There was a time, when simple photos had to be created by a highly trained and skilled professional. Crime scenes, vacation pictures, land surveying, documentary images, even passport & identification photos would have been taken by an accomplished photographer. In 1972 Polaroid Instant film changed all of that. The industry experienced a massive boom as now anybody could create a photo.
41 years later, It’s 2013 and we’re experiencing the same thing again. We’re in the age of facebook and instagram.
Where even the most high-end photography has seen a shift from the analog darkroom to the digital Photoshop. We are in an era where all seems forgivable.
Bad hair? We’ll fix that, Gap teeth? We can fix that! Don’t want the garbage can in front of the house? An hour in Photoshop and we’ll get rid of that for you! Even the lowest quality work can be cleaned up, re-wrapped in a shiny bow and sent out the door to the friendly viewer. It’s an age where everyone is a photographer, and most of them don’t have a clue what they’re doing.
I can’t count how many times an agent has said to me, “I need a really good feature sheet, this house is gorgeous and I want to make sure it looks great. I’ll stop by for a few minutes and take a couple pics of it”. In all things you do, the outcome mirrors your investment. Does “stopping by for a few minutes” really scream quality and professionalism?
If you said no, that it is not high quality, or professional. Stop to think about the message you’re client is receiving the next time your deciding whether to call ICONICA to book a photographer, or to shoot it with your handy cam.
Here’s a little background on my experience in the medium. I am an OCAD graduate in fine art photography, a former recipient of the McCain Residency for photography, and have exhibited photographic works in quite a few fine art galleries. So if 10,000 hours makes someone an expert in anything, I have put in my hours.
The question is not “can an average person using a digital camera be a true photographer?” The question is, “does it still matter if they’re a true photographer or can anybody do it?”
The answer is a resounding yes it matters and No everyone can’t do it. At least… They can’t do it well… and here is why!
Taking Pictures? or Creating Images!
Photography at its core is the study of light and the artist’s manipulation of that light to create an image.
When was the last time you thought about the composition of light and dark within the image. The amount of detail in the shadows, or how light blankets on the focal point of the image? The answer for most people is never. They look at the couch and the carpet or the person. The camera can’t see these things. The camera only sees how much light there is, where it comes from, and where it’s going.
This is something a photographer understands. The most common problem I find with real estate photos is they are taken at 3 pm from outside the house on a bright and sunny day. Its beautiful outside, the birds are chirping, the suns shining and it seems like a great time to take a picture. Right?…
WRONG! A photographer will tell you that direct sunlight is an absolute nightmare to work in. It is too powerful; it comes from only one direction and creates extremely contrasted images. The light areas are white, the shadows are black, and there is almost no detail between the two. Everything looks bland. It actually takes quite a bit of work and experience to correctly shoot in direct sunlight. One method is HDR photography, a method of taking 3 images, exposed for 3 different settings, and stitched together to provide detail to the contrasty areas. Another option is shooting longer exposures through a filtered lens, designed to add more detail to the images.
That is the difference between taking photos, and creating images. A photographer creates images, chooses the best possible lighting, best angle, best camera, and formulates his composition to create an ideal image. His job is to make the house look better than it is and not everyone can do that. The quality of your photography tells a client how much you value their business. Treat it with the same respect you would demand yourself.
The Agents who consistently hire good photographers to create their images, also end up with the most referrals, most listings, and maintain a more successful business than the ones who don’t.