What is it?
I offer a $50 discount for unattended access. This means:
- Tell me ahead of time it will be self-access.
- Flexible timing (I can arrive an hour early or late).
- An unlocked door, a hidden key, or a key in a combo box.
- No one is present at the shoot besides myself.
- No realtor, homeowner, children, contractors, cleaners, landscapers, etc.
- I can generally deal with pets if they’re friendly.
What does it accomplish?
Why am I offering a discount for unattended access? In short, for health and safety, to provide better and more consistent photos, and to increase scheduling availability and flexibility.
During the pandemic of 2020 I emphatically encouraged people to not be home during the photo shoot. This was to protect the hundreds of other people I interact with on a given work week, many of whom are elderly and vulnerable. The lack of compliance led me to re-think my approach. So now instead of encouraging anything, I simply offer a discount for compliance.
Being able to be early or later than an exact scheduled time allows me to adapt when other shoots in my day are running late, or for traffic conditions or a last-minute shoot. I don’t have to rush through a shoot that starts late or drive fast to make it to an unattended shoot.
Photo quality is generally improved. If I don’t have to shoot around people, I can focus on making each shot great.
Can I do a shoot with people around? SURE. I have for decades. It’s not ideal, but it’s fine. I do my best with whatever circumstances I’m given. The purpose of this discount is not to convert all shoots to unattended access. Rather, it’s to make enough of them unattended to allow for a smoother flow to the day as a whole.
What is the problem with having people around?
I genuinely like people– realtors, sellers, children– as well as cats and dogs (not so sure about snakes). But ALL of them are detrimental to producing optimal photos, which is my priority.
A photo shoot with people present takes about 50% longer.
The main problem with people is that they cannot focus. I’m sorry but it’s how we all are now. I ask people to “turn on *all* the lights”, and they will turn on (I kid you not) two or three lights before getting distracted and doing something else. This “something else” usually involves their phone, or food, or something otherwise unhelpful, while standing in the way.
Remember, the MLS can fine you for having people in a photo.
Here is a short list of some ways a homeowner or realtor being present leads to delays and reduced quality:
- Car in the driveway or in front of the house.
- Turning lights off out of habit (constantly).
- Changing things I’ve intentionally adjusted (blinds, doors, etc.)
- Talking to each other while standing in the way.
- Phone calls or text, while standing in the way.
- Standing outside, visible through a window.
- Setting stuff down on surfaces (phone, papers, laptop, purse, food).
- Noticing something *after* I’m done and asking me to reshoot.
- Children or pets moving quickly into the shot.
- Pets knocking over my equipment.
- Cleaning products/equipment left out.
Most of these delays are relatively small, but they are compounded by the number of times they happen (and there is often more than one person present). Dozens of these small delays add up to everyone feeling flustered and me unable to do my best work.
Another benefit of unattended access is that the home is “as ready as it will be” and the homeowner is taking their home sale seriously (not just testing the waters). If the homeowner isn’t ready for a photographer, then they aren’t ready for showings— it’s as simple as that. Remember, THOUSANDS of people may look at the photos; only a handful will see it in person.
Contractors, landscapers, etc are a particular problem because it is very inconvenient for them to move all their vehicles, equipment and materials out of the way for me, and they are equally frustrated by the double-booking. Please make sure contractors are completely done one to two days before the photo shoot. A contractor working inside might mean an entire room isn’t photographed, and landscapers working outside might mean the back or front of the home isn’t photographed. Cleaners usually work in teams and, in addition to parking their cars in front of the house, leave their supplies strewn about the entire house.
3D TOUR AND FLOOR PLAN:
The 3D camera captures a spherical panoramic photo in all directions at once. I myself have to carefully hide while each shot it being taken. It is practically impossible for realtors, homeowners, children and pets to *not* end up in the photos, or to disturb something in the shot (which prevents the 3D tour from being correctly digitally assembled). Likewise the floor plan measurements can be thrown off by people or pets in the photos. For this reason it is mandatory that no one be home for 3D Tour scans.
People are *clearly* visible through windows when it is twilight and the interior lights are on. If people and pets could stay in the garage for the entirety of the shoot, this would be acceptable, but my experience is that they inevitably forget why they are in the garage and go inside to fix a snack or a drink (and then get distracted with something else– all while being completely visible in the photos). If people are visible in the windows of the photographs, the MLS may fine you. So again I require that no one be home for this type of shoot.