Real Estate Blogs

Working with a photography consultant

Hiring a photography consultant has been on my to-do list for a while. My goal with working with a consultant is to review and update my portfolio as well as get help with marketing.  About a year ago I started the process of finding a consultant but work got so busy that I decided it wasn’t the right time. A few months ago I started the process again and interviewed two different consultants. Because I had never worked with a photography consultant, my goal with the interview was to gather information about what was involved with the process, how long the process would take and how much I should budget for the project. Of the two consultants I spoke with I went with Sherrie Berger. My decision was based partly because she’s local to LA but mostly because we found a good rhythm during our initial conversation that I felt she would be a good fit for my personality and my goals. Sherrie described her “program” as organic, which in the end meant that without starting down the path it would be hard to predict where we would end up.

For our first meeting she came to my office which was hugely beneficial. We started with a review of my website which  led us to discuss and review various shoots in my archive. We spent a couple hours reviewing my work and discussing my business. Having someone else critique my work was a bit uncomfortable. It had been years since I sat down for a portfolio review and although uncomfortable, it also meant that the dread of a stagnant website was coming to an end. Unlike a portfolio review where someone is looking at the 20-30 images I deemed worthy of review, Sherrie was able to look at entire shoots and pull images I had skipped over or didn’t think were right for my portfolio. In addition to reviewing archived shoots she was able to suggest options to consider for my next shoot. Over the course of the next month we worked together to fine tune my portfolio and website. It’s still a work in progress but in that short time period we completely revamped my website by digging up gems in my archive as well as scheduling new shoots. The plan was to work together on a month-to-month basis and as the  month was coming to an end my schedule for the following month wasn’t going to allow time to commit to Sherrie’s assignments so we took a break. Having the flexibility to start and stop the process was invaluable.

Despite Sherrie leaving me with assignments to work on I found that not having her to coach, encourage and motivate me made it easy to put off my homework. It’s incredibly similar to working with a personal trainer at the gym. Sherrie kept me motivated and more importantly she kept me accountable.

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Thanks for a great year

Thanks to all my clients, friends and family that helped to make 2010 a great year.

I have been reading a book by Michael Lewis called “The Big Short” about the sub-prime mortgage mess and the related meltdown. It starts with him describing his work as a broker at Salomon Brothers straight out of college and how as a 24 year old without any financial experience was paid a lot of money to give financial “advice”. He later talks about the investment banking business and all the shenanigans involved. He put into words what I had not been able to describe about my work as a sell-side analyst. We were paid to sell dreams. As much as they paid me I could no longer continue hating my job day after day. Leaving that industry, despite my passion for the market, was the best decisions I ever made.

Now I get paid to take pictures and I love it. As you’ll see in the video it’s not always glorious. Not everyone is a super model, not every house is a beautifully decorated mansion but to me it doesn’t matter. I’m my own boss, I set my hours, I pick my jobs, I get to sleep at night and as a result of my career and lifestyle I’m a different person. Thanks. Thanks to everyone who reads this or took part in one of the shoots. Your help and support allows me to continue doing what I love.

This is the third year I’ve made a year-end review  slide show. The video is a slide show set to a song I found and fell in love with in 2010. It includes a photo from every assignment and photo shoot I had in 2010. Like I mentioned above, they are not always glorious photo shoots but I’m grateful for all of them. My main areas of work are real estate, architecture and interior design, children, weddings and family, head shots and executive portraits and shots of and for models.  Last year a friend noted that it seemed odd that there would be a photo of a baby followed by a swimsuit model…..so this year instead of chronological order I’ve grouped the images by type.  I’ve also omitted the great majority of the photos of my daughter Grace. This year she’ll get her own slideshow. For those of you who can’t view flash you can see the video on my site: http://chuckespinoza.com/#/Year%20End%20Vids/2010/1. I also re-edited last years video organizing the images by subject. http://chuckespinoza.com/#/Year%20End%20Vids/2009/1

Music is huge to me and every year I’ve agonized over what song to use. This year I went with C’Mon by The Soft Pack They are an indie rock band out of San Diego. I found and fell in love with them because their music takes me back to the time I started taking pictures. They remind me of the music I was listening to in middle school which was when I first picked up a camera.

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Modern in Santa Monica

Last week I shot a new listing for the McCormick’s of Teles Properties. Details and more photos can be seen at http://943centinelaavenue.com/

943 Centinela Ave Santa Monica, CA 90403

Entry Way

943 Centinela Ave Santa Monica, CA 90403

Foyer

943 Centinela Ave Santa Monica, CA 90403

Living Room

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Architectural Photos, and using photos for marketing

A few months ago I was introduced to Lauren Shadid via Josette Murphy of About:Space. Lauren left a big architecture firm and is in the process of building a website for her firm. I was hired to shoot a couple of completed projects which will be showcased on her upcoming website. For architects and interior designers I spend a lot of time making sure that the color and the design of the space is accurate.

