How can I differentiate between an average and a top-class photographer? Know the little details that don’t lie.
If you don’t know photography and are looking for a photographer in real estate or architecture, here are details in photos that you should look for that will help you determine if the photographer is average or top-class.
1. Go outside your house and look at it from every angle. Do the vertical lines converge? No, so neither the vertical lines in photos should be, for real estate of course. When looking at a photographer’s portfolio, notice if the vertical lines of walls, cabinets, doors, etc. are truly vertical. If they are not, you’re dealing with an amateur, unless the photographer obviously went for an artistic shot, which can be really nice. In the example, the photographer obviously didn’t go for an artistic shot and the vertical lines are really not vertical.
2. The biggest giveaway that you are dealing with an amateur is when the highlights of the image are completely blown out. You obviously have to exclude the sources of light like the sun or lightbulbs. Below is a horrible example where the highlights are completely blown out, and no details can be recovered.
3. Very low prices. If you see a photographer with good images who offers 16 photos for £130 for example, you have to ask yourself a few questions. What’s included? How’s the service, or reputation? I can already tell you that no photographer who charges £130 for 16 photos can be in business for long. In that case, the photographer may be employed by a real estate firm that pays him almost nothing and the quality of service and attention to details might be inexistent. Do your research. My prices are not cheapest but you know exactly what you are getting: someone who cares about the history of your building, tries to tell stories and create very compelling photos, always goes the extra mile and offers one the best service out there.
What happens when you decide to book me for a shoot?
Before I even set foot on your property, you need to know what you want exactly. Do you want to replace all of your pictures on your website, or you just want a few pictures to print? How many pictures do you want? Do you want aerial photos and videos?
Once you know what you want and are comfortable with a price package, I need to know where your property is located so I can work out the travel fees. For full details about extra fees, please check out the Extra Fees spreadsheet. Before going any further into the project, the total cost of the shoot needs to be agreed upon. If you agree with the total cost, I require a 50 % deposit before I really dive in.
Once I get the 50 % deposit, I will ask you a series of questions about your property like questions like: What makes your property special? Are there interesting facts about your property? What do you deem the most important aspect to come across about your property?
Once I have a feel of what you want, we can decide on a date for the shoot. What is the best time of the year to shoot your property? Summer, autumn, winter?
Once a date is agreed upon, I will ask you to prepare your property if need be. The location needs to be tip top. Make sure the rooms, the gardens, etc. are how you want them to be. If there is exterior lighting, make sure all of the light bulbs are functional if you want to have night photography. I do bring lighting gear on the premises but yours might already be perfectly adapted for your property.
Let's go and make your property shine! When you hire me for a project, you're not just hiring a guy with a camera. You should expect to have an exciting and passionate conversation about history, your property and life in general! I love connecting with interesting people and give you them more than just pictures. What thing I like to do is to involve clients in the photo shoot and explain them why I shoot like this and not like that, why I want to climb up there, why I need that special light, etc. This has been eye opening for many clients who didn't know that photography is so much more than just just pressing a button! I really look forward meeting you!
How do I deliver the pictures and in what format?
I use Pixieset to share the photos with my client. From there, it's very easy for the clients to choose his/her favourite photos and submit them to me.
Like all pro photographers, I never deliver the RAW or TIFF files unless you buy the full copyrights. Depending on the client's needs, I deliver the photos in JPG or PNG. If the client needs photos for his/her website only, I will send the photos ready for web display. On the other hand, I can create another version of the photos for printing purposes.
If I shot 400 photos, I will send the client around 5 fully edited photos and the remainder unedited. The unedited photos will not of course look as good as the fully edited photos but the client gets at least an idea of the final product.
How do I price my packages?
Let's say the client chooses the Duke package, which includes 40 photos. He/ she wants me to shoot the entrance, the grand hall, the inner yard, the dungeon and a few rooms. My reality as a photographer is that I will never take 40 photos, but more like around 150-200. If the clients wants 80 photos, I will shoot between 200-350 photos, and so on. All that to say that my time spent on location shooting is always much more than the number of photos requested. Don’t forget that before taking pictures, I have to scout the area inside out. I need to feel the place. That can take between 1 to 3 hours.
The most important element in photography is light. Depending on the time of day, the weather and the sun position (sunrise or sunset), it can take me a full day to come up with just a few killing shots I had planned to go for. Even for interior shots, the weather and the sun position can have a huge impact. Once, I had to wait 3 hours for the sun to move around because I didn't want the direct sunlight into a room; the dynamic range way too important. We, photographers, like controlling light to get the results we're after. So, my prices include my time spent on location and the full retouching of the pictures. If you are looking for average pictures, than you don’t really care about all the factors mentioned above, but if you want a killer shot, sometimes you may have to wait all day, or even more (ask the National Geographic photographers). Don’t forget that an important amount of time goes into surveying the area, determine where West, East, North and South are compared to your subject, and how the sunlight will affect everything, where the shadows will be, etc, etc.
For the following shot (which I think is a killer shot), it took me all day to determine the best location and the best hour, in comparison with the angle of the sun at sunset, so that I could have this amazing gradient blue in the background instead of a plain solid color. I also had a 30-minute window to get that shot… and you can only get that shot in end of June! There are so many factors that come into play to get those kind of shots that you can’t leave that to chance. To plan all this, I use my experience combined with an amazing application called The Photographer’s Ephemeris. Unlike other real estate photographers who create images that have a life expectancy of a few weeks only, I painstakingly craft every shot so that they have a life expectancy of a few years at least.They are part of your long-term marketing and branding plan.
Why do I specialize in heritage building photography than simple architecture and real estate photography?
The answer to that question is quite simple: Because I care about history and I want to know the story of each building I shoot. I don’t feel any connection with modern buildings or architecture. As a photographer, I need to feel a connection, an emotion with my subject. You can’t take amazing shots if you don’t feel the passion for what you shoot. Also, heritage buildings have so much to tell!
How can you prepare before I get to your location?
Make sure the outside and inside of your property is exactly how you want it to look. If there are things to move or store away, you should take care of that.
In the case of a castle hotel, make sure the rooms you want me to shoot are not occupied on the day of the shoot. It happened that I had to wait a few hours before the clients check out to enter the room.
If you have a ladder or a step ladder, it might a good idea to ready them in case I need them since I don’t bring a step ladder with me.
If your property has exterior spotlights, make sure that the lightbulbs work fine. Night photography without light can be very sad!
What kind of service can you expect?
Top-class. Period. Maybe one of the best you will ever had, I’m serious. Test me. To me, the most important values are service speed, respect and honesty. I have 14 years of experience as a software manager and IT trainer in serving the most prestigious international organisations and clients. Customer service has always been a priority. I love helping people and connect with them, so much so that a lot of my clients are now my close friends.