Why High-Quality Photography is a Must in Today’s Real Estate Market

Designer kitchen with wood, stone and hanging lights

You have made those repairs and staged your home. Why now would you skimp on quality photography to sell your home? Sellers who want to attract more interest and potentially receive multiple offers would do well to invest in professional level photos of their home.

Understand why high-quality photos are a necessity in today’s market today.

Home Buyers and First Impressions

Online photos are the first time visitors have a chance to see the layout and features of a home. There has been a rise in potential buyers going online to view listings. Visitors are viewing homes on a number of platforms and across devices, including laptops, tablets and mobile phones. Those who want to engage these visitors realize the need to upload high-quality photos of the interior and exterior of a home that serve as a virtual walk-through of the property.

Selling and More Views

How much of a difference can be expected with the use of professional level photography? It has been seen that such photography can attract 61 percent more views, on average. Property owners who use professional photography to sell a home often benefit from a higher asking price and move their property faster than those do not take this route. Sellers appreciate the ability to potentially shorten the home selling process and walk away from a sale with the possibility of more money in their pockets.

Buyers Need to See Your Home

Photos help provide visual information about a home. Before even scheduling a first showing, potential buyers use photos not only when beginning their search but also return to them when looking to recall specific details and make an offer on a home. A professional shoot of a well-staged and maintained home can make a marked difference for a seller when it comes time to market a home and attract interest and for buyers when they are making an offer. Low-quality, blurry and dimly lit photos can make it hard to actually see the features of a home. Make it easy for visitors to see the property being sold and get the best price possible for a well-maintained home.

What Do Sellers Want?

Do sellers want their home to linger on the market and draw little interest due to poor-quality photos and a small pool of visitors? This may happen when cell phone photos taken by sellers or their agents are uploaded to a site. Good photos using professional equipment help broaden a seller’s reach and increase interest in a home. Multiple offers can drive up the final price of a home and a seller may get more than the price they anticipated with a little investment in high-quality photography. This heightened interest and competition among buyers may make for a shorter time for a home to be on the market before being snapped up by a qualified buyer. It is possible to sell faster with a small investment into quality photography.

Attract the right buyers for a home. Get more visitors to an MLS listing and to the property itself. Provide the details needed easily to potential buyers when they are searching for a new home or an investment property. Do all of this with high-quality photography today.

Top Three Tips for Business Meetings – Part 2

Recently, I posted a vlog (here) of my top three tips on how to prepare for a business meeting. I also posted a blog (here) that expanded on those top tips with a few more. I’ve been a freelancer for well over 20 years now, and if I can save someone the years it takes to learn these types of professional details, I’ll consider that time well spent.

School is great for learning how to hone your skills, but it oftentimes takes experience on the job to learn some of the finer points of how to get work done in the real world.

Here a summary of the top three tips from the vlog:

1)     Listen

Really listen to the client. What do they need? People in business usually know what they think they need. But you, as a freelancer, may listen to them describe their project and understand a different or supplementary way to get their job done better. You are their professional resource in this way, so listen. And speak up.

2)     Don’t Quote Money

By all means, bring your rate card and share it. But don’t develop a custom quote for a client on the fly. You owe it to both them and yourself to give an accurate, well-developed quote for what they’re trying to accomplish. If you quote too high, you lose. And if you quote too low, you lose. A good quote is a matter of respect for everyone involved with the project. Don’t be afraid to tell them that.

3)     Boundaries

Guard your boundaries and be clear. Examples:

  1. Time: Arrive on time and be ready to end on time. If you have time constraints, say so up front so everyone knows what to expect.
  2. Meals: If you’re meeting for lunch, know who’s going to be there and who is expected to pay.
  3. Knowledge: Stick to what you know. If you don’t know the answer to a client question on the fly, say so. Tell them you’ll research it and get back to them. Then do it. You being a reliable resource is more important than giving them an answer right now.

group of people at business meeting working over a map

Bonus Points for Readers

What other things should you make sure you do during a business meeting? Here are some:

