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Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast Digital Marketing Podcast Hosted by Greg Bray and Kevin Weitzel

163 Elevating Home Builder Photography - Chad Davies

This week on The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast, Chad Davies of Davies Imaging Group joins Greg and Kevin to discuss how home builders can elevate photography to create a more lasting impression on potential home buyers.

Home builder marketers view photography as a way to capture as many leads as possible, but Chad says images do so much more. He says, “You're supposed to have good pictures to entice people to come visit your community. But in reality, photography has two responsibilities. One, you have to get someone to the community. And two, that photography becomes that person's memory. They're going to go see that community and interact with your salespeople, and then they're going to leave. Then they're going to go online and look at your website again and again and again. That photography actually informs how they felt about that experience.”

Photography should also be considered throughout the entire home buyer journey. Chad explains, “It's less of a first impression thing and more of a closing tool. If your photography's incredible and they had an okay experience and then you go to another community where they had a great experience, but the photography so-so, and they take a month to sit on it and they're only referring to the website, one of those things is going to look much better in their memory than the other. And that's the one with better photography.”

The bottom line is good photography can lead to more sales. Chad says, “So, I don't know if it's necessarily going to help you bring more people through the door, but I think great photography can actually help you close more people and help them make bigger decisions faster.”

Listen to this week’s episode to learn more about how photography can help home builders differentiate their homes.

About the Guest:

Chad is the owner of Davies Imaging Group, the premium photography company for the homebuilding, architecture, and construction industries.

Chad used to build castles with Legos, his parents thought he'd be an architect. His friends at school were convinced he'd be an engineer. Somehow instead of designing buildings, he wound up photographing them.

Davies Imaging Group believes every home, office, hospital, and hotel has a beating heart. Their mission is to help you find your project's pulse.


Greg Bray: [00:00:00] Hello everybody, and welcome to today's episode of The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast. I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine.

Kevin Weitzel: And I'm Kevin Weitzel OutHouse.

Greg Bray: And today we're excited to welcome Chad Davies, the CEO of Davies Imaging Group to the show. Welcome, Chad. Thanks for joining us today.

Chad Davies: Thank you so much for having me. I've seen the list of people you've had on the show, and I'm officially a home building celebrity now, so this is great.

Greg Bray: Oh, wow. I didn't realize we had the power to grant celebrity status. That's awesome.

Chad Davies: Oh, definitely. Look at your roster.

Greg Bray: Well, I [00:01:00] think we invited them because they were already celebrities as opposed to granting them celebrity status, so.

Chad Davies: Tomato, tomato.

Greg Bray: Well, Chad since you're a celebrity and everybody already knows you, we can skip the introduction. Just kidding. But why don't you go ahead for those that don't, and just tell us a little bit about yourself?

Chad Davies: Uh, lovely. So, my name is Chad Davies. I started a photography business many, many, many years ago that eventually turned into a home building photography business. To this day, we're shooting across the west coast. We have a full suite of veteran photographers shooting award-winning pictures for a ton of builders. So, we'll start there and then we'll go deeper.

Kevin Weitzel: All right. So without talking cameras, film, or anything home builder related, give us something personal about you that people will learn about you on this podcast.

Chad Davies: Okay, cool. First one, I love cars. Love race cars. Love Formula One. I've been to Monaco and Manza to watch the Formula One Grand Prix in both of those areas of the world.

Kevin Weitzel: That's legit.

Chad Davies: [00:02:00] Yeah.

Kevin Weitzel: That's completely legit.

Chad Davies: Yeah.

Kevin Weitzel: So, basically my Fiat 500 is definitely not the kind of car you're thinking of for when you think of an Italian exotic sports car.

Chad Davies: No, but like you see a lot of them there and they know how to drive 'em. So, I think that's okay.

Kevin Weitzel: And Fiat owns Ferrari, so you know, they both start with F. It's gotta be good. That's why I bought it. I'm like, Hey, it's owned by same company as Ferrari. It's gotta be awesome.

Chad Davies: It's a good start.

