Taking advantage of South Florida's demographic. Or, 'why aren't we?' by Brian Sokolowski

If you spend any time looking at Real Estate Photography from Europe, you'd find that it's very different than American Real Estate Photography. In fact, they don't even call it Real Estate Photography... it's 'Property Photography' there. They don't utilize HDR- that's an inferior process- therefore it's not even in their lexicon. They shoot with a lot of natural light, and flash blended with natural light. Generally they leave the lights off- this gives a much cleaner, airy and open feel to the photos, and eliminates any ugly color casts which can destroy the mood of the photo. In general, to survive as a property photographer there- you need to be good... really good. 

What has that done to the market, and to the consumer? It's made them much more visually literate. Simply put- they're used to looking at very high quality photography. So why aren't we as a market taking advantage of the large European real estate contingency in South Florida? Why aren't we bringing them home- so to speak? If you have a moment, take a look at the photography marketing page of Fantastic Frank's Real Estate (Berlin and Stockholm) Web-site. And then have a look at The South Florida MLS.  

I'm willing to bet that if we started to emulate what the buyers market is used to seeing, the numbers would rise. And maybe more importantly, so would your brand recognition. 

Lighting a Dark and Moody Bathroom by Brian Sokolowski

Bathrooms can be challenging. Your're dealing with color casts, reflections, more reflections, and multiple surfaces made of different materials that need to be accented a certain way, with a certain strength. HDR- besides being anything but a premium photographic method, will render this kind of room muddy, with colors more akin to melting chocolate, than a crisp, clean palette. 

I used three flashes and two separate exposures to make this seemingly simple photograph. Lighting the room as well as the small room in the background was easy enough with a soft touch. But how to light the inside of the shower without making it boring? The first exposure is just the two flashes. The second exposure was made by me holding a 'flash on a stick' over the top of the shower glass, to fill that are with light of a different strength, and to give it some separation. Then simply mask myself out of the second photo, and carefully blend the two exposures in photoshop.  

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Does quality photography really matter? What's the difference? by Brian Sokolowski

Before we tackle that question, it may be advantageous to take a look at Fantastic Frank Real Estate's Web-Site. 

It's widely accepted that no-one in the industry even comes close to branding excellence as does Fantastic Frank. But why? There's no virtual reality, no matterport, no video, in fact- there are no brand new shiny toys at all. What you do see however is simplicity, elegance, quality, quality, and more quality. They have shifted the focus from mind-numbing overexposed, wide-angle photos, to a philosophy that shifts the focus to Lifestyle.  Is there a better location to shift that focus in the United States than South Florida? We believe that the right combination of motivated, trend-setting Brokerages and passionate, experienced photographers can create something revolutionary in the South Florida Market. 

We see and hear a barrage of resistant excuses to why this approach would not work here... 

What I always try to get businesses to understand is that they have to position themselves. Dare to stand for something, if you don’t believe in the things you sell, that will shine through in your marketing. Thomas Backman
Founder and Head of Marketing
Fantastic Frank Real Estate

'It takes too long!'... there are thousands of dollars on the table, and thousands more down the road. Is there an equivalence between that and an extra hour or so?

'Our clients don't care. We're not selling photography!'... take a look at the magazines your clients are reading. Modern Luxury? Dwell? Luxe interiors+design? Florida Design? It's true that most of your clients don't know how these photos were made, but this is the quality they're hoping you'll provide. And they'll tell others that you did, or didn't.  

'It's too expensive!'... this is mis-leading, and inaccurate. Is is going to be bottom-barrel pricing? No, and it shouldn't be. Burger King sells 12 chicken nuggets for $1.69. Is the pricing going to be exorbitant, or cause sticker shock? No. With the right motivation, planning, and collaboration between agent/broker and photographer, this will be done at a market comparative price. Give us a call. You'll see we're not out to break your back. But we do want to create partnerships that will elevate our brand as well as yours.

And now, on to logistics. 

83% of all home buyers want to see pictures of the property online

Today, the Home Buyers search looks something... like this....

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Thanks to social media, we've become a largely visual culture. Buyers are spending more time online doing research and want to see photographs of the homes they're interested in before they even consider going to see it in person. 

Buyers today are now much better educated on image quality than they used to be. So when they go to their local website to see what homes are currently for sale in their area they want to be impressed. They don’t bother clicking on the poorly presented home, or the bad photo, unless they are looking for a bargain. Instead, the buyers will quickly scroll through the images, and just like a Tinder user, they’ll ‘swipe right’ on the houses that get their attention, and they’ll ‘swipe left’ on the homes that look bland.

In fact, there’s an app called Doorsteps Swipe that works just like this, where homes are swiped right or left based on that main photo.

Home buyers use sophisticated devices, so high-res, and high-quality images stand out from those taken using shortcut methods. People have bigger screens on their phones, they use retina display tablets, and when at a desktop, that too has a higher resolution screen. Your clients are no longer using outdated smart phones to view tiny files on the MLS. For optimal clarity, listing photos should be 3264 pixels wide by 2448 pixels high.  That's a giant leap forward from even a few years ago. What this is also saying is that consumers are demanding better work. Saying things like 'it's just the MLS' is antiquated thinking. 

At Aloft Foto, we're acutely aware of this. We photograph every home, and deliver every image with the expectation that your potential buyers will be looking at the details. Accurate color rendition, correct exposure, optimal lighting, etc. We literally have two seconds to grab their attention. 'Good Enough' is not part of our Brand.