Last week, I wrote about the value and the need for professional photography for marketing homes for sale. That doesn’t mean that real estate professionals should not take pictures. They should take pictures, and lots of them.
Ordinary snapshots taken with a phone or almost any digital camera and shared over the Internet are a great way for real estate professionals to use social media. Photography is not about the camera and it never has been.
Cameras don’t take pictures — people do. People love to look at pictures, and when we share them they are social.
Photography and real estate go together very well, and there are several uses for everyday snapshots that anyone can take with a camera phone or an inexpensive digital camera. They do not need to be professional-quality images like those needed for marketing our listings.
Photography is a great way to demonstrate knowledge of a neighborhood. It shows potential clients that you know your way around and understand the community. Take a picture of a street or a building or any local scene that someone might find interesting or even ordinary.
Posterous works well for mobile blogging and sharing pictures of the ordinary or not-so-ordinary as you go about your day. I have a friend who takes pictures of pizza with his phone and posts them to his Posterous blog with comments about the pizza. He has quite a following and I am one of his followers, eagerly awaiting his next pizza post.
Flickr is a great place to share photographs. There are groups on Flickr that share photographs on every topic I can think of. Some groups are built around neighborhoods and special interests like dogs or houses. People sometimes forget that Flickr really is a social network composed of micro communities built around sharing images.
I discovered the value of photography on my local real estate blog years ago. People like to see real estate and not just read about it. They like to see neighborhoods, roads, bridges, parks, houses and restaurants.
That’s the content that’s missing from so many large, third-party real estate websites. It is unique content that a local real estate agent can easily provide.
The most popular photographs on my sites are of local parks. It isn’t because of the quality of the images — it is because I am one of the few sources for park pictures. Pictures of local landmarks and historic sites are plentiful, but pictures of neighborhood parks are rarer, and people love our parks.
Each Saturday I post a picture of a bowl of oatmeal. I take the picture with my phone in a local restaurant and share it on Posterous, Twitter and Facebook. I have been taking the oatmeal picture for years and the photos have a following and get comments. The pictures take almost no effort on my part. I post them before the oatmeal gets cold.
Recently, when I was looking at the analytics for my Facebook business page, I noticed that the posts that feature photographs get, on average, three times as many views as the posts that are all words or just have a thumbnail. It doesn’t seem to matter if the photograph is a good one or a random snapshot taken from my car window. On my personal page the updates that include pictures get the most comments.
Noncommercial digital photography is inexpensive and easy to learn. One of the best ways to learn is to read the manual that comes with the camera. It contains a wealth of information, including how to take photographs without a date stamp on them.
Most cameras have settings for different types of photography and lighting. Learning how and when to use the settings will help make the pictures better.
And it’s not just about learning your camera’s features. Photography skills tend to improve with practice. I take about 10,000 photographs a year. People ask me how I find the time. It is simple: I keep a camera with me most of the time. My pictures are often unplanned and they don’t always turn out, so I just delete them and take more.
There are some great resources on the Internet for learning digital photography. One of my favorite websites is Digital Photography School. There are tips for taking pictures and reviews of the latest digital cameras. Another great resource is YouTube.
I learned how to use my camera by watching a YouTube video. There are some excellent video courses on YouTube by professional photographers.
Pictures have become the cornerstone of my marketing efforts. When I don’t know what to write on my blog, I post some pictures and a few words. Photographs are a fast, easy and inexpensive way to generate unique content.