Should I go to college for photography?

Do Photographers Need College Degrees?

Novice photographers are often faced with two choices before embarking on a professional career path: attend school or learn as they go.

There’s no one right answer. Every photographer has a unique situation and set of goals. Some novices may not be able to afford college tuition, while others may simply learn better in a classroom.

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to learn photography, but which one is right for you?

Formal Education for Photographers

Formal education is the path many take after high school, regardless of a student’s choice of major or career goals. It’s the typical “college experience” that helps prepare you for the working world.

As with other fields, would-be photographers must choose a school that offers a program that appeals to them. Schools offer a variety of photography majors and programs and often encourage (or require) specialization in a specific aspect of photography, such as digital or advertising photography.

Before pursuing formal education, however, would-be photographers must consider:

  • The cost of obtaining a degree
  • Time spent in classes
  • Courses that don’t adapt as quickly to changes in the field

On the flip side, those that do attend college in pursuit of a photography degree can benefit from:

  • Networking and connections
  • Internships
  • A more well-rounded education, such as time dedicated to learning history, craft, and theory
  • A professional certificate or college degree

Formal education helps open doors of opportunity for those that graduate a photography program. In this way, it may be easier for them to find a job or branch into another field, like teaching.

Self-Taught Education for Photographers

In contrast to a structured education, self-taught photographers are not bound by any one path or curriculum. Instead, they can pursue their passion for photography immediately after (and even before) high school graduation.

By following a self-directed regimen, photographers can focus on a particular specialization. They may also choose to attend a technical school aimed entirely at developing photography skills. From there, experience can be earned in real-world situations: on the job, either as an intern, employee, freelancer, or self-employed business owner.

Self-taught photographers miss out on:

  • Earning a degree in photography
  • A structured learning curriculum, such as courses in theory and history
  • Access to experts and equipment found in a college setting

In contrast, self-taught photographers:

  • Gain real-world experience
  • Can begin their career immediately
  • May adapt to the ever-changing landscape of photography

Self-taught photographers hone their skills through trial and error, with less guidance than those who attend school. For many, the ability to be in control of their own destiny is well-worth the trade-offs.

Choosing Formal Education or a Self-Guided Education

Between a formal education or self-guided education, which choice is best for a would-be photographer?

It depends.

Either choice brings its fair share of pros and cons. What ultimately matters is choosing a path that complements your lifestyle, finances, and goals.

There are merits to being, or hiring, either type of photographer. Passion for photography and a desire to continually hone and improve your craft will take you far, no matter the path you choose to walk.

By |2019-01-07T10:38:50-08:00January 7th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Should Real Estate Photographers Edit Their Own Photos?

A real estate photographer’s job doesn’t end after snapping a few photos of a property. In fact, taking photos is only one aspect of our job.


After each shoot, a real estate photographer typically refines and edits photos in post-processing. During this editing stage, we make sure each photo works to attract a buyer’s attention and help sell homes faster and for more money.


But editing comes with a trade-off: our time. Quality editing can be time-consuming, which reduces a photographer’s ability to photograph more properties in a given day. So, should real estate photographers edit their own photos or outsource to a dedicated editing professional?

The Benefits of Editing Real Estate Photos

Why should real estate photographers edit their photos at all? After all, if you’re trying to entice people to visit or buy your home, shouldn’t it look as authentic as possible in the photos?


Of course.


But even the best photos can be speckled with impurities and imperfections:


  • The camera’s flash might be reflected in an object
  • The sky through a window may be somber and unappealing
  • The photo could benefit from color correction


Editing a photo makes a scene appear the best it can be, as if potential homebuyers were there in person themselves.

How Much Time Does a Photographer Spend in Post-Processing?

Time spent in the editing process varies from photographer to photographer and shoot to shoot. In general, I spend between two to three hours editing photos, which is also about the time it takes to shoot a property.


