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Why is choosing a photographer like playing Craps?

Lloyd Christmas as Phillippe

Lloyd Christmas as Phillippe

I was laying awake again, wondering about the important shit in life, like why is choosing a photographer like choosing a hairdresser?. Important shit indeed. But hear me out. When searching for a hairdresser we use certain criteria to locate the best fit for us. Convenience, Reputation, Availability, Price and Skills. That's it. Its the order we rank said criteria that determines who we choose. For example say you are needing a trim for your 7 year old son, school has just let out for the summer, but you have a family reunion in a couple weeks. What order do you rank them? CPARS, likely, Convenience, probably most important? Can you toss him in a chair and have him buzzed all while picking up a few things at Walmart? YAY, i’m in! Then price? You will pay extra for convenience, just to save time, not much, but you will. Even if it means risking a bad cut. ”Hell, he’s at risk of losing a chunk of it to a wad of gum at any given moment, anyways?” “So why spend more than 10 bucks on him?” Give him the Wally World special! What!!? You cant do it while I shop? Pfft! There we are at availability. It outranks reputation, but only a little. You don’t even inquire about reputation, you just glance at the customers leaving the parlor, did they look stupid? Were they happy? That guy looks like an idiot in that cut, but hey, he looks pleased. That's you finally settling on skills. The last customer looked kind of happy, and hell, look at the pictures on the wall, they are marvelous! Was that Jennifer Aniston?! Did she get her hair cut here at Walmart? Yes, yes she did, otherwise her picture wouldn't be on the wall. “Get in there Phillippe, and be good, Mommy will be right back with her new cheetah print yoga pants.”

You chose poorly

You chose poorly

Now, rank the criteria again for your big doo for a job interview… What do you get? I’m guessing that the S for Skills creeped a little to the left, not quite all the way but perhaps somethin like R.A.S.P.C. Reputation, Availability, Skills, Price and Convenience. Now we are willing to take less of a risk, pay a little more and inconvenience ourselves just to make sure we look our best! It’s not everyday a position opens up at Seymour, Hoffman and Skrote, and goddammit I’m gonna rock it! Might as well pack a lunch, because you’ll be on the clock immediately!

Now comes your wedding day, best day of your life, right? Where does the skill of your hairdresser rank now? S.R.A.C.P? Skills, Reputation, Availability, Convenience, Price You analyze their body of work, talk to Trinity who used them for her big day just to make sure, so you then see if they are available, if so, “Fuck convenience and price, I’m bringing those bitches to me!” Does that sound about right?

Do you smell Clearasil?

Do you smell Clearasil?

Well, now compare that to a photographer. When it comes to kids you rank them the same, right? Phillippe doesn’t matter, he’s just a 7 year old kid, school pictures are plenty good enough, besides, the lovely library background matches the other kids’ grade 2 pics. And guess what? All the kids are getting the same treatment by the big box photographer. One pose, three different sizes, a keychain and a bookmark for 70 bucks, good gawd! Its no wonder that the big box photographers get all the work, they can afford to send a sales team straight to the school board and weasel into a contract supplanting local photographers. They save money on the photographer anyways, there are plenty of those starving for work!

Mrs Loki is Santa, awww

Mrs Loki is Santa, awww

Now the job interview is for a speaking role in Spaceballs 2 and you need portfolio pics. Guess who you aren't hiring to take the pics? The big box photographer, you don’t look good in a library anyways. So you shop around a little, maybe ask Gunnar the neighbour, he had his portrait done with his cat Miss Loki, and they turned out alright. It turns out he happens to be available and will do it for free (just want someone to spend some time with him) So its a done deal, you hire the most convenient photographer around. Unfortunately, the part in S2 went to someone else. The Schwartz, it seems, was not with the photographer as you had hoped. Back to Seymour, Hoffman and Skrote you go.

Now, knowing what you know, and being who you are, you make the right call on your wedding day, right? You do the research, you scour the portfolios and budget accordingly, you Rank Skill and reputation above all else, you do it right, don’t play CRAPS with any photos, but especially not on your wedding day. Skills, Reputation, Availability, Convenience and Price or as I like to say SRACP! (sca-k-p) Man, I wish that was cooler. I know I had a point, but I’ll be dammed if I found it.. Anyways, What order do you put them in? Do you put convenience and price before skill?




Real Estate and the Power of Professional Photography

This modest kitchen plays with the light beautifully.

This modest kitchen plays with the light beautifully.

So the time has come has it? The time to sell the beloved family home or cottage, or perhaps even the newly renovated flip house. That's what brings you to these words is it not? You are about to put the FOR SALE sign out on the front lawn and wait for the buyers to line up at the door ready to cut you a cheque. Well, I'm here to tell you that it isn't that easy. Just because your dinner guests rave about how lovely your flooring goes with your backsplash, or how envious they are of your location, this doesn't mean that they are going to line up as soon as they catch wind of your intentions to sell. The odds are in the current real estate market that you will be listed for some time, from several months or even a year or two, depending on the value of your home. Can you wait that long? Have you a newly acquired second mortgage that makes things a little tight? Do you have a job waiting in Toledo that requires you to depart our raging Alberta climate toot sweet? Regardless of your influence, background or destination, everyone selling a home wants the same thing. Sell quickly and for the best dollar! (Not too quickly, ling-ling the Siamese hairball has another four months of mousing school.) How does one achieve the highest dollar in the shortest amount of time? Well, like all things worth doing it might take some lube. Lubrication helps things get to where they need to go easier and helps things get out of tight places a little smoother. So here a my thoughts on what can give your home sale the slipticity it needs to get where it needs to go.

