Master Bedroom Lot 950 for Westhaven Realty
“What was I thinking,” part of me screams.
The other part, the road musician and general starving artist says: “It’s about time!”
For fifteen years, I worked in the auto industry as a salesman, internet manager, finance manager, and general computer “fix it” guy. I did the best I could and actually was fairly successful. But the car business didn’t provide the things that I desperately needed to keep my sanity – to be creative, and to be my own boss.
It was Time
So after my wife’s business took off, I decided to go into business for myself. But it wasn’t originally for photography. Since I was an internet manager (basically a glorified salesman with computer skills) for eleven of my fifteen years in the car business, I figured that I could do a pretty good job at making websites. After all, I could be creative and use at least some of the skills that I acquired. How hard could it be?
So I made an investment in a computer and some software. I figured in three to six months, I’ll have it licked… Yeah, right. Here I am two years later still learning. But I must admit, I’ve gotten very strong in building static designs and am at the intermediate level building more advanced, dynamic websites.
So how does that relate to photography?
Well, I quit my good-paying car job in November 2007, and by January 2008 we had run through our meager savings. So we decided to put our beautiful Westhaven home on the market. We figured on downsizing 1000 sq ft, and staying in the neighborhood, and the payment would be that much more affordable. To save money, I decided to earn my real-estate license and take my own listing images. My wife’s business generated most of its income during tax season, so we would be fine. We lived in a very desirable neighborhood, so we thought our home would sell in less than two months. After all, they’re selling like hotcakes, right? Remember, this was January 2008.
So what about photography?
OK. Here we go.
Because I like doing everything myself, I decided that I would take the listing pictures and build a website to help sell our home. Keep in mind – this is only three to six months after going into business. I had just bought a digital Rebel XTi camera and thought it would be cinch. I was a shutterbug anyway, always intrigued by great photography and how it was shot. So, with my new camera, my new 430EX speedlight, and 18-55mm lens that came with the camera, I started shooting. Here was one of my first results:
Entrance shot of my home listing
When I look back at this, I think my enthusiasm was in the right place. But my skills were virtually non-existent. The image was not lined up, there is a color-cast, and the tripod is set too high. Well, at least I used a tripod.
I thought they were good enough, and the house would sell with the next appointment showing. But winter turned into spring, spring turned into summer, then into fall, and not even a single offer. Maybe it was my pictures? So, I started looking into real estate photography groups, and was blown away by the images. See flickr.com I felt very humbled when I saw that many of the photographers were using similar equipment. I thought that maybe I would be able to improve my images. How in the heck were they able to get the outside to show like the inside? I kept reading, working simultaneously on photography and websites. But it seemed like I was getting worse, not better.
HDR career changer
One of my first attempts at HDR
By this time, I had a couple of web projects that brought in a little bit of money. I started reading about a fairly new technique called HDR. It blends multiple exposures together at the pixel level, giving the best elements of the combined exposures. I was hooked and wanted to learn more. Here is a link to my website explaining HDR in Detail: Click here for HDR info.
My first couple of cracks at it were pretty good, but there were still other issues like color cast and white balance. The other problem with HDR is that if it is pushed too much, the image almost looks like a cartoon. No Good…
Strobes – the purist way to do architectural imagery
Lot 1124 Dining Area for Westhaven Realty
On the other end of the spectrum was the traditional pfre’s (photography for Real Estate) who only took a single exposure, but used multiple strobes or flashes. The strobes were not on the camera, but around the room in different locations to balance the light. The strobes are fired remotely by a transmitter and receiver system connected to each of the stobes. These guys are using two to ten strobes per image! I thought this was ridiculous until I purchased a couple of additional strobes and tried them out on a client shoot. I now own 7 strobes, and will probably purchase two more.
Hybrid HDR – The Final Frontier
Den - Wetherbrooke Model John Weiland Homes
I finally settled on a style that combines multiple strobes with HDR technology to give the absolute best combination. At this point, other than the constant learning that is required with this and most any type of photography, I feel that I am proficient, and can compete with anyone locally. Actually, no one is doing this style of photography!
So there you have the short/long story about me. My goal for this blog is to inform and inspire someone to do great things, whether it be photography or any other creative venture.