Photo via Gawker

Photo via Gawker

I’m sure you’ve already seen the photo about this poor guy who was just trying to sell his Austin condo and ended up flashing everyone in the process.

As it turns out, it was all an accident, says KDFW’s report on the … ahem … matter.

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8822 Redondo Front

This is a real tragedy, people. What you’re about to see should never, ever happen.

Brace yourself. Here is an adorable home in Shamrock Shores inside Little Forest Hills, with three bedrooms and two baths, and photos that would send homebuyers running.

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5802 Moticello Front

I had a really hard time finding a Friday Four Hundred (or even Friday Five Hundred, for that matter) because every single house I liked had one of these two problems:

1) It was already under contract, or …

2) the photography was abysmal.

I know a cute house when I see one, folks, but nothing gives me the hives faster than an adorable listing with absolutely atrocious amateur photography. It is the worst, especially in this price range. Really, it’s no time to slack on the listing photos! Hire a professional or learn a few tips of the trade and invest in a good camera. [End of rant]

5802 Moticello Living

Then I stumbled upon this adorable Tudor near the M Streets that has been recently reduced to $409,000. 5802 Monticello is a fantastic Tudor that has tons of charm and updates, including a second living area — a converted porch that is a fantastic sunroom with a tile floor and arched windows. It has three bedrooms, two baths, and more than 2,200 square feet.

5802 Moticello Sunroom

This home was built in 1926 and still has tons of period charm, including a spacious formal dining room that is connected to the kitchen. The fireplace is gorgeous, and I love the wide window trim as well as the fretted trim on the walls, perfect for your art collection. And check out the professional slideshow from Shoot2Sell.

The kitchen has been updated to include granite counters, fresh cabinetry with seeded glass door fronts, stainless steel appliances, and an additional butler’s pantry for extra storage. There is also an eat-in breakfast area that is perfect for those busy mornings.

5802 Moticello Kitchen

This home has two full baths  — a great feature for a family home. You’ll also appreciate the location, which is just off Greenville Avenue and inside the Robert E. Lee Elementary attendance zone. Recent improvements to this neighborhood mean that this area is increasingly more walkable, and if you’re looking for a more urban-oriented location with tons of space and suburban amenities, including parks and entertainment nearby, this is the home for you!

5802 Moticello Master 5802 Moticello Master bath

The master bedroom is 13 x 16 — modest buy far from cramped — and has plenty of windows to take advantage of the sunlight. It’s connected to the sunroom, too. The master bath is cramped and a little dated, but this is a prime area for investment.

The backyard is a great size, and the listing agent claims it is big enough for a pool, should your heart desire one. I love that the homeowners have left a little raised bed for a vegetable garden, too.

5802 Moticello Backyard

What is absolutely certain, though, is that this home definitely benefits from professional photography. Considering the location and size of the home, I think it shows so much better to potential buyers with great photographs. What do you think?

UEP Prep Homepage

Lance Selgo of Unique Exposure Photography is a member of RESA, so as a real estate photographer he has a pretty interesting perspective about how sellers should get their homes ready for his visit.

As part of that, Selgo launched a new website that outlines the “do’s” and “don’ts” of preparing a home for listing photography. Does he still have to get the toothpaste off the vanity now that clients have a catch-all website to check out?

“Because I let new clients know about my expectations I really haven’t had to move much,” Selgo said. “I usually see people leaving out pet beds because they are a part of the family, but it’s important to put those away for photos so buyers don’t judge a home before they see it in person. Not everyone likes animals and some folks are allergic to them so it’s best to hide the furry friends so buyers come to a showing and fall in love once they are there.”

Still, not every homeowner is prepared for a photographer who is going to be shooting images so that thousands of homebuyers can pick their house apart on the Internet.

“I did have one home where the sellers weren’t ready and they had their nanny cleaning up as I went. I had to hold the master bedroom off for last because the bed wasn’t made, and sleep apnea masks/tubes were on the night stands,” Selgo said. “Luckily the sellers have always been open to my suggestions and they take care of things while I shoot other portions of the home.”

Of course, there are going to be certain rooms that have to look incredible. They’re the areas that really sell a home. So buyers should take Selgo’s tips and heed them wisely. That includes kitchens, master bedrooms, and master baths, which should have countertops that are spic-and-span with all personal items in cupboards.