  • If you have to leave by a certain time, set a silent alarm on your phone for 10 minutes ahead of that time. You don’t want to rush out the door in mid-thought in a panic.
  • Other than the above situation, avoid having your phone out during a meeting. There might be a moment when a “we all need this,” item arises (looking something up or setting your next meeting), but other than that, put your phone away.
  • Have relevant questions for them. It will show them you get who they are and what they are trying to do.
  • If you have a mailing list, ask if they’d like to be on it.
  • Ask for referrals for other similar types of projects. They may know of another branch of their institution or people in the same line of work that are looking to get some work done also. People know people. And positive word of mouth will get you hired faster than the best portfolio in the world.
  • Bring relevant leave-behinds: business cards for everyone in the room, copies of your rate card, pens with your logo on them, or whatever else you have that will help create that all-important “top of mind awareness,” for you and your work.
  • Designate who will do what after the meeting. Are they supposed to make a decision and let you know what it is? Are you supposed to research something and get back to them with a proposed bid or some information? Make sure everyone knows what they’re supposed to do next and who they need to communicate to.
  • Send them a thank you after the meeting for the meeting itself – at least 24 hours after the meeting. Even if the meeting doesn’t end up resulting in work for you, they took time out of their schedule to talk to you and you’re still a freelancer. They may need you in the future and you want them to remember you positively.
  • Ÿ Take care of your follow up. No excuses.

Undoubtedly There’s More Out There

You may have learned different things than I have over the years. Wading through the murky waters of professionalism and prosperity in the freelance world can be tricky! Please share any tips you have in the comments below.

Top Three Tips for Preparing for a Business Meeting – Part 1

As a freelancer, getting meetings with a prospective client is the holy grail – second only to getting the work itself. But, knowing how to appropriately plan for those meetings isn’t taught in school. Doing meetings well can make or break your opportunity to get work. Here are my top three tips for preparing for a business meeting. This is your homework before you even get a meeting.

For those of you who prefer reading to vlog-watching, here’s a quick summary of the top three:

1)              Do your homework.

Who is your client? What do they need or want to thrive in their industry? And specific to their current situation, are they ready to have a meeting? If so, about what? Who are the decision-makers and will they be at the meeting? You’ll want to make sure you can speak to the client’s needs and have the right players in the room to get real work done.

2)              Dress for success.

Many companies have nice t-shirts with their logos printed on them. Those are practical and great if a nice t-shirt is appropriate for the client you’re meeting with. If you knew you were going to photograph one of the top people in the business world, wouldn’t you dress up a little? Seriously—dress for success. You will be judged on how you look.

3)              Logistics.

Map out the location and route to the meeting in advance. Don’t rely on your phone’s GPS—sometimes there are tricks to finding a building. And a phone can’t give you notes on finding parking or which door to use. Get clarification from your client and check it out before you go.

young woman in business meeting

Bonus Points for Readers

Here are a few more tips on how to prepare for a business meeting:

  • Take your client’s contact information with you. All the preparation and mapping in the world won’t keep you from getting stuck behind a traffic accident or getting a flat tire when you least expect it. Have a way to get in touch and let them if promptly if you are going to be delayed.
  • Value people’s time—including your own. That means don’t cancel unless you absolutely have to; and if you do have to cancel, cancel as far in advance as you can. On the flip side of that, if the meeting was set up two months out, call and confirm it’s still on the calendar and moving forward.
  • Bring your collateral. You’re a professional about the enter the room where you might meet a half a dozen higher ups from this company you are trying to woo. Make sure you have enough collateral with you to hand out.
  • Take your portfolio—and test it. Most of us have our portfolio on an electronic device of some sort. Make sure your device is fully charged, bring your cords and adapters, and test your software before you go to make sure it works smoothly.

So There You Have It

The business rule of thumb is that you should spend about as much time preparing for a business meeting as you spend in the meeting itself. Spend that time making sure you know your client, your location, your wardrobe requirements, your client’s contact information, your schedule, your professional collateral, and your portfolio.

Kristina’s Mountain: The Making Of

kristina bushman Stenbakken Media quandary peak

Back in September, the whole crew here at Stenbakken Media went to Breckenridge to interview Kristina Bushman and climb fourteener Quandary Peak with her, filming as we went. A fourteener is a mountain that’s 14,000 feet tall or taller.

