So you’ve decided it’s time to up your marketing game and hire a professional photographer to capture your listings. Congratulations! MLS listings with professional third-party photos get 61 percent more views than those with agent-taken photos (Redfin). So, you’re about to experience a powerful shift in your business!
Now it’s time to choose a vendor-partner for your photography products. We hope you will choose us at Picture It Sold, but ultimately, we want you to choose someone who is a good fit for your business, so here are seven questions to ask before hiring a real estate photographer:
1. Do you have experience and equipment for photographing real estate?
Some people make the mistake of thinking that anybody who knows their way around a camera can produce high-quality listing photos. Real estate photography is a specialty, just like family photography or portraits. A professional real estate photographer needs to have equipment for – and experience and training in – capturing attention-grabbing images that accentuate the best features of your listing. And, they need specialized editing and post-processing resources and software, too.
2. Are you shooting and editing HDR (High Dynamic Range) images?
Not all Palm Beach County-area real estate photographers shoot and deliver HDR photos. And, some offer it but do not make it standard – they offer it as a paid upgrade to a basic package. Be sure to ask if HDR is included in the pricing. (HDR is the minimum standard in real estate photos. Without it, you don’t truly have professional photos.)
What is HDR and why does it matter to you and your bottom line? Each time a photographer shoots an HDR photo, he or she is actually capturing six to nine images (or five for aerials). Those images are merged in the editing process to create one beautiful image in which all planes are in sharp focus.
So, picture a living room photo… In the foreground, the gorgeous decorative ceiling detail will be in focus. In the background, the glittering pool and mature palms outside the windows will also be in sharp focus. HDR closely emulates what the human eye sees, so it’s naturally pleasing to the viewer.
HDR is sharper. And listings with sharper MLS photos sell faster and for higher prices. A noted Redfin study concluded that “the sharpest 10 percent of photos sold at or above list price 44 percent of the time, while listings with average sharpness sold at or above list just 13 percent of the time.”
3. Is blue sky replacement included in your pricing?
This is another common hidden cost, so definitely ask about it! We at Picture It Sold never charge extra to add in the blue sky in the editing. However, we have heard of companies that require you to pay “nice day insurance” for this service, and companies that charge $40 or more per picture (!!!) for this service.
As a Realtor in sunny Palm Beach, Broward, or Martin Counties, you aren’t simply selling houses… you are selling the South Florida lifestyle. When we take professional HDR photos on a day that is overcast – or if there are a few too many clouds in the sky – we always substitute in a perfect blue sky in the editing process for no extra charge.
This helps your photos be the best they can be, and it also helps mitigate the negative impact that rain has on your marketing schedule (and your nerves!). Most of our Realtor clients contact us to schedule a shoot “asap!” and would like to get photos on MLS right away. Typically, your sellers are anxious to get the process moving. From a sales perspective, it’s best to take advantage of that momentum. Ask your potential vendors about this!
4. How reliable are you as a photographer? If you are on vacation or very busy, will you still be able to help me?
Some photographers are one-person shows. It can be reassuring to always see the same person, but what happens if they go on vacation or have a personal situation that needs attending to?
On the other side of that coin, there are large national companies that subcontract out their shoots, so you may never have the same photographer twice. It can be time-consuming to communicate your preferences to a new person each time.
We at Picture It Sold think we have the right balance: a small but mighty team of photographers and editors who are all well-trained and deliver a consistent product each and every time. If you do twelve shoots a year, you may see three or four different professionals, but you will always know what to expect and what you will get in terms of quality and turnaround time. Meanwhile, we will never let you down in terms of reliability. You can count on us to be available and dependable when you need us.
5. Do you offer a full range of specialty photography services for real estate?
It’s probably easier and more cost-effective for you and your team to have one vendor to do it all. This way, you call one company, and only have to stage the home once. Some otherwise good photographers don’t have the know-how to shoot twilight photos of our beautiful South Florida listings. Many still photographers don’t do full-motion video. Some don’t have the speciality cameras needed to provide 3D Virtual tours. Make sure you ask what services are offered.
6. Who can I call if I have questions or need help after I get my products?
Does your potential photographer have an office support team? Is there someone to call if you need assistance uploading your photos? What if you want to change the label on a photo from “family room” to “living room?” If your photographer doesn’t have a support team and they are out shooting all day, there may be a delay in reaching them and getting help. This could cause a delay in your marketing plan. Your customers expect you to move quickly, so you need to be sure you have resources that are readily available. If your photographer is a professional in the real estate arena, he or she will understand this.
7. How well will you represent me to my sellers?
The photographer is as much an extension of your business’ image, as the lender, the inspector, the movers, etc. that you work with. Make sure the photographer is reliable, well-presented, tactful, and respectful.
There are plenty of good photographers in Palm Beach, Broward, and Martin Counties. Asking the right questions will help you find someone who is a good fit for your real estate business. When you want the best value for your investment, high-quality and appropriately-priced real estate listing photos, quick turnaround, and excellent customer service, we hope you will think of us!