Still, not every homeowner is able to depersonalize their home, especially when they have a lifetime’s worth of large collectables all across their house. This can sometimes make or break a potential listing. Selgo remembers one such listings:

LionLivingRoom

“The seller was big into hunting, so the agent requested I shoot around the big items as best I could … That photo wasn’t used on the MLS, but I wanted to have a photo of the lion to remember it! A home like this really should have a staging consultation. It’s really tough for an agent to go into something like this and recommend the seller’s prized possessions are removed from the property. And surely I should be the last person to have to have to take action on something so extravagant! A third party — a stager in this case — could be the “bad guy” and be able to better explain the purpose behind clearing the home of all of the animals and how it can impact the sale of the home in a positive way.”

That is too funny, and I’m not lion!

UEP Prep Homepage

Lance Selgo of Unique Exposure Photography is a member of RESA, so as a real estate photographer he has a pretty interesting perspective about how sellers should get their homes ready for his visit.

As part of that, Selgo launched a new website that outlines the “do’s” and “don’ts” of preparing a home for listing photography. Does he still have to get the toothpaste off the vanity now that clients have a catch-all website to check out?

“Because I let new clients know about my expectations I really haven’t had to move much,” Selgo said. “I usually see people leaving out pet beds because they are a part of the family, but it’s important to put those away for photos so buyers don’t judge a home before they see it in person. Not everyone likes animals and some folks are allergic to them so it’s best to hide the furry friends so buyers come to a showing and fall in love once they are there.”

Still, not every homeowner is prepared for a photographer who is going to be shooting images so that thousands of homebuyers can pick their house apart on the Internet.

“I did have one home where the sellers weren’t ready and they had their nanny cleaning up as I went. I had to hold the master bedroom off for last because the bed wasn’t made, and sleep apnea masks/tubes were on the night stands,” Selgo said. “Luckily the sellers have always been open to my suggestions and they take care of things while I shoot other portions of the home.”

Of course, there are going to be certain rooms that have to look incredible. They’re the areas that really sell a home. So buyers should take Selgo’s tips and heed them wisely. That includes kitchens, master bedrooms, and master baths, which should have countertops that are spic-and-span with all personal items in cupboards.

Still, not every homeowner is able to depersonalize their home, especially when they have a lifetime’s worth of large collectables all across their house. This can sometimes make or break a potential listing. Selgo remembers one such listings:

LionLivingRoom

“The seller was big into hunting, so the agent requested I shoot around the big items as best I could … That photo wasn’t used on the MLS, but I wanted to have a photo of the lion to remember it! A home like this really should have a staging consultation. It’s really tough for an agent to go into something like this and recommend the seller’s prized possessions are removed from the property. And surely I should be the last person to have to have to take action on something so extravagant! A third party — a stager in this case — could be the “bad guy” and be able to better explain the purpose behind clearing the home of all of the animals and how it can impact the sale of the home in a positive way.”

That is too funny, and I’m not lion!

(Editor’s Note: This is the fifth 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 firstsecond, and third, and fourth, installments for more.)

Sean GallagherSean Gallagher shoots mostly high-end properties, but his passion for photography knows no price range.

“For situations where the home is not in the most desirable condition to be photographed, there are always one to a handful of images that can be made,” Gallagher said. “This is where the skill, experience and artistic talents of a professional photographer are priceless.”

We can’t help but agree. Find out more about this consummate professional and his views on professional real estate photography after the jump.

CandysDirt.com:  What do you find is the biggest misconception sellers and Realtors have about hiring a professional photographer for MLS photos?

Sean Gallagher Photography: For us, it’s the time involved. Since we cater to high-end luxury properties and the unique challenges presented by these properties, we will typically visit the property before the shoot. For the shoot, we will spend the majority of a day at the property capturing each area on the shot list under ideal lighting conditions (or as ideal as possible) as well as another day on final image preparation. While this investment isn’t appropriate for all properties, it’s an approach that results in truly superior results. As the marketplace becomes more crowded, having imagery that stands out is essential to generating more interest and lowering the number of days on the market. Time is everything: Waiting for the right light is essential.

4246_Woodfin_Dr 4246_Woodfin_Dr

CD: What is the most important shot? Why?

Gallagher: The most important shot will be the one that makes that particular listing stand out from all the other listings buyers are viewing. It’s the photo that captures and defines the character and style of the home and what sets it apart from the rest. This is the image that compels a homebuyer to spend more time on the page looking at other photos, bookmarking or e-mailing the link to a spouse or friend or most importantly, creating a desire to view the home.

This image illustrates this home’s architectural and unique drooping rooflines as well as it’s placement on a very private piece of land: two of the property’s strongest points.

The Stretto House, 9842 Rockbrook Dr., Dallas, Texas 

CD: What is the least important shot and possibly the one to avoid at all costs?

