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Who Took That Photo?

Friday, 09 August 2013 15:22

Who Took That Photo?

It’s one thing to have a bad photo taken of yourself or your listing – we’ve all been there!
However, it’s potentially more troublesome when you don’t know where your listing photo came from.
Did you know that loading an unlicensed image on your listings can lead to copyright violations, financial demands and legal challenges from the image owner? More importantly, did you know those demands might be made of another brokerage that is simply displaying your listing? Yep, it’s true – and there is no simple solution.
MFRMLS highly recommends that all agents review the photos on their listings to make sure
you have the right to display them. Copying images from the Internet and including them in your photo display without proper licensing puts you and your brokerage at risk. That risk also extends to every other broker and agent that may ultimately display your listing on the Internet via an approved IDX feed.
Keep these rules in mind:
• If you use a professional photographer to take pictures of your listings, be sure you have written permission.
• If you copy a photo from an off-market listing, be sure you have written permission from the former listing agent.
• If the property owner gives you photos, have some documentation that they came directly from the owner.
• If you hire outside vendors to prepare your virtual tours, be sure any images they include in the photo stream are properly licensed before you attach them to your listing.
It is also important to be aware that loading an unlicensed image on your listing is a violation of the MFRMLS Rules & Regulations, and carries a penalty. That said, it’s not about the possible penalty from the MLS – it’s about protecting your brokerage and all others that display your listings via IDX.
Why this reminder?
Members continue to receive demand letters from companies that have discovered their copyrighted images on IDX sites – and in most cases that demand letter (including threat for legal action and a demand for a license fee) is not even made of the listing broker/agent, but of another MFR subscriber.
Remember, it’s really easy to avoid such potential challenges: take and load your own photos; have a license or verification that you own the photos – especially if taken by a photographer you hire; and
do not download images from the Internet for display in your virtual tours or listings – just that easy!
Adding that beautiful image of a sunset you found on the Internet just isn’t worth the risk.

Chicago Tribune: Quality Photos Make All the Difference in Marketing Your Home

Chicago Tribune: Quality Photos Make All the Difference in Marketing Your Home
July 31st, 2012

It’s been a while since I’ve added any significant newspaper articles to my list of real estate photography links on my Delicious page but Dave Williamson sent me a link to a recent article By Mary Umberger in the Chicago Tribune and I added it to the list of important links.
Mary asks a key question:
Companies that sell products tend to be meticulous about the photography of the merchandise they’re advertising — the pictures are almost always crisp, detailed and attractive. So why is real estate photography so bad?
She suggests some reasons and solutions and points out that things are getting better:
You’re starting to see more progressive real estate firms saying this is important, and they’re having their listings professionally photographed. But it varies a lot, regionally, and the number of professionally shot houses is small, maybe 10 to 20 percent of the market.
I think she is partially right, there is much more and better marketing for homes than there was just a few years ago just because there is more exposure of the benefits. But “real estate firms” are not the ones making marketing decisions. Individual agents make their own marketing decisions. That’s how this industry works. The real answer to why is real estate photography so bad is that real estate agents are all independent contractors and they each get to make their own marketing and spending decisions themselves and there’s nothing forcing them to make good marketing decisions except their home owner clients. It’s like expecting to get a bunch of cats to do the right thing. Some will, but most won’t and it’s impossible to make the do anything as a whole.
The message for real estate photographers in this is you need to convince each one of your agent clients individually. Except for a few minor exceptions there is no “real estate firm” you can go to market. Of course there are also
some strategies to educate and market to home owners.
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Professional Real Estate Photos are Worth Anywhere from $1,000 to $116,000 in a Home Sale

Professional Real Estate Photos are Worth Anywhere from $1,000 to $116,000 in a Home Sale
June 12th, 2012

Pennsylvania real estate photographer Joanna Michl was lamenting that:
“The problem with agents is they just don’t get it. Most are still taking their own “lousy” photos and hoping it gets the job done. Maybe they just don’t care enough to shell out a few bucks to get professional photos and maybe they don’t think it matters. They all seem to recognize that their photography sucks but they continue doing it themselves anyway. As photographers we need to convince agents of the importance of having professional photos accompany their listings.”
Yes, I would say Joanna’s statement is pretty accurate. Joanna was looking for a convincing argument to help her convince agents in her area that investing in professional professional photography is worth the investment.
As I told Joanna, I think the strongest, most compelling argument real estate photographers can present in their marketing is the 2010
Redfin study. At the time it came out I covered it on PFRE and linked to the WSJ report of the study (which will probably carry more weight when talking to some people). The great thing about this study is it isn’t just about the benefit photos, it proves that listing photos shot with DSLRs (which implies they were done by professional photographers or agents that have professional equipment) sold from any were from $935 more for the low end to $16,076 at the high-end ($1,000,000 or more list price).
Redfin apparently did this study to promote the fact that they use professional photography for all their listings but
professional real estate photographers can use it in their marketing prove to potential clients that professional real estate photography has a significant, measurable return on investment.
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Has anybody tried suggesting agents ask their sellers to pay for photos?

Has anybody tried suggesting agents ask their sellers to pay for photos?
We all know how hard it is to get most agents to pay for professional photos and some of my agents in a certain area have started asking their clients to pay for photos and offer to reimburse them at closing. I'm thinking about suggesting this to other agents who are reluctant to fork out the money to have me do them. It seems like a win-win-win situation. I get their business, the agent doesn't have to pay unless/until the house sells, and the seller gets the advantages of professional photos even if they have an agent who otherwise wouldn't pay for them. What do you all think?

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Owner, Marilynn Kay Photography
Asheville, North Carolina Area

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A $200,000 Bottle of Aspirin

A $200,000 Bottle of Aspirin

Picture this: The buzz of people and the hum of electricity.  A bright glow emanating from a virtual army of lighting, stands and umbrellas.  Two days of planning, test-shots and hard work to produce the perfect photograph.  Finally a photograph worthy of the subject - a $2 bottle of aspirin.  

That's right, friends - a bottle of aspirin.  A colleague of mine who is now a real estate agent used to make a living in Hollywood as a studio lighting technician.  He explained to me how they would spend hours or even days, not to mention a lot of money, lighting something as insignificant as that bottle of aspirin.  "How funny," he said, "that people don't think high-quality professional photography of even a $200,000 home is absolutely necessary to make it a competitive offering in today's market."

I'm sure we've all seen the rushed "iPhone photos" looking through the various online or print ads for real estate.  How can a multi-thousand dollar home not be worthy of good photography at least as much as a $2 bottle of aspirin?  The answer -- it is!  With a little bit of training, a lot of practice and some basic equipment you can have as much fun as I do making a beautiful photograph.
 A photograph that captures the attention of a real estate agent or future buyer while they blow right by the dozens of other photographs of homes that nobody cared about enough to make them stand out.

This is what I love to do.  To take something ordinary and make it extra-ordinary.  Perfect? - Far from it!!  I simply hope that by sharing my experience with others, I can not only enrich their lives and businesses, but can also add value to the industry as a whole.  Value that will ultimately help generate more revenue per photo and more business overall as we learn to take our photography and virtual tour marketing to the next level.

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