Michael Brands of Mountain Home Photo | Q + A

We teamed up with Michael Brands of Mountain Home Photo to get the skinny on what makes a great residential real estate photo. Michael Brands has a team of 5 full-time awesome people—four photographers and an office manager. Find out more why Michael Brands and his crew are trusted by The Rulon Kelly Team to help market their listings.

How important is time of day for photos? 

It’s important, but not always the way people might think. We’re generally basing our shoots on when the view from inside the house looking out to the view is the best. Our professional lighting can make the interior look good any time of day, literally, but we don’t have control over the light on Mt Daly, for example, so we try to shoot when mother nature gives us good light on Mt Daly. We can handle the rest.  

Do you take different photos to rent a house versus sell a house? 

Conveying the layout is a primary goal with sales. But, for rentals, we might adjust the shot angles to show a key amenity that a renter might appreciate - like a TV, believe it or not. Renters apparently really want to know which rooms have TVs. We’re also going to make sure we’re shooting every single bathroom no matter how many, or how small, they are. Early on, a top rental client summed it up nicely -  Aunt Matilda wants to know exactly what her bathroom is going to look like. 

Where did you get your training? 

Ross Kribbs (who is still doing photography in the Valley) and I partnered up in 2001 and just started experimenting. Lot’s of trial and error. We’re talking film days here, so there wasn’t an option to just look at the back of the camera, hit the delete button and try again. I do not miss film, btw.

How has the pandemic affected your business? 

Diversification is critical to business, right? Prior to COVID-19, we had no idea how important non-traditional media was going be to our business and our clients. Interactive 360 Matterport tours make it possible for brokers to share their property with anyone, anywhere. So this tiny part of our business offering suddenly exploded while still photography took a downturn. We’ve been encouraging clients to use Zoom, Skype and other video chat platforms to share these tours with their clients (via screen share), for a broker guided tour. This lets you, the professional, virtually show the home in the way it needs to be shown rather than just sending your potential buyer a link and hoping they connect with the property.

When is your favorite time of year to shoot photography in the Aspen Snowmass area? 

Give me a mid-winter dawn shoot with a view toward the Elk Mountains and I’m a happy guy! The  contrast between snowy mountains and cobalt blue sky is just amazing. 

How crucial is staging and working with the client on de-cluttering before the shoot? 

The importance of this cannot be overstated, especially if your seller is living in the house or has lived in the house long enough to accumulate lots of ’stuff'. Basic de-cluttering, paring down, de-personalizing, and appropriate flowers can really go a long way. It really makes the photography so much better. See our Tips for Staging & Styling guide. 

Visit Brands website to read more about staging tips: https://www.mountainhomephoto.com/home-styling-tips

Have you always specialized in real estate photography? 

No. I spent 7-years as a staff photographer at the Aspen Daily News and The Aspen Times. Then some freelancing while establishing our business, Mountain Home Photo, (we’re now a full-time staff of 4 photographers and an office manager). I also volunteer with Aspen Fire. 

What technology is your favorite to shoot with?


What makes a good real estate image? 

Connecting a home to its surroundings. Anytime we can remind people their home is in the heart of the Rockies - that’s a great image.



Michael Brands

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