Real Estate Media Production – Beginner Tips & Advice

We at V3 Media Group have always had our hands in a wide variety of digital media services. Most of these services are exclusively web-marketing based like Search Engine Optimization, website design, development, etc., but in the past year or so, we’ve been expanding our video production and photography services into the real estate media market, producing photos and videos for agents looking to sell a particular listing.

Here’s what we’ve learned, specifically about the photography side of things.

1. Shoot in HDR (or have great flash technique)

High Dynamic Range photography can be simplified down to taking 3 pictures from the exact same position in 3 different varying exposure levels – under, correctly, and overexposed. Then, in post production, combine those images into one HDR image with the variability and flexibility to show the detail in the highs, lows, and throughout. Many cameras will have an auto-HDR function that will automatically set your camera to take 3 images when you take a picture, like the Canon 5d Mark IV we’ve been using.

HDR allows you to edit anything and everything you need in post (white balance, color grading, anything) that you’d be able to do with a standard RAW file, but also allows your to bring out specific colors, shadows, and more that you just wouldn’t be able to outside of HDR. It may take a little while longer in post to get finished images to the client, but the result has been worth the wait.

The biggest criticism that we have encountered with HDR photography is one that can only be addressed using flashes and photo merging techniques. When you take ambient photos using HDR photographer, which is oftentimes our default, you’re presenting the room as it looks to the naked eye. What you’re not doing, however, is spending the time to correct the white balance of your naked eye. In order to get that luxurious, magazine-quality, real estate shot, you’re going to want to merge your HDR with flash techniques to get window pulls, and the white balance the client actually wants to see. We could spend 5000 words on lighting techniques and HDR, but for the beginning, our experience is shooting HDR is simpler.

1

Shoot in HDR

HDR allows you to showcase all of the ranges of colors and highlights in a home without looking grainy of fake.
2

Be Flexible

When there's a lot of different people involved, you need to be able to be flexible with your schedule.
3

Get Pro-level equipment

Get the good stuff. Don't try and get by with cell phones and cameras from 2002.
4

Understand Your Local Market

Not every market is the same in terms of what value you're able to bring. Figure out where you should fit in.

2. Be Flexible

One of the biggest reasons we’ve been able to see success in the real estate media production field is our ability to schedule and reschedule accordingly. This can be a really tough idea for photographers, especially ones with hectic schedules like us. When it comes to dealing with homeowners, agents, and then your own schedule, plus curveballs like the weather, it’s incredibly important to be flexible with your production schedule.

We’ve been able to remove some of the stress of scheduling through providing the video production within our photography packages. This idea removes a 4th party to need to schedule for the home shoots. With one less person or company to deal with, you’re much more likely to be able to get a job scheduled and produced on time.

Many, if not all, realtors have a binding contract with a client to list photos within 48 hours of signing the contract to sell through them. The realtor will want to get the pictures produced as quickly as possible, so getting out to the house immediately, and at their first request is a cornerstone of developing customer loyalty for your media production brand.

3. Get Professional Equipment

This sounds like a no brainer, but some people just don’t seem to understand the level of difference possible with modern professional camera equipment. We’re currently running with the aforementioned Canon 5d Mark IV, a FujiFilm Xt20 (for inside videos), and then the DJI Mavic Pro 2. The cost to purchase all of this equipment may be a large barrier to entry for some (with lenses like the f1.4 10 – 18mm, quality tripods, and a gimbal system bringing your total upwards of $10,000), but it’s worth it in the long run. You and your client will be able to look through listings in your area on realtor.com and see the difference in the pictures you’re producing.

So many realtors are trying to get a way with taking pictures on the iPhones, or using a Canon Powershot from 2005. While this may be the most economical method (free) to get SOMETHING up in the MLS, realtors will recognize that professional pictures can a measurable difference in the number of calls about a specific home. In order for you to be able to offer a higher quality product you have to use higher quality equipment.

4. Understand Your Local Market

This idea can be a huge difference in how you price your services. Some agents will be looking for the cheapest option while others are looking for the highest quality. That may look like a $1,000 difference in your area, depending on where these agents are placing your value in comparison to the value of the homes themselves. If you’re looking to offer a competitive price for your services, you need to know that real estate agents that only make a couple thousand offer of a sale won’t want to pay you $500 for the listing. You will need to have a thorough understanding of what value you’re actually able to offer for your services.