. I personally use a service called MLS delivery. I upload my photos to them and they make them available to the client. The service costs me $10 a month and works flawlessly, and they have great customer service. There are probably other services you could investigate. I haven't since this one works well for me and the price is acceptable. 8. Lesson 8 Getting Paid: Finally, it's time to get paid for all our work. You can create your own invoice in Word or Excel or anything else you'd like using. Send it to your client via email and have them pay via PayPal. Now would work as would many variations of this approach. For me, I use Squarespace. I enter the information and squarespace generates an invoice and sends it to my client. They give me a ton of options, including Dunning the client when they do not pay by due date. Festival, they accept all forms of payment and deposit the funds in my checking account minus their fee. Of course. Just like delivery systems, there are other similar services you may like better. I find this one works flawlessly from eight, and that's the charges are worth the effort it saves me. Keeping up with your business revenue and expense is part of being a real estate photographer. It doesn't have to be complicated. You'll want to know your revenue and have a clear understanding him your expenses. Aside from meeting your federal and state tax requirements, your bookkeeping issue report card, helping you learn what you're doing well and where you need to focus more attention. Is a columnar pet, a spreadsheet or software? Above all, keep it simple. Before you head to your final assignment, let me say congratulations and thank you for taking and completing this course. Don't forget to download the handouts I've included. It's up to you now. I know you'll be a success.