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I am wondering if anyone has had professional photos taken of their VR and noticed an improvement in their number of inquiries? Also, once you had the photos taken how long was it before they became outdated due to furniture or bedding updates or renovations? Was it worth the investment and do you have any tips for owners considering hiring a professional for photos. Thanks!
I can't speak on the behalf of renters, but, as a professional photographer I do know that it makes a difference. (Because I don't own a rental with before & after professional photos I don't have any data...)
In addition to shooting for rental properties, I shoot houses for sale. Even with this "bad economy" I have had listings I've shot that have turned around and sold, at or above the asking price, in less than a week. Clearly for that to happen it's not just the photos--the pricing, timing & other things have to be right--but I do know that photos make a difference in the number of tours (showings) etc.
On another note, I do occasionally trade professional photos (& virtual tours) in exchange for stays. If you (or someone you know, especially for properties in Europe :-) might be interested in a "trade" along these lines feel free to drop me a line.
Not sure, as my experience with a professional was not a happy one! I hired someone through an online search whose website showed lovely nature and outdoor architectural images. Unfortunately, it wasn't until after he started shooting that I realized that he was not up to the task for which I had hired him. Even photoshop didn't do much to improve the images. I have only ever used two of them and they will be replaces as soon as possible.
So my lesson was this: just because someone labels themself a "professional" doesn't mean that they are capable of doing expert inside architectural shots. I would suggest asking to see the part of the portfolio that includes indoor shots before hiring a photographer.
I would absolutely agree with this statement -- there are a lot of "professionals" out there -- the proof is in the pudding, so you need to examine their work with a critical eye. Shooting stunning landscapes is not the same as lighting interiors.
Think of it this way -- you wouldn't hire someone to help manage your vacation rental without an interview process right? Ask a potential photographer questions, and ask to see current work -- if shooting architectural (interior & exterior) shots isn't one of their primary specialties that keeps them busy then they may not have the experience needed to pull off a successful shoot, especially in adverse conditions.
Ask for references if they didn't come to you with a first-hand recommendation from a trusted friend or colleague. Check out the linked-in profile to see if they have any recommendations. If they are good, and worth hiring, they should have a list of people willing to vouch for the skills.
In the future, I would also ask for a contract with the terms of the agreement in writing. I was not offered one which should have been a red-flag that the person I was considering was just be a weekend hobby photographer, rather than the real deal. Would you agree with that, Jeff?
I'd definitely agree. Many profressional photographers will always insist on creating an official estimate or bid, which not only specifies the scope of the project (for both party's benefit), it will spell out the usage rights of the photos as well. This is paramount, as almost all professional photogs won't just hand over the whole image, copyright and all -- at best you, the buyer, purchase an "unlimited license" for usage in all mediums for an indefinite term. (Not that you will want to advertise your rental property 20 years from now with the same furniture! ;-)
That's the best outlook. Perpetual improvements. Photos can always be improved upon. The better they are the more bookings you will receive. See http://rentmoreweeks.com for more on this subject.
That's one way to do it--constant refinement yourself. Ultimately long term a one-time initial investment from your own pocket will likely be more cost effective, getting your more bookings, faster.
I recently did a shoot on Maui for a client, these are just the un-processed proofs (ie no photoshop yet!)
I give my clients options so they can choose which angles work best for them. I also throw in extra shots and variations (like the beach gear) for free so they can show the amenities the condo comes with. I think the effort to pull these off is well worth it -- gear sitting on the lanai (patio) doesn't have the same feel. Besides who wouldn't want to recline in chairs at the beach with a beverage?!
I also do 360 degree panos. I have to adjust the exposure a little by hand here (again just a proof) but the fun part is using this on your iPhone - try it ;-)
Any and all feedback welcome.
Professional photography makes a HUGE difference in the number of inquiries you will receive. Seek out a photographer in your area who specializes in real estate photography.
They can manipulate the lighting in your interiors to show it much better than you can.
If you are friends with a Realtor in your area,,,,that is the best place to start asking questions...they will point you in the right direction.
I am a professional photographer and I specialize in cabin photography in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, TN for realtors (mainly), cabin rental agencies and individual home owners. I am very reasonably priced (I like to keep busy) at $69 for a one or two bedroom cabin. I have a website where you can view my samples picturemycabin.com. That is how you can contact me.
A wide angle lens, mine is 10-22MM, is an absolute must. If you try to shoot a bedroom in most cabins all you get is the bed, with a Canon EOS 7D, 10-22MM lens I can shoot the entire bedroom. Lighting is important of course and I have two soft boxes and "barn doors".
In the cabins in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg the views from the interior is of paramount importance. That is where the lighting or photoshop or photomatrix pro software comes in, I use one or all three to produce pictures that are "postcard" glamorous.
I have numerous comments from my customers that their rental occupancies increased exponentially.
There is a youtube video that is woth watching that demonstrates what a Canon EOS 7D with the 10-22mm lens can do. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCe0Z2h-sBI&feature=related
As a former professional home stager for real estate agents, after I was finished staging a home for sale I was always asked to return for the photo shoot of the virtual tour of the property. I would look through the lens with the photographer, (though most didn't need me to!) and move things around, and make sure the accessories were just so, etc.
