Join Scott Hargis for an in-depth discussion in this video Real estate agent interview: Part 3, part of Real Estate Photography: Marketing, Pricing, and Client Relations.
- Well, so let's talk about the actual shooting process itself, like, we're in the house together, we're going to take pictures. You know, you're always really hands on. You're very into the styling. You go around and make sure that the flowers are looking right, the pillows are fluffed right. You're, you pay attention to detail which I really like, and I'm in the same place. I'm really into that stuff as well. And I think we work pretty good together, in that respect. How important is that to you that I be part of that? Like, are you--? - Oh, I, that's one of the reasons why I love working with you is because you see things that way.
First thing that I do when I'm working with just a general photographer, I make sure that everything looks perfect and I turn on all the lights and I close the toilet lids which is just a silly thing but when you get a photo back, this is just, you know, a newbie thing, you get a photo back that has a toilet seat up, it's, you know, not going to be well received by your client. So, you know, just kind of covering all those bases as somebody new starting out in photography, not all realtors do what I do and go through the house for them, so that might be something that they consider doing on their own.
- Yeah, the photographer's have to be thinking about those things. - They should be thinking about that. Go through, turn on all the lights, I like a shoot which has all the lights on. But, you know, I know different photographs have different-- - Different styles. - Have different approaches, different styles, yeah, and I, you know-- - I'm with you. - You can speak to that better than, that I do like the lights on. - To me, it means that it's warm, it's inviting, somebody's probably home. Like, we didn't just break into this house. - (Laughs) - You know what I mean? It just feels-- - Break into the house to take pictures. - Yeah, it does.
It just adds an element of life, I think, to the house, but that's me. - Yeah, so it's a good idea to just do that first so that, 'cause you get very involved in shooting your shot and then somebody talks to you and then to get back to your studio, it's, I'm sure it's crazy expensive, to like, your time and money and to bring all that gear back 'cause you missed a shot. - Right, no. - You know? - Bad. - Bad, that's a good way to go out of business, so you have to make sure, and be a little methodical about how you do things. - Right.
- And so, I am, you know, kind of anal, so I just go and try, if I can, be there first, do all of that. Also, making sure that when you take photos, you do some with the patio doors swung open, so the light is going out to the patio and some that are shut. I'm not telling this to you, but I'm telling this to people who are watching, you know, here, just to know 'cause that's something that you always do but it's, it's interesting when I work with other people, they don't think of those things. Front of the house, maybe one with the door open, slightly ajar, and then one with one shut, see which one resonates the most, making sure the garage door is closed, you know, these types of things, are always good to, to make sure that you have and just do it first.
- Do you ever get surprised when you get a set of pictures from a photographer and you're going through them for the first time? Like, oh good, the pictures are here and you go through and you look at them all and do you have moments that are kind of like, what were you thinking? Or why didn't you shoot that room-- you know, like-- - Like, why did you take that angle? - Yeah. - Why did you bother taking that picture? - Yeah. - I do have that. - Okay. - Yeah, yeah. - One of the things I always tell people to do is to go through the shot list ahead of time and say, this is what I'm going to shoot, and even down to the point of like, this is the angle I'm going to shoot just to, like, give you the chance to say, no.
(laughs) You know? Or, sure, but what about...? Right? And put your input into what's going to happen so that you don't have those moments of, you know-- - Like, I know we needed this shot, but this isn't the shot, it's not a crime scene here, people. We are taking pictures of (laughs)... It needs to be pretty, otherwise we shouldn't put it in the marketing. - Yeah. - You know, it's not just check, click the box, you have to be very thoughtful about the pictures that you take. They have to be beautiful. Otherwise, don't take it. - There's no point.
- There's no point. You're just wasting everybody's time, if it's not a pretty shot. I realize bathrooms can be really hard especially the powder room 'cause you can't get the right angle so sometimes you just have to, like, get a little, and we need those shots too, so I'm not saying, oh, every shot has to be beautiful, but there are, you know, there are moments where it's like, okay, let the, maybe the, you have to, if there's a different angle, we've got to find it. - Right. I mean, it doesn't have to be the money shot.
