Realtors need to have a good working relationship with the people photographing their listings. The scenario of a win-win for both parties is something that Colleen Burke Photography strives for. I had the chance to sit down with Colleen, the principle photographer and owner. Below are some of the insights I got into what going the extra mile for a client looks like.
Can you walk me through the journey of how you started?
I have been an avid photographer since I was a kid growing up in Vancouver. I started my career in the corporate world working in electrical engineering and information technology. I am a person that puts a lot of emphasis in details and in the private sector that is what I was very well known for. About 3 and half years ago I was working on a contract with the Ministry of Finance in BC when without notice the contract was terminated for the entire team. While sitting at my computer looking for other opportunities and playing around with one of my old cameras I found myself looking at new equipment and photography jobs. I remember thinking “now is the time to do something different”. And that is exactly what I did.
I started by updating my camera equipment, searched online for real estate photographers and what they did then I picked up the phone and started calling. I remember some of the conversations I had. One very positive one that lead to working with one of the most talented real estate photographers in Metro Vancouver. We connected over the phone and met in person shortly afterwards. Over the next several months he mentored me and I absorbed it all in and learned the art of real estate photography. It wasn’t until about 6 months later that I was ready to start photographing properties for his clients. He continued to critique my work for months, afterwards and told me that I had reached a level that took him 4 years to reach in a very short time. It wasn’t long afterwards that I then started shooting twilight photography for multimillion dollar properties in prestigious areas of Metro Vancouver. If seemed the more we did, the more exposure we got and realtors wanted what we were doing to brand themselves with top quality marketing on their listings.
That’s quite the story. Was going through that hardship something that has motivated you?
I would say so. I have always been a go-getter. I have a project management background so I’m very good at finding solutions to problems. I have used every venue available to build my client base. In this industry Social Media is a huge assist. Through posting my work on different networks, I get attention from all over the world and realtors appreciate the additional exposure they get from my posts. I still like to pick up the phone and talk to clients, whether it is to get them as a new client or just to confirm they are happy with the results. Building good relationships with my clients is very important to me.
How much of your business revolves around real estate photography?
I would say around 75% would be real estate photography related. I also shoot properties for home designers, builders, trades people, developers, as well as the commercial sectors such as clothing stores, restaurants, etc. I plan on expanding that part of my business in 2017.
What has your experience been in taking your passion for photography and apply it selling homes?
I love my job! I love impressing my clients through my photography and my professional approach. I love getting comments back from the realtor that their clients are 100% satisfied and impressed. I love doing quality work that gets noticed. I try and improve my techniques behind the camera and in post processing at every opportunity that I get. I guess it’s a quality of having a big ego that serves the greater good in building good relationships. I take a lot of pride in having satisfied clients.
What I do is an art form. I love photographing architecture, I love making spaces look amazing using the natural light and off camera strobes to accentuate areas that draw the audience to look at every details of an image. That’s what engages the brain to love the image. I’ve had clients tell me that their homeowner is so impressed with the photos they don’t want to move anymore. That’s precisely the result that gets them the interest in the property and a quick sell for top dollar.
How much of an impact would you say the quality of photography services used by realtors affects their ability to sell?
When I was looking for a home a few years ago I was looking at listings online. What attracted my eyes was well photographed homes. Anything that wasn’t photographed well I didn’t pay any attention too.
Having been in the industry now for a few years, I can tell you that lighting is so very important. That is what attracts an audience to look at the image and fall in love with it. Dark images and dark adjoining rooms do not engage the brain for more information.
Using lighting effectively will get more listings. I’ve seen that it has a big affect on how quickly a house sells. People need to fall in love with the photos or they won’t come out to the open house.
Is there an example of that which comes to mind?
I had a one bedroom $300,000 condo have 70 people show up to the open house after we posted the pictures. It’s definitely something that speaks of the quality of my work.
How important is repeat business to your operations?
Very important! It’s all a part of impressing your client. I do this job because I love impressing people. I like to keep busy, I like to feel good about what I’ve created. There have been times in the past where I’ve been up until 2am or 3am in the morning processing the photos. My work ethic comes from my core belief; impressing my client is a win-win for both of us.
Whether you are a Realtor or looking into the photography industry, I hope you’ve learned a great deal about real estate photography. If you are a Realtor though and you are looking for a great customer experience make sure to check out Colleen Burke Photography for your next listing in the Vancouver, BC area!
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