Most of my photography work these days is shooting Yacht broker listings of boats for sale.
I've shot hundreds of boats for brokers. All types of motor boats and sailing yachts from five to 50 metres ranging in price from tens of thousands to tens of millions of dollars.
I pride myself on creating photos that show off the subject boat in the best light possible, without misrepresenting what the boat actually is. The brokers I shoot for want the potential buyer to be able to easily imagine themselves waking in that secluded anchorage or cruising into the perfect sunset, fishing in some secret spot or dining under the stars in absolute silence with no other human in site.
Those are the dreams of boat ownership.
So it really makes me wonder, when I see the photos used on many brokers web sites.
What passes for listing photos to many brokers are shot with the boat tied to the dock. Little thought given to composition, no de-cluttering, ugly appliances left out, beds un-made or messy, dirty dishes in the sink, all manner of toiletries and cleaning products in sight, toilet seats up, crooked mats and carpets, the agents reflection in mirrors, fingerprints on the appliances, keys and phones lying around, crooked / un-matching cushions, stained pillow slips and duvets.
To illustrate my point. I shot a boat today, two different approaches.
First, as if I was a broker using my phone, shot in five minutes at the dock. Then I shot the same boat as I normally would for my client.
These are the shots produced by the first approach and typical of what I see on many brokers sites (tho better than some).
Below are a few of the shots I produced of the same boat with time, thought and effort commensurate with the commission the agent can expect from the sale.
I know it's important to show the cabins, the layout, finishes etc, but the real role of the photos is to inspire, and to get a potential buyer through the brokers door.
The brokers who go the 'do it yourself' route seem to be of the opinion that a few photos showing the bits and pieces on board alongside a list of the boats specs is all that's necessary to sell a boat. Maybe they're right and they are doing just fine.
But I have spoken with a number of sellers who have told me the reason they are signing with my client is the professionalism obvious from looking at their web site.
Contrary to popular belief; people don't buy products, people buy what it will mean when they own a product. Summed up nicely with the old maxim "Sell the sizzle, not the steak"
When you consider that the cost of a professional photo shoot is likely to be less than a few percent of their commission, why do so many yacht brokers not seem to see the benefit?
Maybe they should consider that they are not only selling the yacht, they are selling their ability to sell yachts.
A yacht owner considering selling their boat is going to look at the brokers web site and listings. If they don't look professional, if they don't look like they're doing the work and making an effort, why would they trust that broker with selling their boat?