Consistently popular with our clients, Allan Paul combines determination and curiosity with a creative eye to produce beautiful photography and floor plans. And it works: he now counts FocalAgent jobs as 80% of his freelance workload.
Read on to find out what he suggests to take your FocalAgent client relations to the next level.
Shooting with FocalAgent since: May 2014
Locations covered: Central Scotland
First camera: Pentax ME Super
Favourite photographer: Steve McCurry, John Kelly
Hi Allan! We've been working together for a few years now. What's your background and how did you come to specialise in property photography?
I've been an amateur photographer for over thirty years now. I've always had a passion for architecture and interiors in my work. For much of my career before joining FocalAgent, I was self-employed as a packaging designer - mainly for the electronics and engineering industries - and my knowledge of photography also helped me with that.
I'd gone into semi-retirement, but hated having too much time on my hands. I decided to put my love of photography to good use and as I loved architecture, I wanted to explore shooting properties and new developments for architects, designers and estate agents. I researched it and found that in Scotland, there weren't too many photographers specialising in this niche market.
The sad reality is that so many estate agents seemed happy to go out and do their own photography with point-and-shoot cameras in automatic mode. You can see the difference immediately. I started contacting estate agents but even with all of my persistence, I wasn't able to do it full time.
So how did this lead you to FocalAgent?
With limited success in lining up the work, I googled 'property marketing'. Of course, it immediately brought up loads of estate agents but I saw this company called FocalAgent. They were offering to supply photographers with jobs all over the UK and were recruiting on a self-employed basis, so I applied immediately.
When I first started talking to the team, I immediately recognised that you were operating in a professional manner with what seemed like excellent agent support. Heather was my first contact, and she was such a great help in making me familiar with procedures and how to go about things in general.
It took away the pressure of finding work and gaining valuable experience.
The first job's always a big feat. What was yours like?
As anyone can probably imagine, I was nervous before my first job. But I was determined to be professional and do my best to produce beautiful photography and sketch a good floor plan.
It was a single level bungalow in Argyll & Bute, right by the river with spectacular sea views. But to my horror, just about every main room had pine timber floors and ceilings. They were bathed in bright, bright sunlight, which caused a reddish, orange colour cast over every image I took, so the answer was to expose for the external sunlight and fill the interior with flash to balance the overall exposure and remove the colour cast. After two or three attempts, I got it right and was pretty pleased with myself!
How has your photography changed over the years?
Since then, my skills and equipment have improved massively. I now shoot with a Nikon D800E and Nikon 14-24mm lens, which is excellent. It literally has no distortion or fall off. I control it from my iPad using Camranger, which gives me total flexibility in how I set up the shot.
I bracket the exposures and process them in Lightroom, ready for any further corrections in Lightroom or Photoshop to the finished image. It might seem like a lot of post-production work to cope with, but it's a quick process and it gives me the added advantage of sitting down with the vendor before I leave. Happy vendors mean happy estate agents.
What's your favourite thing about working with the FocalAgent team?
That's easy. My Business Coaches Thomas and Annie! All the way through, my day-to-day relationship has been great because I know they're always there supporting me. FocalAgent now represents 80% of my work and being able to rely on a team like that is invaluable.
What advice do you have to any new photographers joining us?
Every job is different and will come with its own challenges. You're only as good as your last job so strive to keep improving both with experience and equipment, and it will always lead to more work from FocalAgent.
All of the photography in this post is attributed to Allan Paul. You can see his website and more examples of his work here.