Gallagher:For situations where the home is not in the most desirable condition to be photographed, there are always one to a handful of images that can be made. This is where the skill, experience and artistic talents of a professional photographer are priceless. Those that distract the viewer from the selling points of the home. Every image should be a strong image that adds to the visual “story” of the home.

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 and  Where do you draw the line about representing a property?

Gallagher: Listing a property is not unlike advertising any other product. We treat each assignment like it is being photographed for the cover of a magazine and we capture the home at its absolute best and in a way that focuses the viewer on the strongest features of the home. We will make minor alterations during post-production, so long as it does not misrepresent or alter any permanent/existing structures. The camera has limitations in what it can capture (“limited dynamic range” in photographic terms). Your eye can see the sky behind a home but the camera will overexpose the sky or underexpose the front. We use lighting to enable us to gain tonal separation between architectural details or to balance lighting from one side of the room to the other creating an image that looks amazing both on the web and in print.

In the pair of photos below, the key selling feature is the wonderful view of downtown Dallas. However, the reflections on the windows hinder the viewers eye from fully engaging all the layers of the image. We can’t see past the reflections, so when we shoot the image, we take a second exposure with all the lights off inside the condo and later replace the windows in post-production with the reflection-less version to allow the outstanding view through the floor-to-ceiling windows to be visible.

Azure_1601 Azure_1601

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.?

Gallagher: Camera height is pretty subjective but, for me, it is the height at which I can get the best layering of the interior space, including furniture. To allow myself some additional freedom in camera height placement, I use an array of tilt-shift lenses specifically designed for architecture photography which enables me to vertically frame the image without making the walls tilted like they’re falling down.

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?

Gallagher:As I mentioned, having images for the sake of having more images is not necessarily a good thing. While your image counter will boast the biggest number, the images are not necessarily communicating any more information to the potential buyer than a smaller number of well thought-out, impactful images. The number of images required to sell a house is closer to 6-8 (see the “7-second rule” below). Just because MLS allows for 25 images, doesn’t necessarily mean that every property requires 25 images to properly showcase the home. Duplication of angles results in confusion and doesn’t communicate any additional information. It is our belief that a few strong images can be far more effective in showcasing a home than many weak images. There’s what I call the “7-second rule”: According to a recent article from homesandlandmedia.com, a listing has an average of 7 seconds to engage a buyer before they decide to click or move on. This is most effectively accomplished with strong visuals.

5343_Livingston_Ave

CD: Have you ever had to decline a shoot or walk away because a home was not ready?

Gallagher: It is very rare because we do a good amount of pre-production to ensure the shoot goes smoothly and the best images can be made. Our pre-production process usually includes a location scout prior to the shoot. For us, the location scout offers us an opportunity to see the property, make sure it is in shoot-ready condition and get an idea for the lighting conditions on the property and inside the home. We also use the opportunity to meet with the agent to discuss the selling points and marketing goals of the property, create the shot list and discuss any special circumstances that might require extra discretion. When it comes time for the shoot, we always allot extra time for last-minute window cleaning, pool cleaning, sweeping, tree trimming and any other last-minute maintenance items that need to be addressed for a better photo.

IMG_0430

CD: Parting shot?

Gallagher: We recognize that the real estate industry is highly competitive and an agent’s marketing collateral is representative of their brand. Images are a powerful tool and can instantly influence a viewers perception of a property, the agent or the entire real estate brokerage.

We are one of just a handful of studios in Texas that light our interior images with multiple off-camera flashes (and one of a handful of studios nationally that can supplement existing light on an exterior or create dramatic artificial light exteriors). Our first-time clients are often surprised and impressed with the amount of time we invest in creating the images. By standing out amongst the best in the MLS, it provides leverage to have the property featured prominently in other outlets as well as enhancing the impact of any advertising purchased for the property. Time and time again, when it comes to editorial spreads, having images that are top-tier gives your property an immense advantage in being featured in magazines, editorial newspaper articles and on the web. This also applies to brokerage-level advertisements and organizations such as Luxury Portfolio or Christie’s who put out branding advertisements with hand-selected properties, based on the strength of the photography.

Lighting plays a vital role in a quality interior image, as shown in the before and after example below:

6417_Sudbury_Rd 6417_Sudbury_Rd

(Editor’s Note: This is the fourth and final 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 firstsecond, and third installments for more.)

Today we chat with Jason of First Showing Photography, who feels that professional photography makes a first impression that sticks with buyers regardless of how a home shows. So why can’t professional photographers manage to charge more for their services? Find out this and more with our final installment of “Outside the Frame” after the jump.

