When people ask me how much of my business is made up of architectural photography and things surrounding the real estate market, my typical reply is, “about 85%.” I guess I just really love to take pictures of empty buildings and I found my niche there, but naturally the next question I’m asked is about the other fifteen percent of my business. That other portion isn’t corporate events, senior proms, bar mitzvahs, quinceaneras, sweet sixteens, family reunions, and especially not weddings. The other 15% is mostly made up of outdoor sports coverage, specifically adventure racing. What is adventure racing? That story actually starts with seafood, so buckle up.
Thanks to all my clients for your patience while I was away over the last several days. I had a great time in Aruba celebrating my 7th anniversary with my wife, Erin, and I got the chance to dive on a few historic ship and plane wrecks while we were there. Here are a few pictures from those dives, as well as a handful from the rest of the trip!
In Aruba, Totally Wrecked
Shipwrecks off the coast of the happy little island
This was my first real experience with underwater photography, and as with anything new, I have some learning to do. I tried a lot of different equipment configurations, spoke to other divers, and generally picked up on a lot of what not to do. I still managed to get a few of these haunting images from the wrecks Antilla, and Jane Sea, as well as a few of the local reefs:
And now, as we New Englanders plunge head first into fall and winter, here are a few images to remind us of better weather:
Boca Grandi Beach, deserted.
First and foremost, thank you to all of my clients who have helped me build my business to where it is today. I have come a long way since going full time in 2015, and a lot is due to your trust in my services and all of the kind referrals. After hundreds of properties photographed, I've collected a lot of information about what the real estate marketing professionals are looking for. Based on the demand for various services, I am re-introducing a clearer pricing structure, more service options, and product packages that seek to more closely meet the needs of real estate professionals.
JS O'Connor Photography - Real Estate Services
Interactive Floorplan Tour
20-30 super HD photos, printable laser-measured floor plan, rendered as 3D interactive model with photo hot spots, slideshow video, tour platform, printable flyers, marketing tools, MLS sync, and more. Click here for a sample.
Matterport HQ Tour
20-30 super HD photos, incredibly detailed 3D laser scan using Matterport technology, printable floor plan, custom property website, printable flyers, marketing tools, MLS sync, and more. Click here for a sample.
Photos & Floorplan only
Sometimes a property only requires basic services. I am committed to continue offering pricing for these options as well. You can still schedule for single floor plans, and single photo sessions as you evaluate the needs of each individual property.
My commitment to quality is as important as ever now, but I also know that the real estate market moves quickly, and that means quick turnaround times. I'm happy to say that for most projects, I can deliver finished products within 24 to 48 hours. Matterport tours may be delivered even sooner.
I'm going to put all of this up permanently on my new pricing page soon, but I wanted to get this out there to my clients as soon as I made it official! If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me directly at email@example.com. I'm always happy to discuss unique projects that require custom quotes as well.
It happens more than I would like to admit, but I will open the door to photograph a property and as I walk in, I find boxes, trash, stray furniture, unswept floors, and unwiped counters. Most times, homeowners just run out of steam, especially when they've got everything else with a move on their plate. I definitely get it, and the temptation to call it quits when you've cleaned up 80% of the house is overwhelming. It's certainly okay to call it a day at that point if your agent is doing their own photos, but if you're hiring a professional photographer, the property needs to be 100% photo ready for the best results
Everyone has heard of Airbnb before - the service that connects people with short term rentals and allows home owners to set their properties up for rent while they are away. They were obviously on to something because that market has exploded in recent years. Looking to cash in on an extremely lucrative short term rental market, many other companies have sprung up to compete with Airbnb, and that has created a whole new area of business for real estate photography.
I'll be brief: If you're a real estate professional looking to get more listings in 2017, you've probably already considered adding some things to your marketing package. In response to demand I have continued to add more services, and I'll be adding yet again soon. Please take a second to complete this 4 question survey that will affect how I implement the next few expanded services. I really appreciate everyone's time and I can't wait to start rolling out the new services you help pick.
One of the first things I learned about photography is that an incredible photo can be taken with even the most humble of cameras. Equipment does not make one a better photographer, rather things like dealing with lighting, subjects, and composition really make good photos. In real estate photography, that adage is mostly still true. As a real estate photographer, you need to know where you can get the best angles for particular rooms, how to compose photos without rooms seeming too small or too cavernous, and how to deal with multiple light sources.
While good equipment won't instantly make someone a great real estate photographer, there are a few pieces of critical equipment that make my work a whole lot easier. The camera and lens don't take the photos, the photographer does. But it always helps the photographer out when his or her tools are as sharp as possible. Here is a quick rundown of what's in my bag on every single real estate shoot. It's certainly not all necessary for every property, but I always want to be prepared for changing conditions or opportunities.
1. The real deal: Canon 5DSr
With a 50.3 megapixel sensor, this is the highest resolution DSLR on the market right now. If you want a bigger sensor, you start to have to look into the world of medium format which can be pushed to 100mp or more. For my needs, the 5DSr is the perfect solution. the giant sensor allows me a lot of wiggle room to crop unsightly items out of photos while retaining super sharp clarity. Some might argue that the 5DSr has a major weakness in that its ISO speed tops out at 6400 (12,800 in expanded mode.) For me, that doesn't matter. I am always shooting on a tripod at low ISO, typically no more than 320. When I need more light in a room, I rely first on shutter speed, and then aperture. ISO rarely gets changed. So for my purposes, the 5DSr works beautifully.