(For those of you who haven’t been following the story, here’s the quick version: Kristina suffered from an eating disorder that grew over the years until it was extremely destructive. As part of her recovery process, she came to Colorado from Minnesota in the summer of 2015, and climbed all 55 fourteeners in 87 days. Yes, you read that right: 55 fourteeners in 87 days!)

Next week we are releasing the video we made on the trip, so keep an eye out for it. But in the mean time, we staff have been recollecting our experiences of the interview and climb.

Erik (master of all things, and general brains behind the operation):

I’ve climbed something like 23 different fourteeners and while I can say some are easier than others, there is no such thing as an easy fourteener. They are all work. And carrying a load of video gear up to the summit (while trying to tell the story itself) is a challenge for sure.

quandary peak sign, there are no easy 14ers, stenbakken mediaIt may seem like a small detail, but I forgot my sunglasses the morning of the hike. On a sunny, windy day that high up, it hurts. My eyes stung for days afterward.

I had hoped that since I live in Colorado and Kristina was coming out from Minnesota that she’d be a bit slower. Nope. She never seemed to need to stop—at least not given all the stops WE had to make for filming.

We met Kristina for the first time in Breckenridge over lunch. As we sat and talked, I was struck with how “regular” she was. That’s not a dig at all. But after hearing of her struggle with the eating disorder and her triumph over 55 summits (in one season!) I was prepared to meet some kind of superhero or the like. Turns out she’s a regular human after all, and one I liked even more after hanging out, shooting the interview, and climbing the fourteener with her.

climbing quandary peak stenbakken mediaOne of the things I admire most about Kristina is that she’s willing to put herself out there. That is, she is willing to say, “I struggle. I struggle with this: ________ and I’m fighting it and winning and you can too!” It’s the last part that is so attractive. She’s chosen to take her struggle and take those lessons and hard-won victories and present them for others to use as leverage in their own struggles.

The climb was most memorable because although Karen and Lance were having health issues, they both pressed on to the summit too. I’m glad I was there for that win!

Lance (first assistant, boom boy, and general lifter of all things heavy):

After we met Kristina and had lunch in Breckenridge, we needed to find a quiet, secluded spot with a nice view to film her interview. Finding a good spot turned out to be harder than we thought it would be. We ended up finding a place with a nice view for the background, but had to keep stopping filming/recording because of nearby dirt road noise and dust.

kristina bushman on quandary peak stenbakken mediaI’ve climbed a few fourteeners, but never before has the hike taken all day. I usually start well before sunup and am back down by 10 a.m. But this day, it took far more time (because we kept stopping to film and usually get each shot twice to make sure we had a good take), and far more energy (because of carrying gear, so much stopping and starting, and hours of sun and wind exposure). It was exhausting!

When I hike fourteeners, I get altitude sickness every time. For me that takes the form of a killer headache that is so bad it’s disorienting. I did everything you’re supposed to do when you climb a fourteener: snack frequently, guzzle lots of water, etc., but it wasn’t enough. Hiking at high altitude pushes you to your limits anyway, but add a huge headache, pounds of gear, and hours of time to it and it was a hard day!

kristina bushman on quandary peak stenbakken mediaThe entire trip was totally worth it! I enjoy the challenge of 14ers, and it was a blessing to hear Kristina’s story and help her share with others. Listening to her talk during the interview, I thought over and over again how distinct each person is. The fact is, we rarely know the people around us. Everyone has been or is going through some sort of big battle in their life and that battle has changed them for better or worse. Kristina’s one of the strong ones who has come thru the worst of her struggle better for it.

Karen (office staff, bookkeeper, odds-and-ends manager):

This hike with Kristina was exciting for me because I’d never hiked a fourteener before. I got to be part of telling an inspiring story AND try a cool new thing. I have a connective tissue disorder that makes me a little fragile and I’ve broken both my feet before, so I was leery how well I would do, but excited!

kristina bushman interview stenbakken media eating disorderThe interview was fascinating. I wish there was a way for each of you to hear Kristina’s entire story uncut, but between length, road dust and noise, and the gunfire that started up somewhere in the valley as we interviewed her, a lot had to be cut out. (Gunshots do make for a dramatic story, but it’s not the one we’re trying to tell here.) Her blog, www.sunshineof1985.com, documents all 55 summits as she climbed them, and there are a ton of great pictures and stories you can check out there.

