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I’m no expert



@tboard Yeah I said it – I’m no expert … when it comes to photography. Besides a home’s asking price, good marketing will help set your listing apart from the pack. And there’s nothing better than having professional photos to show it off.

Another photo article?

I know this topic has been discussed again and again, but I’ve seen listings with 10 crappy images and sometimes it seems to do more harm than good.

My point and shoot camera does gets a daily workout. But usually it’s taking comp photos at 5 MPH so you can just imagine the high quality shots I capture. Last week I had a new condo listing hit the MLS and wanted to get photos up right away. Within about 1/2 a millisecond after seeing them online I realized it was time to call in the pro. Here’s why:


living room

living room2

dining area


back yard




The last photo is the most pathetic – me trying to stitch photos together vs. a wide angle lens.

Before you criticize, I’m fully aware that having professional photos taken for every listing isn’t realistic. Nobody wants to see high quality images of a $5,000 mold infested foreclosure. Just consider it when marketing your listings, it’s another way to really stand out.

photo credit

As the son of two music teachers, Ben spent his first 21 years trying to make a living with his slightly above average trumpet playing. After no return calls from Dizzy Gillespie and then a failed attempt at becoming a fly girl on "In Living Color," he switched gears and finally found his nichè in real estate. He's a Minnesota appraiser and also a Realtor with his better half, Stacia. Labeled “one to watch” from an anonymous source (thanks mom), Ben is smart, good looking, athletic and a rock star inside his own head. He also never passes up a chance to write his own bio. Find him online at twitter or selling Stillwater Real Estate.

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  1. Judy Peterson

    July 23, 2009 at 7:23 am

    Good idea to show the difference. I use a sigma 10-20mm wide angle to shoot my own listings and photoshoots for my agents. The results are exciting and SO much better for marketing! Forget those ugly vertical photos and the porcelain throne ;-).

  2. Laurent Perrier

    July 23, 2009 at 10:03 am

    Nice article but I disagree with the last paragraph. I think you should ALWAYS hire a photographer. You can get a set of professional pictures for $50 to $100 depending on the area. It won’t win you any award in a home interior magazine but the pictures will be bright, straight and taken with a wide angle. Not to mention you will save yourself a lot of time and trouble. You can get an exterior picture taken for less than $15 if you don’t want to show the interior of the home. Having professional pictures on all your listings will improve your overall image and help you attract more buyers. It can also become part of your sales pitch when you’re trying to win a new listing.

  3. John Kalinowski

    July 23, 2009 at 10:07 am

    Hi Ben! – I’m no expert either, but I do have few suggestions, even for the professional pics. I think it’s important to never show more than two walls in a photo, as it can make a room look much smaller than it actually is. A good example is the photo above with the kitchen table. Your angle was actually pretty good, you just needed to step back a little. The straight-in kitchen shot should have been two separate photos. One showing one row of cabinets, and another showing the other row.

    Also, using a lens with too wide an angle can also make the photos look a little funny. Some of the professional shots above look like they were taken from a dog’s perspective. Too low to the floor, and a little too much ceiling.

    I don’t think you’re giving yourself enough credit, as yours aren’t that bad, you just need a few tricks. For one, buy a cheap tripod and never hold the camera in your hand. The tripod allows you to back the camera all the way into a corner to get the widest shot possible. It also guarantees a steady shot.

    You can use an inexpensive camera, just make sure it allows you to manually set the shutter speed and aperture. Most do (I use a FujiFilm FinePix E510). Then, for each room, take about 8 shots of each angle, all with different shutter speeds, and you’ll always have a shot with the right lighting when you get back to your PC.

    Also, never take pictures at night, and use natural light whenever possible. If you slow down the shutter speed and use a tripod, you don’t need to have the 1000 watt kitchen florescent light on to get a nice shot.

    Lastly – use a photo editing program to make a final adjustment of the brightness and contrast on each photo. Most can use a little more contrast. I’ve found that our pictures come out very well, and we’ve never had to hire a professional. Thanks!

  4. Lori Luza

    July 23, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    …and I’m no expert in Real Estate…

    As photographers, we battle this in our marketing efforts (proving our worth when budgets are tight) and internally (send work to a lab vs. printing it myself). Whenever possible, I use a professional with expertise, skill, equipment, and talent in their respective field.

    If you are a Realtor photographing your own listings, here are some things to consider:
    * You’re probably using a point-and-shoot instead of a professional quality camera. While there are some great p&s cameras out there, you may have purchased the one that was easiest to use or one a friend recommended. It might not get the best shots.
    * Even on a p&s camera, there are manual settings that will render a better image. Do you know what they are and how to use them?
    * Do you study composition? Do you know the most flattering angles to use to make the rooms look bigger and more flexible to potential buyers? (certainly a huge difference in the before/after images above!)
    * Do you know how to light a room for quality images? Do you know what time of day is best for photographing the inside of a listing or the outside of a home? Do you consider the direction the home faces so the image can be shot in the best light for the best “curb appeal” view?
    * Do you know what to look for in the images that might need to be cropped out?
    * Do you take the time to pre-touch and re-touch the images before uploading them into the listing? Do you even have the software, skill, or desire for this task?

