The Big Picture...

I've always had a knack for being able to take the occasional good snap shot (haven't most of us?). However I want to take my photography to the 'next level' so I've set myself a goal: mastering property photography.
This blog shares my journey along my way to mastery of property photography, from the outset to where I am now, and gives you the opportunity to get involved too.

Project Status...

Project 52 AU (a project by Evan Walters to photograph 52 Canberra-region properties in 52 weeks) is currently in "pre-season" status and kicks off September 1, 2009.
I am quickly running out of rooms in my own home to photograph. If you have access to a presentable property in the Canberra region I need your help. I'd love to photograph your property for you. Please contact me.

Learning To Create Great Photographs

Is it just me or does Canberra only get two different types of days during winter in:
  1. Foggy mornings followed by majestic sky blue days
  2. Cloudy days with only fleeting moments of sunshine


View - Scattered Cloud Day, originally uploaded by Evan Walters - The Learner Property Photographer.

This is a shot I took from my deck around 12.30pm on Sunday. I think is a perfect example of the second type of winters day in Canberra. Even the weather seemed confused with patches of blue mixed with patches of dark cloud.

As soon as the sun would come out I'd grab my camera and start opening curtains, turning on lights, decluttering, and *poof* the sun would disappear again! This made for rather tricky photographing conditions, eventually I gave up and focused my energy elsewhere.


Whilst I'm learning (in fact always, I have a bit of a perfectionist streak) I want to take as many great photography shots as possible.

So what makes the difference between creating an average and a great photograph?

Although your answer may be different to mine, for me the difference between an average shot and a great shot seems to boil down to one of two things:
  1. Experience
  2. Luck
Nothing will increase my experience but more experience (this is why I'm doing Project 52 AU, it's a large part of what Project 52 AU is about). However I believe that you can create your own luck and that the secret to increasing one's luck has been known for around 2,000 or so years:
“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
Seneca (Roman philosopher, mid-1st century AD)
Rather than continuing to make unchecked mistakes as I have in the past few weeks, I decided to invest my time this weekend trying to increase my luck. I've done so by making better preparations and by creating a system for recording the success of my photography.

The changes I've made make sense to me and are something I should have thought of from the start (I was a boyscout - "be prepared"). I'm hoping that by making these changes I will be better able to make more from the opportunities and as a result will create more great photographs.


What are your tips, tricks, ideas and thoughts on the "secret" of creating a great photograph?

My Kitchen - Perspective Two

This is the other perspective of my kitchen. My mother in law has said she prefers this one (thanks Mum!).

Let me know your thoughts...

My Kitchen

This is the a photo that I took after wrapping up my photo session. I've been challenged to find nine different perspectives from which to photograph a room, and as a last minute thought I thought I might try a high shot looking down into the kitchen. Turns out it is one of my favourite shots from the day.

This photo was taken on an overcast day late in the afternoon (about 4.30pm, about half an hour of light left outside, but already very dark as seen in the kitchen window). This photo was lit using an on-camera speedlight (flash) bounced off the roof.

What I learnt from this photoshoot:
1. Always learn from your mistakes - I didn't learn from lesson one last week (establish a pre-shoot checklist) so most of my images were again shot at ISO 2000.
2. Watch reflections. The kitchen and bathroom have to be the worst rooms in the house for reflections. This photo has had a lot of manual editing to remove some ugly reflections and there are still many reflections in the shot I wish were not there.
3. Make sure you can fit it all in. Sadly this room does not show the breakfast bar at all and gives the impression that the ktichen is lacking storage and bench space. It is, to a degree, but not having the breakfast bar in the shot is a real shame
4. When taking a three-wall shot (from the middle of the room showing three walls) stand in the middle of the room. I find the angle of the floor a real distraction in this photo.
5. I need some more basic equipment. Gels for correcting colour temperature (the fridge, stove, rangehood, and blind should alll be white in this photo, they aren't). And a diffuser to avoid over exposing parts of the photo with the flash.
6. Always save your finished work. I did a quick edit of the other photo I have posted to flickr and did not save my changes. Big mistake. I ended up correcting the perspective of the photo and have to compress it to JPEG twice (the quality of the photo has suffered as a result).