There are many techniques that can be employed to process a single shot in 10 to 20 minutes, but that technique then needs to be replicated for multiple shots.


That means, in total, almost an entire workday is devoted to a single shoot.

The Benefits of Outsourcing Real Estate Photo Editing

Some real estate photographers choose to outsource their photo editing.


Finding a reliable and trustworthy editor can free up a photographer’s time to shoot even more properties.


Because a photographer can take on more jobs by outsourcing the editing work, he or she is making more money and is free to offer more affordable prices to clients.


And photo quality isn’t sacrificed, either. In fact, it might even be increased. If a photographer hires the right editor, it’s likely someone with substantial knowledge of editing software and techniques. While photographers are naturally familiar with editing, a dedicated editor focuses primarily on that singular task — and excels at it.


An editor’s expertise, then, translates directly to the final shots, which are then handed to a client and used to sell their property.

To Self-Edit or Outsource: That is the Question

There’s no right answer for whether or not a photographer should edit their own photos or outsource to a professional. Instead, the best solution depends entirely on the photographer and his or her workload.


A photographer may choose to self-edit a small shoot or when time permits — or may simply choose to do so from pure preference. On the other hand, outsourcing the editing process can help a photographer grow his or her business, book a full schedule, or meet plenty of close deadlines.


Whatever the choice, what’s paramount to every photographer is handing clients a set of the best possible photos — photos that will help a property sell for the most money.

By |2018-12-17T17:10:34-08:00December 17th, 2018|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Differences of Dimensions: 3D, 4D, and 5D

The Difference in Dimensions: 3D, 4D, and 5D

All of us are familiar with the various dimensions of objects and places we experience and interact with on a daily basis. One-dimensional objects, for example, are made up of one measurement, similar to a line that connects point A to point B. Objects are two-dimensional when they can be described with two measurements, such as height and width.


You’re likely familiar with the concept of 3D, or three-dimensional, objects. But what about the differences between 3D, 4D, and 5D? Let’s take a look at them!

What is 3D?

3D stands for three-dimensional and is used to describe objects that can be measured on three planes. In comparison to flat 2D, 3D uses a third dimension of “depth.” This creates the illusion that the figures viewers are looking at — such as a person modeling some new fashion or a home staged for sale — are authentic and right there, just like in real life.


Consider Avatar, a film heralded for its extensive use of 3D cinematography. Moviegoers were (obviously) not present on the fictional planet of Pandora, but the 3D objects on-screen created a compelling suspension of disbelief. Flower petals drifting through the air toward viewers often elicited a genuine reaction as arms across the theater shot up to attempting swiping or grabbing them.

What is 4D?

In film and cinematography, 4D enhances the suspension of disbelief by incorporating physical elements. This often includes physical sensations such as movement, lighting, and temperature.


4D helps to transport viewers further into the realm of the subject matter they’re consuming. Some amusement park rides make use of these elements to further entertain audience members.


Imagine our Avatar example once more. Your seat shifting and shaking during an on-screen flight or battle scene would constitute use of 4D. Similarly, a light mist covering you while a character walks through the jungle would also be an example of 4D in film.

What is 5D?

5D builds upon 3D and 4D by using more of your senses. 5D tantalizes your senses of smell, touch, and taste.


Imagine following a character along through a forest and actually smelling the scent of the earth or fresh-fallen rain. While a scene including fire plays out on-screen, heaters in the theater may give off warmth to mimic the feel of actually being there.


5D combines 3D and the added sensations of 4D. Together, 5D helps you witness the scene that transpires before your eyes (and other senses), lending credence to the belief that you’re actually present.

What About VR?

With the advent of virtual reality devices like the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, VR is making a bit of a comeback. But how does VR relate to 3D, 4D, and 5D?


Well, not all VR content is in 3D. While some images can certainly be experienced better through VR, the same exact shots can be seen through a 2D medium. These are often made up of 360 degrees of photos or video — or a panorama. It’s beautiful and immersive, but not entirely 3D.