The best real estate agents never take their own photographs for their homes' listings on the local multiple listing service, so why should we? After all, in a way, we are doing just what they are doing... marketing a home. There are many companies in our area who are in competition with each other for business, so the prices are not as high as one might think. As an example, I just googled "real estate photography" (a good set of search terms) and several came up. I have never used this company, but it made a good example of the kind of company you might want to look for: http://www.desert360virtualtours.com/gallery.html. The "360 degree" phrase was the key that caught my eye. Many of them will give you a link that will enable you to download it to your computer with music, pan and zoom features instead of 360 degree tours, and other nifty photo tricks that look ultra sophisticated, but aren't expensive for them to do.
One warning... the larger companies that are less expensive, and consequently more affordable for most of us, send out photographers who are usually good photographers, but, somewhat like healthcare, they are expected to get the shoot done within a certain timeframe. (Never as long as one would hope for.) However, you are paying for this, and that's why I would always be there when the photos were taken. I would make sure features of the home that made it especially marketable were showcased, that someone didn't leave a dirty glass in the kitchen sink, that no one left a vehicle parked in front of the house, or that a toilet lid wasn't left up!
The prices usually include a 360 degrees tour as well as stills, and while you may think you don't need this, as long as it is out there, you may as well take it. Who knows? One day you may want to upload a video of the home.
As Janet mentioned above, manipulating the lighting is so important, and some do what they call "Twilight Shoots." If you have a home that has special lighting, or looks particularly lovely at sunset, these photos can convey tons of emotion and literally make your home look like a million bucks! It's what the luxury hotels do, so why should they have all the fun?! Even if you don't have outdoor lighting, the company can provide the lighting necessary for the shoot. These are more expensive, but this will give you an edge over other homes in your area. http://www.realestatephotographyspecialists.com.au/real-estate-photography-galleries-twilight/index.html Hope this helps.
I saw some prices on this thread. But generally how much should a photographer charge for a 2 or 3 bedroom house that is around 1500 sq ft.
Also, what photo ratio do you prefer? I personally like to see 16x9 ratio when I view pictures on a website.
Wanted to see if you have any tips on taking pictures like what to do and not to do? Should I take more outside pictures if it's an mountain home vs indoor?
Well the going rate up here in the Smokies is $200 for one or two bedrooms. That is not outrageous, I spend about an hour to an hour and a half at the cabin then about three hours or more "glamorizing" the photos with photshop or other software I use. Figure that time plus my investment, camera, lens and lighting and it is cheaper than a HVAC tech who sends less time and will charge more. Also if you are able to rent your rental just three extra days it will pay for him. Just make sure you get a photographer who "specializes" in real estate photography.
Regarding the website photos, well that depends on the website entirely. Some limit you to 1,500kb, etc. Also, let the photographer add your pictures to your website, he can fit them with their requirements. That's what I do for my customers.
About what to do and what not to do. Hire a pro, you have to have the equipment. I charge just $69 but that is because I am semi-retired and like to stay busy. I also charge $1/mile past Pigeon Forge, TN. Check out this video, not mine, but it is my equipment. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCe0Z2h-sBI&feature=related. If you want me to come to your cabin and shoot it, where are you, what will you offer, ie; free stay, etc. I'm flexible. Also, send me a link to your rental, VRBO, or HA, or Vacation Rentals, or a picture or two. I will let you know if I would be worth it to you to send for me. Good luck, Gordon
Prices vary, just as rental markets do. This is before you start to consider the difference in the quality of the product you are purchasing. (I'm not talking about marketing, just the actual service you get...)
In Portland, Oregon (where I shoot) a virtual tour will run, on average, around $225-250 for a real estate listing. (Yes there are "professionals" who charge less, but you get what you pay for, and generally, they never deal with lighting anything with external flashes. Hopefully this doesn't start a flame-ware ;-)
HOWEVER, I wanted to add something else -- while I charge $250 for a "standard" virtual tour for my real estate brokers (that's 4 virtual tour shots, plus 16 stills) this is with the understanding that
a. I issue a 1-year usage license for the images
b. I get "volume" work (usually several per month)
c. a "quick and dirty" job, by my standards, far exceeds what non-pro's produce
d. a small copyright watermark
When I shoot a vacation property, just like when I shoot for an architect, or say a Remodeling Client, I get fussy with every last detail. All of a sudden, we are out of the $250 ball-park. Why?
If you go with an independant photographer, like myself, you usually will get better service, and more accomodation for working "with you" in final staging tweaks, etc. as we work together. Not all photographers will do this, and especially virtual tour outfits that are part of a bigger franchise are more "time sensitive" to the shoot (as they're paying a portion of their wage to "the man" who's doing the marketing/etc. on their behalf).
Interview your photographer. Ask about:
- license / usage details (how long can I use the images? do you retain the copyright?)
If there's a hesitation in answering details about copyright, they probably aren't a pro.
- do they light the rooms with flash (to balance interior & exterior light levels
so you can see the view through the windows)
- do I get just still photos, or do you provide 360-degree pano shots?
- what they do to help stage things (for example, in my gear bags I have
clamps & black tape to help hide extension cords, etc.)
