But all is not lost….. There’s an app for that
The thing about our marketing agency, is that our Mondays are Fridays, and our Fridays are Mondays.
Instead of happily anticipating the upcoming weekend, my marketing team is working double time to make sure we get all the last minute open house orders (e.g. flyers, postcards, etc.) designed, approved, printed and couriered to the listing agent, or the listing.
We’re always at 120% capacity on Fridays and the stress is at an all time peak. As a result, sometimes my stress gets the best of me. Case in point, this past Friday. One of our clients called us on Friday, mid-morning, wanting to send us photos and property information, so we could get flyers together for their open house this weekend. This is a regular client of ours, and we were already over capacity, so the way I looked at it, what was one more job on the pile?
Then, the photos and property info came in. The property info was basically all there, but the photos were awful. Some were out of focus, some had strange shadowing or lighting, and all of them were off center. Not the best way to represent your listing, and certainly not the best way to make your seller happy.
We couldn’t use these photos. In fact, after seeing the photos, I didn’t even want to touch this job and wanted to call our client and tell her I couldn’t make this job happen for her. When I called her though, come to find out, she did not have time to get a photographer out to the property, so she took the photos with her iPhone. As they say, “it all rolls downhill”, so I needed to figure out how to help her out of her iPhone debacle.
Truth be told, in general, I think iPhone’s are PERFECTLY FINE for taking property photos. The lens in the iPhone camera is nicer than many digital cameras I’ve seen Realtors® schlepping around. The problem, as is the problem most of the time, is Realtors® take their own photos with expensive, technical, SLR cameras that they simply don’t know how to use (i.e. the settings on the camera, the right lens to use, etc.). So by not knowing how to use the tool in their hand, they turn out bad photographs. That is similarly a problem with mobile phone photos as well, as they require a different set of tricks, to pull them off.
Happily, it turned out that our client’s listing wasn’t that far from our office, so I arranged to meet her there and see if I couldn’t help her out. Wanting to “teach her to fish”, rather than “give her a fish”, I was clear with her that I wasn’t going to bring our staff photographer with me and have him shoot them for her, but rather go there myself, and show her some tricks on how to pull off a photo shoot in a pinch.
DISCLOSURE: I know very little about traditional photography. I have a photographer on staff, so I don’t have to. Because of that, I’m not going to get in a big discussion of best SLR practices, setting up your scene to shoot, etc. Professional photography is hard and I think training, and/or execution of a photo shoot such as that should be left to the professionals, and not some “marketing guy” that has a blog on the internet.
I am though very proficient at taking a basic tool that wasn’t originally intended to be used for something, and finding a way to make it happen. To those ends, I am going to focus on my client’s iPhone and how I got her on the right path.
1) Be sure to clean the lens of your phone’s camera
When I got there and took a look at my client’s phone, I came to the quick realization that some of the blurry photos we saw, may not have actually been blurry, but the lens on the camera was smudged with gunk, thus making it impossible to take clean, clear photos.
You have your phone in your pocket, or purse all day. If you’re like me, when you get to a restaurant, to work, or anywhere you are going to be for an extended period of time, you probably pull it out and throw it on the table, so you can keep an eye on any work emails, or emergencies that occur.
The thing is though that those tables your phone sits on are dirty. Taking a quick second to wipe off the back of your phone will give you 100% better results. It’s quick, easy and won’t take you but a second to do.
2) Apps to the rescue (insert sound of trumpets here)
Real Estate Agents are super busy and really don’t have time to learn “extra stuff”. Let’s face it: Their job is not to be the best photographer. Their job is to sell homes.
I can relate to being busy. I can also understand that it’s not realistic for us to give long tutorials or instruction on something, such as photography, to a Realtor, especially if they are in a fever pitch to get a listing ready for a last minute open house.
As a result, over my years of running this agency, I have focused on finding quick “down and dirty” ways to get the job done, keeping anyone from realizing the effort was a “Hail Mary”. Happily, when it comes to photography, there are apps for your smartphone that will make this a breeze.
While adjusting the lighting of a room is important, many times a photo may look blurry, or off center, simply because you moved slightly when you took it. With a point and shoot, this becomes problematic, simply in the sense that if you moved the first time, when you take the second shot, it is likely you’re going to move again. BUT, with an app on your phone that allows you to take rapid fire shots, your chances of having one gem, in a string of photographs is greatly increased.
While there are many apps on both the iPhone and the Android platform, my personal favorite is one from the iPhone app store called Fast Camera.
One great thing about this app is that the second you open it, it’s ready to go. There are minimal settings, so you don’t have to go into tons of trial and error. Perhaps the greatest thing though, is it’s high definition, rapid fire photo taking capabilities.
So, if you are in a living room and want to snap a great shot at the perfect angle, that captures the openness of a floor plan, snap away. Once you’ve taken 10-15 photos, you can easily review them, keep the one or two you think are lighted correctly, focused well and centered the best. The ones that are blurry (perhaps your hand moved a bit when the photo was taken), can be easily deleted, on the spot, from your camera roll.
Again, there are many apps that are out there that do the same thing a this one (some of which are free), but for $2.99, I think this is a perfect business tool that you will use over and over.
What happened with my client’s photos? Well, after a little adjustment to the lighting of the rooms (nothing fancy, simply turning on more lights and angling the blinds a little bit), we downloaded the Fast Camera app to her phone, and within minutes, she had things figured out. Of course not every photo taken was perfect, BUT for every series of photos taken, there were one or two gems that made the listing look like a champ.
I think it’s safe to say my client is going to be “fishing” for many listings to come.