To view the EXIF Info please click the image as I have posted these details on Flickr. I have also posted a second photo on flickr which shows my kitchen from a different perspective. As always I'd love to have your feedback on my work.

Frequently Asked Questions


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS



Q1. Who will photograph my property?

Q2. What do you charge to photograph my property?

Q3. Why offer a free photo package?

Q4. What's the difference between the two photo packages?

Q5. What's common to both packages?

Q6. Are you only taking bookings for after September 1st 2009?

Q7. When will you be able to photograph my property?

Q8. I live outside Canberra, are you still available?


Q1. Who will photograph my property?

Evan Walters - The Learner Property Photographer

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Q2. What do you charge to photograph my property?

At present I have two pricing options:

  1. $150 (including a 100% "love your photos or don't pay me a cent" guarantee).
  2. Free!

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Q3. Why offer a free photo package?

Right now, what I need more than anything is access to different properties so that I can learn how to shoot great looking photos in a variety of different settings. I am prepared to offer a free package in exchange for access to your property. The free package may only available for a limited time.

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Q4. What's the difference between the two photo packages?

The $150 photo package is a little different to the free package for several reasons:

  • The $150 package includes as many photos as required to properly capture your property. The free package includes 8 - 10 photographs.
  • The $150 package includes a "love your photos or don't pay me a cent" guarantee. With the free package you still get my best work.
  • The $150 package allows me to maintain, repair and upgrade my equipment and allows me to further my education. The free package provides me with access to your home.
  • The $150 package guarantees you your time and date at the time of your booking. The free package is offered on a "stand-by" basis and your booking date and time will be confirmed three days prior.

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Q5. What's common to both packages?

With either package:

  • You will receive your photographs delivered on CD within 24 hours.
  • Your images will be ethically edited in Adobe PhotoShop to improve the overall image quality (ethical editing refers to editing non-permanent features of the photo only).
  • I reserve the right to use one of your photographs in my portfolio of work, to post the photo to my blog, and to post details of what I have learnt from your photography session.

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Q6. Are you only taking bookings for after September 1st 2009?

I am available now. September 1st is when my personal challenge (52 Canberra-region properties in 52 weeks) starts. I am happy to photograph your property prior to the challenge if this suits your needs better.

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Q7. When will you be able to photograph my property?

At present I am available all day Saturday, other times can be also arranged by request. The best times of the day are early morning and twilight (sunset).

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Q8. I live in outside Canberra, are you still available?

Yes! I am prepared to travel up to one hour in a single direction from the ACT border. I am also available for photographing South Coast properties by request.

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If you're question is not on this list, please contact me. Thank you.

My Master Bedroom

This is the first photo I took on the day. It was about 3.30pm in the afternoon (an hour or two of sunlight remaining at this time of year). The room faces north (which means that it gets the sun all day). The sun was starting to set so there was strong sunlight being bounced off a cream-ish coloured wall to the right hand side of the shot.

What I learnt from this photoshoot:
1. Establish a pre-shoot checklist which includes checking the camera settings. There was plenty of light in the room so this shot shouldn't have been taken at ISO 2000. I just didn't check and didn't realise until after I reviewed my photos.
2. Always always always check the viewfinder before taking the shot. Most of my other shots from this session show the clutter under the bed. Additionally, shots taken from the window side of the room showing the wall to wall wardrobe feature a closed door (trying to keep the cats out) which has the result of making the room feel small and closed in.

To view the EXIF Info please click the image as I have posted these details on Flickr. As always I'd love to have your feedback on my work.

Book Your Property Photography Shoot

Evan, I am interested. Here are my details, please contact me as soon as possible:


NOTE: If you have any questions, please visit my frequently asked questions page. If your question is not on the list, please contact me. Thank you.

How To Lend Your Support To Project 52 AU

This is a placeholder for details of how to support the project.

About The Project

A picture is worth a thousand words ...

Imagine you want to share the experience of your property with someone. Now imagine that you had to make a choice between using 1,000 words or using just one photograph.

Which option would you choose?

If you chose the photograph, imagine what that picture might look like. Would it be wide open and spacious or small and cluttered? Brightly lit or dark and mysterious? What time of day would the photograph have been taken?

Chances are right now someone in the Canberra-region is sharing their property with someone. Chances are almost as good that the person the property is being shared with is forming an impression about the property based on one medium photograph and a handful of smaller ones. This is the default listing display for all of the major real estate web sites including allhomes, Domain and realestate.com.au

Property photography matters (and not just for real estate).