- if they'll work with you for the shoot, or if they expect you to be
"gone & out of the way"
I'm certainly not advocating you go out and buy the rolls-royce (or even BMW) of photos, but you certainly need to do your homework, compare the work of a couple photographers and get a feel of who they are, the kind of images they shoot (a food or portrait photographer probably doesn't know much about lighting houses!) and if they are capable, or interested, in working WITH (rather than just for) you.
I like what you wrote mostly, of course I take a little exception to "you get what you pay for", sometimes just because you paid for a BMW you get a Chevy and sometimes you pay for a Chevy you get a BMW.
Like you implied, be a good shopper, "do your homework". By the way do you have a website or somewhere a client could view your work?
Gordon, Professional Photographer, Pigeon Forge, TN. picturemycabin.com
I would consider giving someone a free vacation if they take professional pictures. However, we are in WV and not in TN. But if anyone is interested in driving or flying up. I would definitely consider giving free lodging in exchange for professional photos
Any interest out there?
If you are ever in the WV area, let me know.
Also, if there are anybody in the Washington D.C. area who is a professional photographer, I would be interested in talking to them. Seems like there is no one from the east coast here.
I can't get up there, sorry, and I love to travel but this year I have been booked solid. Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg rentals, real estate is very busy.
Once I helped out a fellow photographer, like Jeff, by letting him send me some photos he shot that needed cleaning up. He emailed them to me and with my software I was able to make them pretty decent. If you want to try it, take an inside shot and then shoot a scenery shot from the view that you would be able to see through the window in that shot. Of course you really need a wide angle lens, like 10-22mm, but if you want to give it a try I will do it free. My email is picturemycabin@gmail.
Bummer, too bad you aren't in Oregon (or even on the west coast -- or in the San Juans Islands -- I LOVE it up there!... ;-)
I have done trade for accomodations in Europe (Italy) & Hawaii. (I know, rough life ...)
I believe that people who have rented from us might have found professional photos off-putting. All of our guests so far (and we've had a pretty full first season and the second one is almost totally booked) seem to be the sort of people who appreciate the homegrown quality, the organic reality if you will, that's evidenced in our own non-professional but communicative photos.
The other important consideration in my view is that the photos should be as up to date as possible. When we add a few pictures to the walls, amenities in the kitchen, upgrades to the bathrooms, we take and post new photos. I wouldn't want to pay a pro for the regular updates that we feel are necessary.
I am curious to see your photos.
In all reality, you are correct -- when something is over-staged and over-produced. But that's not the way professional photos HAVE to be, so I'd respectfully disagree with your opinion / rational. I, as a professional photographer, strive for approachability, rather than the austerity that an architectural digest-style layout would create.
On the other hand, if you are marketing your place as a high-end Dwell-Magazine type Condo, then you DO really want that minimalist, architect-style "uber-clean" super modern, sleek _____ (add your adjectives here).
What it really boils down to is your market. If you are selling a country-bumpkin cluttered "homey" cabin where it's a "come as you are, this is what you get" then yes, professional photos would probably be counter to your style.
Just my opinion...for what it's worth. BUT I would argue that regardless of "style" -- better photos = more inquries which, with appropriate service (response time, response details, etc. etc.) WILL translate into MORE bookings.
It's about "curb appeal" -- and better photos, professional or not, will get more inquiries...as far as I see it.
You are 100% correct. I didn't respond to desertdwellin, you're just casting pearls before the swine, as the saying goes. I shoot a lot of cabins (way over 100 this year) and I have a whole bunch of customers telling me that their occupancy more than doubled in the first two weeks of posting. Realtors are my number one customer and some have me routinely shoot every new listing they get. In this depressed market they need good photos.
I am curious about some things you have said though, like you use tape to hide cords, etc. When photoshop can get rid of them so easy why do you do that. I clean up refrigerators, declutter counter tops and add the sky that I want with photoshop. I have lots of lighting equipment but most of the time I just cut the windows out and paste in the scenery. Sometimes the glass is just too dingy, etc.
I find that
a. it's faster & easier to "get it right in camera"
b. more accurate & realistic
I have 4 tiny off-camera flashes that I use (in general) when shooting a house or cabin.
Once in a while I will get in a "tight spot" where a reflection in the window or mirror is just unavoidable, but 99.5% of the time I find that creative placement, or adjust the exposure values in the camera (with relationship to the flash) and tuckin the flash "somewhere else" I can get around it quickly & effectively.
I have toyed with putting together some workshop material for other photogs, like you, who are interested in learning the skills (& tricks) I've developed over the years.
Everything from $1 or $2 clamps, to help hold blinds or cords up/out of the way, to special clamps with cold-shoe attachments to hold the flash up near the ceiling attached to, say a kitchen cabinet or inside the hood over a range/oven, etc.
Just 2 days ago I shot a kitchen & bath for a local architect. In the bathroom, there was an entire wall of mirror. Do I really want to photoshop the camera, tripod, and ceiling back into the picture (to remove the nuclear fall-out of photons from the flash destroying the ceiling? No!) ... I decided to put the camera on the window sill, fire a flash (balanced on the roof outside the window) through the semi-opaque blinds I pulled down.
Check out the setup for any of you curious (I don't usually show my tricks but here it goes ;-) ...
I've detailed "how I got there" in the captions.
Feel free to take a sneak peak at the proofs for this architect client of mine, to see the shots she will choose from. Then I will do any final touch-up (adjustments to exposure, removing smudges from stainless steel, etc.) ...