Greg Bray: They have tires and steering wheels. Right? So, yeah. It's the same thing.

Kevin Weitzel: Same thing. Yeah.

Chad Davies: It feels the same. Handles the same. It's loud. I'm sure. It's great.

Kevin Weitzel: Still an explosion in a cylinder that happens, you know?

Greg Bray: Yeah. So, Kevin, you used this word that maybe we need to define for some of our audience. You said film.

Kevin Weitzel: You know, I did say film, and Chad is a rather younger chap. Have you ever used a camera that uses legit film or no?

Chad Davies: Of course. That's the only thing that still makes me a photographer. When I took photography courses in high school, they forced us to learn the darkroom process for the first year of photography. The minute I was introduced to a digital camera that got thrown out the window and I've never looked back because it's so slow and takes so much time.[00:03:00] From a learning standpoint, an iteration standpoint, it's really hard to get up to speed on film. So, I know it, I appreciate it. I don't like to do it.

Greg Bray: All right. Well, I just wanted to make sure that for those listeners who haven't heard that word before that they were aware of what we were talking about there, how it relates to photography, right?

Chad Davies: Yeah.

Greg Bray: Well, Chad, you already mentioned a little bit about what you guys do but tell us just a little more detail about the company and the kind of services you provide.

Chad Davies: For sure. So, when I started this when I was 17 years old, we were shooting listings in the downturn. So, it was 2009. Shooting for a lot of real estate investors who were flipping houses and got a lot of volume under my belt. Stumbled into working for some pretty big public builders via their staging companies who wanted to photograph the staged empty homes. That got me into the builder business. That was probably 10 years ago when I first started working with home builders.

After I graduated college, not with a [00:04:00] photography degree, I got really focused. Kind of found out that home builders were great people to work with. They really care about what they do. They're professional. They want to get it done right, and that's a group of people I really enjoyed working with. So, we focused the business on serving home builders starting in 2016. Here we are today.

Right now we offer a full suite of photography services. We do try to help our clients with anything photography-related they have. But we don't do like marketing services. We're not an agency. We don't run campaigns. We are a production studio. So, we can give you photography. We can give you video. We can help you kind of come up with the idea if you need help putting together a higher-level idea for video or a lifestyle photography shoot. But at the end of the day, we offer incredibly good photography and video production services.

Greg Bray: Do you guys also get into the actual, like staging at all or do you just show up with the cameras or do you tell 'em like, this is what we want in the background and this is how you make your home look good and?

Chad Davies: [00:05:00] It's interesting cuz most of the builders we're currently working with have a good idea of what needs to be done before we get there. Essentially like when we get signed on with the builder, they're wanting to upgrade their photography. The rest of their marketing process is pretty dialed. There have been instances where we've been assigned to putting together and producing a whole lifestyle shoot where we're casting models and we're bringing in the wine and the cheese and the guys playing guitar, and we're taking photos of these amazing moments, but that's rare. That doesn't happen a lot. It gets really expensive. Especially today, builders are trying to get the most bang for their buck, and that's a little ritzy for 2023. So, that's not something we're normally doing.

We are helping builders a little bit with sprucing up their existing staging. So, I'm sure we've all seen a home where we walk in and then you have bare bones. You have some furniture in place. You have some basic styling elements. Maybe there's a bowl on the coffee table. But those houses look a little vacant, a little stale. Almost, not dead, but they're not alive.

So, we actually have a stylist that we can bring in, and [00:06:00] they'll bring in fresh flowers and some new blankets and some stuff to spruce up the space, and that's really effective. We've done that with some big box builders, I'll call them, and it really elevates the whole home because we're bringing in stuff that would normally get lost or stolen or be taken. You know, it's the little trinkets that dress up the house and we're able to bring those in just for the shoot, and then we take 'em when we're done. So, it depends. It depends on what you want to happen, but we can make it happen.

Kevin Weitzel: So, you did a social media post. It's been quite a while now. It could be a year, it could be 10 years. I don't even know. I lose track of time. That's just the way my brain is built. However, you're not just a schmuck with a camera. And a lot of people really do think, oh, let's just hire a photographer. We'll get somebody in here. They can come in with their iPhone or whatever and snap some pictures.

