house portrait? how to handle this?


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May 6, 2007
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I was able to get a really cool picture of a house on Easter Sunday during the sunrise and fog, and I think this could be an opportunity to sell the picture as a house portrait.

So I am wondering what is the best way to approach the owners of the house. I was just thinking of sending them a letter with a proof of the picture and offering them a few print options. But im also concerned about freaking the people out. I dont want them to think that I was stalking their house either.

How would you all handle this?
if you do it, do it personally, mail tells them you're distant and you're stalking them.
Honestly I think this is kind of a long shot....
I know its a long shot, but its a cool picture, and I already have it. I cant use it for anything other than selling it to them. :)

Its a pretty nice house, with a long driveway, the front of which is gated. But just the driveway is gated, not the yard. Im not sure if its appropriate to walk around the gate and up to the house or what. :) Thats why I was thinking a letter.

Plus they also get to see my name, and they may remember it later if they need a photographer. : ) A house like that, they either have alot of money, or are trying hard to pay for it all. :)
I know in my neighborhood we had someone from a plane or something take photos of the houses and then went around asking if people wanted aerial view photos of their house. My neighbors bought it. So if its a nice house its possible they might want something like that.
There was something on the news the other day about people in a specific neighborhood being upset because the "Google Maps" car was planning to drive by. They were worried about security... about having anybody being able to see what their house looked like, where their bedrooms were, etc.

As a homeowner with kids, I don't care how nice a picture you take of my house... this would come across as a bit creepy.

That being said, you could probably try and market house photographs in advance (get a nice portfolio going and become known locally in that niche)... but from this homeowner's POV, imagining some unknown person taking pictures of their house (on Easter, no less) when they're trying to enjoy time with their family... is bound to backfire on you.

(The aerial view of the home is a bit different... it's a novelty, not something everybody can do.) But anybody can take a picture of a house.

As for the picture you currently have... a better use than trying to sell it just to that homeowner would be to use it as the start of a portfolio... and then try and sell your services to real estate agents in your area. If you can make for-sale houses look really desirable, there is definitely a market for that.
Jim makes a good point and has some good ideas. Just because you have a cool picture of a house doesnt mean you have to sell it to them. You can start a portfolio like he said.
Yes, but I cant just use the picture in the portfolio with out a property release. : ) Either way I have to contact them, and why not try to get the sale? :D

Besides, this area isnt very rich, there are only a handful of "nice" houses in driving distance. Probably not worth it.

And I hear real estate people are as cheap as can be, and are satisfied with pictures from thier $100 point and shoot camera and dont want to spend $$$ on a pro.

Thanks for all the tips though. : ) I would love to do some aerial photography. Eventually I would like to invest in a rc helicoptor and a remote system for the camera. That could be really fun. :D And possibly profitable.
Yes, but I cant just use the picture in the portfolio with out a property release. : ) Either way I have to contact them, and why not try to get the sale? :D
You don't need a property release to use/sell the image. The house is visible from a public location and is not likely a registered landmark.
Exactly as KmH stated. If you're taking pictures from public property it doesn't matter who owns it. You're still in public.
No offense guys, but Ill take that legal advice with a grain of salt.

If thats true, then you can take a picture of the eiffel tower at night from a public spot and sell that. Or take a picture of a celebrity in public and use it in your advertisement. Or possibly take a zoomed in picture of a piece of artwork through a museums window from a sidewalk and sell prints of that. Registered landmark or not.

I think it depends on how much focus the house is in the picture. If its one of many, then you dont need to worry about a property release, but since its the only thing in the picture, then a model release would be needed.

Even if im wrong, its not worth the bad press from the home owner, the possible law suit, etc.
If thats true, then you can take a picture of the eiffel tower at night from a public spot and sell that. mean you can't?

You cant take pictures of the eiffel tower at night. The light setup is copyrighted. There are some other buildings that are copyright protected as well, I forget what they are.

Courtesy Creative Commons - Author Sami Dalouche

Actually, in the US, you can sell night photos of the eiffel tower all you want.
17 USC 120(a) - (a) Pictorial Representations Permitted. — The copyright in an architectural work that has been constructed does not include the right to prevent the making, distributing, or public display of pictures, paintings, photographs, or other pictorial representations of the work, if the building in which the work is embodied is located in or ordinarily visible from a public place.

There are other countries which have similar laws.

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