(Editor’s Note: This is the second installment of our “Outside the Frame” series that offers the insights of Dallas’ leading real estate photographers on subjects that are both important and often controversial in the industry. Check out our first installment here.)
Today we have Richard Sharum, founder of one of the area’s most popular real estate photography firms, Shoot2Sell . To read Sharum’s perspective on how much editing is ethical for listing photos, jump.
CandysDirt.com: What do you find is the biggest misconception sellers and Realtors have about hiring a professional photographer for MLS photos?
Richard Sharum: That because cameras are so abundant, everyone can shoot architecture for the purposes of marketing it. Shooting property is a fine art and not be taken lightly. One inexperienced person can actually make a property look worse than in real life, resulting in no interest and a bad reputation for the listing agent.
CD: What is the most important shot and why?
Sharum: I believe it is the primary front, or what we call in the industry the “default front exterior”. But then again, sometimes, especially on older homes, all the greatness is inside. But first impressions matter. I am always telling agents that if there are really strong images on the interior or backyard, don’t be afraid to use that as your “primary” to get interest. Don’t forget, this is marketing.
CD: What is the least important shot and possibly the one to avoid at all costs?
Sharum: The irrelevant ones. The shots that are being put in as filler as a requirement from the agent or the Seller. We, as professionals, are looking to bridge the gap between Art and Information when shooting architecture. That is our style. But when we are forced to shoot beyond our standards by either an agent or seller who do not know anything about photography, it only weakens the overall portfolio, which is what we are trying to avoid. We want strong imagery, top to bottom.
CD: How much alteration of a shot is acceptable? Greening the grass? Adding blue sky? Getting rid of cords?Are there quick fixes you can do if a client requests? Where do you draw the line about representing a property?
Sharum: Great question! We are highly ethical in that we will not alter an image if the subject we are altering is a fact of the structure, i.e.- a hole in the wall. We will green grass because 99% of the time brown grass is not permanent. Same thing with cords. Those are not a permanent part of the structure. We cannot, however, put grass where there is none, or erase stains out of carpet, as those are considered permanent until proven otherwise. And we get proof from our clients before we go back and alter those images. These ethics, sadly, are not repeated from some of the other “photography companies” out there.
CD: What is the optimum height to shoot a room photo from? There seem to be lots of creative angles, wide angles, shots from the hip, literally, these days. Are those helpful or a hindrance.?
Sharum: When shooting architecture properly, every room has a different height theory. All of our photographers are trained using these theories. Most bad MLS photos are shot way too high, as if a giant has entered the room. Too high photos are worse than too low, in my opinion.
CD: So we have 25 photos we can put on MLS. What if there are not 25 good shots? Do you shoot more angles of the same room? Add photos of the neighborhood?
Sharum: We always try to add amenities shots. We prefer this method of filling up 25 than shooting irrelevant images . Great photos of a community pool are much more desirable to buyers than ANOTHER shot of the guest bathroom.
Photographs of amenities offered in a location can help to round out the number of MLS photos.
CD: Have you ever had to decline a shoot or walk away because a home was not ready?
Sharum: Absolutely. Ever since the beginning, my goal with my company was to raise the standards for the benefit of EVERYONE, including agents. I believe we have made huge strides in what is considered acceptable marketing for architecture in DFW as a result of our standards. It only helps the agent, their reputation, their sellers’ experience, the buyers’ experience, and makes our jobs easier. Everyone wins when we all pay attention. We were also the first to come up with a “photoshoot checklist” that gets sent to the Seller to get them prepared. At the time we started that, it was almost seen as revolutionary in Dallas as no one had put that kind of effort out there before.
CD: Any funny stories about having to avoid shooting something unusual in a home?
Sharum: Oh my goodness. Stories for days. Some too explicit to even mention unless we are at a bar!
CD: Parting shot?
Sharum: We are still the only Architectural Photography company in Texas who have photographers who are trained to shoot architecture. Period. We do it because we love helping people look great at their professions and we love people (sellers and buyers). We love helping a family move on to their new chapter easier by shooting their property to be sold, and we love having a great relationship with our clients. That is what makes us.