Many home listings give buyers the option to take a virtual walkthrough of a property from the comforts of their own home. Buyers can linger in a virtual room to discuss what they like or dislike and familiarize themselves with a home before meeting with an agent or realtor.
3D virtual staging takes a virtual walkthrough to the next level. It builds upon the benefits of virtual staging to allow homebuyers to better picture living in a home. Clutter is digitally removed and furniture and decor are replaced. The end result is a more complete and styled virtual walkthrough.
But what exactly is 3D virtual staging and how does it help sell a home?
How Does 3D Virtual Staging Work?
3D virtual staging requires a photographer to use a 360 camera to capture 2D panoramic photos of a property. These photos are then fed into specialized software to create a 3D model of a home.
Once the software has processed the photos, a photographer can edit and manipulate them to create a 3D virtual walkthrough. Then the walkthrough is either uploaded online for buyers to interact with or edited further to apply virtual staging techniques.
Virtual staging in 3D works much the same as it does in 2D: a professional declutters the space and replaces or places furniture and decor that matches the intended style of the home.
Where 3D virtual staging differs from its 2D counterpart is in intensity. Since buyers can look in any direction of a virtual home, a photographer needs to ensure the entire room is virtually staged.
For example, most rooms of a home will require multiple scans to properly translate the room into a virtual space. In such cases, a photographer will need to stage each individual scan, as opposed to only the area visible in a regular photograph.
How Does 3D Virtual Staging Benefit Home Sellers?
A staged home sells 73 percent faster than one that is not staged. When a home isn’t left empty or is filled with a mix-match of furniture, buyers can better visualize living there.
Virtual staging makes it possible to stage a home with less of an impact on your wallet and the environment than traditional staging. During the virtual staging process, photos are tidied up and enhanced to make your home welcoming, inviting, and warm.
3D virtual staging builds upon those senses. It creates not only a virtual walkthrough of your home, but a virtual tour that is inviting and immersive. During their virtual tour, buyers are better able to appreciate how different styles of furniture and decor compliment your home and how they can make your home feel like their own.
Buyers are also less shocked after taking a virtual walkthrough of a home that has been staged in 3D, only to discover it is empty in reality. Instead, they will still be able to envision the home as furnished and lived in.
Is 3D Virtual Staging Worth the Effort?
Virtual staging is already more economical than traditional home staging, but how does 3D virtual staging compare?
3D virtual staging costs about $300 per panoramic shot or small room. It’s more expensive than 2D virtual staging, but far more immersive.
As for physical effort? Well, there isn’t much, so put away the dolly and back brace — your furniture can stay where it is for now.
With 3D virtual staging, your real estate photographer will work with you and your agent to decide on a staging style that fits the property and market. After that, a 3D scan of your home will be created and your household items will be digitally removed and replaced with virtual counterparts.
The end result is a beautiful VR-ready 3D virtual walkthrough and floor plan that will help buyers see themselves living in your home.
Photographers may make magic with their cameras, but they’re still subject to the same 24-hour day as everyone else. Professional photographers must work efficiently to maximize their income.
Setting a schedule dictates what photographers do and when they do it, but doesn’t answer the question of how much time to leave between shoots. The amount of shoots a photographer can complete in a given day correlates to the amount of income he or she will earn.
Though the exact amount of time to leave between shoots varies from photographer to photographer, there is an easy process of determining that number.
Understand How Long a Shoot Takes
Before determining how much time you should leave between shoots, first determine how long an average shoot takes. For events like weddings, you can reasonably expect to invest most of an entire day to the single shoot.
What about real estate photography? If you’ve been shooting real estate for any length of time, you likely already know the average length of time you spend in properties of different sizes. If you offer portrait or headshot photography, you can dictate the length of sessions.
With the average length of time a given type of shoot takes, you can extrapolate how many of each you can feasibly fit into a single day. If you can shoot an average-sized home in an hour, you might be comfortable booking five or six homes per day, for example.
Be Efficient With Your Scheduling
After determining how many shoots you can fit into a given day, you still need to leave time for the other aspects of your business — and your life. After all, professional photography consists of more than just taking photos. You still need to run your business.
How are your shoots scheduled? Many photographers choose to allow clients to book shoots online. Others may prefer face-to-face meetings. Sometimes, you may have to schedule a consultation prior to the actual shoot.
Though this is all client interaction, it still takes time.
On top of that, you still need to run your business by handling:
- Admin work
- And other necessities of running a photography business
And what about your normal day-to-day needs? When traveling from shoot to shoot, you need to set some time aside for food, bathroom breaks, and even a short rest.
