LA’s most famous Photography Julius Shulman’s primary residence designed by Raphael Soriano (1950)
In my main article, I talk about how shooting Los Angeles Real Estate photography is more about getting a job done than making art. This is not the case with LA Architectural Photography. Los Angeles Architectural Photographers’ mission if they choose to accept it – is taking photos that are worthy of being published in an edition of Architectural Digest, A book by Rizzoli, or displayed in an art gallery in Bergamot Station. Like navigating the queue at LAX during Thanksgiving or Christmas season, expect longer wait times and delays on architectural photoshoots. Good things take time. And so do Architectural photographers. Typical Architectural photoshoots can last 3-4 hours or longer. I have seen photographers for some architecturally significant properties do multi-day photoshoots to capture the perfect lighting conditions.
You need to call in an architectural photographer when you have a listing designed by an AIA architect or that is a Historic-Cultural Monument, or designed by one of Southern California’s architectural masters such as: Frank Lloyd Wright, Lloyd Wright, Neutra, Lautner, Craig Ellwood, Ray Kappe, Greene & Greene, Raphael Soriano, Pierre Keonig, Gehry, Rudolph Schindler, Gregory Ain, John Elgin Woolf, Edward Fickett to name some of the heavy hitters.
Architectural photographers shoot in a different way than normal real estate photographers. Sometimes I see them shoot in Black & White to emphasize the lines and shapes, light and shadows, or to callback to the house’s historical context (We only got color in photos as of the 1950s and 1960s). For Tall buildings, they may take a verticle shot. For buildings with water features, such as pools, they will use the reflections. If the House faces East, they will shoot it in the morning, if it faces west they will shoot it in the afternoon (unless they purposely want the house to be shadowed)
I asked a few Los Angeles architectural photographers “What is architectural photography?” to find out what it means to them. Here is how they responded:
I am an active Real Estate Agent in Los Angeles for the past 10 years. I have compiled this list of the Top 100 Los Angeles Real Estate Photographers so finding the right photographer to add to your roster for your next LA real estate photoshoot is a breeze!
Pictures are the #1 marketing tool for selling listings (although in the future I expect videos to supplant pictures). The trend is clear, all buyers start their search for a new home online. The most important factor for buyers when they are considering which of the listings they view online to see in person is the photos. Great photos get more showings. More showings mean more offers. More offers mean a higher sales price. When I am determining a marketing budget for a listing I never scrimp on the photographs.
Real Estate Photography is more about getting the job done than making art (Architectural Photographers will disagree with me here). Photos are used to sell listings. Most agents want the photoshoot scheduled within a few days of signing a new listing, and when a photographer comes to shoot, they want it done in 1-2 hours (real estate agents are notorious for being impatient). Top Real Estate Photographers do 2 – 3 shoots a day, 5 to 6 days a week (unless you are Jeffrey Ong, then you shoot 3x a day/7 days a week). Prices for a photo shoots range from $200-$600, and you can add a website for an extra $150. The photographer will take 20 to 30 photos on average or up to 50 for estates, and then edit them. I hope for a 1-2 day turnaround on the delivery of pictures once they are taken.
Los Angeles Real Estate Photographers offer a variety of services. The main service everyone offers is Daylight Photos. In addition to this service, they may also offer Twilight Photos, Drone, 3D, Video, Virtual Staging, Floorplans, Lifestyle Photos, and Video.
To make this list easier to use I have made Top Ten Lists for each specialty:
Description: Alex Zarour is an Entrepreneur. In the past, he owned his own insurance company but wasn’t happy doing that. He wanted to be creative. So he sold that business and bought a camera in 2012 and hasn’t looked back. Alex is a young buck and does very professional work. His Twilight Shots are some of the best. He is definitely one of my top Los Angeles real estate photographers.
Description: I have shot with Adam a few times, he is just awesome. He lives in Beverly Glen or Benedict Canyon in a cool modern house (which he has shot from every angle) this is where he goes to relax, because he is shooting 24/7. I was shooting a house with a tenant and the tenant was very upset, Adam was very professional and handled the situation calmly. He has a tri-pod technique where he raises it above his head to get a pseudo drone shot. For one shoot, Adam climbed up on the counter tops of the kitchen to get a tight angle( it was a condo). He has a really good eye for angles.
