An Open Letter to Brides-to-Be

 

Dear Bride-to-Be,

I’m speaking to you as your photographer.  As a professional with multiple years of experience and dozens of weddings under my belt.  I will provide you with the best images possible because I am a Professional.   This will be the one part of your special day that you shouldn’t have to worry about.    But……..  Please do us both a favor and stop looking at Pinterest right now!  Though I think Pinterest is a great place for ideas and possibilities, please keep these thoughts in mind.

  1.  Those beautiful images you see take time to craft.  (Not to mention organize) So don’t think you’re going to get that gorgeous image with your dresses hanging from the beautifully backlit window and all of your bridesmaids in front of them in the two minutes you’ve graciously allowed in between getting your make-up and hair finished and needing to leave for the ceremony.
  2. Please, Please, PLEASE hire a coordinator or designate somebody not in the wedding party to be your timekeeper and people wrangler.  This can go a long way to help relieve some stress and anxiety on you.  Which ties into the next thought.
  3. Allow yourself plenty of time for your formals.  This is especially true if you have a large wedding party and/or family.  Also make sure you’ve allowed enough travel time if you are doing the formals away from the ceremony or reception venue.  Also make sure you’ve allowed some set-up time for your photographer.  Those images you see on Pinterest don’t just happen.  They take a little preparation.  This is the place where the coordinator/people wrangler will definitely come in handy.  If you don’t take the time for great images your images won’t be great.
  4. This is the “Big One”.  Take the time before the big day to communicate with me.  This can be a phone call, an email, or even a text,  This one, simple,  little thing can save both of us confusion, frustration and disappointment.  In this communication let me know if there are specific shots or types of shots you want or if there are specific locations we will be going to and who will be going there with us.  Give me a basic time line that we can discuss and maybe modify if need be.  I’ll be able to tell you if the amount of time you’ve allotted will be sufficient.  After all with my experience I can tell you if the 10 minutes you’ve allowed will be enough to shoot your bridal party of twenty and your entire extended family.  Let me know who the contact person is at the ceremony, the reception location and who the coordinator or helper for you will be.  The more information you can provide, the more prepared I will be and the better the images of your special day will be.
  5. Remember it’s YOUR big day.  And while the coordinator and venue have a schedule they would like to maintain, if you want to take an extra 10 minutes for pictures before the introductions at the reception, that is completely up to you.   Trust me none of your guests are going to mind or care.  But you will forever remember the fact that you didn’t get the one image you really wanted.
  6. I’ll consider this the second “Big One”.  If you’ve hired a “photographer” from Craigslist you can expect to get what you’ve paid for. The “photographer” you hired from Craigslist might be somebody who got an DSLR for Christmas, or a student or an Uncle Joe with a camera.  Part of the reason those images on Pinterest look so good is because the bride and groom have shelled out a descent amount of money for a professional.  Part of the process of being a wedding photographer is the post-production.  You don’t see this work but you see the results.  I spend hours and hours making your images look great.  In most instances it’s more time than I spent at your wedding day.  This is what really defines my style and why you to hiring me in the first place.  If you’ve hired that Craigslist photographer for $400 to cover a 12 hour day, don’t anticipate that your images are going to be stellar.  They just won’t be.  In the end you’ll be disappointed.  You’ll blame the photographer for this and that’s just not fair. Why is it your fault?  You have not provided the photographer the time or budget needed to properly finish the images. In wedding photography, like everything else, you get what you pay for.

So.  In the end the bottom line is;  A) Hire a professional photographer.   B) Be prepared to spend some money on them.  C) Be realistic about your timeline for the day.                         D) Communicate with your photographer.  E) Be realistic in your expectations of the product you wind up with based upon all of the factors listed above.   F) And most of all enjoy YOUR day!

 

Sincerely,

Your Photographer

 

Into the Woods…to Fernside Cottage we go!

Fernside Cottage in many ways might seem like something out of a fairy tale. It’s old, nestled in the woods, and an incredibly beautiful sight. This cottage, which has become a combination of modern and antique, dates back to 1835. It was bought in 1993 and transformed into a modern home with an interior laden with antiques from old weather vanes to carousel horses. The modern edges of the home are brought in through the use of glass walls which houses (pun intended) the master bedroom, bathroom, and the office, above the garage. The home has large windows to allow for the natural light to come in and for those in the home to enjoy the nature that surrounds them. Fernside Cottage seems to coexist with the nature around it, rather than intrude.