The hike was hard! It was fine for a few hours, but once my feet reached their limit, it hurt pretty badly. At one point, with the summit in sight, I was ready to turn around and go back down—I just couldn’t imagine pushing to the top and still having to do the return hike. But Erik, with his endless energy, came bounding over the rocks and took my bag so I could finish the climb with no extra weight.

No matter how many times we said to Kristina, “Hey, would you hike back down the mountain and then hike back up past us so we can film you?” she did it with plenty of energy and a ready smile. She said several times over the course of the day that all those climbs taught her that even when you feel like you can’t go another step, just keep putting one foot in front of the other. You’ll get there.

kristina bushman quandary peak eating disorder stenbakken mediaSure enough, eventually we were all at the summit—bundled up against the brutally cold wind and eating Pop Tarts. As you can see from the footage we shot from the top of Quandary, the view is breathtaking!

Next Week

Enjoy the pictures here and on Instagram and Facebook, and check out the video when we release it next week. Kristina’s is a very inspiring story. She’s overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to regain her health and true self. Her lesson is simple: If she can do it, you can do it. Reach out for help and find a way through. Next thing you know you’ll be at the summit.

Kristina’s Mountain

One Woman’s Struggle with Bulimia and Altitude

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to hike up a 14er in Colorado with an extra 20 pounds of expensive camera gear strapped to your back, just ask us. We’re here to tell you…it’s a challenge!

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to survive an eating disorder and come out the other side of it healthier in all ways—physically, mentally, and spiritually—just ask Kristina Bushman. She’s here to tell you…it’s a challenge!

Probably one of the biggest she’ll face in life.

kristina bushman quandary peak

Here at Stenbakken Media we are proud to be putting together a documentary about Kristina’s story called “Kristina’s Mountain.”

What it’s About

In 2015, as part of her recovery process from bulimia, Kristina Bushman came to Colorado from Minnesota to climb 55 14ers in one season (for those who don’t know, a 14er is a mountain that’s 14,000 feet tall or taller). That’s a pretty tough undertaking for anyone, much less someone from a sea-level state. Much less someone struggling with an eating disorder. Much less someone recently out of an inpatient facility, whose family and support network definitely did NOT think her plan was a good idea.

Nonetheless, Kristina was determined to do it. So she did it.

A Survival Story

There’s something very compelling about a person overcoming tremendously heavy odds and completing a self-set goal that is this difficult. We are excited to share Kristina’s story as seen through our lenses. During the documentary process, we interviewed her in Breckenridge, one of the mountain towns she traveled through, and climbed Quandary Peak alongside her.

The Logistics

Kristina Bushman Stenbakken Media Quandary Peak

And so the fun began! The climb was abnormal by anyone’s standards. The crew was loaded down with extra pounds of gear, and we were constantly looking for good shots to set up, then stopping, setting up cameras and having Kristina go back down the trail and come by again so we could film her.

Poor Kristina had to climb many sections of the mountain more than once so we could get good footage of her. Double and triple climbing notwithstanding, she maintained a good mood all day and was patient with our constant need to stop and set up all the equipment.

Geeking Out for a Moment…

Stenbakken Media Erik Stenbakken Quandary Peak

The photographer nerd that lives inside us has to take a moment to share the gadgets we took along on the trip. For the interview portion of the trip we set up two cameras, a Sony FS7 and a Sony A6300, a shotgun mic and slider, and battery-operated LED lighting.

For the climb, we took along a DJI Osmo, the Sony A6300 camera with three zooms taking us from 8mm to 105mm, a carbon fiber tripod, and carbon fiber jib.

Some Perspective

Lest you have any illusions that the average person can just climb a 14er on a whim with no issues, we the crew have to own to how hard Quandary was. All of us are Colorado residents, are in reasonably good shape, and all but one of us had climbed 14ers before. All that said, we struggled that day (in various ways and for various reasons). Make no mistake, what Kristina did is hard! She’s a strong woman who deserves a lot of credit for not only setting herself this goal, but completing it.

Stay tuned for a future blog that includes behind-the-scenes interviews with the crew about the experience.