Develop and implement a routine and scheduling system that works for you. Block out time for certain tasks. Perhaps you’ll use Thursdays to get all your boring admin and office work done, or set time aside in the morning to return phone calls or market yourself.
Once you get into the habit of following a schedule, stick with it. Try to schedule blocks of 90-minute chunks and group similar tasks together. When armed with a schedule, you’ll maximize your efficiency and make every second of your workday count.
Plan For Unforeseen Circumstances
A major time thief for real estate photographers is arriving at a property only to find it hasn’t been cleaned or staged. For the sake of your photos, you may offer help with a quick staging or decluttering prior to taking photos. After all, if you photograph a piece of property that’s not visually appealing to buyers, an agent or seller may (unfairly) blame you for a lack of offers.
Unfortunately, your assistance in tidying up a location before shooting isn’t without its cost. You’re trading your time for the sake of taking a more visually-pleasing photo. That investment of your time eats into the rest of your day.
Reduce the impact of unforeseen circumstances by allowing yourself enough time between one appointment and the next. If your second appointment is 30 minutes away from the first, give yourself 45 minutes to an hour in between, just in case.
Best-case scenario, you arrive a few minutes early and can have a coffee or make sure the client is prepared. In a worst-case scenario, you’re still on time. Win-win.
Check-In With Clients Before Departing
Travel time can take up much of a photographer’s schedule, but it’s a huge component of the job. Your time can be wasted in a heartbeat, however, with a last-minute cancellation.
A last-minute cancellation can leave you in an unfamiliar area with nothing productive to do to pass the time. It throws a huge wrench into your well-planned schedule.
Minimize the impact of client cancellations by calling in advance to confirm your appointment. Cancellations are never fun, but finding out about them before you’re on the road gives you opportunities to maintain your productivity.
Perhaps you can swing by a local landmark to take some photos of its unique architecture to beef up your portfolio. Maybe you can canvass the area to do some face-to-face marketing. Or maybe a later client will be interested in bumping up their appointment.
How Much Time to Leave Between Shoots
The time you spend between shoots depends on your preferred workload and photography speciality. Scheduling your workdays — and sticking to your schedule — protects the time it takes for you to finish one shoot and move on to another.
Determining the amount of time to leave between shoots does more than protect your time, too: it helps you maintain your professionalism. Ensuring you have enough time to finish one appointment and arrive at the next on-time is what’s expected of you as a professional photographer.
But perhaps the biggest benefit lies in making the most of your workday. Once you learn how much time to leave between shoots, you can book your schedule as much as it makes sense to. And for a photographer, more shoots means more money.
Virtual staging is a digital process. Because it’s digital, it can be performed by just about any professional, independent of location. You can choose to hire a local Washington-based virtual staging expert or an agency across the country — or globe.
But should you hire a US agency to virtually stage your home, or are you okay with hiring a foreign professional?
There is nothing inherently wrong with outsourcing work to an expert thousands of miles away from your native country. However, there are significant downsides to doing so — and benefits to hiring a US-based virtual staging professional.
Let’s discuss why you should hire a US agency to virtually stage your home.
There Are Few Language and Cultural Barriers
Communication is key when hiring an agency or independent professional to virtually stage your home. Though a non-US-based stager may be capable of phenomenal work, they still need to be able to understand exactly what you’re asking for.
If a significant language barrier exists, what you articulate and expect may not be what you end up receiving. This is especially apparent if you use any local slang or regional idioms that are unfamiliar to the stager.
Before hiring a virtual stager, communicate your desires and expectations. Even local stagers may not be totally familiar with phrases you never think twice about using in your day-to-day life. If a language barrier exists, work to make sure your stager fully understands what you want and that nothing is lost in translation.
You Have Better Legal Protection
Many US-based virtual stagers guarantee their services in one way or another. If you’re unhappy with their work or it falls short of the mark, you may be entitled to a refund or another type of compensation.
You also have the right to file a claim in court if you’re left high and dry or a US-based stager fails to fulfill the terms of your contract.
This legal protection isn’t always possible — or feasible — if your stager lives and works in another country. The costs of trying to collect compensation from someone outside of the US may not be worth it for how little compensation you’d receive.
They Understand Local Trends
America is a vast country and home to a number of architectural styles and interior designs. A local virtual stager not only understands this, but knows which style of virtual staging fits which type of home.