Showing the environment in as natural a light as available is always favorable.

Showing the environment in as natural a light as available is always favorable.

1. PHOTOS ARE KEY! You need to market your home online, no, that doesn't mean a sign on the clothes line out back, it means you need to market on the INTERNET! The internet is where over 95% of buyers first look for a new home or property. So, you need to be there with bells on. It is no secret that the internet is the place to market, you knew that before I mentioned it. You've been aware of it for years. Realtor.ca has been a favorite destination for home shoppers for decades ( previously located at MLS.ca) there a buyer can search their preferred area, price range as well as a host of other criteria that can really narrow the results down to but a select few. Yay for you if you are one of those chosen few, you now have a potential buyer looking at your home from the comfort of their toilet. Nice. In a world where first impressions are often all you get before someone swipes your home off of their screen forever you really need to make that first shot hit home. How? you ask. How pray tell do I make that first impression a good one? Huh, funny you should ask. Good quality Real Estate Photography will trump average photography every time. EVERY SINGLE TIME! It's no secret. So choose your photographer carefully. If you are one of those who fancy's themselves a photog and fells like you can just do it yourself (you and your trusty Canon Rebel) then go ahead, do it yourself and see. Trust that first impression to a just okay photo. It's not blurry so hey, it's good. Well, for as little as a couple hundred bucks you could save yourself thousands on the selling price just by resisting the urge to publish what you think is a fantastic and artistic picture of your athletic shoe and your treadmill. You are trying to sell a home, show the home and it's potential, without the distractions. Weather listing on Realtor.ca (with the help of a REALTOR) of going it your own you need to have quality photography. Do not let your inner voice talk you our of it, and don't let your REALTOR get away with it either. Frankly, if you do go with a Realtor and they are not using a professional photographer, just keep looking, they clearly do not have your best interests in mind.

While not a feature of the home exactly, this image does show the potential atmosphere.

While not a feature of the home exactly, this image does show the potential atmosphere.

2. Choose your photographs very carefully! You have one shot at a first impression with your buyer so don't screw it up. You need not show every angle of every room, you are trying to have the buyer contact the Realtor or you the private seller, the photos are the hook, the seller is the fisherman. Present the home in the best way possible in the photographs, highlight the best features, show of the place, but maybe leave out the crawlspace/inside garage/utility room unless they are exceptional. Sure have them on file and if a buyer would like to have a look, go ahead and show them, just don't start with them. My point, show off the third nipple on maybe the fourth date.. Don't open with it. Sometimes, less is more.

This image is a compilation of seven images. Its a little work but it's worth it.

This image is a compilation of seven images. Its a little work but it's worth it.

3. Do I list with a Realtor or do I go it on my own? Well, to answer this one you need to ask yourself a question. Do you have a buyer lined up? If yes, then hey, sell it on your own. If no, then you might consider a Realtor. Realtors spent their years building a client base and crawling to the forefront of a very competitive profession. Do not take for granted the potential to sell your home quickly that a Realtor possesses. This is all they do and could very well have a buyer for your home already in their contacts list. Just make sure you get the right one. When choosing a Realtor do some research for yourself. Don't hire one because they drove your son home from soccer practice once. If you look for the most successful Realtor in your area, chances are they up there because of experience and effort. The Marketing plans of each Realtor will differ, pay attention and do the homework. Only sign with those that respect your property as much as you do. Make sure the marketing strategy is up to snuff. It's okay to touch on trendy marketing gimmicks and trends, but the real solid foundation is in quality photography, and a strong online presence. Do not move forward without making sure those two needs are satisfied.

Sometimes mood is key. Fire added digitally afterwards.

Sometimes mood is key. Fire added digitally afterwards.

4. Can I just sell it online myself? Absolutely you can, if you know the in's and outs of online marketing. But you do lose very valuable tool mentioned above. Realtor.ca. You will not be able to list on the very popular service, AND most likely Realtors who represent a potential buyer may not even know that your home is on the market because of it. Sure you could use the other popular online markets like Facebook but relying on the finicky algorithms of the worlds biggest gathering of sheep to sell your house seems a little bit iffy. I have personally watched several homes listed on Northern Alberta Real Estate https://www.facebook.com/groups/realnorth/ drop in excess of 30 thousand dollars and still not sell. No professional photography, no professional home staging, no realtor... No selling.  I am not saying it cant be done, but it needs to be done correctly and it will take some deal of luck.

Professional Real Estate Photography only takes a couple of hours (depending on the size of your home) and makes all the difference in the marketing value. The best realtors know it and invest their own money into it with no guarantee that they will even sell the property before the contract expires. I have yet to meet a Realtor that is easily separated from their money, but the good ones know a proper marketing strategy is only as strong as the photography at it's foundation. My advice, however you wish to market your home, you must be online, and to stand out online you need great photos. Bottom line, start with a great foundation.

Back Forty Photography is located in Athabasca, Alberta and specializes in Real Estate Photography in Northern Alberta.