CandysDirt.com:  What do you find is the biggest misconception sellers and Realtors have  about hiring a professional photographer for MLS photos?

First Showing Photography: It seems like photography is treated like a commodity sometimes. Almost any photographer is going to be better than no photographer, but you really might want to have a look at that portfolio first. (I receive a lot of calls from people who haven’t done this.) How bright are the rooms? Are you only seeing photos of a mansion shot eight years ago? Only photos shot under perfect lighting conditions (dusk)? These things matter.

Also the idea that the latest fad is going to give you some sort of edge, when in reality it might detract from your listing. For example, it’s very difficult to edit video to enhance home’s appearance, whereas it’s very cost effective to do this with still photography.

CD: What is the most important shot and why?

FSP: I would say the most important shot varies by property. Generally it’s going to be the most photogenic of the facade, living room, or kitchen.

CD:  What is the least important shot and possibly the one to avoid at all costs?

FSP: Little bathrooms. The garage. Just mention them in the ad. It’s not like you have to offer photographic proof these rooms exist.

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?

photography

 

(If it doesn’t leave the potential buyer feeling duped, then it’s fair game when it comes to editing photos, says Jason of First Showing Photography. Sometimes a room can feel dim, like the master bath above. Below, with a little photo editing, a bathroom can become positively illuminating.)

photography

Master Bath after post processing

FSP: Anything that’s not going to make a potential buyer feel duped when they come to see the property is fair game. And make no mistake, simply viewing a beautiful photo of something positively alters a buyer’s opinion of that thing, even after they see it in reality. What they say about first impressions is very true.

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?

FSP: I try to go as low as possible without occluding important features of the room. Still, I find myself shooting a little higher more of the time than many other photographers. The low angle can make a room look slightly bigger, but seeing over a counter or sofa is priority.

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?

FSP: The idea is to entice the buyer into seeing the property. Although more photos is usually better, you don’t necessarily need a lot of them to accomplish this. Multiple shots of a bedroom without any special features might be a little redundant, but I do think they can add to the presentation in some small way. Certainly you want a good number of shots of the living room, kitchen, and any room with interesting stuff in it.

CD:  Have you ever had to decline a shoot or walk away because a home was not ready?

FSP: If you hired me and I’m there, I’m shooting.

CD: Any funny stories about having to avoid shooting something unusual in a home?

FSP: Not part of the property, no. But I once had a semi-senile grandfather walking into nearly every photo. They brought him outside and he immediately manifested directly in the window of the room I was shooting.

CD:  Parting shot?

FSP: Given how much of a positive effect professional photos have on the selling price of a home, I can’t believe professionals can’t charge more!

(Editor’s Note: This is the third 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 and second installments for more.

Today we are chatting with Evan Godwin, founder of Chateau Shooters. For Evan, hiring a professional photographer is a no-brainer, but he explains in detail why his company provides a valuable service even in a hot market.

Read on for more, and stay tuned tomorrow for our final interview in our “Outside the Frame” series.

CandysDirt.com: Scan MLS and you see plenty of unprofessional photographs. Do you have any tips for sellers and Realtors that for whatever reason are not using professional photographers?

Evan CShooters

Evan Godwin: The biggest tips I have in regards to trying to do it solo are more in preparation than in the actual taking of the photo. There are so many technical things that go into properly photographing a home, from the physical photographing to post processing, that it would be better to delve into the preparation, which anyone can do, regardless of circumstances. I tell every Realtor who uses us for the first time the same thing: The more effort you put into your listing, the more you will get out of it. A hot market naturally leads to people cutting corners, thinking it doesn’t matter, but when you are building your personal brand there is something to be said for consistency paying dividends over the long run.

The biggest thing I see in some of the less-than-stellar homes we photograph is it doesn’t look like there is any motivation to sell the property. A good rule of thumb is to prep your home as though you plan on entertaining. Make it look presentable, declutter the countertops in the kitchens and bathrooms and put everything in its place. Too often I will walk into a listing with random stacked boxes in a corner that would better be served in a closet. The object is to showcase the home, not how much stuff you can fit in there. A house without clutter will lead to photos without clutter! The circumstances may be dire, but an hour or so of tidying up can go a long way, even if the Realtor does decide to tackle it on their own.

