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The Wow Factor: Our conversation with photographer Daniel Milstein on Why 3D Photography Works

Daniel Milstein gets invited to a lot of places most of us just read about. A photographer of luxury homes, his work week can involve documenting the remodel of a 19th Century mansion in Newport R.I., hanging out of a helicopter to shoot a vacation home in Vail or St. Thomas, or trying to capture the essence of an ecologically designed time share resort in Mexico. He was also one of the earliest adopters of the Matterport 3D platform, so we caught up with him to get his opinion on the technology and what is driving the interest in 3D photography for real estate.

We asked what his clients are saying about the 3D images he’s captured with Matterport technology. “Beautiful. It is absolutely stunning,” one homeowner told Milstein. Another broker called the results awesome.

Dan says, “I will ask brokers, ‘do you want something that will leave your clients speechless?’” He believes 3D photography gives agents and their clients something they have requested for years - a complete sense of the house and how the rooms flow into each other. He said that the ability to virtually “walk” from one room to another gives a realistic sense of what it would be like to live there. It gives perspective – how the interior looks while standing at various vantage points. “People care about this,” he told us.

Another major benefit of Matterport that Dan spoke of is the dollhouse view that he says gives agents and clients the sense of flow they want. “When people ask for a floor plan, often they are asking for a way to visualize the flow of a house, and you can’t get that from still pictures. Matterport is delivering the concept of what my clients are trying to convey.” Here is a recent scan Dan completed.

3D Showcase courtesy of Daniel Milstein Photography

Dan also gave us some valuable tips for using the camera, and said that learning the basic operations takes approximately two hours. He says that learning how to take scans that ‘wow’ clients is the sort of thing you learn with practice, just like with a regular camera. “It’s easy (to learn), but also easy to improve,” he noted. He believes the trick is that the camera has to be moved from place to place in a home to capture all of the different rooms as well as compensate for any architectural nuances. “Once you see your first scan you can easily see where to improve.”

In our conversation, Dan also gave some tips:

  • Think about where you place the camera. The kitchen sink initially might sound like a strange place to try to direct people in a scan, but Milstein recommends making it a vantage point in a 3D photo. “It’s one of the places that people want to stand when they tour a house in person,” he said.
  • A 4,000 square foot home can be captured in about two hours.
  • Do your scans in a straight line. This will make the “flow” more natural as clients move through the resulting model.
  • If you shoot one set of images at one end of the hallway, make sure to place the camera in an equivalent spot at the other end of the hallway.
  • Watch out for orphan images, e.g., a corner of a room that only gets partly captured.
  • Watch where you stand so you don’t get scanned yourself. By using the iPad application to control the camera, it’s easy to be out of the room when scanning.