- Does not the money shot. - But it still has to have some aesthetic value, right? - Exactly. - And, you know, just on that then, there's the wide hero shots that say, this is the room and you can see the windows and the walls and the ceiling and the layout, and then there are the detail shots, and sometimes the detail shots are like, literally, the doorbell, right? Or the beautiful carved door knocker, or the, the way the light falls through a tree and onto the windowsill. Are you into that stuff? Does that have any value? 'Cause I love making them, like, it's just super fun from my perspective to make those pictures but sometimes, I'm like, this is a throwaway shot, like, it's not carrying any hard information.
- Right. - You know? It's a pretty picture. - Well, it depends on what the picture is of. I always love those ambient photos, especially now with social media, we have so many more opportunities, it may not make the brochure, but it, for instance, we did a shoot recently where you shot the house with me in a blur and also actually the seller was walking in, which was one of my favorite shots on the whole. - Yeah! - It was just beautiful, you know? This beautiful entry way and she's walking straight in.
- Which was totally unexpected. I was setting that shot up and I was like, okay, I'm ready to do it. The front door opens and she walks in. - And here she comes walking in. - I hit the button, and it worked. - And you don't really recognize fully who that person is and that's what the charm is of it 'cause it could be any woman walking through that door so in a realtor's perspective it could just give, breathes life into that photo in an unexpected way, and again, while I don't use it for MLS 'cause we can't have people in-- - Can't have people in MLS. - People in MLS, but I do have, there are so many more opportunities.
I mean, it was just, I have my Instagram feed, I have my Facebook page, all these shots can be pre-marketing for this listing. And it gets people excited. - And this wasn't true years ago, but now you have all these different places to put the pictures that you never had before. - And you need something with more color. It's so interesting because you know what those real sparkly money shots are, the ones with the heart, and that one with the woman walking in the front door, when I post those on my Instagram feed, I just get the world liking that photo.
If I point-- you can check yourself. You can see what resonates. If you're unsure if it has enough sparkle, get an Instagram page, and do a little figuring it out 'cause the world will tell you. - I had a client. I used to have a client here in the Bay Area that understood what you're saying but didn't know how to spot the photo and she actually told me, okay, can you, can you tell us the three good ones? Like, every time you do a shoot, deliver our pictures to us but we want you to tell us which ones are the three good ones.
- The money shots. - Yup. - Which ones are. - And so I would pick them out. I'd be like, this one, this one, and this one, and they were the ones that we'd been describing. They had amazing light, you know, the compositions, whatever was, they turned me on in some way and so then she would use those three in all those places where they really had to sparkle. But she didn't feel like she had the eye to pick them out. - Oh, interesting. - But she knew the importance-- - But she knew it. - That they had to be that shot, so she found a way to get them. - To figure out how, yeah. - And she just trusted my-- - It's just like being-- - My discretion on which ones they should be. - It's like being tone deaf, I guess, you know? And that's an interesting thing because you need to learn how to do that as a photographer.
- Or recognize that you can't and find someone to do it for you. - But I think if you're a photographer-- - Well, the photographer should be able to tell. - Yeah, the photographer's going to know for sure! - Right, we know which is the shot. - If you can't do that, then yeah. - You shouldn't be a photographer. - You should not be a photographer. (laughs) - Right. Okay, and then, you know, I don't know why I'm always asking this but, have you had any experiences with photographers like on location that just embarrassed you or that you just couldn't work with very well? I've heard some terrible stories about people that were always late or that just, or that interacted with a homeowner in a way that was just not really-- - Professional? - Professional.
- Well, I would say it's, generally, you want to be friendly and professional to the homeowner and allow the realtor to be the liaison between the homeowner and, and you. So, you're there to do your job. Of course, you can be pleasant and be funny, and then you can make the rest of it all work. - So this has been terrific. Is there anything that we need to talk about that I haven't thought of? - No, I would say just being professional and shoot a beautiful photo.