Project 52 AU is the project of Evan Walters, The Learner Property Photographer. Now Evan loves photography, in fact he's always loved photography. He's taken the occasional good photograph, but he's never really nailed a style of photography. Project 52 AU is a public personal challenge he has set himself. Evan wants to learn how to take world-class property photos that showcase a properties full potential.

Starting from September 1, 2009, Evan aims to photograph 52 Canberra-region properties in 52 weeks. Starting with a head full of knowledge and a little experience from photographing his own home, he is committed to learning property photography through photographing a diverse range of properties with different space and lighting situations.


To complete this project he needs your help. Evan needs properties, lots of them. All that's required, if you are willing to help is your time and access to your property for one hour. You have the choice of either a free photography package or a professional photography package, based on your needs and interest level. If you're willing to assist Evan with his project please contact him now.

Contact:
Evan Walters, The Learner Property Photographer
E-mail: Project52AU@GMail.com
Mobile: 0425 335 813

"I had the pleasure of working with Evan for a number of years. He was a key member of the team I managed and was always willing and able to get in a do what was required. His positive approach, easy manner and ability to think outside the box were amongst his many strengths. I would be more than happy to work with Evan again anytime."
Richard Batka, Vice President -Operations, Cards Etc Inc.

About Me

This is a placeholder for details about me.

Evan Walters loves good photography in all its varied forms. That's probably not surprising considering he purchased his first camera for a school camp at the tender age of ten years old... that's now some twenty years ago! Evan is also passionate about property of all types, having lived in some great (and not so great) properties himself.

Day to day, Evan makes ends meet as a computer geek. His degree in Multimedia introduced him to the world of Adobe® Photoshop® and image editing. Not finding a passion for graphic design he has also tried his hand at teaching Adobe Flash at a private college in Sydney. However his bread and butter lies in Lotus Notes, as an administrator and developer, leading him away from his passion for photography, property, and multimedia. Rather than loose his passion and skill in these areas, Evan created Project 52 AU in June of 2009.

As a property owner himself he understands that whether you are selling or renting your property, you want to ensure the best representation possible. Perhaps nowhere does the phrase, "a picture is worth a thousand words" ring truer. Taking a photo requires only a camera, and someone to point and shoot it. As a property photographer he understands that your home deserves more than a quick 'point and shoot'. Whilst nothing trumps price as the greatest determining factor in how easily (and for how much) your property will sell or rent, capturing a true image of your property requires both the knowledge and skill to truely do your property justice.

Mostly though he likes seeing people smile. He loves that property photography makes people feel great about where they live, regardless of they are selling their old home, buying a new home, or looking to find the perfect tenant or rental.


Here's what a few managers and coworkers have had to say about myself and my work over the last few years:

"Evan was our internal Lotus Notes developer at Cards etc, maintaining and further developing a large number of Lotus Notes databases servicing our offices and clients globally. He was responsive, capable and always a pleasure to work with - handling the pressure of working on multiple projects for multiple internal clients well."
Michael Walters, CEO, Cards etc

"I had the pleasure of working with Evan for a number of years. He was a key member of the team I managed and was always willing and able to get in a do what was required. His positive approach, easy manner and ability to think outside the box were amongst his many strengths. I would be more than happy to work with Evan again anytime."
Richard Batka, Vice President -Operations, Cards Etc Inc.

"It was a pleasure having Evan employed as a Google Quality rater. He consistently completed rating of a high quality. Given the nature of the position, he showed the capacity to work independently with very little guidance."
Joanne Smith

"Evan has been a joy to work with and deals well with customers and colleagues alike. Is always willing to do any task that is thrown at him and his thorough knowledge of Lotus Notes Development and willingness to learn Admin tasks has been a great asset to the team."
Michael Radojkovic, Lotus Domino Engineer, Unisys Australia

"Evan has worked both as a Lotus Notes Administrator & Developer. He has an excellent attention to detail and ensures all work is of the highest standard. He has a willingness to get the job done and always has a "can do" attitude. Evan works well in a team and has a friendly demeanor both towards the client and fellow team members."
Peter Lock, Lotus Notes SME, Unisys

Please excuse me while I update the template

Things might get a bit messy around here as I update my blog template. Please bare with me, better things are coming soon...

