“I love photography. It has absolutely enhanced and defined my life. It is my career. It is my passion. It is my destiny. Nothing fulfils me more than this art. It's the one thing that motivates and inspires me 24/7/365”. - Scott chandler on his passion for real estate photography
How often does one come across someone who talks that way about their career? Meet Scott Chandler, who found his ikigai in photography and relishes every moment he spends with his camera. Living a stress-free, balanced life in the 21st century is nearly impossible, but this man has managed to master the art alongside the art of photography. Read on as we navigate the real estate photography industry with Scott, exploring his life, learnings, and advice for budding shutterbugs.
I’ve been a professional photographer, operating since 2004. Photography has been part of my life since I was a kid. I used to be primarily a portrait, wedding, and product photographer. About 6 years ago, people took notice of my content and recommended I start photographing real estate. Once I accumulated the right lenses, equipment, etc., and then purchased a drone and got my FAA 107 UAV license, my real estate work proverbially took off. Now real estate photography constitutes approximately 90% of my photography business. No more weddings, but I still actively market myself doing portraits, food, products, and so on.
2. What’s a typical work week like?
I spent 21 years in Healthcare IT and was always overloaded with projects, long periods of time spent on call, working a profession that was not my passion. So I’m serious about striking a work/life balance now that I work for myself. I estimate that 10-18 hours on an average week of actual photography time, and about the same spent on post-processing and general administrative time. I work on my own schedule when I want, and as long as I can accommodate my client’s needs, I live a very blissful and stress-free lifestyle. With this balance, I don't burn out and am always striving to be better in the craft.
I ensure that all of my gear is charged, tested, cleaned, and ready to go the night before. Get plenty of quality rest ahead of the shoot, and hydrate up for those long-duration shoots. Show up energized, enthusiastic, with a professional yet personable attitude to EVERY shoot. And I show up on time, every time. I present my plans for the shoot to the agent in advance, based on optimal workflows to get the shoot done timely and accurately, and provide them with an estimate on when they will have all of the visual content. Communication and organization are key, in my opinion, to a quality shoot.
For photography, I use a Sony A7R IV with a 12-24mm G. Mavic Pro 2 for aerial content. Matterport Pro 2 for virtual tours. And believe it or not, but I use my iPhone 12 Pro Max with a DJI gimbal in wide lens mode, 4K 60fps for my video content for the majority of my listings. For higher-end, luxury real estate listings, I will use the Sony also on a DJI gimbal in concert with an Atomos Ninja V recorder.
First off, I go for detail and accuracy on camera so that I don't have to spend more time than needed in post. I utilize a blend of Adobe, Topaz, and Aurora applications for my photography workflow and Final Cut Pro X for video content. I handle 90% of my post and only outsource to reputable, professional, and timely editors when I’m truly under the gun and buried with work. Post is obviously crucial, and I consider it to be the most important in the post-photography workflow. I’m respected by my clients for having a signature look and feel to my imagery. I keep my content color accurate, not oversaturated, and definitely not over-rendered to the point my work looks like computer-rendered imagery.
Yes. I believe in raising the tide with our craft. Creating quality visual content raises the bar and standards for everyone. I have established a rapport, even with my competition locally, in helping them out when there overloaded and vice versa. I actively collaborate with others out of the market on recommending equipment, software, and technique.
I’m an active individual. During the summer, I am out off-roading, enjoying the outdoors, and cruising on road trips with my wife. I’m an avid baseball fan, and you will find me often at Oracle Park enjoying the San Francisco Giants games. During the winter, I’m a hard-core skier. Quiet, peaceful downtime is very important to me. Of course, photography is my passion, and anytime that I can be outside with my camera photographing landscapes, the stars in the night sky, food, and people, it always puts me in my nirvana.
For me, it comes down to just a few things. COMMUNICATION. As in attempting to keep all of my real estate clients talking to me effectively. One of my peeves is not getting accurate or detailed information ahead of a shoot; then finding out on the back end they wanted additional visual content above and beyond. Like, “where are my aerials?” when they only requested, “I need photos done of this house.” So I keep them channeled going through an electronic portal to ensure they order everything they need. I refuse the texts or emails nowadays when I get the “please go shoot 123 Main Street” text message at 11:30 pm. I’ve lost clients because I ask for accurate information in advance, but that’s better than the stress of making multiple site visits, especially when I serve a large geographical region and gas is approaching $5 a gallon. Secondly, the financial struggle to stay on top of the equipment game. I’m staring at another $10K in camera, drone, and computer upgrades in the coming months after spending the same amount in 2020 with the drastic changes in the industry due to COVID, specifically investing in Matterport.
Virtual staging is HUGE. Being able to fill up a vacant home virtually has been a game-changer for my business, and Styldod has been a consistent, timely, and professional tool in my kit when it comes to being a one-stop shop for my clientele. I can now deliver everything without them having to take my photos and go virtual stage elsewhere adding unnecessary delays to the process. Delivering virtual tours maintains consistency to my services and gives my clients the immersive and professional look to all of their listings. Delivering consistent and detailed visual content via Virtual Tours has so many virtues versus DropBoxing or sharing images to Google Drive.
Communicate effectively. Deliver a consistent and professional product. Foster outstanding relations with clients, be a respected resource in the industry. Be courteous, keep your ego in check, be real, be personable. That goes a long way. Stay on top of the industry and all of its trends. Be good to yourself, and take time to smell the roses.
Scott Chandler feels that choosing a photographer should depend on the quality of the camera used, the number of images clicked, and more factors than just pricing. We believe his dedication and passion for the craft are the real secrets behind his success and wish him many more stunning photographs and off-roading trips. If you want to see more of Scott’s works, visit his website or Instagram.
Click here for real estate photography tips for beginners. Want to try out Styldod? Click here for a free trial.
Styldod is a design-tech company that aims to simplify real estate marketing and help agents present homes in their most favorable light online by reimagining and automating the listing photography process. Having begun as a virtual staging company, today, Styldod has affordable and best-in-class products and services for every facet of real estate marketing and photography. Styldod’s suite of services include virtual staging, image enhancements, floor plans, virtual renovation, 3D renders, 360 degree virtual tours, and Matterport virtual staging, to name a few. We're trusted by over 10,000 realtors from all over the US and from companies like ReMax, Coldwell Banker, Keller Williams. Know more about us at https://www.styldod.com.