Yes, when we put professional photos on our homeaway site, all of a sudden we started getting a lot more inquiries.
AirBnB has a promotion right now where they are offering FREE professional photography for their hosts.
AirBnB is paying the photographer, so AirBnB has the rights to the photos. In other words, you will not be able to use these photos to post on other sites.
The photographer who did our place (hired by AirBnB) is Timothy Shonnard. He lives in the East Bay (across the Bay from San Francisco). He came over and did a fantastic job.
Right after he posted the pictures, I got my first real inquiry from AirBnB (after four months of not getting any real inquiries). The person who replied specifically said that she loved the pictures.
I am thinking of hiring Timothy to come back and re-shoot my place in a month or so. Then I will be hiring him for the photos (I'll be paying for the photos myself), and I will have the rights to the pictures .... so I can post them on my own web site and other vacation rental listing sites, etc.
It's free to set up an account on AirBnB. If you want to set up an account with them and get a FREE professional photography, I highly recommend it. I had a great experience with Timothy. He paid great attention to detail, including hiding any offending extension cords or other things that might detract from the picture. He also spent time after the shoot, using PhotoShop to balance the colors and to copy and paste so that you could see both the interior and the exterior (through the windows) at the same time.
This "free photography shoot" from Air BnB also gives local photographers in the area a boost, because Air BnB is paying the photographers real money for this. It's free from our end, but not from the photographers' end. Yes, they are getting paid!
For the photographers in this thread .... I recommend you contact Air BnB and see if they will hire you to shoot some of the vacation rentals in your area!
By the way, if you look on the airbnb link I sent, most of the photos say "verified by AirBnB" .... those are the photos that Timothy took. The other photos toward the end (the ones that don't have the "verified by AirBnB" watermark) were some leftovers of the photos I had on the web site, before Timothy came along.
Those photos were the semi-professional ones I had taken before, by a friend, who did not charge for them ... those are the ones I have posted on HomeAway. Even those pictures are much better than the ones I took myself. That's why, I believe, I started getting a lot more inquiries on HomeAway after I posted them. But you can see that the photos taken by Timothy are even better than the ones taken by my friend.
I specialize in just cabin photography in the Smokey Mtn. area, and I know what you are saying is very true. I hear it all the time, as soon as owners post my photos they get immediate results. I had one tell me the other day that she pulled in over $6,000 the first week after they were posted. I have a lot of repeat customers, mainly realtors, but also VRBO and HA customers too, but they are usually from referrals. My dance ticket is full.
On youtube there is a video, I don't have any connection with at all, but it is a "pearl" of wisdom for anyone who really wants to know .http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCe0Z2h-sBI&feature=related
I enjoy traveling, and if anyone else is interested, and is within a days drive from Pigeon Forge, contact me, either here or through my website. http://picturemycabin.com and maybe we can work out something.
I totally agree. I've been shooting real estate for over 10 years in South Florida and it really does make a difference in both the perception of your property and the amount of bookings you receive. I think a lot of it may have to do with the eye catching appeal that keeps the potential client from surfing to another website or property. We even develop websites specifically for a property just to showcase it. With the economic downturn, more and more people are promoting their properties online and professional photography helps to convey an image of quality to the client. After all, they are renting the property in most cases because they are here on vacation and want the best experience possible. The photographs are the only picture they have in their mind about the experience they are going to get by booking your property. It's like an advertisment with a photo of really good looking food that makes your mouth water and draws you to the restaurant. It creates a very strong impression, and first impressions are everything. Good quality professional photography is a must as the rental market gets more and more congested.
There is a huge difference between other photographers and Real Estate photographers. It is a speciality. I've photographed, people, events, food and real estate... and nothing is more difficult than great real estate images. Easiest way to explain it is... indoor light (tungsten) is a different color temperature than outdoor light (daylight)... and the two color temperatures do not mix very well. Flourescent is another temperature. There is also a huge difference in the intensity of light indoors versus outdoors. This is why you might have a photo with extreme red light... or you cannot see out the windows on images shot indoors... it's because the light temperature and brightness is not correct. When you are in a studio you can control the light... and only one type of light source (strobes) are beng used... this is not the same with Real Estate. Google color temperature or light temperature or white balance if you are interested in learning more. Anyway, nothing is as difficult as great real estate images. To find a good real estate photographer in your area, ask your Realtor who they would suggest as being great.. and when you call the photograher make sure you mention a Realtor refered you... or call one of the local realty offices and ask who the majority of the office Realtors use. I do not travel outside of the Palm Springs, CA area...but here's a sample of my work... very high quality Real Estate photography: http://viewme1st.net/4330 I've actually shot houses owned by well known portrait photographers... they would NOT even try to do their own property.
95% of what I shoot is Real Estate. Remember... there is a difference... and any photographer or person with a camera will not do.
I agree with Patrick -- except I would add that just because a realtor recommends someone doesn't mean they are necessarily a good professional photographer.
Unfortuantely in my experience, here in Portland Oregon there are a TON of "professional" photographers who shoot real estate for $100-$150/house. These people own a cheap "consumer" DSLR. A lot of these people are former real estate agents, or often younger kids who think they're a professional once they have a business card and a web site. Furthermore if a realtor tells you they shoot their own pictures, or has an assistant that does it--do yourself a favor and find another realtor (at the very least to interview & compare personalities).
