Real Estate Focus - My First Project

March 09, 2013  •  3 Comments

This week, on a very special episode of Focus Blog, we will be looking at my first-ever commissioned photography assignment. This project has really consumed me this week, so I didn't put much effort into the weekly challenge. Hopefully this should be interesting enough for you.

If you don't know about it, I have a friend who co-owns a luxury custom home builder in Fort Worth with his brother - Glendarroch Homes. About a month ago we started talking about me doing photos of one or more of the company's homes to use in an ad campaign they are running in Fort Worth, Texas Magazine. I saw this as a great opportunity to get into an area of photography that has interested me for a while - architectural and real estate photography. I'll be honest - I'm not great at taking pictures of people. I know this, and really, I'm not all that interested in improving. I want to take great pictures of may family, but beyond that, it's just not something that I hope to excel at doing. I love nature photography, and i have really enjoyed the shooting I have done with churches and other interesting buildings. So, I wanted to jump at this chance to break into a new area.

As I mentioned earlier, this was actually the first time to be hired to do any photography. I've sold prints and calendars and such, but I have never been sent out to do something specifically for a client. That's a whole different thing from taking photos of whatever grabs my attention. This time I had a specific audience. Could I capture what he wanted? Could I represent his company in a way that he and his brother would be happy with?

So, how did it go? I spent a lot of time researching, looking at work he had gotten done in the past, looking at successful architectural photographers' work, reading, thinking, planning, etc. And guess what. It was tough. It was a harder task than I was expecting. Things didn't quite go as I thought, I was lacking some equipment that would have made things easier, and it took a lot longer than I thought it would (of course). Getting started once I got in the house was the hardest part. I felt like I just froze, not knowing how to begin. However, the more time I spent, the more comfortable I got, and things went smoother. I am very happy with my results for it being my first time to do anything like this. I hope the builder is happy, and hopefully he will use one or more of my shots in a magazine ad. You can be sure I will be letting you know if that happens. I'll also definitely being saying "yes" if I am asked to do this again. It was a challenge, but I was a challenge that I liked and an area I would like to master (or at least semi-master).


Well, I assume you are not here for my writing but for the photos, so let's get on with it. I am going to just highlight some of favorites and give a link to all of the shots at the end (so keep scrolling). Creating these images was not easy. Every picture you will see (except one) is composed of 3 shots taken at different exposures and combined later to get a broader range of exposures (light to dark).


Don't tell anyone, but a movie wasn't actually playing when I took this. (I added the Lord of the Rings image after the fact - shhhh.)

Media roomDSC_1082_3_4


Here is another interior photography trick I learned about. A typical shot (or multiple shots combined) will not allow you to see out windows. Usually the windows will just be a big, white blur since the interior is so much darker than the outside. So, you can take a shot exposed for the outdoors and combine that portion of it to your image to allow the viewer to see the interior and exterior in one shot (more like your eyes can do already). It's something that is expected when looking at real estate photos even though people may not even realize they expect it. When you are selling a home (especially one like this) you can't very well tell the viewer, "Sorry, but cameras don't really work that way, so you can't see what's outside."

Living room beamsDSC_1096_7_8


This was another tough shot to do. The doorway to the right is to the wine room. It was much darker than the rest of the shot, so I had the opposite problem as the one above. In order to get this I had to take a 4th picture that was very over-exposed in order to get enough light in that area. This problem would be easily solved with additional light, but I don't have any (see reference above on lacking equipment).

Formal sitting areaDSC_1123_4_5_6


The home had these amazing ceilings in many areas, and I really like how this shot emphasizes them.

Entry hallwayDSC_1148_49_50


Here are some obligatory kitchen shots (it was a beautiful and huge kitchen, of course).

Kitchen islandDSC_1154_5_6

I went with some softer color and lower contrast on this one to give it a more country kitchen look.

Kitchen sinkDSC_1160_1_2

Kitchen and eating areaDSC_1172_3_4


The living area had some amazing stonework and was so nicely decorated.

Stone fireplaceDSC_1187_8_9


Here is my favorite shot. This was taken from the master bathroom looking into the master bedroom. I like that the whole room is not visible, and I intentionally softened the color and contrast for the warm and calm look. I was going for a look that would invite the viewer right into it. I think I got it.

Master bedroomDSC_1221_2_3


Well, ultimately this was a really great opportunity for me. It was a major stretch in so many ways. The photography was hard, and I know there is a lot of room for improvement. I also know that the builder took a risk letting someone do this for the first time on such a high-end home. Starting out at the best is pretty intimidating.


Thanks for reading and thanks to those of you who have followed along with this whole thing on my Facebook page. If you would like to see the rest of the photos they are in this album.


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Kellie Bullinger(non-registered)
Way to go, think you are on to something here!
Seth Fowler(non-registered)
Those are great! I had no idea how many steps and tricks there are to taking wonder my photos of homes with my point-and-click digital camera don't look as good as yours
Louanne Mason(non-registered)
They look great and I know from stuff Mike has done that these shots are very hard. He is the opposite of you though - he likes doing straight portraits of people and trying to capture their character. I love how everyone is different and your perspective on these was really good.
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