I love, if, 4:00 in the afternoon's a great time of day. (laughs) I always want my photographer to come at four but they can't so that's my quandary in life, to catch the light, but also think about making, if you're going to start off as a photographer, perhaps one way, just kind of as a business person, thinking about how to compete against other photographers and how to get your book of business started would be maybe to offer to shoot an agent's listing and also take the twilight for one price because oftentimes in our market, you're paying the regular shoot and then the twilight shot is an additional tag on, so maybe if you're a newbie and nobody knows you and you don't have a bunch of photos to take, that could possible be a way to get people to know you.
- Well, let's take an extra minute and talk about, like, how can a photographer get going, and market themselves? You know, they're new in the business, they don't have a tremendously good portfolio yet because it's a chicken and egg syndrome, like, I don't have any clients so I don't have any photos but the reason I don't have any photos is 'cause I don't have any clients. How can they get started and then once you're just a little bit started, like how can they get you to hire them? Like, what do they--? You must be on the receiving end of a ton of postcards and promos and emails-- - Emails, yeah.
- And all the rest of it, so, is it just delete, delete, delete, delete? - I do a lot of deleting, yeah. I for sure do. - And which one doesn't get deleted? And I guess I'm going to ask you to step back, you know, a few years in your career. Like, you don't have a solid relationship with me or anybody else, like-- - Back in the day. - You're getting your first, you're getting your first few listings. And suddenly, like, for the first time, you're doing all this stuff. - Well, first off, you have to have a beautiful website as a photographer. It needs to be gorgeous and you need to find some family member, a great uncle, a friend of a friend, who has a beautiful house, and you need to take beautiful pictures of it.
And you need to do that a number of times 'cause it can't all be the same house, so that would be the first thing. - So you would notice this. Like, you would look at a portfolio and be like that's-- - That's the first thing I notice. - All one house, and you kind of know immediately, like, yeah. - Yeah, you need to have, if you don't have clients, you need to pretend like you have clients. So, that's number one is to take a lot of pretty pictures and write a professional bio about yourself and it needs to be genuine and it needs to be who you are and so that's the first thing that you're professional online, and I would also encourage you to get an Instagram page and a Facebook page and start cultivating those two things as well because in an artistic world now, you need to have those.
- So you're a big believer in that. I mean, you're-- - Instagram and Facebook? - This is like the third time you've brought those up. - I think you, I mean, that's where I would look, if I didn't know you. You know? I would look on your website first and then I would see if I could-- - So you're, sorry. You're saying, like, when you were thinking about hiring a photographer that you never worked with before, you would like background check them. - Oh, I always background check them. - Oh, that's fabulous. - Oh, yeah. That's the first thing. You know, there's been times when I've had to hire because it was around the holidays and I didn't have someone that I knew and, you know, you have to go to their, find as much information about them.
Can they do a competent job? You're kind of stuck. - And I realize that it's hard. I talk to people about this. Like, we all have pretty good portfolios for the most part and then it's the question of, like, can you really deliver that every time, you know? - Right, and don't fake it. I mean, don't, you need to be able to produce something that's that good. - Right. That's the trick (laughs). - That's the trick, yeah. - 'Cause everybody's got enough lucky shots to put a little gallery together, you know? - Yeah. - But can you really deliver it? - Well, but, you know, I would say, if you're a new, young photographer, out in the world, and you want to make a living, you know, doing art photography, and you want to do real estate photography maybe to support yourself, as a young person, I would say, cultivate a relationship with some young agents too because there's the, I want to say, old guard or whatever you want to call it (laughs), sounds terrible, but, you know, the established, there we go-- - The establishment. - The established agents, they already have their people and we're going to go and look towards people we've known and worked with and I'm, just in case, you know, there are times where you are not available and my other, you know, not everybody's, you have to have a few people just in your back pocket, so-- - Right, like I'm your first choice, probably, and then you have, you have tiers.