But the social media post you did, it was, it must have been a lifestyle shoot. Cuz you had models, you had some rigging there, you had tons of lighting, you even had some lighting umbrellas, I mean, the whole works. I was just thoroughly amazed at how professional your situation was versus what my mindset was before [00:07:00] that. Was that it's just some guy with a camera that walks in and snaps some pictures, adjusts the lighting, and does some after editing, and yadda boom, you've got the stuff to put on the website?

Chad Davies: Yeah. There's levels to this, right? I think when everyone's getting started, it is just a guy with the camera and then you get photos from the guy, and that's the end of it. I like to remind builders that they are companies and that we offer commercial photography, which is photography to help companies grow.

We don't offer real estate photography. This is commercial architectural photography. That comes with a lot of benefits. There's a lot of specialized gear that makes sure we can capture a space in all of its glory. It comes with a lot of planning expertise. It comes with a lot of post-production expertise. It comes with fast, dependable turnaround times. It's an extension of your team at a very, very high level at a cost that I don't think most people could afford to do in-house. So, that's what we do. I mean, it's commercial photography production.

At the highest levels of photography, when you're talking about photo shoots for car brands or [00:08:00] iPhones, those photo shoots are incredibly expensive. A commercial automotive shoot, we'll call it Toyota, is getting charged 20, 30, $40,000 an image to make one picture. So, that's the very, very tip-top of commercial photography. I'd say we're definitely skewing on the other side. We get nowhere close to that.

Greg Bray: You just blew some people's minds.

Chad Davies: No, but I think you have to. You have to kind of break the ice because in our industry it's become acceptable to use listing photography to list a new community. And a new community is essentially its own company with products that you're gonna sell over and over and over again. And listing photography is great if you're gonna use it for a week or two, but if you're gonna lean on that for a year or two years to sell out your community, you're doing yourself a disservice because you're blending in with every other house in the market. So, it's up to you to make sure that you don't blend in, and you're not forgotten. You have to kind of make the steps necessary to elevate whatever you're doing.

Greg Bray: Often when we are building websites [00:09:00] for builders, we will have a rather similar architecture and structure to the site, but sometimes one will look dramatically different from the other. And what it comes down to is the kind of imagery and content that the builder has available for us to work within that website design and things there.

So, from your perspective, what kinds of things have you seen with builders where that photography quality really made a difference for them in that ability to create that engagement? That whole picture is worth a thousand words thing keeps coming to mind here as we think about photography and how it connects with the buyer and things there. What are your thoughts about that engagement power of imagery?

Chad Davies: I think there's an interesting discussion there, and it always goes the same way for people. They always think of photography as this top-of-funnel thing. Right? And it is. You're supposed to have good pictures to entice people to come visit your community. But in reality, photography has two responsibilities. One, you have to get someone to the community. And two, that photography becomes that person's memory. They're [00:10:00] gonna go see that community and interact with your salespeople, and then they're gonna leave.

Then they're gonna go online and look at your website again and again and again. That photography actually informs how they felt about that experience. It's less of a first impression thing and more of a closing tool. If your photography's incredible and they had an okay experience and then you go to another community where they had a great experience, but the photography so-so, and they take a month to sit on it and they're only referring to the website, one of those things is gonna look much better in their memory than the other. And that's the one with better photography. So, I don't know if it's necessarily going to help you bring more people through the door, but I think great photography can actually help you close more people and help them make bigger decisions faster.

Greg Bray: I have never heard it expressed that way before. I love that Chad. I love that. I learned something today. Because we do know that they go back and forth, right? They'll visit and then they'll go back to the website and they'll look at it again, and they'll try to sort through things and, you know, they're trying to choose between their different [00:11:00] choices and options. And you're right, the imagery is now reminding them of their experience or it is even replacing their memory of the experience because it's more recent, and that's a great insight. Thank you.