Like most things in life, you get what you pay for--and by the time you factor in the drive to/from the shoot, the shoot itself and the post production you easily have 3-4 (or more) hours into a single shoot. If you charge $100 you're making $25 an hour--how can you be a professional and make a living, if you're not even spending any time marketing yourself?
When you're looking for a professional photographer, check out their portfolio, ask questions, kick the tires and get to know them. THEY will be creating the photos that from the FIRST IMPRESSION that any potential buyers will have. If you are hiring a professional to help sell your house, they can afford to hire a real photographer. The quality of the photos WILL make a significant difference in both the time on the market and the price you get.
I have 2-3 properties (or MORE) each year that sell within the first 1-3 days of listing with 2 or more offers. I certainly won't take credit for all of that, but I can tell you when you (a) get the price right, (b) do all of the marketing right (including staging) and (c) get professional photos the results can be stunning. And as a pro photographer, after a quick browse of his portfolio I can tell you Patrick's work (plketchum) is the real deal.
When I had photos taken of my place I contacted the local paper and hired their photographer. He had a great deal of experience taking photos for the home section of the sunday edition. He was quick, very reasonably priced, provided excellent results and grateful for the freelance job.
But did it improve inquiries?
I'd argue that if you're going to "make the investment" your best bet isn't a "cheaper" generalist, but a photographer who specializes in what you're looking for. For example, you wouldn't hire a bicycle mechanic to fix a problem on your car would you? Just because you hired someone to do it, does that mean it'll be "better"?...
The old saying goes "you get what you pay for" ...and it's still true today, be it investing in a car, a house, or a photographer.
I believe that my photos are far better than I could have done alone. The VRBO format isn't the most detailed, being more like a newspaper and I have been very satisifed with the response. This particular gentleman had vast experience with taking interior photos of homes for the paper. I have had many comments that my place is well represented in my advertising. I think it, along with many other factors, increases my inquiries.
I'm so lucky as my husband is a professional photographer...we do new photos at least once per year...in fact as soon as I change anything or the garden is looking good - 1 good photo is better than a 1,000 words... I am so turned off when I see rubbish photos on a site...you do need a professional and you should be paying a proper price and be happy with his/her work before you appoint...exactly the same as a wedding photographer, would you hire someone without a portfolio...I don't think so!
The answer to the original question, yes you will see a difference!
So many opinions. I am a professional photographer and did my own photos for my property. Have my ads up for two weeks and already have numerous bookings into next summer. I was shocked.
The main comments I received was how good the photos were. I had only photographed a portion of my home and my agent did the rest. Let's be blunt, the one s the agent did are embarrassing not only to me but does my property harm. I fully plan to get up there in the next few weeks and retake those images. Here's a link so u can see for yourself the difference.
Your rental is a product and good photos are the most important aspect of your marketing. Saving a few bucks is costing you big time.
Of course the bigger issue is finding the right photographer. Just because someone has a camera and says they are a pro means nothing. Look for experience architectural photographers with portfolios representing the quality u want. In my industry the saying you get what you pay for is SO true. They really are very few but the right one will make a difference in your bookings.
http://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p988652. Deadwood home. Ck it out.
All I have to say is that the difference between good photos and amateur photos is $8,415:
Perfect! I *LOVE* your experiment--proves the points many of us professional photographers have been making all along.
I still find it amazing that some people THINK they can do "good enough" ...of course your shots are "good enough" to show what a space is like. But you aren't trying to just SHOW the space. You are trying to make the prospective clients FEEL what it would be like to be IN THAT SPACE.
Taking it further...it's small details that make the difference.
Put another way: What's the difference between a Kia and a Mercedes/BMW/Ferrari/Maserati? They all have 4 weels, have pistons, take gasoline and get you from A to B. So why would anyone pay MORE for a more expensive car if the Kia will get you there?
(No offense to Kia owners... ;-)
PS and yes I trade, images for stays in select markets (mostly Europe & tropical climates--feel free to check out my work and email me to discuss without any obligation ;-)
New to all of this as a owner/renter and a professional photographer. I am also interested in doing trade for my photography if anyone is interested. You can sample my photos (some where done by my agent unfortunately but will be replaced shortly).
http://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p988652 my home for rental.
I would be interested in a variety of locations as I love to experience new and different places. If anyone is interested and I can send you more sample photos of my work or visit my personal website. I will admit I haven't been doing much architectual photography for some time but it was one of my specialties in the 80's and early 90's and I was a featured photographer for Achitectual Digest for many years.
Also wondering if any of the owners do trades for each others property for personal vacations?
Glad to be part of this site and grateful to hear everyones opinions.
Thanks for the info Jeff, I love your work.
Do have a question about 360 degree (vitual) interior images. I can do these and have for decades. Does anyone think these type of images would be better than static photos of our homes? I'm headed back to my property in Deadwood and was thinking about doing these. You input, pros and cons would be appreciated.
re: 360's. I don't like them and I won't do them, even though I am asked to. I will not intentionally give a photo/video that I have made that is not to my liking. What is better is several short videos stitched together to give the same results. If you have good software, IMOVIE or best is Final Cut Pro, then it is fairly simple. There is a big learning curve that you will have to endure but the results will be worth it. I only shoot real estate. I have a 10MM-22MM lens on a Canon EOS 7D and that gives me the ability to shoot the whole room.
