With the introduction of the digital camera my overall view of photography and it’s potential completely changed from one day to the next. Let’s go back a little. I haven’t always been a real estate and architectural photographer, I actually shot weddings and family portraits at the beginning of my photographic career. My first teacher was a shrewd English man who loved wedding photography and as difficult as he was, really toughed me to look at detail. It doesn’t matter if you shoot people or houses, details are of utmost importance. When you start at a bride’s home with the first photos before the ceremony you try to capture her excitement about the upcoming event and when you are photographing a home you look for those special “extras” which make that home interesting and worth buying. You always try to catch a special mood. Of course I was shooting film back then and camera settings mattered even more than today. There was not much room for mistakes and I used Photoshop mainly to design my business cards and brochures. The teacher I profited the most from back then was Monte Zucker, one of the really great wedding photographers of all times. I consider myself lucky to have received my probably most important lesson from him – and even though I changed my field I still profit enormously from what I learned from him so many years ago. It is one sentence that will stick with me forever, ” where there is light, there are shadows”. I learned that flat light is boring and highlights and shadows are actually good and bring life into a scene. Today I am using Photoshop almost with every photograph I take, and it is not that I make ” mistakes”, no, it is a great way to make good photographs the best they can possibly be. There is so much room for creativity and a chance to push your abilities and knowledge to the limit. Digital photography opened the door for me to become a more complete photographer and artist as such and I look forward to every new batch of images and what I can do with them.
Archive for » September, 2009 «
As a real estate photographer with a passion for landscapes I find myself often in the position of having to shoot a backyard or garden which at first sight doesn’t convey a very inviting look. Photographing a house for the MLS includes not only the indoor living space but should also present an attractive picture of the surrounding external area.
So what do you do with a backyard that looks more like a jungle or construction site than an environment for your leisure time? Well, first of all I try to find out how to turn a disadvantage into an advantage by looking for the best angle, a special feature (if there is one – there usually is, you just have to be open to new ideas) or some nice plant, tree or bush. If I am lucky, the property does have a swimming pool and I will try to make that the focus. Sometimes I use a colorful bush and try to incorporate it in one corner of a photograph to bring a little excitement to an otherwise maybe boring view. In case of a really run-down backyard, there is always the possibility to bring some pruning scissors and a broom and take matters into your own hand (of course only if that intervention doesn’t take more than 15 minutes of your time). Isn’t it amazing what a motivated photographer will do to get a decent shot for the client? Just don’t underestimate the power of outdoor photographs, they help to complete the impression of a property, and sometimes, especially when I am dealing with modest interior features, a colorful picture of a garden could just make or break the deal.
Once in a while I just take off in the morning and I head for an exciting photo shoot which doesn’t always directly have to do with work. Well lets say in this case maybe indirectly, because my destination was Miami. When you have only a limited time frame you have to carefully choose when and what to shoot and when it comes to Miami, that is an extremely difficult task. I started around 9:30 AM with the skyline taken from the Julia Tuttle Causeway and boy was I lucky. The sun had just come up high enough to already distribute a nice warm light without very harsh shadows and there was a cloud building just behind the line of buildings which can only be seen a few times out of the year. The light was so perfect that it put this huge white reflection of the cloud into the ocean and created an almost surreal picture (You can see some of these images here.) So if you are planning to take photos of the skyline, don’t wait until noon time. I continued to shoot from the Rickenbacher Causeway and got some very nice images from that side and some of the cruise ships which always makes me want to board one and just take off for a week or two. For this trip I hadn’t really made a plan and in order to really cover Miami it would take at least two weeks of shooting to create a complete album, so I decided not to do art deco this time but to head for the beach. For those who have been to South Beach, of course know, that it has the widest variety of lifeguard stands. Each of them is unique in color and design and definitely worth capturing. It was really getting hot, but if you like a nice saturated sky above the ocean, I would suggest being there some time right after 1o’clock in the afternoon. After a short lunch break around 2:30 PM on Lincloln Road I took a few more images on Ocean Drive, but decided to come back another time in order to get a better variety of art deco and restaurant shots before the nightlife in Miami gets into full swing. Overall I can say it was a quite rewarding endeavor and I will be back soon. I’ll definitely keep you posted.
Last week I shot a three bedroom unfurnished house on a golf course that was put into the MLS to be rented out. It is my practice to take some props with me when I know that the house is empty to make it look more inviting without “over-staging”. The realtor who was handling the account called yesterday and told me that a buyers agent had asked him for the real photographs of the house, since he believed the ones I had taken were the originals from a model unit. That agent was very surprised to learn that what he saw in the listing was the “real deal”. This proves again, that stepping up the effort will make a very sincere and lasting impression.
Good question. Basically it boils down to the three main ingredients, perspective, unity and contrast. Each by itself will create maybe a technically sound, but definitely boring image. We are talking about a very powerful trinity which is put to its perfection through the seasonings of light and a photographer’s eye for details.
A passionate architectural photographer’s job is it to evoke a certain mood and to shape an image, which is mostly accomplished with the use of light. A photograph should represent the true image of a scene, building or interior and at the same time introduce some sense of mystery. A natural but striking look will capture the viewer and will increase interest in the subject. The real challenge is, to take a scene, room or building that is three-dimensional and display it in a two-dimensional form. This sounds almost impossible, but using perspective, unity and contrast, it can certainly be achieved. To construct this real-life appearance, shapes can be brought out by accentuating angles and curves with light. The worst impression someone could get from a poorly taken photograph is the one of being vacant and lifeless.