Chad Davies: Think of the long tail, right? Like, Hey, I saw this beautiful community. I'm gonna share it with my family. We're thinking about these homes in these neighborhoods. And the family, mom from across the country, or dad from a hundred miles away, they're not gonna go see it in person. They're gonna look at the community website. Which one are they gonna get more on board with?

Greg Bray: That's awesome. All right, so then, we've got the builders though, that say, okay, our sales agents have these really nice phones. I mean, granted, let's be honest, cameras on phones have come a long way and can do some things that they could never do. But yet, is that really where you want your photography? I'm probably setting this up as a softball a little too easy here, but when's it okay for sales agents to be using their phones for photos, if ever?

Chad Davies: I think there's two things here. I should start this response with saying, I recently went on a trip to Italy in August of last [00:12:00] year. I didn't bring a camera, I brought my iPhone.

Kevin Weitzel: Blasphemy.

Chad Davies: I think iPhones are so good now. I was just talking to a marketing manager in Colorado and she's like, what kind of camera should I get? I'm like, you should get the new iPhone. That's what I told her to do because she's gonna use the iPhone every day. It'll become a part of her life. All of her pictures, her selfies included, will look much better. But also like it does all the processing in the phone. So, all of the image blending and adjusting of the shadows, and the highlights and removing noise and removing camera shake, all that's happening instantly.

So, the phone is a technical marvel, and I think the R&D budget for Apple in the iPhone over the last 10 years compared to R&D for Canon and Nikon, and Sony combined is like a 100x. It's ridiculous. There's so many dollars invested in that little iPhone camera that it is an incredible tool.

Now, if you go buy an expensive Milwaukee drill from Home Depot and then you buy a Ryobi less expensive drill from [00:13:00] Home Depot and you don't really know how to use them differently and you don't really appreciate the differences. Like, it really comes down to the user. So, I could take incredible phone pictures for listings and people would be totally fine with them. I think it comes down to the user.

Kevin Weitzel: I could not. I bought the new Samsung super duper 22 that has a super badass camera. My pictures look like a kindergartner drew them with crayons.

Chad Davies: I'll give you some tips.

Kevin Weitzel: Oh, they're horrible. I would take any tips cuz my pictures are junk.

Chad Davies: Okay. So, let's finish this point. One, your iPhone, it does work. I'm not gonna say it doesn't work. It will sell the house. If you're in a hot neighborhood and a house dropped outta contract and everything else is sold, like you can get away with some normal iPhone pictures to prove that there's a house there so people come buy it. If you're trying to market your community and you're gonna do that solely with iPhone pictures, I would advise against that. So, it depends. It really depends on the impression you're trying to leave on your buyer.

Kevin Weitzel: Side [00:14:00] note, cause I do have a question for you. As of late, there are companies out there that are post-production fixers, if you will. And I see it more so in the used home market, more so in the new home market where they'll take a picture of a home and their ridiculously horrible yard now looks like an immaculate yard with great landscape, but it has nothing to do with the real home that you're actually purchasing.

Chad Davies: Yeah.

Kevin Weitzel: What are your opinion on those radically post-production pieces versus just hiring quality photography?

Chad Davies: I think we have to draw a line in the sand of commercial advertising photography and listing photography. When you're selling one thing, this is what I'm putting on the market to sell. If you did this with a car on Craigslist and changed the wheels and changed the color, that wouldn't go too well. I think as long as you show the before and after. It's like, okay, here's the cleaned-up yard. Okay, here's the real yard, but show both. I think you're okay.

Kevin Weitzel: I'd like that.

Chad Davies: One's gonna capture their attention. Like, oh, look what it could be. And then it's oh, here's what it actually looks like. I think that's acceptable. But I think if you only show the green grass, you're [00:15:00] setting yourself up for a lawsuit. For the advertising commercial photography side, I think you're using those images to market a community. You're not actually using those images to sell that specific home. So, I think that's where the line is drawn. And that's the same with any product really. We're just photographing a product and you're gonna sell that product a hundred times over. It's a little bit different.