This was just a spectacular home to shoot.  I’d like to thank the owner’s Richard and Dennis for allowing me the opportunity to capture their magnificent home.  I would also like to thank Lisa Yakulis of Sotheby’s International for asking me to shoot this house.  Truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.

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Jenn and Matt Wedding

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Jenn and Matt WeddingJenn and Matt Wedding

Jenn and Matt Wedding

20 Seconds is All it Takes

While I find myself in the busiest season I’ve yet to face, I’ve managed to find the time to do a little research.  This research is regarding the value of professional photography for the real estate industry.  I’ve put this together to emphasize what bringing a professional photographer to the table can mean for a realtor.  More importantly how embracing the photographer as more of partner or asset can increase the profitability for any realtor.

First some facts.

According to the website RE Source 90% of buyers look on-line before they even contact a realtor.  In the same article they state that 88% of those people prefer professional images.  Having professional images of a property is becoming essential.  But less than 15% of all listings use professional photographs.  This according to the Wall Street Journal

WSJ_Graph_1

20 seconds                                                                                                           In a Wall Street Journal article from March of 2013 it is reported that 95% of home buyers looking on line spent 20 seconds looking at the “Hero” or main exterior photograph.  That’s out of a total of 56 seconds spent on all of the images.  According to Professor Michael Seller, Founder and Director of the Institute for Behavioral and Experimental Real Estate at Old Dominion University, “Without an eye-catching photo, the battle is lost before it begins.”  He goes on to say, “You have to grab peoples’s attention within 2 seconds.”  2 seconds!  It’s not a lot of time.  So ask yourself, “Are my images that I take with my iPhone compelling enough to grab people and have them continue looking at the listing?”

So out of the total amount of time looking at aWSJ_Graph_2 listing your potential buyer spends           60% of their time looking at the photos, 20% of their time looking at the property description and the remaining 20% on the realtor’s remarks. (These stats taken from the same WSJ article from March 2013)  So if we do a little math that means; 56 seconds on photos. 18.5 seconds on the property description and another 18.5 seconds on the realtor’s remarks.  Not a lot of time on those wonderful few paragraphs that you’ve slaved hours over is it?  Based on these statistics the best place for you to spend your marketing dollars is not in the hours spent trying to come with adjectives and superlatives to describe the property. It’s in the planning and preparation for the images.

I know.  At this point you’re asking what’s the bottom line?  Let’s break down the numbers. Redfin_Infographic-good-photos_21813According to on-line resource Redfin it could mean $934 to almost $19,000 more for your listing depending on the price range the property falls into.  Which means as a realtor more dollars in your pocket.  In addition listings with professional images garnered 61% more views.  How’s that for increasing the odds?  Additional research provided by Brick House Visuals and Los Angeles area MLS indicate that homes in that area sold on average  26 days faster when professional images were used.  Putting it all together,  that means you sell more houses for more money in the course of year. All by simply investing in professional images of the property.

 

The Cost                                                                                                                               But Jim it’s SOOOOOO expensive to hire a professional photographer.  Well let’s just call BS on that right here and now.  The national average for bringing in a professional photographer is $300 (Based on 2011 polling).  I know for a lot of realtors this comes out of your pocket initially and it can seem like a lot of money.  But let’s look at this in dollars and cents.  Based on the median price of a home in the U.S. the average commission is $6668.  So the $300 that your professional photographer cost you is a mere 4.5% of that and overall less than 0.1% of the value of the home.  That’s not a typo.  Less than one-tenth of a percent of the value of the home.  But if this allows you to sell 2,3,4 or more homes a year your overall income has increased.  Substantially.