The largest difference between 3D and virtual reality is interactivity. While there are varying degrees of just how interactive VR can get, it at least provides consumers control over the movement and direction of the camera. You may or may not be able to open a door, for instance, but you can certainly approach it — or choose to look at the ceiling above, for instance.


VR is not necessarily 3D, but it may make use of elements of 3D.

Which Dimension is the Best?

When photographing or filming, there’s no one clear answer to which dimension is the best to use. Each project is, of course, limited by budget and time constraints. On top of that, not all projects lend themselves to the added features of an extra dimension.


But understanding the differences between each dimension can benefit your work when the opportunity is available to you. Creating an immersive experience for your customers, clients, or consumers in general elicits stronger reactions and emotions — one of the biggest rewards of being a photographer, right?

By |2018-10-05T10:42:05-07:00October 5th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Virtual Staging: An Innovative Way to Sell Your Home

As technology continues to improve, growing numbers of home sellers find themselves looking into the benefits of using virtual staging to help sell their home. But just what is virtual staging and how does it stack up against physically staging a home to sell?

As the name implies, virtual staging is done on the computer rather than in real life. This means that, unlike traditional staging, you don’t rent any furniture, decor, or accents. Instead, virtual staging digitally inserts all of those same items into photographs of empty rooms in the home. This, in turn, helps to attract potential buyers online to tour the home, where they can then use their imagination and consult the virtual staging photos in order to envision how each room would look with furniture inside.

Preparing for Virtual Staging

One of the most important steps when preparing to virtually stage a home is to professionally photograph the rooms that will be virtually furnished. It’s crucial that these images are high-resolution to ensure that the final listing product is perfected for online buyers.

Make sure to remove any unwanted items before capturing each room on camera – this will speed up the process of editing. Once the photos are primed and ready for staging, the virtual stager can add furniture and decor to compliment the overall style of the home. High-quality listing photos improve the final staged product by giving the stager the opportunity to work with an ideal canvas.

Benefits of Virtual Staging

Virtual staging has a number of benefits but the biggest is of course price. While staging a condo the old fashioned way costs an average of $2500 per month, virtual staging typically costs between $39 to $199 per room. What’s more is that this fee is a one time cost as you don’t have to pay for renting furniture. As the average home for sale in 2018 stays on market between 34 to 53 days, this means that virtual staging could save sellers several thousands of dollars.

Another pro of virtual staging is that gives sellers the opportunity to create a strong first impression with potential buyers. As Jen Williams, Redfin Market Manager says, this is important because “buyers will imprint on the first photos they see of a home and will develop their first positive feelings and attraction to a property at that time.”
Master Bedroom 1

Downfalls of Virtual Staging

The biggest drawback, of course, is the fact that because the home is only staged virtually when potential buyers show up they may be underwhelmed compared to the experience they had when they found the home online. While this may not be an issue for younger buyers, this could present problems with older audiences.

Being able to see the home fully furnished is also the main benefit of traditional staging. It allows prospective buyers to walk into a home and picture themselves living there without any of the guesswork of what kind of furniture they may need to purchase and where to place it. That work is done for them and, as a result, 33 percent of Realtors say that the home’s value actually increases an additional one to five percent when professionally staged, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

If you choose to stage your home virtually, remember to provide potential buyers with photos of the empty rooms as well as their virtually staged counterparts. This will help to show buyers that the home they’re thinking of touring not staged in person so that they are not confused when entering the home. Also be sure to not overdo the furniture and decor. Just because it isn’t real doesn’t mean you can’t go overboard.

Regardless of which method you choose, it’s important to make sure your home looks ready to sell before it’s listed. First impressions are often a deciding factor for buyers and staging is a powerful tool to create a strong impression and sell your home quicker.