Kevin Weitzel: Well, besides the painfully obvious then, what mistakes are you seeing builders do on a regular basis?

Chad Davies: Where do you wanna start?

Kevin Weitzel: Well, we all make mistakes, but I mean, what are some of the common things that you see on a regular basis?

Chad Davies: Just the easy stuff. Honestly, it's the easy stuff. I'm actually not that critical of photography. I can look past processing preferences or whatever. Most of that is really a budget constraint. But there's certain things that shouldn't fly. Like signage being left on the counter, marketing flyers.

Greg Bray: Ooh. I have one. I have one. When it's trash day and you're taking a picture of the street and all the trash cans are all lined up by the mailboxes.

Chad Davies: Correct. There's the basic stuff, the easy-to-move stuff. [00:16:00] What does that say to whoever's gonna buy that home? It's like, oh, they didn't have time to move the trash can. Oh, they didn't have time to like, install my floors correctly. Oh, they forgot to turn on my water. The easy stuff could just lead to like, well what else are they doing wrong? So, I think it's that stuff that just screams lazy, shouldn't be accepted. And some of that can be fixed in posts and a lot of it can, but like just move it.

That's what makes me cringe when it comes to photography cuz our job as photographers is to document a home, right? Our job is to properly document this thing and if there's distractions that are easily moveable from our side, we should be moving them because it leads to a better photo and makes everyone like the end result better. It never happens with us, but when it does happen, I'm like, that's a photographer issue. It's a photographer either being lazy or they don't have the time necessary to do all the little things. That's what screams bad to me.

Kevin Weitzel: So, how about the obvious factor of geographical limitation? You know, obviously, with a photographer, you have to have a physical location to be at. You're based in what, California, correct?

Chad Davies: Yeah. [00:17:00]

Kevin Weitzel: So, what is your outreach? How far can you service?

Chad Davies: We have guy in Texas. We have a couple of people in Colorado. My network is 14 years old. I've been very active on certain online communities and people know who I am beyond the home builder world and in photography as well. So, the people on our team that shoot with us all have 10 or more years of experience. They're not just like someone that answered a Craigslist ad and started shooting last year. It's people that have their own photography businesses and also shoot for us. So, I think that's a big distinguishing factor is a lot of these other firms will try to hire as cheap as possible. We don't. We hire really good veteran photographers that have a lot of experience shooting, and that makes all the difference.

Kevin Weitzel: I love that answer.

Greg Bray: I have a personal tip question. How do you make sure that the reflection of the photographer is not showing up in the mirror, in the corner, or even on the stainless steel appliances in the kitchen or things like that? What's the secret tip there to uh, not [00:18:00] have your reflection in some shiny surface?

Chad Davies: Greg, is this something you're personally dealing with?

Greg Bray: It's just come up somewhere along the line. I love the Matterport tours when you spin it around and there's the person in the bathroom mirror, right? Just, you know, whatever, but.

Chad Davies: We would send our person back and redo that if that ever happened. So, Photoshop. We just remove it. We do some pretty incredible removals. But if you wanna get technical, like we actually embrace the reflection, knowing we're gonna remove it in post and set it up so it's easier to remove in post and not try to like half hide. We put the camera in a place where it becomes easier to remove later on. So, post-production is half the job.

Greg Bray: So, it really is about understanding I don't need to worry about this because I can take care of it later, versus this flyer thing on the counter I need to move because that's gonna be a pain to take off. But, if I set this up right, I can clean that up.

Chad Davies: It's all about intent, right? You have a process. You know what's acceptable. You know what's not acceptable. You know what happens when the wrong thing is done. That's part of the benefit of working with really experienced people is they would never leave something on the counter cuz they know [00:19:00] they'd have to remove it themselves. In our situation, we have a whole dedicated post-production team that flips these files around at a super high level really quick, and that's what lets us do so much work. But yeah. It's a process. It's intent. It's knowing what is acceptable in a photo and what is not, and that's just through repetition you figure that out over time.