    And if you don’t already know how to do all these things, do you have time to learn?

    Shop around for a Professional Photographer. The prices will seem steep, but like most things, you get what you pay for. The money you invest in good photography will come back to you in more showings and increased interest in the property. Furthermore, after you have done just a little bit of research, you may be pleasantly surprised to find that you can afford to save yourself just one more errand/task.

    One caution: many markets are saturated with new photographers. You can locate bona fide Professionals in your area via the Professional Photographers of America: Regardless of who you hire, be sure you ask about their credentials, see their portfolio of work, and secure a contract for the shoot. You will also need a license for commercial use of the images; the photographer will retain the actual Copyright to the images.

  5. Nathan Strauch

    July 23, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    In most areas of the country, one could find a decent “Local” Virtual Tour Provider that can provide high quality stills for your listing photos for 10-20 dollars per image.

    Professional Photography is very important for a listing, and is supposed to get the prospective buyer excited. When you can create excitement about a property before they see it in person, you are essentially eliminating allot of objections.

    Not only does professional photography attract prospective buyers, but most of my agents use my company brochure in their Listing Presentations to Sellers. The ones who do this seem to be way ahead of the pack in terms of sales and listings. The tools are there, but they only work if they are used.

    Furthermore, with WEB 2.0 out in full force, the local companies (not corporate) in many cases can provide additional exposure for your actual listing on not only a national level but also the local level. (i.e. Social Networking, Bookmarking, and Blog Services) The more local resources that you use, the better off your marketing efforts can be when done correctly.

  6. Fred Romano

    July 24, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    There are some great inexpensive cameras out there which will help Realtors take fabulous photos. I use the Kodak V570 which has a 35mm and 23mm. It takes amazing photos (like the samples above). Here is a link

  7. teresa boardman

    July 26, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Fred trust me it isn’t about the camera.

  8. Chris Kimball

    August 26, 2009 at 10:53 am

    Great article. Now if we as photographer’s could just get the masses to understand that we are specialist and can make a difference. I promise I won’t try and sell homes, please call a photographer to shoot them.

  9. Thompson Touch

    August 26, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    Great Article. We design a lot of brochure for hotels, so I get to shoot the hotel’s interior and exteriors. My wife is the designer and I am the photographer, we have to beg some of the hotels to let us in their rooms to reshoot the photos that they send us. We always tell them the one thing you don’t want to do is make your rooms look uninviting.

  10. Louis Blass

    February 21, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    Nice photos! Our real estate photos are definitely not as good as these, but I can see how it would make a difference…

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Business Marketing

How a Facebook boycott ended up benefitting Snapchat and Pinterest

(MARKETING) Businesses are pulling ad spends from Facebook following “Stop Hate for Profit” social media campaign, and Snapchat and Pinterest are profiting from it.



Phone in hand open to social media, coffee held in other hand.

In June, the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign demanded social media companies be held accountable for hate speech on their platforms and prioritize people over profit. As part of the campaign, advertisers were called to boycott Facebook in July. More than 1,000 businesses, nonprofits, and other consumers supported the movement.

But, did this movement actually do any damage to Facebook, and who, if any, benefited from their missing revenue profits?

According to The Information, “what was likely crumbs falling from the table for Facebook appears to have been a feast for its smaller rivals, Snap and Pinterest.” They reported that data from Mediaocean, an ad-tech firm, showed Snap reaped the biggest benefit of the 2 social media platforms during the ad pause. Snapchat’s app saw advertisers spending more than double from July through September compared to the same time last year. And, although not as drastic, Pinterest also saw an increase of 40% in ad sales.

As a result, Facebook said its year-over-year ad revenue growth was only up 10 percent during the first 3 weeks of July. But, the company expects its ad revenue to continue that growth rate in Q3. And, some people think that Facebook is benefitting from the boycott. Claudia Page, senior vice president, product and operations at Vivendi-owned video platform Dailymotion said, “All the boycott did was open the marketplace so SMBs could spend more heavily. It freed-up inventory.”

Even CNBC reported that Wedbush analysts said in a note that Facebook will see “minimal financial impact from the boycotts.” They said about $100 million of “near term revenue is at risk.” And for Facebook, this represents less than 1% of the growth in Q3. However, despite what analysts say, there is still a chance for both Snapchat and Pinterest to hold their ground.

Yesterday, Snap reported their surprising Q3 results. Compared to the prior year, Snap’s revenue increased to $679 million, up 52% from 2019. Its net loss decreased from $227 million to $200 million compared to last year. Daily active users increased 18% year-over-year to 249 million. Also, Snap’s stock price soared more than 22% in after-hours trading. Take that Facebook!