Thanks for your support and understanding.


UPDATE 20 minutes later - Well that was certainly easier than expected. Please note than the top (grey bar) navigation links are not yet working. Slowly but surely whipping this blog into shape. More to come soon... (and I thought I'd only have to worry about taking professional photos, silly me!).

My first ever twilight shot!

Here it is. My first ever twilight shoot!

I think there's a possibility that there is too much sky in the shot, but otherwise I'm pretty happy with this shot. It's dark enough to show the "glow" that we all love at dusk, and light enough to still showcase the homes features.

And before you ask, no the car and the weeather station aren't included :)

My first photo shoot - now edited

After all the confusion earlier this week regarding what software to use when (and just as importantly why), I think I've got my head around it, so I've uploaded some edited photos for some comments (please leave me your comments).

This photo did not even make the cut in my unedited selection, and yet I think this is now my favourite shot and shows the most promise of all (not that its perfect, there's still much room for improvement). I guess it goes to show you can't judge a photo by how it looks in the camera.

Big Picture Thoughts on Where...

Bart: OK, we're young, rich, and full of sugar.
What do we do?
Milhouse: [yelling] Let's go crazy, Broadway style!
Both: [singing]
Springfield, Springfield, it's a hell of a town:
The schoolyard's up and the shopping mall's down.
The stray dogs go to the animal pound,
Bart: Springfield, Springfield!
Milhouse: Springfield, Springfield!
Sailor: New York, New York!
Bart: New York is that-a-way, man!
Sailor: Thanks, kid!
Both: [singing] It's a hell of a...toooown!


Substitute Springfield for Canberra, and New York for Sydney or Melbourne, and I think this song captures the emotion I feel when I think of the small town that I live in (chuck in all the enthusiasm and youthfulness of these two for good measure). I just don't understand why the rest of the country just doesn't get it. Anyway, I'm off topic!

If you live anywhere in this space...



Or anywhere within an hour's drive of it, you are eligible to help me with my project. In fact, if you live within that space, or within an hour of it, call me on 0425 335 813, email me at Project52AU@gmail.com, or get in touch with me via facebook (the links on the left side of the screen) right now, I'd love to photograph your home!


**Update: **

One thought keeps whizzing around, and around, and around, and around inside my brain regarding 'where' so I'll share it with you.

When I was lucky enough to last visit the south coast, I was shocked by the overall level of property photos I could look at in order to find a place that I actually wanted to stay in (thankfully a friend recommended a place that was just divine). But it got me thinking, in fact, perhaps it was the catalyst that got me to where I am today.

How do people find your holiday home on the coast?

Word of mouth, real estate agents, print brochures, the internet.

That's right! Potentially, TERRIBLE photos are being in conjunction with your real estate INVESTMENT. If every care and attention to detail hasn't been taken to maximise the appearance of your holiday rental (south coast or otherwise) how many people are turning away as a result?

Now I have to admit the south coast is a little out of my way. But I thought I'd put it out there. Generally I don't think the real estate photos of Canberra are too bad, but when it comes to south coast holiday homes its a different story. If you think I could help, please give me a call, or drop me an email, let's get in touch and discuss it.

Big Picture Thoughts on When...

The way I see it, this has to be the easiest aspect of this project.

September 1 2009 until September 1 2010, unless completed earlier.

I can see a problem with what I just said. "Unless completed earlier". How will I know when the challenge has been completed? Is it after 52 homes or 52 weeks? I think I'll worry about this when the time comes.

"Once you have mastered time, you will understand how true it is that most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year - and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade!" - Anthony Robbins.

Big Picture Thoughts on What...

Ok, so here's my current thoughts on the What of this project. This is still very much a draft, and I welcome your comments.


** What you need to provide **
You must live somewhere, you must have a home (all shapes, sizes and sorts are eligible), you must allow me to photograph it (we can discuss what is appropriate to photograph and what is not and what needs to kept private such as expensive items, private rooms, areas of your home under renovations, etc).

I need access to your home for a short period, probably around 45 - 60 minutes depending on what time of day it is and what we are trying to achieve.