One of the biggest misconceptions is value. I don’t mean the cost alone, I’m talking about the cost-benefit ratio. Competitive real estate photography companies charge about $100-$150/ listing. For Realtors paying out of pocket to market their homes, this might seem to be a stretch, especially if you are selling less expensive properties. Using professional real estate photography as part of your marketing strategy leads to a number of benefits. While increasing virtual and in-person traffic (and subsequently shorter DOMs) being the most obvious, having all of your homes professionally photographed provides a consistently high level of service to your clients. With professional photography becoming increasingly more accessible and affordable to agents that specialize in all markets, the last thing you want is to not be competitive with your fellow agents. All of these things assist in building your brand as an agent and leads to more referrals and business down the road from clients that felt you went above and beyond.

CD:  What is the most important shot and why?

Godwin: Easily the front exterior. That single shot is the identity of the home to EVERYONE! It’s the first thing people see when the pull up and usually the first photo that is presented when on MLS.

CD: What is the least important shot and possibly one to avoid at all costs?

Godwin: Toilets. I’ll shamefully admit that I learned the hard way when I first began photographing homes that buyers know there is a toilet in the bathroom, no need to focus on it.

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 the property?

 

Godwin: When it comes to altering a shot there is a pretty defined line in regards to what I deem morally acceptable. Grass greening is something we include at no charge because at the listing’s best the grass would be green anyway. We photograph a ton of homes during the winter months, so no need to penalize home sellers that need to sell their home during that time of year. However, when it comes to physically altering the interiors that is something we don’t do. Removing cracks in the walls, adjusted shoddy paint jobs, etc. The last thing you want is a buyer to walk into a home with those things altered out of the photograph and be annoyed that the listing looks NOTHING like it did in the photos. We highly recommend and encourage staging homes, but fabricating and twisting reality can be looked upon as deceptive to buyers and make the showing agent look bad in the process.

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?

Living Room Before

(Here’s a good example of how perspective can change how you perceive a room. The photo above is shot straight ahead with no color correction, while the photo below is shot at a wider angle with color correction.)

Living room After

Godwin:  Height depends on a couple of factors. Things such as how high the ceilings are, what type of furniture is in the room, whether you are outside or inside all play a role. For instance, low shots that get the entire pool are better than eye-level shots in the same place that would cut off the bottom half of the pool. I teach our photographers to start with the base of the camera 40″-44″ from the ground and adjust accordingly based on the features that you are trying to highlight in the in the frame.

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?

Godwin: Yes and yes. As as standard, we include up to 30 images for that reason. We want Realtors the chance or opportunity to pick which ones they feel showcase their home the best. One trick is taking two to three frames of the master bedroom — one from the doorway looking in towards the bed, one from the other side of the bed looking back towards to doorway to showcase how the home flows into the bedroom. We also take three different angles of the front and back, so you can see how just the master bedroom and exterior can easily be nine photos right off the bat. For smaller townhome and condo listings, it is standard to include exteriors of the entire building and amenities that the community provides to make up the difference.

CD: Have you ever had to decline a shoot or walk away because a home was not ready?

Godwin: About once a week I personally get a listing that drives me up the wall. In every confirmation email we send out it asks to have the listings prepared for photography prior to our arrival. Most Realtors have worked with us before and respect that our time is valuable and that we work for multiple Realtors on the same day. Like I mentioned before, the more effort the Realtors put into prepping their listings, the more they will get out of the photography. With that in mind, the ball is in their court in regards to whether or not they want to maximize the value of their photos. We won’t walk away from a listing, but we will shoot it as-is. We don’t mind doing small things such as removing toothbrushes from countertops or hide soap under the sink, but we also aren’t maids and aren’t going to take the laundry out of your front-loading washer that we see sitting there, either.

CD: Any funny stories about having to avoid shooting something unusual in a home?

Godwin: Ah yes, definitely. There was a situation once where a gentleman (who was going through a divorce) had hung his big game heads all over the wall in the family room and hallways. When I showed up to photograph his home we actually had to spend about an hour removing all of the taxidermied heads from the walls with the understanding that his soon-to-be ex-wife would kill him if she saw that he had hung these heads all over her house. She had of course moved out prior to this.

CD: Parting shot?

Godwin:  One thing I train all of our photographers on is this: You never know why people are selling their homes. For some, it’s a great step forward to a larger dream house down the street or a killer new job in a different city that they are relocating for. For others it could be due to divorce or a recent passing. It’s important to be sensitive to the situation at hand and make sure that you are prepared to showcase this home at its best. Honestly, the most rewarding thing I get is when I receive weekly emails from Realtors who are ready to set up their next shoot, providing status updates on how the home we just photographed last week is already under contract. They always send a lot of the credit my way, which is fantastic.