- I have tiers. - That you go down-- - So you have to have new people. - So you're unlikely ever to hire somebody who's out on their first three months in business just because of who you are, you don't have to. - Right. And I pay attention to who takes beautiful photos in my price range, and how the photos need to look. - 'Cause you're looking at everybody else's listings? - 'Cause I'm looking at the other people's listings so I'm gathering other information about other photographers so through my network, I'm going to find a really good photography who I know is capable. - Should a new photographer pick up the phone and call you? Is there any value to, like, showing up for office meetings? At the brokerage? - You could always try that.
- Do we buy lunch for everybody? Like, what do we, what are the things that work? - One thing that you could try is to, I think we talked about this earlier, the brokerage has a number of agents, or not agents, of photographers that they work with-- - Right, the preferred photographer or whatever you call it. - The preferred photographer, so you want to get on that list because then you're more likely to get chosen by an agent because you're on that name list. So that means you'll have to be vetted by the marketing person at that brokerage, and they'll make a deal with you, so they'll have to negotiate with you because the brokerage then negotiates, if you're going to work for us, we're going to pay you X amount of dollars, so as a young agent, again, that may be an opportunity.
You have to build up to the pricing of someone who's done it for a longer time so that would be maybe an opportunity there to, to try that pricing to say, gosh, I, maybe that's a deal that you can work out with the brokerage. Hey, I'll do the twilights too. - And that's a way to get started, and you might be working with someone of the newer agents that don't have their own, that don't have the established relationships yet but then you're established with them. - Then you, everybody's had to start off somewhere. - And somebody like you may see that new agent's listing and be, those are killer shots.
- If those are killer photos, I mean, like-- - And you're probably going to ask who did it, right? - Exactly. Then we all start looking and-- - And the network begins. - And the network begins, yeah. That's kind of how, you know, even for lenders, it always works that way, so, if you're starting out, I would definitely, even if you're not connected with a brokerage, I think a really good spot to start building your business is every region will have an open house list, and go to open houses. - Go to open houses. - Find out who is the new agent with the new listing.
Maybe it's just a condo, you know? But you build your business with that person. - And just show up and be like, here's my card, give me a call sometime? - Yeah. Did you know that I will take your twilight shots with your regular shots? They didn't know that, and that's a way for you to say, I'm giving you something, and that will get them to look at you and have a beautiful card, maybe make it a little bigger, you know? You're a photographer so I'm sure you have something (laughs)-- - Well, I used to go around with a postcard. This is what I did. - Go out with a postcard. - I made postcards that were like five by eight and I went around and-- - With like a little montage.
- People would say, do you have a business card? I would be like, oh, I left them in the car. Here's this. - Oh, gosh, I don't, but I have this. - Right, it's harder to throw those away. - Yeah, exactly, so that, yeah. - So that still works? - Face time, old, you're a salesperson for yourself at that point. - So getting on actually meeting someone. - Knock on the doors, but I think the, either going on Sunday and doing a little research and finding out who is new, is one good way, or maybe who is starting to pay attention, just start paying attention in your market on who is doing more listings.
- So, yeah. - So maybe they haven't done listings-- - Actually figuring out the lay of the land and getting to know names. - Getting to know names. I mean, I think you're going to be more successful than trying to knock on my door, you know, I have a new mentee. She doesn't have relationships. She's pulling them from me right now but she is her own person so if you were to come to her saying, I am a new photographer, I am, I want to make, my life is depending on making your homes look incredible-- - And be like, let's conquer the world together.
- They're like, let's do it together. And they're, yeah, let's make something of our own. We don't want to be-- - Right, I mean, that would appeal to me. - I mean, one of the things in this industry as, as a realtor and in my marketing is that there's so much homogeneity in the marketing, and so, you're constantly trying to have your marketing stand out, and beautiful photography is just one of the perfect ways of making that happen. - Right on. Well, we've covered a lot of ground and it's been terrific hearing all this from your perspective.
This has just been golden material, so thank you so much. - Oh, you're so welcome. - It's been a lot of fun. I think we got a lot of good information out there. This seems like a good time to wrap it up. - Well, go conquer the world. - (Laughs) I will. Thanks again, Claudia.