If you do not have a wide lens, shoot into the mirror in bathrooms and bedrooms if you can. Shoot through a window into the living room or den to get the most advantage. And of course, like you already know, the evening or morning is the best sun. Videos are going to be in big demand soon, VRBO is improving and adding the link. I have laid out a bunch o-money for a slider, jib/boom and software. If you would like to see some of my videos, go to youtube and enter cadescovekim and pick Campbell Lead or Bridgeview.
Good luck, Gordon
Are you renting properties?
I appreciate your comments however I was looking for an opinion on this subject. I am a commercial photography and own every piece of equipment to do interior photos as well as 360s. I have actually been doing interior and exterior 360s since the early 90s including auto interiors for car manufacturer. But your comments about video sound like an alternative using our hi-end cameras. Not sure I can get the results I get now with digital since I have the ability to zone light without adding a bunch of lighting to my enteriors to get great mood. Also want to be sure to get nice balance on window scenes which are much more difficult with video but can be done.
The upside to hi end 360s using my Canon MkIII is that I can use the frames for static hi-end photos as well. It takes only 4-6 shots to creat one full sweep and I have 22mp frames for each.
But again my question was "does anyone think this helps in marketing our homes?" I would appreciate some feedback about this.
I've seen some well done ones now but not sure if it really helps or not. Wondering if they bog down the sites as well.
As far as the "are 360's effective" question - I would make the argument that it depends on the individual property.
I shoot 360's on a regular basis for realtors. The architects and builders I shoot for don't seem to care as much. In the latter case I believe they are more particular on the exact "image" they want presented--and therefor want to make sure you see exactly their viewpoint, rather than being able to "spin around" and miss certain features or angles.
I personally believe that SOME properties are better off WITHOUT the 360's. Many times, less is more, and you can definitely "control" the perception more with stills. (I.e. you can show a space without showing that one window where your neighbors are staring into your living room!)
OTOH you, as a viewer, get a much more "immersive" experience by being able to look around, up & down, and feel like you are *already there* -- which is a huge selling point. Especially if you have something really unique, like (for example) a private beach or private backyard with a pool or whatever. At that point I think it makes the viewer slow down and actually look around, contemplate the space/area (or whatever you're showing them) more, which of course will result in a more serious consideration.
In my experience it's the little things that make us stop and take note, slow down and look again, that really gets people's attention--THAT makes the difference.
As mentioned before my husband is professional photographer...we for interest tried 360 join up & then a video - all I can say is angles!
It's all very well taking a sweep round view but if you have properties either side (building regs here are 4 meters to boundary - so total of 8 meters away), all you get is almost a prisoner exercise yard concept! We tried it on both our beach properties which have stunning views across the sea - where the terrace is for dining etc the human eye sees it one way but with a camera looks dreadful!
Our best result to give a concept that the house has sea views was to hire a camera van that has a periscope (comes up +20 meters) - once we got the van into correct place we got the desired result - showing the house & the distance from the sea and the concept of the view.
Not only has this cut down on questions it has increased bookings...
It's very interesting to read the various opinions of professional photographers on the subject of VR marketing shots. Whilst I agree with a lot of what has been said here I disagree with quite a bit of the advice too.
I too am a professional photographer but I specialize in vacation rentals.
Firstly, it's my belief that whoever takes the photos of the property should be looking at the shoot from a potential guests point of view. Very few do this. Most just photograph the house, as per a real estate shoot.
Potential guests do not want to see photos of the property they want to imagine themselves of holiday.
See here for more on what I mean,
So if you employ a pro real estate photographer you may well end up with a great set of photos technically but they may not be as tempting to web visitors as they could be.
I am always suprised that very few pros use any foreground in their shots. Foreground adds form, content, colour framing and scale.
I personally spend the whole day at the property. I arrive early and spend quite some time micro staging the house (I have a van full of props) both inside and out. I never use photoshop or any other post production software other than cropping the shots in Picasa where needed.
I postpone the shoot to another day if skies are too cloudy.
I often read advice that owners should shoot around dawn or dusk but I don't agree with that at all.
I take all exterior, leading, shots with the sun high in the sky.
Here's why I do that,
In a lot of ways, I think that owners can produce fantastic photos of their own properties because they can devote more time to photographing their properties than a pro can. Modern digital cameras can handle a lot of the basic issues and as there are no processing costs they can shoot, shoot, shoot until they get the results they require.
As Matt very graphically showed (with an increase of nearly $8500 in one week, http://www.vacationrentalmarketingblog.com/how-much-are-good-photos-worth-the-great-photo-experiment-take-1/) taking time to produce better photos pays very well whether you pay a pro or do it yourself.
I have put together a full colour pictorial photo guide that VR owners can download for free.
I hope that you find it useful.
You can find it here,
Funny you say all of that Alan...my professional photographer husband has me running round ragged with props, lighting fires, finding latest magazines spread out in front of said lit fire...fruit the right colour in a bowl in the right place...etc etc
Once upon a time photographers went to college for 2 years and gained qualifications.
fruit the right colour in a bowl in the right place
Bright green apples, very orange oranges, I know where your husband is coming from. Pretty well all of my props are brightly coloured. Beach towels, kids crocs, flowers, toiletries, etc. They all attract the eye and make the photos stand out in the listings. Plus they fuel the dream. Potential guests find it easier to imagine themselves on holiday at the property.
