The Complete Guide to Getting Great Photography
Millions of people come to Houzz every month, searching for home remodeling and design inspiration among our more than 25 million photos. Having great photography of your projects is one of the best opportunities to give potential clients an idea of what you can do.
In this article, successful pros share their advice for getting great photography that will wow potential clients. We’ll cover best practices for setting up photoshoots, working with photographers and making the most of your photos once they’re captured.
"We’re surrounded with so many images on a daily basis. When a project is photographed well, it stands out. Photography that captures your work perfectly makes a big difference to potential clients who are looking to hire." Brian Berg, Rockwood Cabinetry
Communicating With Clients
Discuss The Photoshoot Early
Your portfolio is critical to your success in this highly visual industry, and it’s important to take every opportunity to add to it. Discussing the photoshoot from the very first meeting can mentally prepare homeowners and give you plenty of time to address any hesitations. Although many clients will be flattered and excited you want to take professional photos of their home, others may be reluctant to let their private space be captured. Explaining to clients that having photos of your work is vital for growing your business can help them understand the importance of the photoshoot. After all, there’s a strong chance they hired you in part based on photos of your past projects.
Take the lead by having answers to common client questions about photoshoots prepared before your client asks. Putting together a sheet that tells them how you will be protecting their privacy, what the photoshoot will entail, and where the photos will end up can put them at ease by letting homeowners know you understand their concerns and are experienced at managing these situations.
“At the beginning of every job, I hype them up and tell them how excited I am and how great their home is going to be. Then I tell them I’d love to photograph their house when we’re finished and they’re totally on board. It starts by having a great relationship with your clients.” Annie Santulli, Santulli Designs
Put it in the Contract
One way to talk about the photoshoot from the beginning of the project is to have a release as part of the contract. It not only starts the conversation, but also allows you to have the right to photograph your work.
However, while a signed photo release is a legally binding contract, keep in mind that your clients can be a strong source of referral business and getting photos of their property may not be worth having an angry homeowner on your hands.
“Great photos are an amazing sales tool, so we always have a release as part of the design contract. It’s a signed document stating that the client agrees to let us photograph and allow free use of images for other marketing materials. Having those photographs can pay dividends, but at the end of the day, if a client is pushing back, we have to ask ourselves if it’s really worth burning that bridge.” Dave Marciniak, Revolutionary Gardens
Send a Reminder
As the work begins to wrap up, be sure to remind your client that you’re excited about the upcoming photoshoot and discuss potential timeframes for the photographer to come by. Building a personal relationship during the project will keep clients warmed to the idea of giving you access for a photoshoot, especially when they know they’ll be helping your business.
“After a project is completed, we always ask the homeowner through email if we can come back to take professional finish photos, though often times our production manager will have already mentioned this desire in person during a final walk-through. We tell the homeowner that we like to use these photos for marketing, both online and in print, giving them the opportunity to opt-out.” Michael Dolan, Pine Street Carpenters & The Kitchen Studio
Shooting The Project
Timing is Everything
The best time to do a photoshoot is as soon as the project is done: the space will look beautiful, clean, and the homeowners won’t be quite moved in yet, so it won’t look messy from moving boxes or daily clutter. In addition, your client will already be used to you working in their home.
“If you let three months go by, I know for a fact the client is going to be less likely to let me in because they get busy with work, kids, activities, holidays. If you can get in as quickly as possible after the project is completed and appliances are installed, that’s the best. I’ll just ask really casually, ‘So we can do the photoshoot next week, right?’” Sharon Flatley, Sharon Flatley Designs
Hire a Professional
Many pros will go through the project and take progress shots themselves so they can compare the before and after images. Taking photos with a good smartphone or digital camera in daylight will be sufficient to represent how the space looked before you started work on the project. But when it comes to the finalized project photos, leave that to the professionals.
Professional photographers spend every day capturing eye-catching images. People hire you because you’re an expert at what you do; the same is true for professional photographers. Photographers have invested in equipment that’s capable of producing much higher quality images than anyone can capture without it, and they know how to use it.
Having professional quality photos in your portfolio sends the message that your work is high quality and can attract higher-end clientele. In addition, professional photos are more likely to be featured in the photostream, used in Houzz editorial stories, and saved to Ideabooks. If you’re looking for a professional photographer to shoot a recently finished project, you can find one on the Houzz directory.
“Don’t shortchange yourself by not opting for professional photography. You may think you’re saving money, but in reality, you’re costing yourself potential clients by not representing your work in its best possible light.” Eugene Sakai, Studio S Squared Architecture
Now you can have your professional photos taken hassle free with PerfectCapture™ — a new photography service from Houzz Pro. We work with seasoned photographers who will capture your latest work. Follow our simple process to schedule the shoot, prep the space and within a week crisp, professional images will be uploaded (and noticed) on your profile! Want to book a shoot? Click here.