After all, styles of homes and the type of furniture that compliments them differ depending on the country. Homes in the UK, India, or Estonia are different than those in the US. Likewise, the styles of furniture and decor that fit in one country’s homes likely don’t fit perfectly in an American home.
A stager based in the US is (or should be) familiar with local styles and market trends. This means they’ll stage your home in ways that make the most sense — and according to your preferences.
Should You Hire a Local Virtual Staging Agency?
Who you choose as your virtual stager is entirely up to your preferences and needs. Still, it’s important to weigh the benefits of a local stager to those of a foreign-based professional. Compare portfolios, prices, and testimonials during your search.
Remember, though, that a local virtual staging agency is often strongly familiar with your region. They may have extensive experience staging homes similar to yours and are well-acquainted with the local market and its demands.
Once you’ve found an agency you like, contact them to inquire about their services and determine if they’re a good fit for you.
Home staging has significant benefits to selling a home faster and for more money. According to the National Association of Realtors, 83 percent of buyers’ agents claim staging a home makes it easier for a buyer to envision it as their future home.
But traditional staging — physically staging a home with furniture and decor — isn’t always economical. The national average for the cost of traditional home staging is between $2,300 and $3,200. In addition, traditional home staging isn’t the most environmentally friendly staging solution.
Why Is Traditional Staging So Expensive?
Despite the average cost of traditional home staging, prices vary depending on your location and the size of your home. The cost of traditional staging includes:
- A consultation fee
- Number of rooms to stage
- A monthly rental fee for the staged furniture and decor
The staging fee pays for movers and to stage the furniture in your home. But where does the furniture come from?
It’s important that the staging furniture matches the style of your home and market. Unless your existing furniture already does so, a stager will draw items from a stored collection. Once your home’s been cleaned and decluttered and the staged items moved in, the stager will arrange a layout that works.
Virtual Staging is an Eco-Friendly Home Staging Solution
The younger generations are increasingly eco-friendly and cognizant of the impact of waste upon the environment. When compared to traditional home staging, virtual staging is:
- More affordable
- Consumes less physical resources (gas for transportation, the necessity of physical furniture)
- Less wasteful (furniture doesn’t sit unused in storage)
- Less time spent in the property and overseeing the process
Virtual staging provides all the benefits of traditional staging with none of the requisite waste. Unused furniture isn’t pulled out from storage and transported across towns in gas-guzzling trucks, only to be stored away again after a home is sold.
Instead, a vacant home is virtually edited to look lived in and welcoming. Or, if it’s still lived in, a virtual stager cuts out undesired furniture and decor to replace it with a virtual counterpart.
All of this translates to a lower cost, too. Compared to the high upfront and rental costs of traditional staging, virtual staging can cost as little as a one-time fee of $100 per photo.
Other Environmentally Friendly Benefits of Virtual Staging
Using traditional staging to stage a home you’re still living in can put a kink in the normal conveniences of your life. Perhaps the most inconvenient change is packing up and storing away all your existing furniture and belongings.
While you’re living in a staged home, it may very well not feel as if it’s yours any longer. A stranger’s furniture will adorn the staged rooms, transforming your home into a showcase — while your furniture languishes in storage, unused.
You will also consume fuel to transport your furniture to storage. On top of that, storage units take up land that could otherwise be used for more productive and environmentally conscious purposes.
With virtual staging, there’s little physical impact on your home and the environment itself. Short of tidying up your space and some minor repairs or painting (though those can be fixed virtually, too), fewer resources are consumed with virtual staging than traditional home staging.
Not only will you be saving money, but you’ll also limit the impact of staging on the environment. It’s a small victory, but a victory nonetheless.
Choose Virtual Home Staging Over Traditional Staging
In most cases, virtual home staging works just as well — if not better — than traditional home staging. The impact of virtual staging on your life is significantly less than that of traditional staging. Virtual staging is also more environmentally friendly and cost-effective.
Depending on your market, you may not have to stage at all. In hot markets, homes may fly off the figurative shelf. For others, weigh the pros and cons of virtual and traditional staging to decide which is right for you and your views on the world we share together.
No matter the route you choose, hire a photographer to work in conjunction with your agent and stager to sell your home faster and for more money.
A home is often still lived in by a family prior to its listing on the market, even if it has already been staged. Of those families, 37 percent include children under the age of 18 still living under the roof.
Real estate photographers must take professional, quality photos of homes even when families — some with pets, children, or both — are still occupying them.
But pets and children don’t always care — or understand — that a home must be kept neat and clean during the selling process. They (rightfully!) want to play, but that means photographers must learn how to shoot a home even when pets and children are around.