Here's a good example of how this works
Again, my original question was not as a photographer but as new owner of a vacation rental.
All this input is absolutely true especially about propping tables, etc. But even this must be done sparingly. These are not boat charters with cooks offering you meals. Staging table setting WITH the plates and things we rent with the house makes more sense to me. Using MY studio props I usually reserve for builders, catologues and ads i think is misleading our customers. Are we suppose to leave fruit for OUR tenants? Of course this is ONLY my opinion.
Again my original question was about improved bookings using VR. Inwas not trying to open a forum for pros to market their goods and give lessons to each other.
Yes I agree that showing neighbors sitting on top of each other is a negative but that is not the case for my own property. But as a vacation renter and an owner of a vacation rental let me also point out that the last rental I did "Secluded Mountain Resort" was misleading with their ad and photos and when I got there is was not secluded at all unless u want to consider the dirt road and the lack of good directions to be. I was actually angry with the rental agency for misleading me and would never rent from them again.
I think as renters we need to be honest about our properties. There are places that people blog about our rental properties and. I don't want to see my property with the word "misleading" in their comments. I agree if we have views show them and not to focus on negatives. But there must be some truth in our advertising.
As a professional photographer I can't really agree with everything Alan has said. If its overcast I know how to finish an image to look like a sunny day, ad a beautiful sky or even turn it into a night scene. Been **** that for decades even before digital and photoshop. As for college, Tansy, well I did and studied but I also know people with Master Degrees that have no real talent in my field. So what was your point? In 30+ years it was my portfolio and not my degrees that I had to show.
So with that, can I get some home owners that are using VR input.
Can anyone say if 360s VR improve rentals or not?? Does it bog down the site?? I do agree with Jeff that it's not right for all properties.
My point Alan is professional photographers have studied and if they are professional you are sure for an good result...yes, I know you don't always get a great haircut with a hairdresser etc etc. same with advice from vets/Dr's etc. but you do your best to choose...nowdays photographers are declaring themselves as photographers because of the new super duper cameras and online information/lessons on the internet...classic, we were at a wedding recently - photographer there did not stop taking pictures for over 4 hours...the bride is now screaming for photos, my husband took maybe 10 published 5 and the bride is beside herself with joy!
Thanks Tansy but even before digital, anyone with a camera could and have been claiming to be a professional. It just one of the fields you can take that title with no experience or TALANT.
Do you use VR on your properties?
No stills only...thought about making a video...that's as far as we've got - talking about it! If we do anything it will be about the area - I think the house is described enough & the photos do it justice - but we're in the heart of WW2 Invasion Beaches, near Bayeux, Mont St Michel, Clavados etc etc folk come to us because of where we are to experience Normandy...most holiday destinations are for the weather, beaches etc. - you don't come to Normandy just for the weather! But then when I watch some of the Normandie Tourist films on You Tube they have done it for us...just wish we could link via the rental sites!
I look at some sites with all the bells & whistles on I don't think they make me book because of a video...if they don't download real quick I move on anyway...I'm a flicker & if it doesn't go fast enough I'm gone...
Thank you so much for your comments and advice. I too don't wait for slow downloads and that was my concern about 360s or VR. Personally I've did a motorcycle ride to Normandy last summer with a friend. What a great location. Good luck on your rentals.
In most cases I'd agree 100%, but with real estate my videos tend to be anywhere from 2-8 minutes in length.
I believe most people are brought in on particular details they are searching for (location, price, rooms,etc.) and professional photographs. If they are still interested on the property and choose to watch the video then they probably have a decent amount of interest. I know if I'm going to spend $500-$2000+ on a vacation then I want everything I can get my hands on. To me, it's a natural progression from search, to photos to video. Each bringing your potential client closer to a purchase.
It's best to utlize all to their strengths and hire a pro.
Hi Tansy, I create professional HD video tours for real estate and rentals. You're absolutely right about load times needed to be minimized. There is a delicate balance between quality and file size that must be acheived upon export. I'm referring to actual video and not VR tours.
It's kind of hard to quantify the percentage of people who book because video is available. I have heard from numerous property owners that their clients loved the video and led them to go see the property in person. Video gives a very accurate depiction that just can't be acheived with photos alone. When clients arrive and their original perspective is reinforced they are more likely to be happy.
Here is an example of a page that combines both. The load time for the video is very reasonable considering it's in HD.
Let me know if you have any questions and I'll do my best to answer.
Research shows that web visitors engage with video for longer than stills.
You can easily turn the photographs of your property into a video (basically a slideshow with music) using Google's Picasa. The software is free to download and use.
It also has a one button click to upload your video to youtube.com (you need a youtube account, but this is also free).
This video gives an idea of what these videos look like,
This video has been watched nearly 7,000 times in a little over 2 years so that could be a lot of bookings.
Also quite a lot of web surfers use Youtube as a search enginge when looking for a vacation rental, so if you don't have any video uploaded they will not be able to find you.
If you want to know more here's a short video tutorial that gives an overview of how to download and make videos using Picasa,
Of course you can turn stills into video. The challenege -- is that quality still matters. I would argue that it matters even more so in the case of video.
