I was pretty surprised when the guys at PRO EDU asked me to review their tutorial, Real Estate Photography with Barry MacKenzie, because I don’t care about Real Estate photography. I’ve never photographed a house in my life. I photograph people and, sometimes, I even turn them into fairies, so, while I do enjoy getting to peek inside other people’s homes, as evidenced by the hours I’ve spent binge watching HGTV, I seemed like a pretty strange choice of reviewer. I’m also probably the only writer they know, and we did share some good—really good—bourbon at their Black and White party in New York during PhotoPlus Expo, so I guess that made me a shoo-in?
Despite not being an obvious choice of reviewer, the PRO EDU guys might be cleverer than I thought in asking me. After all, how many of us pick up a camera for the first time and think, “You know what I’d like to do? Go into stranger’s homes and take pictures of their stuff.”
(SIDE NOTE...If you have no idea what this tutorial is about, check out this trailer)
After watching the tutorial, though, I’m thinking that many of us might be missing an opportunity, here. The housing market where I live, Colorado Springs, is growing faster than the mold on those leftovers in my refrigerator, and here I am letting all this potential income slip through my fingers. Now I’m considering taking MacKenzie’s advice and following a few successful real-estate agents on Instagram.
Thanks a lot, PRO EDU.
A tutorial like this makes a lot of sense, though. Many genres of photography are seasonal, like weddings and senior portraits, and others, like fashion, are a lot scarcer in small market areas. And income diversity is one of those things financial planners like to blather about, because if one market slows down or tanks, you have another income stream to keep you afloat.
Real Estate Photography looks like a great way to fill in those holes for photographers who need to make a bit of extra money. If you’re thinking that real estate photography sounds like a better way to make a living than trying to charm a bratty toddler into staying still during a family shoot, then having to edit the snot marks out of his t-shirt in post-production, don’t despair: Barry made six figures as a real estate photographer working 9-5. This genre is clearly just as valid as a full-time gig as it is for part-timers. No snot marks involved.
What honestly impressed me about the tutorial was the care that went into making sure that even people like me would stay invested and interested while learning. MacKenzie is a solid teacher, and he brought up a lot of great points about what it takes to get gorgeous photographs of a space that made me think, “oooh, clever! I should move that lamp, it totally interferes with the line of sight from this angle!” I looked at my living room in an entirely different way after watching. My husband did not appreciate it when I started dragging furniture across the floor.
MacKenzie included tips like bringing a longer lens to capture details of a house from across the street when there isn’t a lot of space, and waiting for dappled light to hit the porch so the viewer would get a real sense of how the home was nestled amongst the trees. It wasn’t just the practical aspects that were interesting, though, it was the business side of things, too. MacKenzie included a copy of his own contract for viewers to peruse, and talked about how to find and approach the top 20% of real estate agents who do enough business to understand the value of real estate photography. He even mentioned including personal, life moments in your Instagram stories because agents would be more likely to work with someone they connected to.
Now, if you’re like me and you’re wondering, “who is this Barry MacKenzie guy, anyway, and why should I give a crap what he says?” let me enlighten you, real quick.
MacKenzie is a Canadian photographer who is highly regarded in the Real Estate photography industry—yes, that’s a real thing—and business partner of long-time PRO EDU instructor Tony Roslund. This dude knows his stuff. He’s also an old-school hip hop fan, a DJ, and, I have to say it, a damn good instructor. If you’re already in the Real Estate photography business, or if you want to be, then I don’t have to sell you on the guy, because you’ve probably already heard of him. Hell, just a look at his portfolio should have you slavering for a chance to partake of his wisdom. After all, was selected Photographer of the Year by photographyforealestate.com, the largest online community for Real Estate photographers, and a project he shot last summer is on the global shortlist for Best Kitchen over $150,000 in the 2019 International Design and Architecture Awards. So, the dude has street cred up the wazoo. Even if you’re a seasoned Real Estate photographer, there is a lot to learn from a guy like that.
After watching the tutorial, I think the bottom line is that Real Estate photographers are in high demand, there’s more than enough work to go around, and if Barry MacKenzie can get his start photographing old buildings and grow his business to six-figures while working 9-5 making his own schedule…then I trust him to teach me how to do it, too. In this tutorial, he does. It’s a win. Even though I’m still not interested in Real Estate photography. Even though it’s like HGTV in real life. I swear.