Opinions vary about the value of hiring a professional photographer to shoot finished remodeling projects. One thing for certain, however, is that photographs are the best way to illustrate the quality of a remodeler’s work. But, do remodelers use professional photographers, or do they take their own pictures? Qualified Remodeler wanted to know, so we conducted a survey. Almost 900 remodelers responded.
Results of the survey are illustrated in eight charts on this page.
Slightly more than half of remodelers (52 percent) have hired professional photographers, whose photos are used for marketing purposes such as brochures, websites and being published in magazines.
Of remodelers who hire professional photographers, 75 percent say it’s worth the investment and 19 percent say they’re unsure. The other 6 percent complain about photographers not taking direction, and the legal and financial hassles of reuse rights.
Reuse rights are not always a problem, however, says Elliott Pike, owner of ELM Construction in Birmingham, Ala., who pays photographers for their time and owns the rights to reuse all photos. “We always use the same photographer now. Once we started using him I kicked myself for not using him earlier,” he says.
Pike uses photos to illustrate the before-after remodeling transformations. “I take the before pictures and we hire a photographer to take after pictures. We put them on our website, Houzz and Facebook. We use full resolution images for submitting to awards programs and magazines,” he says.
No strict guidelines exist for choosing which projects to shoot professionally, Pike says. “It’s pretty simple … we want to make sure we’re getting a return on the investment. For example, if you’re touring the mountains of Italy, a Ferrari would be an awesome tool, but it’s not ideal for getting the mail at the end of your driveway. The point is, we’re not taking a pictures of a closet, for example.”
Pike uses professional photographers for many reasons, including time savings. Photographers can do a much better job in half the time, he says, which frees him up for efforts that generate revenue such as preparing estimates. Also, for the same reason we tell people to hire remodelers, we should be hiring photographers because they’re pros just like we are.”
Like any trade partner
A relationship with a professional photographer should be like one with any other trade partner, in which the partner learns a remodeler’s preferences and delivers, says Patricia Iacone, president of Advanced Contracting in Round Hill, Va. Our photographer is learning what Iacone’s eye is looking for and how products should be displayed on site. “I prefer horizontal shots because our web site is the primary place to display these photos. I like clean rooms with no clutter. All of the counters should be clean. Water should always be coming out of a showerhead. Our photographer knows this and has learned my taste in photography,” she says.
If advertising is the end-game, there’s no better way to display a remodeler’s work than to hire a professional photographer to capture it, Iacone adds. And, like Elliott Pike, Iacone believes in putting her money where her mouth is by hiring a professional, just like she advises her clients to do when hiring a remodeler.
Iacone tries to shoot as many jobs as possible, but is selective, too. Small projects without many upgrades such as a finished basement or laundry room addition don’t make the cut, she says. Usage is never a problem, either, because Iacone’s arrangement with her photographer includes all usage in one fee.
Not for everyone
Almost half of remodelers who responded to our survey (48 percent) choose to handle photography themselves rather than hire a professional. One of these remodelers is Allen Francis, owner of ADF Construction in Placerville, Calif.
“Photography used to be a hobby so I do it myself,” Francis says. “I’ve considered hiring a professional but have not followed through with it. At this point, going backward, it’s a bit of a hassle to contact old customers and ask them to clean their house so it’s ready for a photo session. It’s a lot easier to take photos before people move back into new spaces, but at the same time it would be helpful to me to photograph older jobs. It would be nice to be able to catalog that work.”
Francis also chooses to photograph the higher-end projects, or that is unique in some way, such as his custom work. He uses photos in presentations to potential clients, and intends to have hardcover books made to hand to prospects. He doesn’t advertise, so there’s no need to produce photos for that purpose. He has survived on word-of-mouth since opening business in 1990.
From one pro to another
In an online exclusive, photographer’s representative and public relations expert Diane Purcell, who owns Through The Lens Management in Wimberley, Texas, shares her top reasons remodelers should consider hiring a professional photographer.