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Boot Camp II: Assignment #3

For assignment number three in Boot Camp 2, your job will be to use light to create an interesting architectural interior shot.

And if you are as creative as this entry in a previous Boot Camp, you won't even have to completely make the bed. Details, inside.

I expect that this one will bring a lot of entries. The introverts don't have to talk to anyone and the single-flash folks will be able to use other, ambient sources to augment their lighting. Then there are the cool prizes, of course. We turned this one up a notch in that category.

And for the amateurs, this will be good practice for what could very easily be your first $5-digit assignment.

How so? Let me 'splain.

How can I put this delicately, other than to say that the vast majority of real estate photography is a fetid, pile of steaming excrement?

I mean, why would you bother to take nice photos when all that is at stake is the first impression of the single most valuable transaction you will ever make?

My Experience

When we sold our house last spring, I spent a little time shooting the rooms and setting up a website showcasing the house. Not a lot of work, and zero expense. It also was kinda fun, and left us a nice package of photos to remember the house by.

To be fair, we still have no way to remember Ben's room as it really was because we had to clean it up to shoot it. Kinda like an overenthusiastic mortician. ("Wow, uncle Bob never looked THAT good ...)

But the upshot of going to this extra trouble was that in the spring of 2009 (The Great Potato Famine of Real Estate) we sold the house in three weeks for the full asking price -- twice.

(The first contract fell through on finances and we turned right around and sold it again.)

We priced it accurately, which you absolutely have to do to sell a house these days. And we put it out there with house shots that were far-and-away better than any other house in its price range. Which, believe me, was not hard to accomplish.

The result was an insane amount of buyer traffic from the moment the house hit the market. We basically could not go home except to sleep there. I am absolutely convinced the photos generated much of the traffic, as there was a huge inventory of houses in our price range on the market.

Shortly after that, I shot real estate pics for some good friends of ours, too. Their house also sold very quickly, for close to the asking price. In this market, that's a pretty big coincidence if the photos had no effect.

But then, it is hard not to look better then direct, on-camera nuclear flash in the other house photos...

Your Assignment

For Boot Camp 2, assignment #3, you'll only need to shoot one room -- any room -- but try to light it in a way that makes it look like something special. Light can create a moment, a sense of place or a feel. The photo at the top of this post is an excellent example.

[UPDATE: Someone asked in the comments if this can be a commercial space. In the sense of keeping the playing field relatively level for everyone, let's keep it to a residential space. -DH]

Try to go beyond merely recording the room and stretch yourself into making an artful photo. I say this, because you will be up against lots of very well-lit rooms, and the ones that stand out will have that little something extra.

No people in this one -- it's a room shot. The scantily clad eye candy on the couch is not gonna push you over the top.

For basic resources, consider the earlier post on doing my own real estate shots. For the spartan of gear, there is also another post from a ways back on shooting a log cabin (at left) with one SB-800. Lastly, there is the post from the hotel in Costa Rica.

Just some basics to get you started. But again, the ones who rise to the top will have some special sauce that seals the deal. And don't think you have to go over the top on this one either. The special sauce might be a perfectly sparse-but-elegant composition -- as in the photo up top, for example. Make a picture.

How You Can Help

If you are looking for the charitable component from this one, it could hardly be more obvious. If you have a friend selling a house, consider spending a few hours shooting it for them.

It will almost certainly improve their odds over the typical real estate photo dreck. And better yet, it should get you a pass on helping them move.

Besides, you might actually turn out to be good at it. And who knows where that could lead.

Prizes, We Gots Prizes

You can never be too rich, too thin or have too many light sources. So we are going to "plus two" the winner with a full LP120-based multiple-flash Strobist Kit courtesy the folks at Midwest Photo Exchange.

That is a $450 value, and features (2) very versatile, slaved LumoPro LP120 flashes, an 8-foot stand, an Interfit combination boom/stand, (2) white umbrellas, (2) shorty swivels, a Universal translator (to sync the flashes up any camera) lotsa gels, a 16-foot sync cord, gaffer's tape, bongo ties (similar to ball bungees) and a padded carrying case. Hit the link above from more info and pictures.

FYI, the LP120s have proved very popular and the second manufacturing run is expected to sell out within about three weeks. And the lead time on run #3 (in progress) means that they will be out of stock until late September. But as the winner, yours will of course be reserved and unavailable for purchase by the unwashed masses.

But wait, there's more.

As with the other prize packs, we are throwing in a set of Strobist DVDs, which themselves are currently out of stock in the US. (The next US run should be arriving in early September, and EU-types can still get them duty-free in the UK via The Flash Centre.)

And for those of you who clearly are not yet playing with a full deck, a set of Trade Secret Strobist lighting cards.

How's that for some cool prizes?

The Fine Print

Because someone asks in the comments every single time, please refer back to the first assignment post for the basic info on how to enter your photo and where to go if you have Flickr problems questions.

But PLEASE NOTE that the tag is different for this assignment. It is:


So don't screw up and repeat the tag from the first assignment. The photo must also be in the Strobist pool (so remember to add that lighting info) to be entered. If you are successful, your photos should appear in this search within a few minutes. Please, only submit one entry.

If you want to ask questions, or otherwise discuss this assignment, you can do so in this thread.

And you can check out some of the other bloggers following along, here.

The due date for this assignment is end of day, local time, August 14th, 2009. Don't be late.

And for the verification shot (which will be required of the winner to prove he or she took it after the assignment date) reach around that camera and make a second version of the same shot with your hand giving the "thumbs-up" sign in the foreground.

Just to keep it legal.


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