True, it's easy to "skim through" a bunch of photos and get a quick read--as to if the place is interesting or not. This won't happen with video. However I would argue that the first 3-5 seconds of video becomes MORE CRUCIAL for setting the tone and getting people interested. Interesting music may help, but if you're trying to sell a porta-potty no amount of great music will help.
A well-planned photo or video shoot with someone who understands the renter's (or buyer's) perspective, and can shoot both the "big picture" as well as the details is what you want.
A lot of the time I think people get too caught up in the "details" looking at the trees, when they should check out the forest... "we need a video" or "we need a virtual tour" or whatever it is you're clamoring for won't solve your rental problems. It always makes sense to slow down, ask questions, set goals you can measure results against and then proceed--so you can verify your changes are making an impact (or not).
There are several options for creating videos from stills and yes, the quality does matter. Some are VERY easy to use. over the years I've used Microsofts Photo Story and Animoto. Free and easy to play with. I think my first attempt took me about 30 minutes. Let me see if I can find it. I may have taken it off of youtube, but if I archived it I'll post it.
I couldn't find the 1st one, but here's the 2nd video I made from stills, just goofing around. It took all of 10 minutes to create. It's not of my house, but of the sunrises just 2 blocks away. (I put it together to watch on those cold snowy morning we have here at our full time home)
Great discussion here! Here's a nice blog post explaining some key points in having quality photos: http://blog.rentini.com/2012/07/20/high-quality-photos-make-a-difference-in-booking-your-vacation-rental/
I too have been looking into getting a video for my property. Seems like it has some potential and certainly some selling/convincing power if compared to homes with nice photos. I've been looking into Ziimeo as well, seems like they specialize in VR videos
Just came across this discussion today and thought I'd jump in on the video aspect of this.
I had been commissioned to do some video shoots of homes in Jacksonville, FL where I'm based (I have a production company) and received such positive feedback I decided to jump into the market. After some trial and error I have found that full HD video tours gave the most realistic representation of homes for those who were generally interested. I feel video compliments, and in no way replaces good photography. I also think it helps greatly to have actual video and not just a slideshow of pictures that your prospective client already viewed.
Here's an example of a portfolio page I make for all of my clients.
I then link them via QR code to be placed directly on their yard signs. I think it's great that people can pull into the driveway, scan a code with their phone and have instant access all of this information. Might as well have your property selling itself as much as possible 24/7.
I'd love to hear your thoughts!
I have viewed your video and agree with you that the customer does not want to see the same photos in a slideshow with music. Yours are very professional. And in my area (Smoky Mountain- Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville no one provides "real" videos. I have been making my living with a Canon EOS 7D, 10-22mm lens and three speed flashes working for realtors, cabin rental agencies and vrbo cabin owners. This year I started aquiring the extra equipment I would need for videos. $ $ $ Phew. Anyway I now have about 17 videos on YouTube under CADESCOVEKIM, and I have been swamped with new requests for videos. I have one video that is a vitual tour link on vrbo.com/347750. It absolutely doubled the inquiries. I love to travel so if anyone that reads this and has a job for my wife and I to stay free for photos and a video, contact me. You can see how to contact me when you go to CADESCOVEKIM on YouTube, or just email me.
Savannah, let me know what you think of my technique. ; )
Hi Gordon, great job! I love the "jib" shots. Yes, the equipment isn't cheap by any means, but it is necessary to get the right shot. It is great that lenses can be used for both video and photo considering their cost alone. I'm still waiting on a proper full frame video camera that doesn't cost as much as my car. We are getting there! Actually, the latest 5Dm3 removed much of the aliasing and moire issues.
I'm actually traveling up your way next month to film a few cabins in Banner Elk. I'll be there for almost a week and I still have a couple spots open if any one is interested.
Oh, also my name is Mark. Savannah is the name of my client selling that particular home.
Uh.......I have a 4000 sq ft home on 150 acres in the mtns on the TN/NC border! Lets barter a weeks stay including use of ATV's over 5 1/2miles of private ATV trails for video. Just sayin!
Hi Just sayin
I would be very interested in about three weeks, we're practically neighbors. I live in Pigeon Forge. I have been lucky enough to get a few little jobs in Maine and will be gone until then.
Thanks, Gordon videos on CadesCoveKim at YouTube
Sounds great Doug!
My family tries to travel up to NC a few times a year since we love it so much. The heat in Jax is brutal.
Sounds like I could get a ton of great footage on that amount of land. Shoot me an email and maybe we can work something out.
Oh, and I love ATVs. I'll have to get my helmet cam going!
Here's my email.
I agree, a very nice home in a pretty cool location. St Augustine is a fun place to shoot historic homes by the water. Here's one I did a few weeks ago.
Let me know if there is any interest in Cresent Beach. I haven't had the pleasure of covering any homes there yet.
Hey I dont mind going ahead and getting embarrassed by my video. Please go to my site 377073 and pull up the video and you can immediately tell it was done by a cheap hand held. I need a pro's touch.
Haha, no need to be embarressed! Unless you have invested tons of money in gear and have dedictaed your life to film I wouldn't expect anything else. All things considered I think you did a great job! I'll take care of you; just sent you an email.