Kevin Weitzel: There's definitely something to be said for the standards and I have a lot of respect for the incident you gave. You know, from firsthand experience, we hired somebody to do some Matterport shoots for us in Florida cuz we're in Arizona. And he had this calling card, wherein every one of his shoots, and we didn't know this until one of the builders brought it up to our attention, that he put a small photo of himself on a shelf in one of the rooms.

So, he would always know that, yeah, that's my Matterport, and he would know that because he had his little picture of himself. I don't know if you've ever had to go out and reshoot in Florida when you're in Arizona multiple, multiple homes for Matterport, but that's a very costly endeavor just to make sure that you keep that builder happy. It's a lesson learned that you have to make sure that your standards are [00:20:00] maintained, and it sounds like that is something that you have.

Chad Davies: Yeah. I have a very abrasive view on photography that I've got a lot of pushback on, but I'm holding true. And it's I don't think what we do is art. A lot of people think anything creative is art. I don't agree with that. I think what we do is a technical craft and we do it at a very high level. I can write a 200-page book and you'd understand how to do what we do. And because of that, I think we hold ourselves to a different standard.

We're never trying to be the center of attention on your shoots. It's not all about us as the photography team, layering on this gloss and making you feel like you should thank us for being there. Our job is to highlight the work of the interior design firm and the builder and the architecture firm in the best way possible so that home buyers love that product and wanna buy it.

We understand like we are a cog in this big machine and we wanna be the smoothest cog in that machine. That's like a very odd way to approach this, especially at photography at a high level, but we really want to steer the conversation away [00:21:00] from calling this art because it's really just technical craft.

Kevin Weitzel: I agree with you a hundred percent. I think that it is a technical process, but you still have to have an artful eye. We both know Jennifer Cooper. You could take Jennifer Cooper and myself and just say, Hey, we want you guys just to wear something snazzy for this event tonight. She can show up in a workout outfit and I can show up in a suit. She'll get the compliments, Wow, Jennifer, I love that new outfit. That's so avant-garde. It's awesome. Because she has an eye for just not looking like an idiot. Whereas me, I have to shop the Garanimal's rack just to keep from looking like an idiot.

Chad Davies: Sure.

Kevin Weitzel: So, there is an artful eye to knowing what works and what doesn't work.

Chad Davies: Well, I think art is just applied to anything creative, anything in the visual realm gets applied art. We could go real deep on this. If you think about the most successful artists ever, they make work for themselves and it's a form of self-expression and they're trying to make sure that whatever they're thinking or feeling is portrayed in a way through their physical medium that you can understand or have a reaction to.

That's not our [00:22:00] job. You know, our job isn't to become that artist that's charging a million dollars for a photo. Our job is to help you do business better, and our job is to execute on your vision. So, I think art is something we've, as society, applied to anything that's creative or visual. I don't think that has to be the case. I mean, I think there is a certain amount of talent required and if you don't have that talent, it's a lot harder to get up to the level our team's at. But if you went on 10,000 shoots with us, you'd figure it out. It's not this thing that you can only have if you're born with it. Like, you can groom it.

Kevin, if you did come out to shoots for a week, I could teach you kind of the basics. I guarantee you your iPhone pictures or your Samsung pictures would look a lot better after a week.

Kevin Weitzel: Chad, I'm gonna save you a bunch of money. The line in Vegas for me succeeding in photography, is so far out there that the odds would literally break your bank.

Chad Davies: Okay, cool. Sounds like a challenge. We're gonna make it happen. But I could give you a couple of tips on just using that phone better and it's not that hard. I know what you're saying. [00:23:00] And part of it comes down to do we even care or want to become better at it. And a lot of people don't. And people want their salespeople to become photographers. They don't care about taking good photos. They wanna sell houses. So, I think you have to understand that personality as well. If you don't want to take better pictures, it's a different conversation. If you want to take better pictures, we can get you there.

Greg Bray: So Chad, what is your recommendation for how many different photos of a given home does it take to tell the story of that particular, we'll just call it a, a model home? What's kind of your standard approach of best practice there on how much is good enough?