Working with Photographers
Home professionals vary in their involvement when it comes to photoshoots. Your role may depend on how much control you’d like over the finished photos and the length of your relationship with your photographer.
Some professionals are confident that the photographer will capture their work in the best way possible and prefer to stay hands off. Others enjoy being on set, helping the photographer understand which details or angles to highlight. Whether you like to be more hands on or hands off with the photoshoot, make sure you communicate your goals for the photoshoot to your photographer so they can capture your project the way you want clients to see it.
Whether working with professional stagers or not, making sure your projects look consistent will help homeowners visually identify your work at a glance. For example, some pros add a splash of color to every shot with a well-placed accessory or fresh flowers that liven up a space. This can help bring consistency to your portfolio with these elements repeating in each new project that you upload.
"We’ll do a walk through with our photographer and scout out the photos that we know really showcase design elements. Overall house photos look nice, but we know specific details and design elements will appeal to our viewers.” Cathy Cherry, Purple Cherry Architects
Make Your Photos Work For You
Upload Photos Regularly
Don’t you love to see fresh new photos on Houzz? Consistently adding photos keeps homeowners coming back to see your latest work. Adding new projects to your portfolio not only shows that you are busy, but will highlight your specialty: you keep up with current trends, you’re versatile in your designs, or you are an expert in a specific style. Plus, if any potential clients are following you on Houzz, they will get a notification when you upload a new project and it may entice them to take another look at your profile.
Uploading photos as soon as you have them can help improve your chances for winning Best of Houzz: Design. This award is based on how many times a photo is saved to Ideabooks in a given year. By uploading as soon as the project is finished, you give them maximum time to circulate through the community.
Need help maintaining your Houzz profile? Sign up for Houzz Pro, our business growth and management solution, to get access to a client success manager who can upload and keyword photos to your Houzz profile for you. Contact sales to learn more.
“We’re constantly updating our profile so people searching on Houzz don’t see the same photos. If people don’t see any change to our profile, they might wonder if we’re still doing projects worth posting or if we’re going downhill. We want to show potential clients that we’re still churning out new stuff.” Jenny Sneller, Sneller Custom Homes and Remodeling
Get Your Portfolio Seen
Photos get circulated through the Houzz photostream based on an algorithm that takes multiple elements into consideration. Uploading professional quality, high-resolution photos in the largest size possible with keywords, facets, descriptions and locations will get them better exposure. Photos must be 1000 pixels by 1000 pixels to show up in the photostream and 2400 pixels by 2400 pixels to show up on Retina display computers and mobile devices. Adding descriptions and keywords to each of your photos can take time, but there are some methods to make the uploading process more efficient.
“Once I upload photos, I’ll tag it with brands, products, and details about actual material and finishes because a lot of times homeowners are searching for those specific things. The more informative I can make the descriptions and keywords, the more likely users are to find the photo.” Julie Lehite, KabCo Kitchens
“When I’m uploading a lot of photos of the same room or outdoor area, I can usually use the same description and keywords for each. There’s a neat function on Houzz that lets me copy and paste the keywords and description from one image to the next so I don’t have to write it for each photo.” Morgan Tedford, System Pavers
"The best way to select keywords is to think like one of your clients would. I recommend starting with the broadest term for your industry and then refine them depending on the scene or subject of the photograph.” Melissa Fague, PIPA Designs
Put Your Photos to Work
Savvy pros know that photographs can work for them in multiple ways. Quality photos help clients communicate their needs. Clients can use existing photos to represent what they envision, and you can use photographs to highlight your past work or provide design options, aiding a client’s decision-making.
Get more mileage of your new photos by sharing them on all aspects of your online presence, sharing in an email newsletter, and submitting them for publication.
Uploading photos can also be another reason to reach out and ask for a review, if the client has not yet written one. Once you upload the photos, you can email the link of your Houzz project to the client with a prompt to fill out the review. They will be flattered and reminded of the experience working with you and transformation of their space.
Business Growth and Management
We hope you’ve enjoyed our article on how to build a stronger portfolio of your work. Photos can help you grow your business by attracting clients who are looking for a renovation professional with your skillset, experience, or style.
Houzz Pro, our business growth and management solution, can also help you advance your business. Promote your portfolio with enhanced exposure on our platform to homeowners researching their projects. Then, manage those projects with our customer relationship management system, estimate builder, and invoicing tools. It’s a comprehensive value and built for residential renovation professionals.
For more information, contact sales.
“Several of the projects we have converted from Houzz have been multi-hundred thousand dollar whole house remodels, and some smaller projects. Houzz gives us credibility so when we get a contact from Houzz and reach out, the homeowner already has a good interest level of who we are and what we do. We’re also looking forward to using Houzz Pro for lead management within the CRM dashboard!” Max Christiansen, Tru Builders
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