I do need you to show up when you say you will. Sure, things do come up from time to time and people have reasons to break appointments at short notice. However, my time is limited, I do have a 9 - 5 job so my availability is limited. If you need to cancel your photo shoot at short notice without a valid reason, or you fail to show up at all, you forfeit your right to have me shoot your home.


** What will you receive **

What is commonly referred to by real estate photographers as a 'basic' photo package (estimated value $130).

This is expected to be around 10 photos. I say around 10 because the guy I first took as a 'virtual' mentor (i.e. he taught me stuff without doing it directly so he may not even know I exist, see, told you I was geeky), Athol Kay, said 'if you need to take 10 photos to get 1 good one, then you'll need to multiply that by the total you want or need'.

(10 good photos) x (10 to get 1 good one) = 100 photos
(I'm assuming it will take me 10 photos to get one good one so I will take around 100 photos all up).

As my skill increases, and when I get lucky (everyone should have regular lucky days) the number of total photos to good photos should increase (note, I said should, not will), so you may end up with more.

Delivery of these photos is flexible. At this stage I probably plan to burn them to CD and send them out in the post, but I'm open to requests.

And you get full copyright ownership* over your images.

* All I ask is that you agree to a royalty-free license to me for me to use as a representation of my own photography. I can not sell, license, or otherwise reuse your image for any other purpose.


** What's it going to cost you **

I know, it should be free. It's a personal challenge and you are helping me to achieve it, so you shouldn't be paying for that. Sadly cameras and camera equipment are consumables (they're going to break eventually) and I just don't have the money to complete this challenge otherwise.

I intend to cover my material costs and any other costs I am forced to legally bare (income/company tax? gst? workers comp? I'm not an accountant but if anyone knows someone who'd be willing to talk to me I'd love the opportunity).

At this point I am in two minds about how to factor in these expenses. I will either ask for a fixed amount, or it will increase over time.

Here's what you do get for FREE:
1) Either the month prior to launch (September 1 2009) or the first week of the challenge will be completely free.
2) I am free. My time, skill, etc, all aggregating, all accumulating with each photography shoot. And my unfaltering customer service and support. You get me for FREE!

The bottom line is, this is an opportunity to have 'professional' (here's hoping that when I start in three months time my photos are at least better than 95% of the photos displayed on real estate web sites) photos taken at a very low cost (probably around $50 - $60, less than half what you're likely to pay elsewhere).

What happens if 'profit' is made from the challenge? Any money raised above actual costs to me for doing this money will be donated to charity. I want no personal gain from this challenge.


** What do I want from this **

(*feels special* It's nice you want to know about me).

I want new experiences. I've always thought I'd be capable of magnificent things in my life, but safe decision after safe decision, year after year, I've trapped myself in a 'safe' position (i.e. I've become boring!). I want to get out and meet new people, network, socialise and help my community.

I want to develop a new skill. I've spent the last 10 years of my life in the same job, Lotus Notes Development (you know you're from Canberra when you know what Lotus Notes is). I've always been passionate about photography. It's time I did something with this interest of mine.

I want a portfolio of work of my own creative talents. The hardest thing about my job is that at the end of the day you have nothing to show for it. Programming computers if you're code is visible its because something went wrong and it's crashed and its all gone pear shaped. A portfolio gives me something I can look at with a sense of accomplishment, and I just won't get that from my current job.

Big Picture Thoughts on Who...

Who
My real estate photography set up and I.
Your home and yourself.

Who am I (I'll try and keep it relevant)
* I am Evan Walters
* 30 year old guy
* I live in Canberra
* I am married to Gwen and we are currently living a child-free life (but trying)
* I have ten years experience in IT (I am a total geek too)
* I have had an interest in small business marketing for around five years
* I've always had an interest in photography (I get that from my great uncle Alf, who dabbled in commercial photography)

Update #1: Please note that I am a hobbyist, not a professional photographer. I do not have an ABN and I do not have my own insurances.


Whats my setup
* Nikon DSLR
* Sigma wide angle lens
* Nikon flash gun
* Tripod (coming soon)

You
* You live somewhere (in your home)
* You want photos taken of your home (you don't have to justify your reasons to me)
* You must not have a commercial interest (2 home photo shoot limit applies)
* You should live within a one hour drive of Canberra (if you aren't contact me anyway, we may be able to sort something out)