Thankfully, real estate photographers can make use of a few tips and tricks to make things a little easier for everyone.
Give Your Client a Prep Cheat Sheet
When you schedule an appointment to shoot a client’s home, provide them with a pre-shoot prep cheat sheet. The cheat sheet should list:
- General tips for how to clean the home
- Advice to use the same type of lighting across fixtures
- Instructions to remove personal belongings, like toiletries and photos
- The need to clear away clutter, including toys and sports equipment
- Booster chairs, dog beds, and other non-necessary children/pet furniture is out of sight
- Children’s bedrooms are cleared of personalization, including decals and photos
- Pets are crated, brought outside, or kept somewhere off-site
- And other recommendations and suggestions you feel are warranted
A pre-shoot cheat sheet will give your clients an easy-to-follow guideline to prepare for your arrival. Not only will it mean the home is ready for you to start shooting, but it will also provide suggestions for how to minimize the impact of pets and kids during your appointment.
The best-laid plans sometimes fall apart. A child or pet might be ill, prompting a homeowner to schedule a doctor visit — and throwing a wrench into your appointment to photograph the home.
Thankfully, all but the most last-minute cancellations and reschedules can be avoided by calling ahead to confirm you’re still expected and that all is well with your client.
Confirming an appointment is a great way to protect your time and remind some of the more forgetful clients that you’ll soon be on your way. If something unexpected has come up beforehand, you’ll know ahead of time and can adjust your schedule.
Walk Through the Property
Upon arrival, ask the homeowner or agent to take you for a brief tour through the property. Not only is this a great time to visually scope out aspects of the home to feature in your photos, but a walkthrough will give you an idea as to the cleanliness and presentation of the property.
After all, kids and pets aren’t known for picking up after themselves. Request that any toys and other items are put away prior to the shoot. If children or pets are present, respectfully suggest letting them play in a room you won’t be shooting in, or that you’ll shoot in first or last, so that they’re kept entertained and out of the way for the rest of the shoot.
Show Up Prepared
Selling a home is hectic and stressful. No matter how hard your client tries, it’s totally possible for them to overlook or forget something.
You can help them out — and clean up a shot — by coming prepared with lint rollers and bins.
If a pet has recently laid on a piece of furniture and left some hair behind, pass a lint roller over it prior to taking your photos. And if you come upon a veritable treasure trove of action figures, collect them into a bin to clear them from your shot.
Be Patient and Professional
Children and pets don’t often understand what’s going on when their home is up for sale. “Strangers” (agents, possible homebuyers, and photographers like you) may be visiting with increased frequency. Furniture may have been moved or temporarily replaced. And many of their belongings may have been sold or boxed up already.
It can be stressful, to say the least.
While their presence during a shoot might be stressful for you, you’re the professional in the situation. Speak with kindness and be patient if the home isn’t 100 percent ready for you to start snapping photos immediately upon arrival.
Try to understand that, despite your client’s best efforts, a pet or kid may very well run across the scene while you’re shooting. Laugh it off while your client gets them situated again, then continue taking photos. No harm, no foul!
After the Shoot
With proper preparation and a professional demeanor, shooting a piece of real estate in which pets and kids are present doesn’t have to be unduly stressful. Clients and agents alike will appreciate your patience.
By acting professional and respectful, you may even earn repeated business through referrals or the chance to recommend your other services.
How Do Photographers Tell If They’re Doing Good Work?
Photographers are artists by their very nature. As with any artist, photographers want to know if they’re producing good work.
After all, a photographer known for shooting stunning photos can quickly build a business, attract new clients, and command higher rates. There’s also a sense of pride in striving to perfect your work and develop your skill.
But how do photographers tell if they’re doing good work?
Review Your Photography Techniques
When you’re assessing your own skills to see where you excel and what areas need improvement, pay close attention to how you use common photography techniques, like the:
- Rule of thirds
- Focus and composition
- Depth of field and what subjects are given emphasis
The use of proper photography techniques comes with time, training, and practice. Proper techniques, when used together, elevate a photo from looking like it was shot by an amateur to one taken by a professional.
Understand Your Equipment…and How to Use It
You can pour thousands of dollars into buying expensive equipment and tools. Buying all the cutting-edge equipment in the world doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to improve your work. You still need to learn the proper way to make use of your camera, lenses, tripods, flash, and other equipment.
Did you know that how you hold your camera has an impact on the quality of a photo? Gripping the camera improperly can make you shake and make a photo look blurry or out of focus.