By |2018-08-07T10:12:41-07:00August 7th, 2018|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Virtual vs. Physical Home Staging: Why Virtual Staging is Cheaper

Virtual vs. Physical Home Staging: Why Virtual Staging is Economical

Staging a home prior to listing it for sale makes it feel more lived in and welcoming. Potential buyers are more likely to visualize themselves enjoying the cozy, inviting atmosphere of a home that’s fully furnished, opposed to it being sterile and vacant.

Staging a home has plenty of benefits. Homes are likely to sell for more than the asking price. Additionally, staged homes sell 73 percent faster. According to the National Association of Realtors, 40 percent of prospective buyers are more likely to walk through a staged home they’ve seen online than one that is empty.

But traditional staging isn’t cheap. In fact, it costs an average of $2000 to $2400 per month to physically stage a 2000-square foot home.

Virtual staging is a compelling and effective solution to combat the high costs of physical home staging. Here’s why virtual staging is cheaper and why you should consider it for your next home listing.

Virtual Staging Takes Less Time

Physically staging a home requires a great deal of time and energy. First, you must identify your client’s preferred style of interior decor and furniture. Next, you need to find furniture and fixings that match the look you’re aiming for.

Then you must retrieve the furnishings and physically move them to the home you’re listing for sale. Once this is all done, the next step is to arrange and stage everything according to your plans — which may very well require you to move heavy objects, like couches and tables, numerous times until everything looks perfect and “fits.”

All this time adds up. It’s time where you could already have a home listed and prospective buyers scheduling showings.

virtual staging example 1

A vacant room (top) and a room staged virtually (bottom)

Virtual Staging Is A One-Time Cost

With traditional staging, furniture stores or professional stagers rent out furnishings. Rental fees can quickly add up, especially if a home doesn’t sell quickly. claims the median length of time from listing to sale is 65 days — little more than two months.

At an average monthly cost of $2000 to $2400, sellers should expect to pay upwards of $4800 for staging fees. That’s a sizable chunk of change.

In comparison, virtual staging is a one-time fee. It also has a much quicker turnaround time than traditional staging — oftentimes 48 hours, if that.

In general, photographers charge for virtual staging on a per-photo basis. Once their fees are paid, there are no further costs — no matter how long a home takes to sell.

The total price of virtual staging amounts to roughly 10 percent of the cost of traditional staging — hundreds of dollars compared to thousands.

virtual staging example 2

One of these two rooms is virtually staged. Can you guess which? (Answer: it’s the bottom.)

Choosing the Type of Staging That’s Right For You

Virtually staging an empty home is effective for drawing attention to its listing, but what if the home isn’t entirely vacant? Most photographers who use virtual staging techniques can remove or alter existing furnishings, or even enhance an already-furnished environment.

The relative ease through which virtual staging is accomplished means homeowners spend less money and have less reason to forego any sort of staging. Virtual staging costs less than traditional staging and helps sell homes faster and for more money.

Virtual staging is more affordable and more versatile than traditional physical staging. The next time you’re listing a home for sale, explore a virtual staging package to save your clients some hard-earned cash.

By |2018-04-27T16:34:26-07:00April 27th, 2018|Uncategorized|4 Comments

Photography and Sales Tax

As a photographer, are you collecting sales tax?


Probably not, right?


In the state of Washington, digital photographs are treated the same as tangible, physical photographs — even if they’re transferred and sold electronically.

This means that each photograph taken for a client is subject to retail B&O and sales tax. Photographers are responsible for collecting and reporting such tax.

In contrast, the service you’re providing — actually taking the photos — is not subject to taxation. You only need to collect tax for each photo you provide.

To do so, you must determine the cost of each photo, and then collect tax based on each photo sent to a client or customer.

If, for example, a photoshoot costs $250 and you price each photo at $5, you would collect taxes for each $5 photo.

