Working as a real estate photographer can certainly lead you into some strange situations. I mean, what could possibly go wrong when walking into an unfamiliar home? We asked our HomeJab photographers for their best stories. Some stories are cringeworthy, creepy, or just plain weird. If you’re a real estate photographer, perhaps there are some you can relate to.
“It was a really nice neighborhood with it’s own private airport. I was getting drone footage of the private airport and I had the airfield manager right next to me monitoring my flight. One of the residents of the neighborhood noticed my drone and pulled up on us in a really aggressive manner. He was driving fast straight at us, slamming on breaks right before he reaches us and revving his engine before getting out. He went straight at me after getting out of his car and his face was as red as his car. He demanded that I land the drone immediately and that’s when the airfield manager stepped up to him.
He didn’t care that it was a monitored flight and that we took all the safety precautions, he wanted me to land it anyways. The angry resident and the airfield manager were face to face noses almost touching yelling at each other. It reminded me of a weigh-in for a boxing match. Eventually the angry resident leaves and that’s when he told me “you’ve made a powerful enemy today.” I never saw him again after that.”
Maybe he is busy making more enemies?
Bao Nguyen, Tucson AZ
“While photographing a house in which the tenants were present, the lady of the house decided to show me nude and semi-nude modeling pictures of herself on her cell phone while her husband cleaned dog poop out of the backyard.”
The dog wants it to be known he had nothing to do with it.
Mickey Newman, Philadelphia PA
The Jackhammer Fiasco
“I met up with my agent and started taking photos inside for a while and I thought I heard some construction happening outside (like a jack hammer or something). I didn’t remember seeing anyone doing construction outside as I came in, but I didn’t think much of it. I went outside for a moment and saw the agent working hard on something like hammering on something that sounded like metal. I went back inside to continue shooting photos and eventually made my way to the beautiful balcony view that the house had to offer. I began framing up my balcony shot that overlooked the touristy village and noticed a large stream of water flowing down the street way out there in front of me and it was kind of breaking my concentration.
I tilted my eye line down, followed the stream back all the way up to just below the balcony I was standing on. I saw the agent working really hard with the water as it was flowing out of the ground and he was attempting to open the a sewer lid on the side walk. To me it look like he was doing some really good important work fixing part of the house. I go back inside for more shooting and curiously look back out as two cop cars are showing up, two plumbers and a man from the local water district. Now I was really wondering what the heck was going on. So I tried to finish up quick inside and when I came out, I realized the agent was attempting to hammer the listing sign into the ground and had broken a water pipe. Can’t blame him though! How could he have known that? What a crazy situation”
David Leys, San Jose CA
“I had a lady offer to sew my pants that I had just ripped loading my truck. Literally said oh just take em off. Sewing is a hobby of mine. Her husband had just relocated to North Carolina and she didn’t want to move.”
Well, at least your pants would have been fixed.
Dave Apple, Philadelphia PA
“I was on a lockbox shoot. I was photographing one of the bedrooms when I went out on a tiny balcony to see if there were any notable shots worth taking from it, but before I realized it, the door had shut behind me…and locked. The front door key I had with me wouldn’t open the door and so I thought I was stuck. A few minutes later, along came an old man walking toward the house. I called out to him, hoping he could come through the front door and let me back in, but there was a slight language barrier. He attempted to explain from the street that it was his son’s house and proceeded to walk around the corner to the front door and out of sight. I wasn’t quite sure what he was doing, but I thought he was going to let me in.
Instead, about a minute later, he came back around the corner and told me he planned on selling his house next year and asked if I could help photograph it. I told him the company I worked for, HomeJab, and with that he continued walking before I could get his attention. At that point, I realized my best opportunity was gone and decided I would need to get down myself. Luckily, I had a background in parkour and was familiar with scaling walls and climbing, so I was able to drop down from the balcony onto the pavement with relative ease and re-enter the house through the front door to grab my camera from the balcony and continue shooting.”
Does your resume include parkour skills?
Sam Howells, Chicago IL
Less Parkour Skills
“While out on a recent shoot in which the homeowner and the agent were not present, I got trapped on the 2nd floor porch balcony when a wooden bar attached to the porch’s sliding door fell and held the door shut from inside. After speaking to the agent on the phone and learning that both she and the homeowner would not be able to assist me for at least an hour, I decided to jump off the porch. Or rather, I climbed down the side and hung onto the floor of the porch before dropping a good seven feet down onto the ground below.”
Maybe some parkour can be learned from the photographer above.
Mickey Newman, Philadelphia PA
Where’s the House?
“When I arrived at the property I had to shoot, the house was burned down. Seemed like it had been for a while, but they didn’t know.”
Maybe they can market it as a ‘hot’ new listing?
Faith in Humanity Restored
“I had my drone fly off on a shoot and it never came back. I purchased a new drone and went back to the property and re shot for the agent and all was good. About a week or two later the agent called me and said someone found my drone to give them a call. I met with the guy and he found the drone. At the time I didn’t have any contact info on the drone and didn’t know how he knew who to call. He said he downloaded the SD card and saw the footage of the house I was shooting and drove over to the house and got the agents # off the realty sign and called them. Needless to say I got the drone back and it was crashed and worthless but the GoPro and SD card were in working condition and they sat out in the rain and weather for a couple weeks. I was mad at the time I lost my drone but when I got the new drone glad it had crashed and made me upgrade because the new one is so much better.”
How could we not include this feel-good story?
Dan Dennis, Orlando FL
“This was a dilapidated old house in Morrisville that had apparently been on the market for a couple of years and gone through many different realtors. I show up to a broken lock box. I call the realtor to let them know…no answer…I leave a message. The door is open so I go in a start the shoot. As I finish up the second floor I hear a bit of commotion out front so I go and check it out. As I’m making my way down the steps half a dozen cops start screaming at me to freeze and get on the floor. I did while explaining the situation in a panic. Everything worked out”
It’s just photos, not a robbery!
“I think it was an old house outside New Hope that got subdivided into apartments so a weird shoot to begin with. As I made my way through it just got worse and worse and worse. Trash everywhere, cat litter everywhere, dirty dishes piled in the sink, boxes of random crap blocking the stairs….the works. But the kicker was the master bedroom with a guy passed out, face down, naked in the bed and a little pile of, what I’m assuming, was cocaine on the nightstand. I didn’t take pictures of that room”
Well, maybe they just needed a nap?
Federico Ferreri, New Hope PA
Leatherface Fixer Upper
“Had a job out in the countryside in Plantersville, TX. Thinking might be a quaint country estate.. as I drive through the piney woods I arrive at a property that looks clearly abandoned.. overgrown super long grass/weeds.. vines connecting the trees.. the house was probably very nice when first built, cute style with large front porch.. but now the paint was peeling away, screen door hanging off it’s hinges, all power was cut off as it was ‘winterized’.. inside was musty, creaky stairs, mismatched peeling wall paper, BULLET HOLES IN KITCHEN WINDOWS.. and a strong sense that Leatherface was about to pop out at any minute with his handy chainsaw…”
No HomeJab photographers were harmed in the making of this photo.