Becoming a Charleston Real Estate Photographer – My story

Apr 15, 2021

People often ask me for long I have been a Charleston real estate photographer or have been doing any professional photography. Most of them are surprised when I tell them I started not too long ago. It seems like most photographers were born with a camera in their hands. Well, not me. The first time I ever touched a full frame camera was one year after moving to the US.

I really struggled the first year we lived in the US. With a somewhat good education, almost fluent in English and no pressure, I thought it would be easier to get a job similar to the one I had at home. I was definitely wrong.


Starting my American Dream

After countless attempts I was able to get an office part time job. Not really what I was hoping for, but good enough at that time. As I know today it was just the right one to get my American Dream as Charleston Real Estate Photographer started.

One afternoon I was sitting at a car repair shop and flipped through a local real estate magazine. I love amazing architecture. The cover on the magazine showed a beautiful twilight photograph of a typical southern home. I wondered if I could capture real estate photographs like that. All of a sudden, I had an idea.

Why not become a real estate photographer’s assistant? Something I could do in my spare time. Finally, something that’s more creative. And again, except for using my six-year old digicam, I had no experience in photography at all.


Becoming a Charleston Real Estate Photographer – Assistant

I found out that the cover was actually shot by a Charleston real estate photographer. Can you imagine how excited I got in that moment? And even better… On the website of Ellis Creel Photography, he was looking for an assistant! I applied the same evening – didn’t hear back…

Two weeks later, I gathered all my courage and called. And it was probably the best thing I could have done! Josh – that’s the real estate photographers name – thought my application was a scam and totally ignored it.

Well, it turned out that he was still looking for someone to help him. He agreed to take me to his next real estate photography shoot in Charleston.


The first Real Estate Photography session

It was a beautifully renovated little apartment in the middle of the city and Josh was already unpacking his gear when I arrived. Since his car was in a no parking zone, he just said “Hi, I’m Josh, nice to meet you! Would you mind parking my car at another spot?” And handed me his keys. Now remember, he had never met me before, didn’t know about my driving skills and had an awful lot of expensive gear in his trunk. It definitely broke the ice.

During the shoot he explained a lot about light, tilt shift lenses, vertical lines and how his camera is connected to his phone so he can fire up the flash from the other side of the room. I had no idea what he was talking about. Real Estate Photography was obviously more than capturing the beautiful architecture, but I was fascinated and acted like I understood.


Promoted on day one

After the session, Josh told me that he needed someone who could shoot like him that he could hire for his growing business. He was willing to teach me all about Real Estate Photography so I could quit my job and work for him. Wait what?? What kind of dream is that? I was in shock and had no idea what to say.

Didn’t I tell him many times that I was a total amateur? All I wanted was to assist him, carrying his gear and spending a couple hours a day doing something interesting.

I wasn’t used to this kind of approach to hiring employees. Let me quickly explain the German way of getting a job in a branch where you never worked before. You first need to go to school. If you are good enough (and lucky enough) you can do an internship and then you might get hired half a century later. Maybe that’s my personalized American dream.

Charleston Real Estate Photographer it is!

Two weeks later I quit my other job and started working for Josh and Ellis Creek Photography. And I will always be thankful for the opportunity he gave me. It was the start of a new path in my life. A whole new career. I finally found the job I would still do even with a bank account full of money.

The reason why I appreciate it even more is I know for sure that I would never have started to get into real estate photography back in Germany. It is really hard to start something new when you have your daily routine and expenses. As hard as it was in the first place living and searching for a job in the US, looking back I can say the US is definitely more employee friendly when you need a change in life.

That this would have been even just the beginning and I would later found Franzi Annika Photography and AIR Design Photography, my own Wedding photography and Charleston Real Estate photography businesses, feels still surreal from time to time.