2. The workhorse lens: Canon 16-35 f/4
This is my go-to lens without a doubt. I find that most of my real estate shots are taken within the range of 16mm to 20mm, and the zoom allows me the flexibility to choose. For those wondering, no, I do not shoot with a tilt-shift lens. I find that modern image stitching, vertical adjustments, and lens profile corrections are more than enough to produce high quality photos. Yes, I do lose a bit of information when I apply one of these fixes, but it's never noticeable when I shoot on the huge sensor of the 5DSr.
3. The specialty lens: Sigma 8mm fisheye
I use this lens for one thing and one thing only: creating 360 degree photospheres. It works beautifully with my camera, and when paired with a precision rotator, I can create an entire photosphere with just 4 shots.
4. The secret weapon: Arcatech precision rotator for the Sigma 8mm lens
I have tried three different rotators for my 360 panoramas, and I have to tell you, nothing can hold a candle to this simple piece of engineering. It's precision built to work only with the Sigma 8mm lens. There is no setup and no fussing with parallax and nodal points. It's built to do one thing, and it does it perfectly. If I ever need to take a photosphere with another lens, I suppose I could bring out my old Nodal Ninja, but really, I don't see myself ever needing to do that.
5. The detail hounds: Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 and Canon 24-105mm f/4
One of the things I tout with real estate photography is detail shots. Fixtures, tiles, historic embellishments, woodwork, etc. are all things that need a closer look, and I use these two to get in close. While I usually prefer the nice bokeh effect I get with the 24-70 for larger details like plumbing and light fixtures, it's always nice to have the 24-105 on hand for its macro capability if I want to shoot something especially small like intricate woodwork. If you're a photographer reading this, you might think all this is overkill. Well, you might be right, but my philosophy on real estate photography is to never miss a shot. I strive for perfection, and even a small difference in aperture between these two lenses can make a difference. Though the client may never see it, I will.
6. The lights: 2 Canon Speedlites (and sometimes a pair of Pocket Wizard transceivers)
If you know my work, you know I avoid flash as much as possible, opting for compositing for 99% of my shots. There are exceptions though. During periods of strong sunlight where my dark and light exposures are going to be too many stops apart, I will occasionally use a flash to help them meet in the middle. That's a rare occurrence though. The real exciting use of my flashes is in twilight photography. With the radio transceivers, I can use a speedlite with an orange gel to selectively light various parts of a twilight scene to make really dramatic twilight shots using light painting in Photoshop.
7. The indispensable extras: Solid tripod, remote shutter release
If you don't have a good tripod and a shutter release, items 1 through 6 on this list are mostly useless. To shoot for compositing requires absolute stillness with the camera and you just can't do that handheld or with a wobbly tripod. I never leave home without them.
8. The supporting cast: all the things I have on hand, just in case
If you opened my bag right now, you'd find 8 fully charged batteries, an emergency charger, 2 lens cleaning cloths, and a case stocked with extra memory cards. These are a must for any photographer shooting on location, but I can't stress them enough. If your camera doesn't work, you're sunk. Simple as that. Lastly, I carry a small supply of those slip-on booties people use to protect floors from muddy shoes. I find that when I enter someone's home, donning a pair of these shows respect for cleanliness, and sets a precedent for the quality of the shoot. I also don't like to work in my socks ;)
Well the year is coming to a close, and with the end of 2016 drawing near, I thought this would be a great time to look back on some of my favorite spaces from this year. I have photographed properties of all kinds this year. Every time I shoot a home, I am on the lookout for well designed and well staged spaces - those that seem to stand out from the rest. Here is a list of just a few of my favorite spaces from 2016.
1. Converted industrial space rental in Charlestown
I was introduced to a property manager recently. They maintain and rent high end properties in the Boston area and a few other metropolitan areas. This was one of my favorite units I shot - a two bedroom condo in Charlestown. The building is a converted industrial space, and the whole thing has a super chic, clean, contemporary feel to it.
2. New construction in Lexington
This one is near and dear to me. It's one of the first homes I was able to photograph both before and after staging. As with new construction, this home was beautiful but empty when complete. I shot all the rooms, and it did look okay, but it wasn't until the staging came in that the home truly came to life.
3. Open floorplan condo in Somerville
When I first moved to the Boston area, I chose Somerville to put down roots, so it will always be a part of me. That's why I chose this recently renovated condo in a triple-decker in Porter Square as one of my favorites. Clean design, excellent location, and superb staging made this unit a top notch property for 2016.
4. Lexington FSBO
I almost always work with real estate agents, but from time to time, I deal with FSBO clients. That is, "For Sale By Owner." This was one such case. In this property I found a modern renovation of an 18th century farmhouse. Open and free, but with a nod to the original construction, this was a truly unique property. My hat's off to the homeowners who staged the property as well as I have seen any professional do.
5. Chic South Boston condo
South Boston is flush with new development, and this was no exception. Staged by the Realtor herself, this property just oozed style. Clean lines, simple yet elegant furniture, and a few unique touches made this small property jump off the page.