There are additional benefits that go beyond the sale of the home.  The biggest of these is the perception potential future clients will have of you as being more professional and willing to take the additional steps to get their property sold.  As a realtor you drive home how important “curb appeal” is to the homeowner.  It’s your responsibility as the realtor for the “web appeal”.  You are the one responsible for the on-line presence of the property.  Remember that 2 seconds we spoke about earlier?  Now think about the property that you just took photos of with your iPhone competing against someone else who has taken the added step of hiring a professional photographer.  Still think your iPhone pictures cut it?

Well I have a DSLR                                                                                                             Great and you probably take some awesome vacation photos.  But just having a DSLR isn’t enough.  A professional photographer can make your life as a realtor considerably easier.  First off unless you’ve spent years photographing your own listings you’re not going to have shot anywhere near the number of homes a real estate/architectural photographer has.  Most real estate photographers have hundreds if not thousands of homes under their belt before you engage their services.  Secondly.  The photographer brings his/her artistic eye to the game.  Yes real estate and architectural photography is very technical but you have to have an eye for composition and lighting that only experience can bring.  Speaking of lighting that brings us to the third part.  The gear.  Most photographers have thousands and thousands of dollars invested in equipment and lighting.  Special lenses. Special lights.  The stands, gels, modifiers and other assorted items required for professional photography. (Personally I come to a shoot carrying about $10000 worth of cameras and equipment.  Some people I know have way more invested.) Not to mention the hundreds of hours working with that gear and learning it inside and out.  The final factor is the darkroom (now Photoshop) skills to make your property look like it was lifted right out of any architectural or lifestyle magazine.  Here again the photographer has spent hundreds of hours learning and perfecting those skills through training and repetition.  Now as a realtor with a DSLR can you bring all of this to bear on your photography?  Not to mention the time.  Probably not.  I know there is the rare exception but isn’t better to leave it to the professional who does this day in and day out?

The Downside                                                                                                                        Is there really a downside to all of this?  OK so you won’t have your images the minute you get back to the office.  In most cases you can have them in 24-48 hours.  72 hours at the extreme end of things.  So you might have to plan ahead a little.  Other than that you really can’t get a better bang for your marketing dollar that professional photography can bring you.  You get better quality images, faster sales, higher prices, the time to concentrate on selling the property and developing new leads and a better professional representation which leads to more and better listings.  All of this when you engage and partner with a professional photographer.  So what are you waiting for?

NEXT TIME:  Making it Happen (The Photo Shoot that is)

 

Feeling Humble

Today I had something quite unexpected happen.  I woke this morning to a notification from my Flickr account that I had a new follower.  And just any new follower.  It was a photographer whose work I really admire.  He’s mainly known for his avant garde style in the fashion world.  His name is Frank Doorhof.  Here’s a link to his Flickr account; https://www.flickr.com/photos/frankdoorhof and his web site; http://www.frankdoorhof.com.  I think you’ll be very impressed if you haven’t seen his work already.  It’s some pretty cool stuff.   Too continue on the same line of unexpected.  Last week I shot a house for a realtor last week.  The owner happened to be a relatively big name architect in the Philly area.  I was a little nervous as I knew my images would be compared to the photographer that his firm uses.  Here again a relatively big name.  His name is Tom Crane.  Here’s the link to his website; http://www.tomcranephotography.com  So you can understand the sense of validation I got when I saw an email from the homeowner after I delivered a copy of the images to him.  Here’s what he said.

Hi Jim:

Thank you so much for sharing your talent.  The photos of our house are terrific and clearly attest to your skill and the time you took to compose and light the images.

Best regards,

Peter

It’s always nice to have your hard work notice and appreciated.

7 Caryl Living Room 7 Caryl Front Door 7 Caryl Library

 

I’ll Gladly Pay You Tuesday (Well Not Really)

As a photographer I get asked for free photography all the time.  I see job requests on Craigs List and other places asking for photography in exchange for “future work” or “Exposure” or “We’ll give you credit for the images” all the time.  There is this perception that is pervasive in society that photography and images should be free.  I think it’s simply because everyone can own a camera and pretty much does if they own a cellphone.  So as a professional photographer, how do you inform these individuals making the request that the answer is NO?  Here’s a great piece that really helps with that.

http://thephotosociety.org/blog/how-to-respond-to-requests-for-free-photography/#.Uy3NISgfl8Y.facebook