Description: I love Rani Sikolski! Rani is Israeli. He is the most friendly and bubbly person, it's hard not to get along with him! Skyphotography are the best/most ballsy drone photographers/pilots in Los Angeles handsdown/period. In addition to photos, they do great videos as well. Everybody around town uses them for at least something. Great company to have in your real estate rolladex.
Description: Val returned to Palm Springs a few years ago. He can be persuaded to come to LA for a shoot. Val doesn't advertise much, most of his business is word of mouth referrals. I have found Val to be professional and fast (1hr our less). He will try to time the shoot for when the curb shot has the best light, and when there are no cars on the street. He shoots with very little equipment, just a tripod and a flash- which is why he is speedy. I have worked with Val on several occasions and found his prices competitive and his services reliable.
Client: Tracy King, Elizabeth Marquette, Liz McDonald
Description: Joe only does Matterport 3D Tours. Up to 2,000 sqft $300, then extra $100 per 1,000 sqft. Joe's sister is a real estate agent (started the www.therentalgirl.com) and in 2015 Joe started shooting photography. He does 500 to 600 shoots a year.
Description: Greg lives in Agoura Hills, so he loves to shoot in Malibu and Topanga Canyon areas (he use to surf but he mainly just hikes with the dog nowadays), but he shoots everywhere, he is a very early riser, he has shot houses as far away as Palm Springs and San Juan Capistrano! Greg reminds me of a Real Estate Photography "Sherpa". Greg is Frugal and fast, shoots last about an hour, he usually ends up taking more pictures then you pay for because he want's to provide outstanding value to his clients. His prices are very reasonable, some of the best you can find. Greg keeps busy, shooting on average 3 homes a day 5 days a week, and half days on Sats and Suns. Greg has done some shooting for Homes and Land Magazine in the past and has been a professional photographer for 10 years. Before that he worked 20 years at big Movie Studios within their advertising department, so he has about 20 years plus working with photoshop. He shoots drone, twilight too. Greg's style is wide angle, and he is great with photoshop editing, he doesn't like close-ups, and he doesn't spend a lot of time fussing about setting up the shots. He shoots with the lights on.
Clients: Courtney + Kurt, Rob Kallick, Urban Hillside RE, Tracy Do
Description: Charmaine is #1 Photographer on the Eastside, she lives DT. Her websites and photos a great. She has expanded in recent years and has added another photographer- David Jo. Probably the best Bungalow photographer in the whole city, but she shoots everything. Her interiors are stark white which is the taste on the eastside and she is not afraid to shoot vertical shots which I like also.
Description: Started in 2017 in Austin Texas and expanded to several other states. They currently have 2 photographers in LA.
Description: HSH has been around for about 7 seven years. It was started by Pablo, and they now have three photographers. HSH does video, drones, and photos. They sell in packages- the standard package is $350, the Delux $750, and the luxury package is $1,500. They shoot M-F and Saturday, but no Sundays.
Description: Todd has been a photographer for 30 years and has a background in advertising. He has shot a lot for magazines. He started shooting real estate about 10 years ago and is very busy now, he has a 1-2 week backlog.
Description:Kyle Buckley is the photographer for The Rental Girl and has shot over 800 properties in the greater Los Angeles area. He launched Blue Octopus Media in 2017 which specializes in Professional Real Estate photography. Easy going and fun to work with, his photos are great, his turnaround time is quick and his prices are affordable.
Clients: Crosby Doe, Matt Berkley, Margot Tempereau, Nate Cole, Barry Gray, Kendyl Young.
Description: Dan has been a photographer for 30 plus years. Dan has an SUV full of equipment and he shoots with an assistant. He is methodical when he shoots and really takes his time setting up shots and getting rooms from multiple angles. Dan is an amazing twilight photographer.
Description: Cameron Carothers is an architectural photographer. He shoots a lot for magazines and commercial real estate companies. He has a very organic style.
