At 19 years old, Lance Hames knew two things: college was not for him, and he was going to do something with a camera. In a Steve Jobs-ian tale of self-taught success, Hames is now the owner of Home Snappers and a rising star in Dallas real estate photography.
Driven and admittedly, just plain lucky, Hames has come a long way in a short time. But the journey wasn’t without a few bumps in the road. Like anyone who’s made their own path, Hames has learned some tough lessons along the way – lessons, he hopes, that have made him a better businessman and a better service provider to his Dallas real estate clients.
The self-described ‘math and science kid’ discovered an affinity for photography, almost by accident, on a high school graduation trip to Colorado in 2010.
“Normally, I imagine people in this position would say that photography was a huge, lifelong passion and they knew since they were itty bitty, with little toy cameras,” he said. “But that absolutely was not the case for me.” It wasn’t until pulling out his iPhone on that school trip that Hames says he caught the photo bug.
“Obviously Colorado is absolutely beautiful, so I began taking pictures of everything. And the photos weren’t looking too bad. Looking back, it probably wasn’t possible to take bad photos in Colorado. But I thought, why don’t I give this photography thing a try?”
Whether or not it was the product of naturally photogenic scenery or some hidden talent being exposed, Hames found himself committed to exploring the art. After a brief two weeks attending classes at Navarro Community College that fall, he walked away. “Two weeks was all I could take.”
Luckily, his parents saw something entrepreneurial in their son and agreed to invest what they’d saved for his college education into alternative ventures. It wasn’t their last investment, either. As real estate investors, they even became his first clients.
“Thankfully, I have very supportive parents,” he said. “Without them, this never would have happened. I didn’t have the money to buy a nice camera and lens. I’m just so thankful that they gave me that opportunity in the first place.”
Hames recognizes that pure luck played an important role in his progress. “I’m under no disillusions,” he said. “So many people refuse to believe that luck is involved with success. But it absolutely is. I’m sure there were so many people in my position, who, their whole lives they wanted to do photography. But they may not have been able to actualize that until years down the road. I was extremely lucky to have the parents I do.”
Honing his craft wasn’t simply about using a camera and learning Photoshop. Hames says he had to learn how to delegate, and more importantly, how interact with real estate agents.
“I started to realize how important service is. I was a numbers guy, and for so long, I didn’t get that,” Hames said. It was during an emotional conversation with one of his clients that Hames realized his approach had been fundamentally flawed. “There were agents who put up with us when we were absolutely awful. I was with an agent in tears as she was talking about how awfully we’d treated her, but that she loved us and knew our potential. Now, our relationship with the agents is the most important thing to me.”
A repentant Hames says he learned his lesson. He now values consistency of service, availability, and above all, people. “You can literally call anytime — 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. — and someone is going to answer the phone and talk you through whatever you need,” he said. “I don’t know how other people in the business do it, but we don’t hire real estate photographers. We hire good people. I firmly believe that if we bring people on who are good, honest people – people who just love people – that’s extremely beneficial.”