Like myself and other photographers, architects and designers are particularly attuned to how their project looks when photographed. They spend hours deciding on colors, materials, fabrics and lighting; it’s only natural that the same attention to detail would occur after the photo is taken. In a lot of cases we become accustomed to how an environment looks to the naked eye, we don’t notice the color of the light or the shadows but once we look at a photo we start to notice those details.

In the case of this Sherman Oaks dining room that Lauren designed there were a lot of factors affecting the lighting and color. In this shot of the dining room, the custom made table, made by Boudreau Custom Woodwork, was casting a lot of orange light onto the ceiling and walls because of the light reflecting off the table coming from the skylight. In Photoshop I removed the color cast to give the walls and ceiling a more accurate color. The following is a screen shot of my work in Photoshop. It’s time consuming work but included in the service I offer my customers.

Dining room before color correction

Photoshop screen shot with color correction layers and masks

Spending money on marketing for small business owners is never easy. I’m in the same boat. Like my clients, I want to know that the money and effort I spend marketing my photography is effective. I often meet potential clients that think “good enough” is OK for their business and marketing materials.  The great thing about architects and interior designers is that they know the power of photography and its effectiveness in communicating their work to potential clients.

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Renaissance Towers for About:Space

A couple weeks ago I got a call from the interior designers at About:Space. They were finishing up on a project for the Renaissance Towers downtown and wanted to submit photos of their work for an industry award. Their work involved upgrading the lobby and leasing office as well as designing the new penthouse. The following shots are samples from our two day shoot.

Renaissance Towers Leasing Office Design

Renaissance Towers Leasing Office Design

Renaissance Towers Lobby Design

Renaissance Towers Lobby Design

As much as tried to integrate it into the shot, I just couldn’t manage to get the helicopter pad just outside the windows on the right to read. Next time I’ll request a helicopter.

Renaissance Towers Penthouse Living Room

Renaissance Towers Penthouse Living Room

Renaissance Towers Penthouse Master Bedroom

Renaissance Towers Penthouse Master Bedroom

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Why you should hire me to shoot your ________

I recently lost a job based on price. I had already provided the “bro hookup” discount since the client was friends with my wife. The client was able to find a photographer willing to provide more for less. Does it make sense to lose a sizable job over an additional 20% discount? (in this case yes) What’s that “bird in the hand” saying?

The experience got me thinking about why you should hire me. My first inclination was to say that great photography is the reason to hire me but that’s not enough and that’s not even the main reason.

Hire me to shoot your wedding, children, engagement session, portrait, head shot, your home, your new design, _______(fill in the blank) because:

Heidi

Heidi Heaslet Fashion Shoot

1. Because you like me as a person and you want to do business with me.  For most photography projects I spend a fair amount of time with my clients. It could be intimate situations like an expectant mother’s first maternity photo shoot, visiting the home of new parents to take pictures of their newborn, spending a couple days shooting a project for an interior designer or spending a day with a bride, groom and their closest friends and family. I could be the best photographer in the world, but if you don’t like me, don’t want me around or don’t trust me, the quality of my work doesn’t matter.

2. Hire me because you believe in, and trust in, my ability as a photographer. I’m not a “wedding photographer”. I’m not a “family portrait photographer”. I’m not an “architectural photographer”. I’m a photographer that happens to shoot all of the previous mentioned types of photography. There’s enough of my work online for people to get an accurate view of the quality of my work, my ability to think on my feet and the quality of the finished product I deliver to my clients.

Pacific Palisades infinity pool for Knight Landscaping and Design

Pacific Palisades infinity pool for Knight Landscaping and Design

Want to know how I picked my wedding photographer? I looked through a box a proofs. While sifting through hundreds of proofs from my friend Josh’s wedding the main thing that stood out with Selima was consistency. The great majority of the images were solid, and as a whole they were great. I encourage and often show my potential wedding clients the proofs from the weddings I have shot and tell them this is what you can expect. I’ve heard so many stories from friends and clients who were duped into hiring a photographer based on the 20 images they saw on a website.

3. Hire me because you want something different. Hire me to shoot your wedding because of my fashion work. Hire me to shoot your architectural work because of the unique images I shot of your neighbors kids. Hire me because you know that whatever circumstances I am put in I can get the shot.

Norah Portrait Shoot

Norah Portrait Shoot

I’m not sure where money and cost factor in. It’s an important factor but not the most important. I made a decision early on not to compete on price. If you want to price shop photography there are a ton of photographer’s who will compete on price. Creativity and art are subjective. The cost and perceived value is up to you.

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