How To Photograph Luxury Real Estate Behind The Scenes Episode 2

Where Art Meets Architecture 2 Behind The Scenes continues today with Episode 2. In this episode we photograph a $15 million home in Venice Beach.

This house was pretty unique. It used to be a sushi restaurant and a couple bought it, turned it into a kitchen/living room, and then built on a separate structure for bedrooms and bathrooms. Most of the home owners in this tutorial were thrilled to have us shoot their property for free but this owner was unwilling to negotiate. I believe we paid $3,000 just for the ability to shoot the house for eight hours. I personally fought Mike on this, as most people would kill to have free photographs of their home taken by Mike Kelley, but apparently Mike has been eyeing this home for years and he wanted it in his portfolio. 

Although this home is quite large, it didn't offer many unique photographs because the rooms were either massive (like the kitchen), or extremely small (like the bedrooms). Mike grabbed three main portfolio shots; two in the main room, and one bathroom shot. 


Although this home certainly wasn't my favorite of the tutorial, it probably was the most unique and I'm glad I got to see it. I'm also glad that I got to visit Venice Beach in general. If I ever imagine what California looked like it was Venice beach; the skaters, rollerbladers, muscle beach. It was exactly what I thought it would be. 


You can learn more about the full tutorial here and make sure you subscribe to our Youtube Channel for next weeks episode. 

Log in or register to post comments


Ciaran McGrenera's picture

That's a serious gaff.

Jeremy Jones's picture

I don't get it. You PAID for the "chance" to shoot this building??? Here in the northeast, our cities (all old textile mill towns) are absolutely filled with luxury lofts and condos that look exactly like this. All our old mill buildings have long since been converted into luxury housing that offer far more interesting and unique layouts than this example. I'm talking beautiful exposed-post-and-beam setups with century-old brick interiors and gorgeous hardwood floors, etc. For $3,000, you could have hopped a jet to New Hampshire and filled your portfolio with all the interior deco shots you could possibly desire and still had money left over....

Oh I agree with you. Everywhere on earth we could have shot for free... but not LA. When these home owners hear "film crew" they think movie and big budget and they want a piece.

You can't shoot a rundown shack in the canyons in LA without someone holding out their hand. Venice Beach? I think you guys got yourself a deal.

Jeremy Jones's picture

Just getting back to this after a couple days....I understand what you're saying - the part I don't understand is why your partner felt it was a good business move to spend $3,000 for the "privilege" of shooting a less-than-unique building. I'm sure you're aware that the majority of your members here on fStoppers do not have the resources that you and your partner seem to have. So, for those of us who are not able to just toss around that kind of money simply because we feel like shooting a certain piece of property, help us to understand this as a business decision. You freely admit that you could shoot any property for free anywhere else in the world so where is the ROI on this decision? Was there a paying client who just wouldn't work with you without this specific property in your portfolio? I do not operate at the echelon you folks do so I'm genuinely interested in learning the perspective on this. To me, the resulting shots are nothing I haven't seen in any mill-building condo advertisement here in my hometown and don't even offer anything unique in terms of lighting or interest. So what am I missing, here? I just can't wrap my head around this one....

We were filming a tutorial that will be sold for years to come for $300. We can estimate how much money we will make and we made a production budget from that estimate.

Paul Papanek's picture

Too bad that you guys felt that you had to highlight LA's homeless problem - the worst in the US - with horror movie music. This is a real problem that goes well beyond anything you seem to be able to understand. As you charge $300 - $400 for your video workshops, think about what a fraction of that amount could do to help many of those people who live in tents on the street. Not to get too political about it but - they represent a total failure of the mental health system, addiction treatment programs, and our financial system. They're not there because they want to be. OK - stepping off the soapbox now...

Your opinion is shared by a few people on Youtube as well. Our intent was not to marginalize homeless people. I understand that it wasn't the most tactful decision as we just finished shooting one of the most outrageously priced homes I've ever visited, but we didn't decide to do this maliciously. We were just documenting what we did during our time in LA and we did happen to drive through skid row, and it was scary.

Paul Papanek's picture

Lee - I appreciate the reply. I understand that you didn't put that music on with any ill intent, but it would be great if you took it off. I can imagine that if you haven't seen something like that before, it can be scary because it's just so horrible and sad. I don't know many people who would go for a walk on that stretch of San Pedro at night - or during the day, for that matter. Since the homeless population is made up of both mentally ill as well as just down on their luck people, I'm not sure how 'dangerous' it would actually be to take a stroll.

Since you're getting some other comments about this, maybe there's an opportunity to gather the forces of your subscribers - many of whom live here in LA - to do something to help. For instance, there have been people who go down to skid row and give residents a make-over and interview coaching. Perhaps a group of photographers could mount an effort to put a spotlight on the homeless problem. Thinking caps on!

Gabe Border's picture

I love the Nick Brandt prints on the wall.