In a prepared statement, Chief Business Officer Jeremi Gorman said, “As brands and other organizations used this period of uncertainty as an opportunity to evaluate their advertising spend, we saw many brands look to align their marketing efforts with platforms who share their corporate values.” As in, hint, hint, Facebook’s summer boycott did positively affect their amazing Q3 results.

So, Snapchat and Pinterest have benefited from the #StopHateForProfit campaign. Snapchat’s results show promising optimism that maybe Pinterest might fare as well. But, of course, Facebook doesn’t think they will benefit much longer. Back in July, CEO Mark Zuckerberg told his employees, “[his] guess is that all these advertisers will be back on the platform soon enough.”

Facebook isn’t worried, but I guess we will see soon enough. Pinterest is set to report its Q3 results on October 28th and Facebook on the 29th.

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Business Marketing

Cooler temps mean restaurants have to get creative to survive

(BUSINESS MARKETING) In the midst of a pandemic and with winter approaching, restaurants are starting to find creative and sustainable ways to keep customers coming in… and warm.



Outdoor eating at restaurants grows in popularity.

Over the last decade we have seen a change in the approach to clientele experiences in the restaurant business. It’s no longer just about how good your food is, although that is still key. Now you have to give your customers an experience to remember. There are now restaurants that feed you in the dark, and others who require you to check all your clothes at the door. Each of these provides an experience to remember alongside food that ranges from good to exquisite, depending on your taste.

Now, however, the global pandemic has rearranged how we think about dining. We can no longer just shove people into a building and create a delectable meal. If you’ve relied mostly on people coming into your restaurant, you may struggle to survive now.

The new rules of keeping clients safe means setting things up outside is the easiest means of keeping large numbers of them from crowding inside. Because of this, weather has become a key influence in a company’s daily income. Tents that were a gimmick before, only needed by presumptuous millennials, are now a requirement to keep afloat. People are rushing to make their yards into lawns that bring some in some fancy feeling.

The ties to the sun in some areas are so strong that cloudy days have been shown to drop attendance as much as 14% for the day. This will become the more apparent the colder it gets. For me, I always mention hibernation weight in the winter, when all I want to do is curl up and eat at home. Down here in Texas we are already finding cooler weather, drops into the 70s even in August and September. We are all assuming a cold winter ahead. So, a bit of foresight is finding a means of keeping your guests warm for the winter ahead.

San Francisco restaurants have started with heat lamps during their cooler evenings. Fiberglass igloos have also been added to outdoor seating as a means of temperature control. A few places down in the Lonestar state keep roaring fires going for their outdoor activities. While others actually keep you running in between beverages by encouraging volleyball matches. This is the new future ahead of us, and being memorable is the way to go.

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Business Marketing

Healthcare during pandemic goes virtual, looks to stay that way

(BUSINESS NEWS) Employment-based health insurance has already been through the ringer with COVID-19, but company healthcare options are adapting for long term.



Stethoscope with laptop, showing healthcare going virtual.

Changes in employment-based health insurance may end up costing employers more, but will provide crucial benefits to workers responding to the healthcare challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a recent survey by the Business Group on Health, a member-driven advocacy organization that helps large employers navigate providing health insurance to their employees, businesses will increase access to telehealth, mental health resources, and on-site clinics in the upcoming year.

Besides the obvious impacts of the coronavirus itself, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have also rippled out to affect other aspects of public health and how we engage with medical care. With so many people staying home to reduce their in-person contacts, there has been a significant increase in the use of telehealth services such as virtual doctor’s visits. According to the survey from Business Group on Health, whose members include 74 Fortune 100 companies, more than half of large employers will offer more options for virtual healthcare in the upcoming year than in the past.

The pandemic, resulting economic fallout, and dramatic changes to our lives have inevitably exacerbated peoples’ anxieties and feelings of hopelessness. As we move into cold weather, with no end in sight to the need to socially distance, this promises to be a particularly dreary, lonely winter. Mental health support will be more necessary than ever. In 2019, 73% of large employers provided virtual mental health services. That number will increase to 91% next year, with 45% of large employers also expanding their mental health care provider networks, making it easier for employees to find the right the therapist or other mental health service provider, and making it easier to access those services from home, virtually.

In addition, there will be a 20% increase in employers offering virtual emotional well-being services. Altogether, 9 out of 10 of the employers surveyed will provide online mental health resources, which, besides virtual appointments, could also include apps, webinars, and educational videos.

There has also been a slight increase the availability of on-site clinics that provide coronavirus testing and other basic health services. This also included an expansion of resources for prenatal care, weight management, and chronic health problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

These improvement won’t come free of charge. While deductibles will remain about the same, premiums and out-of-pocket costs will increase about 5%. In most cases, employers will handle these costs, rather than passing them on to employees.

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