Automating the Real Estate Photography Business
The Zota app is aimed at enabling users to take their own photos for real estate listings.

Automating the Real Estate Photography Business

Can an app make it easier for homeowners to take their own real estate photos?

Minneapolis real estate photographer Johnny Fuerst might be putting himself out of business with his latest venture.

By the new year, he plans to launch a new app that enables users to take their own photos for real estate listings. Known as “Zota,” the app is billed as “the free real estate photographer who lives on your phone.”

The rapid advancement of smartphone camera technology played a part in Fuerst’s decision to develop the app. Consider Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro, which features three forward-facing cameras to take professional-quality photos and videos.

“The phones are only going to get better and better. Now is the right time to disrupt our own industry,” Fuerst says. “The app basically aims to eventually take over what we do as our profession.”

The Zota app uses artificial intelligence to help people find the right angle and framing for photos of their homes or rental properties. The app also takes multiple shots and combines them to get the best photo. Fuerst says the app could be useful for listings on real estate websites like Zillow, or for Airbnb rentals.

Fuerst has been running his J Fuerst real estate photography business with his wife Joanna since 2013. He has no plans to close up shop any time soon. If anything, he expects the Zota app to bring in new business in the interim: Users have the option of booking an appointment with a J Fuerst photographer if they want.

Plus, the Zota app will include a few paid features. For a fee, users will be able to make their lawns greener, or adjust the sky color. At the outset, users will need to send photos off to Fuerst’s team for enhancements. Ultimately, though, the goal is to automate those functions, too, Fuerst says.

Fuerst’s current photography business employs 15 workers in northeast Minneapolis. To develop the Zota app, he’s working with four contractors.

Fuerst believes the app could be a game-changer for brokerage firms like Keller Williams. It may also make things easier for folks looking to rent their properties on Airbnb, he says.

He anticipates building more robust functionalities into later iterations of the app.

“But our first foray into this is really about empowering Realtors, Airbnb hosts, landlords, and homeowners to shoot great-looking pictures of their own, without having to think about it,” he says.

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