Services: Daylight Photos, Twilight, Video?, Floorplans, 3D
Service: Daylight Photos
Description: Marc and Tiffany are a husband and wife team. They were both born and raised in Seattle and moved to LA about 15 years ago. With the last name Angeles, maybe living in LA for them was predestined to be! Marc worked for several years at Hilton and Hyland as their marketing director. About 8 years ago, Marc got tired of working a desk job, and started shooting photos for real estate. Marc and Tiffany work together, if one is shooting, then the other one is editing the photos. Their style is wide angle shots to make spaces feel bright and open feeling. They shoot pretty quick just an hour. In addition to real estate Tiffany shoots kids and Weddings. Cost of photos start at $350
Description: Roy has been a professional Photographer since 2006. Before that, he used his camera to shoot products to sell on Ebay- for a while, he was dealing in buying and selling Belt buckles. From 2006-2012 Roy shot people. He shot a lot of celebrities and red carpet events. In 2012 he switched to real estate. For pricing, Roy charges 12 cents/sqft and you get about 1 picture per 100/sqft. He can throw in a few extra pictures depending on what you need. Roy is based out of Hollywood and shoots anywhere in LA.
Clients: David Offer, Kurt Rappaport, Carl Gambinio, Ernie Carswell (Former)
Description: Lee has been a photographer for 20 years, which means he use to shoot with film! Before he picked up a camera he was a recording engineer and producer in the music industry (He’s got some interesting music stories! He has produced film music, rock and roll, reggae and pop). Lee’s wife worked in the ads department for the LA TIMES and Lee kind of stumbled into Photography because his wife needed photos for her ads. He was a staff photographer for many years at dream homes magazine. Lee is a stickler about no camera tilting which distorts pictures. He likes straight lines, and to shoot rooms wide to make them look larger. He also believes in not over processing pictures in post, which can make photos seem a little cartooney. Lee currently lives in Ventura with his family and shoots on the Westside + Valley.
Description: Darwin is actually an amazing street photographer. He is a sole practitioner, and sometimes his dad helps him out on shoots. He is very passionate about photography and has his own style – which is very close up, dark, and heavy.
Description:The Luxury Level is a relatively new real estate marketing company in the Los Angeles area but has doubled in size every year since its inception in 2017, quickly establishing themselves as one of the premier companies in the industry. Owners Jeremy Blair and Joel Danto have been shooting for the market for several years before their company started and decided to team up to create a more personal touch with their clients. Backed by innovative use of marketing technology, a steadfast drive for utmost quality, and white glove service - they are committed to elevating their clients' brand. They currently have a team of photographers, videographers, and editors servicing North Orange County through Los Angeles County all the way to Ventura County. Some of the services they provide include: photography, videography, aerial, floorplans, property websites, virtual staging and more. Photography style is clean, well lit with the use of remote flash lighting (flambiant technique), composition and framing focused. From small 300K properties all the way to 50+ million properties, they can shoot pretty much anything you need. By far, their best abilities would be shooting twilight photography and high end video productions, which are big reasons why their word of mouth in the industry is so strong.
Description: In a prior life, Pierre was a real estate agent. He was frustrated by the poor quality of real estate pictures and decided to switch to photography. He is a photographer who thinks like an agent. His style is all about natural light, he hates artificial light, so when he shoots he turns off all the lights- which might seem weird, but it gives him more control over the light. This gives his photos a very light and authentic quality. Pierre is obsessed with shooting tight and straight shots. He shoots angles, but his favorite photos are straight on shots. He doesn’t believe in shooting a hundred pictures of a property from every angle. He likes a little mystery. For him, he wants fewer shots, but all the shots to be really great. He uses a view finder to line up his shots, I’ve never seen a photographer so good at framing shots.
Description: Keith shoots Tons in the Valley. He is really great with Color.
Clients: Smith and Berg, Sally Forester Jones, Bond Street Partners, Jason Oppenheim
Description: Dan has a tremendous passion for every project that he undertakes. His strong work ethic has led to loyal relationships with real estate agents, interior designers & architects. Over a decade of experience working in the real estate industry has helped him develop an eye for presenting a home at its best.
