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Hiring a professional photographer? Ask these 7 questions first

By April 16, 2018 No Comments
Hiring a professional photographer? Ask these 7 questions first

This spring, Inman is obsessing over helping you to tune-up your listings business, with actionable insights, the best advice from top agents and hundreds of helpful stories from all over the world. Interested in sharing your advice and insights with us? Reach out to me at matthew@inman.com.

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If you’ve ever read anything else I’ve written, you know how highly I regard professional photography.

As a homebuyer, if the photos are mediocre, I am never going to go tour that house. Time is valuable for most people, more so these days when it seems like responsibilities continue to be added to our already-packed schedules. Therefore, unless I am 80 percent sure the house is worth seeing, I just won’t waste my time. 

First and foremost, to have stellar photography for your listing, you have to find a real estate photographer who knows how to capture the home in all of its glory. Let’s go over the most important considerations when hiring your photographer. The following questions will make your task a lot easier:

1. Do you have experience with architectural spaces?

This may seem like a no-brainer, but there are plenty of people who think all it takes is a good quality camera. Even the most world-renowned portrait photographers aren’t worth anything if they can’t shoot a home.

A real estate photographer knows how to capture a home in a way that will enhance its attributes and grab the potential buyers’ short attention span. An easy way to make certain that the photographer’s expertise is a match for your specific needs is to always ask for a portfolio.

Don’t like what you see? Move on.

2. What equipment will you use for the shoot?

Display screens and smartphones have come a long way in their graphic abilities, but if the camera isn’t at par, your images will look terrible on screen. Be sure that your photographer has a newer DSLR camera, and the appropriate lenses to photograph the property.

Don’t settle for anything less than a 16 mega-pixel camera, but remember that the brand is not important. A real estate photographer must have a few wide angle lenses. If the house isn’t well-lit, ask the photographer to use a lighting kit.

3. What types of exterior and interior shoots do you offer?

Does your photographer offer dusk and dawn shots? Depending on the home and its exposure, you may want to capture it at twilight, or take advantage of the stellar lighting offered just as the sun is coming up.

If your photographer isn’t willing to be on site early in the morning and into the evening, he or she isn’t made for real estate. It isn’t only the exterior that they should be versed in, they must also be able to work themselves around blending a double exposure.

If the view from a bedroom is spectacular, a photographer who can’t blend photos or shoot multiple exposures won’t capture that view worth the extra price tag.

4. Do you prop style/stage the home?

Granted this might come with an extra fee, but it’s always worth it. What the camera sees is different from what makes sense to an interior designer. A room that looks odd to the naked eye, may look perfect in the camera lens.

A good real estate photographer knows how to arrange a room to enhance its assets and to divert attention from its shortcomings. Although the photographer might not be able to prop style on his or her own, he or she might at least stage the furniture.

If at all possible, ask if he or she has a prop stylist for a home that would benefit from creating a certain mood. A good photographer again will tell you when things have to be removed from the frame or added to it.

There are times that a rolled up towel, and some candles can make an tremendous difference in an otherwise barren spa tub. 

5. When will you process my photos?

Real estate is all about timing. As an agent, you know that every minute off of the MLS counts. You need the photos, and you need them now!

If your photographer can’t have them for a couple of weeks, that just isn’t going to work. Your seller has probably asked you five times since you began reading this article when the listing will be in the MLS.

Of course, we know you can’t rush quality, so it is reasonable to wait three to four days. Making a good first impression is worth the wait. Never snap photos with your phone and post them as a temporary solution.

6. How much post-production is included in your fee?

Good post-production is critical to ensure the photos are perfect. This is your opportunity to erase ugly cables that could not be hidden or get rid of tree braces.

How about that patch of brown lawn? Yes, that too.

Here is where the photos are processed to ensure the best possible picture quality in terms of color, but also in terms of polishing imperfections. We aren’t saying make the house look like what it’s not, but fixing minor issues could make the difference between getting people through the door and having them swipe right. 

7. Are the photos mine?

The answer to this should always be yes. There should be no restrictions on how you use your photos, and you should be given full rights over them. The photographer must give you all your raw photos and edited photos and any unused photos should also belong to you.

If the photographer wants to keep any privileges over the photos he or she shot, this should be disclosed from the onset, and you should be clear on the terms.

Make sure that the photographer furnishes you with a release for the photos; this way if any issues were to arise, you have everything properly documented. I have heard horror stories involving photos and the litigation that ensued over the rights to use them.

A good photographer can make the difference between your home selling quickly or spending many days on the MLS, for that reason, make sure you make your selection based on what the end product will be. 

Of course, not every home needs the same level of photography, but you must know what to expect from the photographer you chose to work with, as this is the most critical aspect of listing a home.  

Laura Ure is the CEO of Keenability, a full-service marketing agency specializing in lifestyle and creative real estate marketing. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

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