Don’t be afraid to get down and dirty, too. While you might be inclined to lean forward or backward when framing a shot, you’re better off repositioning your entire body — even if it means laying on the ground.
If you’re shooting in bad weather, prepare for the conditions beforehand. Bring clothes to keep yourself comfortable, warm, and dry. Shell out the cash for a lens hood or some microfiber cloths to keep your lens free and clear of raindrops or snowflakes.
As you practice honing your photography techniques, work on learning how your tools work. Play around with different lenses to get a feel for which ones excel over others in certain situations.
Remember: high-quality equipment alone doesn’t make for a better shot. Spend time learning how best to use what you’ve got.
Measure How Well Your Work is Received
It’s not always easy to accurately judge the quality of your own work. You might be too self-critical or overly enamored by what you consider to be your magnum opus.
That’s why you need to consider how others receive your work. Ultimately, they’re the ones who will decide whether or not to hire you based on your portfolio and samples.
One of the key metrics in analyzing the quality of your photography is evaluating its ability to earn currency. Currency can be anything from money to attention to likes on social media. If your photo accumulates currency (whatever it may be), that means your photo is making an impact and eliciting some sort of a response from an audience.
Some photos might be better evaluated in one context more than another. A photo you post on Instagram to garner likes and social feedback may not be the best photo to enter into a contest with industry peers.
That said, entering a contest or competition is another viable strategy for assessing the quality of your photography. Even if you lose, you might receive valuable feedback from those who are well-acquainted with judging professional photography. And if you win, well…being selected for first place in a photography contest says a lot about the quality of your work.
Once you feel like your work is of a high quality, feel free to submit it to stock agencies. Stock agencies want to buy the best work, so their acceptance of what you offer is a sign you’re on the right track.
Finally, some photographers offer to review their peers’ portfolios — generally for a fee. This is a great way to get feedback from someone whose work you admire and respect.
Continue to Hone Your Photography Skills
It’s all too easy to grow complacent with your skillset, even if you’re taking home prestigious awards and raking in the big bucks. No matter your skill as a photographer, continue to develop, learn, and experiment with new or better photography techniques, tools, and means of garnering feedback.
Photographers tend to carry what feels like a metric ton of gear. Whether we’re carrying equipment to shoot in bad weather or different pairs of shoes, we’re always prepared for a variety of situations and shots.
Our heavy packs often mean we leave a lot of gear behind at our offices and studios, however. While it’s always necessary to leave some of our equipment behind, there are two items photographers should always carry: a wide-angle lens and a zoom lens.
The Benefits of a Wide-Angle Lens
Wide-angle and ultra-wide angle lenses are an important piece of gear for landscape, architectural, real estate, and still-life photographers. They “add depth and drama” to a shot and can more easily add background context to a photo.
Wide-angle lenses offer a short focus distance, which allows a photographer to capture the subject of a photo without ignoring the background.
Using a wide-angle lens allows you to capture an entire shot (like a room or building). This is particularly useful in confined spaces, such as those you’d find when photographing real estate.
The edges of a photo can become distorted when shooting a wider shot. Though such distortion isn’t always desired, the effect on a shot’s edges can make for some interesting and exaggerated perspectives.
The Benefits of a Zoom Lens
Zoom lenses bring distant subjects closer. A zoom lens uses variable focal lengths that grant photographers the ability to transition from wide-angle to standard to telephoto focal lengths all in one lens.
It’s best to use a zoom lens for “action” shots of physical activities, like sports or wildlife photography. A zoom lens is also ideal for event photography where it’s important to focus on the subject of your photo, as at a wedding.
Why Photographers Need Both a Wide-Angle and Zoom Lens
With all the gear in your bag, why do I recommend photographers carry a wide-angle lens and a zoom lens?
Both types of lenses fulfill a specific purpose and can help you more effectively take a photo. Using a wide angle lens means you can capture an entire scene — a wide shot. But to truly capture a specific subject within that scene, you’ll be better served with a zoom lens.
Each lens treats the subject, foreground, and background differently, leading to a change in perspective. A wide-angle lens distorts the foreground and subject. A zoom lens brings the subject and background closer together.
Carrying Both Lenses is a Boon to Your Photography
A photographer will only be helped by having a wide-angle and a zoom lens available on shoots. Each lens is ideal for shooting a certain type of photo, so experiment, compare, and contrast during a shoot. Strive to get a feel for which lens you should use when, and up your photography game by having both lenses available to you whenever the need arises for one or the other.