Description:Based in Brentwood. Always been into photography. Use to shoot everything, photography is his passion. In 2007 got a call from an interior decorator to shoot a listing, started working part-time and went full time a few years later. Extra fee to shoot on the weekend- extra $150. Prefers to take bookings off his website.
Description: Description: One of the original pro real estate photographers in LA along with Planomatic. Jeff has shot over 11,000 properties and still counting! Recently, he added the additional photographers and they do a video and drone photography.He has set the standard for professional photos in Los Angeles. In addition, he has kept up with new technology, like 3D modeling.
Clients: Jonathan Sands, Sally Forester Jones, Jordan Cohen
Description: Joe is a second generation photographer who has been shooting since he was a kid. Joe grew up in Philadelphia and his father was a street photographer. They built a darkroom together in their family home’s basement to process photos. Joe went on to college and studied photography at The Brooks Institute of Photography at Santa Barbara. Joe is currently based out of Eagle Rock and shoots both residential real estate and commercial work. In his advertising work, he has worked for fortune 500 companies. Starting cost for shoot $350
Description: Jeff shoots a ton of high-end homes- 5M plus.
Clients: Peter Lorimer, Alla Furman, Santiago Arana
Clients: Aaron Kirman
Chris shoots a lot for PLG, The Agency, and Hilton and Hyland. Chris has been a photographer for 15 years. He use to work in Retail at a high-end boutique on Sunset Plaza called Club Monico (now Westtime), and he would always carry his camera around. One of his friends, who noticed his affinity for photography, suggested he become a photographer. For the first 10 years or so Chris was shooting a lot for Film Location Companies. He would do as many as 3 shoots a day, all over the city. Chris estimates he has shot upwards of 5,000 homes in last 10 years. Nowadays, Chris focuses on real estate photography and interiors. Chris has an assistant if he needs help with a shoot, for smaller shoots he sends the pictures out for editing and for big jobs he does the editing himself. He has really great twilights. For Peter Lorimer, he shoots a lot of Vignettes.
Clients: Sebastian Wolski Team, Aaron Kirman Partners
Description: Juwan has been shooting full time for Real Estate for about 2 years. He started out shooting cars 8 years ago and his love of photography developed from there. He moved out to LA and wasn't sure what he was going to do exactly, but he hoped it involved photography or making media of some sort. So in order to pay his bills he started doing real estate shoots because it was pretty straight forward to him and little bit over a year later it just took off and scaled up from there.Juwan takes a fine art approach to real estate- he uses the law of 1/3rd for composition, and his style has a distinct sharpness. He likes to contrast the colors. He is also good in post.
Description: Rancho is a San Diego company that has expanded to LA. I have seen a lot of valley agent’s use them- for the price they provide astounding quality. I expect to see more of this company around LA in future. It can be annoying to schedule because you have to do it online on their website. They only work M-F sorry no weekends.
Description: New to LA region as of 2019. They started out in Florida and are expanding. They have 3 LA photographers currently. They do Photos, Drone, and Video.
Description:Shawn was a longtime LA real estate photographer, with an esteemed clientele, about 2 years ago he moved to Nashville Tennessee and continues to shoot real estate there. Shawn comes back to LA to shoot all the time so many of his LA clientele still call on him when they get a high end listing to shoot.
The amount you can spend on photographs depends on the commission. For high-end properties that are $5M+ there is a lot more elbow room to spend money to market. With these properties, you can hire multi-day photoshoots to catch every room of these sprawling mansions or estates at the golden hour, rent exotic or vintage cars to park in driveways or models to pose by the pool. Hiring the city’s top photographers to come in and capture the perfect magazine cover shot is not cheap. Prices for High-End photoshoots start from $1,500 and up.
Description: Everett Frenton Gidley has been an architectural photographer in Los Angeles for X years. He has shot many of the most important architectural homes in the city, including some commercial buildings. There is no Los Angeles real estate photographer in town with more experience.
Description: Michael McNamara is a very prolific photographer. He started his business as a high end photographer, but in recent years created a new brand: www.shootingla.com that focuses more on the middle of the market.
Your business not included in the Top 100 Los Angeles Real Estate Photographers? Please send an email to jamesc2 at gmail.com with your information to be added to the list!