Kevin Weitzel: And before you answer. Greg, can we expound the fact that, are you asking how many photos would Kevin have to take or would Chad recommend taking for a home?

Greg Bray: I'm not talking about like, oh, I need to take 25 of the same one till I get the perfect one. I'm talking about I need three of this room and five of that room and two of this room to really tell the story of the house.

Kevin Weitzel: Yeah. Is there a magic formula?

Chad Davies: There's kind of a formula. I don't know [00:24:00] if it's exact, but it's around 10 photos per thousand square feet. That generally gets you there. And I say that because, you know, typical homes, 2,400 square feet, we're delivering 22 shots. For 1200-square-foot homes, we could probably deliver 22, but they'd start feeling repetitive. They wouldn't be introducing anything new. It's around 10 photos per thousand square feet. You might need a couple more.

I think you can actually cut down the number of photos if you're really good at framing the shot. What I mean by that is adding some contextual information of what the surrounding areas are. Not just taking a picture of the dining room, but taking a step back and hinting that there's a hallway that leads to it. Tweaks like that can actually make the photos more valuable, just by reframing and adding context, and letting the viewer kind of envision how everything connects.

That's what takes the reps to really build up and see and learn how to do quickly, but getting the stuff in the frame. Showing the couch in the middle of the photo isn't hard to do. It's showing everything around the couch in a way that looks pleasing. So, I hope that answers your question.

I [00:25:00] would say model homes, typically we're delivering 20 for normal houses. A lot of other higher-end photographers are delivering closer to like eight or 12. And that's just because they're really focusing on lighting each piece of the scene perfectly and getting a lot of it done in camera, and that just takes a lot of time. Our process is a little more streamlined than that, so we can create a lot more output per day.

Greg Bray: All right, Chad, one more on-the-spot question here. Your thoughts on real photography versus computer-generated renderings and virtual-generated shots of homes. Do you feel like the computer-generated stuff can match or get there or get close enough? Especially if we haven't built this house yet. So, there's nothing physical there to go photograph. Just looking for your opinion on some of those pros and cons there.

Chad Davies: It's funny cuz as humans we want everything to be perfect. That's the line we have to figure out with renderings is renderings are too good. Even if we add resolution and detail and texture and the lighting gets more realistic, it's still gonna [00:26:00] look too good. Until we can figure out how to automatically add messiness to photos, just a slight amount on the edges, they're always going to look a little bit unconvincing. But I do think renderings have and should be used more often in the presale process. And I think, one day not too far off in the future, you're gonna be able to tour a home that you personally customize and order it convincingly online. That whole thing's gonna exist. It's a no-brainer. There's a lot of people working on that.

Kevin Weitzel: The front end already exists. It's just all the backend-connected pieces that those connections are lacking, which is what keeps that from actually happening.

Chad Davies: There's certainly that, I know the production time of actually building a really good convincing model is still a little bit long, and when it's not long, it gets really expensive. So, we're close to that. I know technologies like pixel streaming are making Unreal Engine products a little more feasible for everyday use. But at the end of the day, we [00:27:00] haven't figured out how to make a more useful photo yet.

We've trained ourselves, over the last couple hundred years, to really get a lot of information out of a photograph. When you're browsing through Zillow, you can burn through 50 photos of a house real quick and move on to the next one and make a really good gut judgment of whether or not you like that house. There's no streamlined way to make the previs option better than a photo yet. That's a very lofty goal. But until previs becomes more useful than traditional, I'll say, static photography where it's easy to digest, easy to use, you can pop in, pop out and make some decisions quickly, I don't think we're gonna see a full switch. But that'll happen.

Greg Bray: Thank you. Appreciate that. Chad is there anything on the tips front advice that you didn't get a chance to touch on today that you wanna leave before we kind of wrap up?