The cost of digital goods should be displayed as a separate line item on an invoice, with the next line showing the amount of sales tax being charged based on the cost of digital goods, i.e. not the actual photoshoot (which is deemed a service, not goods).
Consult a CPA or financial professional for help determining the percent of sales tax you should be collecting.

By |2018-03-19T09:48:22-07:00March 19th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

3 Ways Professional Photos Sell Homes

3 Ways Professional Photos Sell Homes

The internet is one of the best tools for posting a real estate listing. With more than 80 percent of home buyers using the internet to search for a home and a stunning 93 percent of buyers younger than 36 years old finding their new home online, it’s important that the photos in your listing capture their attention and generate interest in your home.


One mistake made frequently by home sellers and real estate agents is the lack of quality, professionally-taken photos. Hiring a professional real estate photographer is an investment that will pay off by increasing the interest in your listing, selling the home faster, and putting more money in your pocket.

First Impressions are Everything


Photos are “the most important website feature . . . for nine in 10 buyers under the age of 62,” according to the National Association of Realtors. If your photos are grainy, blurry, or out-of-focus, you’re already putting off potential buyers of your property.


You only have one chance to make a first impression. According to Market Leader, “40 percent of all participants don’t even look at the agent remarks section.” If your photos don’t immediately capture the interest of someone viewing your listing, chances are they’re moving on—and not in to your property.


As a professional photographer, I understand how to utilize proper lighting to create the warm, inviting look of a room—as well as a uniform light not affected by burnt-out or discolored lights and fixtures. I also understand the proper angles to take photographs from, especially when it comes to rooms that are generally difficult to capture in a photo, such as a bathroom or other small spaces.


Professional photographers also process photos in post-production to ensure every photo is as true-to-life as possible. Our goal is to have a potential buyer visit a home and not be able to tell the difference between the photos they’ve seen online and what’s actually in front of them.

Professional Photos Sell Homes Faster

In general, it takes an average of 65 days to sell a home. Yet as with any sort of marketing or advertising, it’s all about getting as many eyeballs as possible to see the product—in this case, your house.


Professional photos create a better first impression than amateur or “cell phone” photos, which results in more clicks and views on your listing. As any salesman will tell you, sales is a numbers game—the more people reached, the more likely it is you’ll make a sale.


That’s true in the world of real estate photography, as well. A study by VHT Studios in the Chicago market demonstrated that listings with photos taken by professional real estate photographers “sold 32% faster.”

Professional Photos Put More Money in Your Pocket

When your home listing includes photos taken by a professional real estate photographer, you’re more likely to sell the home for close to—or even more than—the original asking price. In fact, a study by Redfin shows that listings that use professional photos sell “for $3,400 to $11,200 more relative to their list prices.”


Of course, you’ve got to pay the photographer, so that means you’re out some cash, right? True, but it’s an investment well worth making. In fact, according to Market Leader (and my own rates), “hiring a professional listing photographer costs 0.09% of the median U.S. home price,” or “1/10 of 1 percent of the list price.”


For a fraction of a fraction of the sale price of a home, you’ll average an extra $3,400 to $11,200 in your wallet.

Working With a Professional Real Estate Photographer

All forms of specialized photography are different and each type of photographer has skills specific to their area of expertise. A nature photographer may not be the best choice for shooting a wedding in the same way a photojournalist may not be the best option for taking photos of real estate.
Hiring a specialized real estate photographer is the smart choice when it comes to selling your home or property faster and for as close to or more than your listing price.

By |2017-12-18T14:14:59-08:00December 18th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Another Olympia house sold in record time!

Congrats to Gloria Christerson with Re/Max on a first-weekend offer! It’s always a joy when the client’s email their thanks.



Thank you so much for photographing our house for the advertisements and listings in order to help sell it. I know that there are probably a lot of factors that went into the people who came for the first showing making an offer on the house but your work got their attention!

Thank you so much!”

By |2017-11-13T11:10:56-08:00November 13th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments
Load More Posts
Go to Top