Chad Davies: Yeah, I have a couple of things. Quick tips for taking better photos. I think this will be helpful. Number one, clean your lens, which is overlooked. [00:28:00] It's why your photos look blurry. Just rub that thing off. Trust me. It makes a huge difference. Number two, people naturally take pictures near their head or in front of their face. Bring it down to your chest when you're inside, and bring it above your head when you're outside. Try to frame it up here. That's where our cameras sit, are about chest height or below. And then when you're outside, you actually have to get elevated so you're not getting that tilt. And when you adjust that height, your photos get a lot cleaner looking really quickly. And people like to zoom out on their phones, so don't zoom out. Just take a step back and then try to reframe. All the things together will create a much stronger image. So, that's my first thing. I'm sorry if that was too fast.

Greg Bray: No, that was awesome.

Chad Davies: Okay, cool. The second thing, especially as marketing people, I consider myself a marketing person because I deal with marketers every day. I think we all get caught up in trends in wanting to do the new thing, and then we forget about doing the evergreen things at the highest possible level. And I think we need to do the average things a lot better, the normal things a lot better.

Like, unless you have a sales manager that loves TikTok, you shouldn't be forcing your team on TikTok because [00:29:00] TikTok is personality-driven. And if you don't have a personality that's made for TikTok, it's never gonna work. So, not saying it won't work for you, but you need the personality to drive that charge, not a mandate from the top. The new things aren't gonna change your business. You really need to focus on the buyer and what's gonna make their buying experience better than your competitor, and that's the basic stuff.

There's really basic things like how people are treated when they arrive, how you're perceived online, what type of information you're providing to them online. If you're only having eight or 10 model photos, maybe do more. If the photos look like every other listing in town, you probably don't wanna present your company as a real estate brokerage, so make sure the photos don't look like real estate listings. Those are really basic things that I think people overlook because we're getting pulled in all these different directions. So, I think do the basics really well, especially in these times where we're a little bit unsure of what's around the corner. Then start building. But it's gonna be hard to point your finger at doing the basics well and be like, oh, shouldn't have done that. That [00:30:00] stuff is evergreen.

Greg Bray: That's awesome. Thank you, Chad. Appreciate that. If somebody wants to uh, reach out and learn more, what's the best way for them to get in touch?

Chad Davies: Hyperactive on LinkedIn. Way too much activity on LinkedIn. So, I'm on LinkedIn all the time. So, find me on LinkedIn or go to our website and drop me a note in the contact form, which is daviesimaging.com I give away a lot of ideas, free information, advice. If you have an in-house photographer and they need pointers, like reach out. I am more than open to sharing how we do things and my suggestions on what you're doing because I think that's the only way we all move forward is if we kind of share ideas and that's how you get me.

Kevin Weitzel: My last question, and you cannot answer both have their strengths. Quickly, in 1, 2, 3, Nikon, or Canon?

Chad Davies: Canon.

Kevin Weitzel: Boom. That's what I'm talking about, baby. That's what I got my son. So, that's the way to go. All right.

Chad Davies: Yeah. My first camera, when I was 15, I got a Canon for Christmas. And then I've been on Canon ever since. So, I've been [00:31:00] on Canon for 16 years.

Kevin Weitzel: All right. Last question. I know that was the last question. This is actually the last question.

Chad Davies: Okay.

Kevin Weitzel: Would you rather work for a home builder or a marketing company? Which one's the greater pain in the keister? Ooh, that's a tough question.

Chad Davies: Okay. So, if you wanna get really creative on a project, I think a marketing company usually is guiding that campaign and has already sold it through, and there's a little bit more wiggle room to do something interesting there. As a business owner, I prefer to work with home builders from the sheer amount of volume and creating a consistent process, and making sure things are dialed. There's two different answers there. One, I think makes sense from a business standpoint. The other one tickles your creative juices a little bit better.

Kevin Weitzel: I like it. That's a good answer.

Greg Bray: Well, Chad, thank you so much and sharing with us today. I think there's been a lot of great tips and ideas for folks to consider, so thanks for your time.

Chad Davies: Thanks, Greg.

Greg Bray: Thank you everybody for listening today to The Home Builder of Digital Marketing Podcast. I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine.

Kevin Weitzel: And I'm Kevin Weitzel with OutHouse. Thank you. [00:32:00]

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