Real estate photography is without a doubt one of those fun topics. Because a real estate photograph usually generates a “Oh” or a “Ohhh” and sometimes a “Why?” So here are my list of real estate photography rules.
99% of a good photo is done before the photographer shows up
Just as it’s easier for the model to put the make-up on before the photo-shoot, the prep work to real estate photography is the same concept. Just as a model would shower first, then add the make-up, dress, and jewelry before the shoot, you’ll want to deep clean the home, professionally stage and lastly, think of fresh flowers as you would a sparkling piece of jewelry on our favorite model.
Another key point; if you can’t deep clean first, the camera will forgive some dust but will not forgive garbage cans, un-tidy hoses or that collection of scrubbers you keep by the kitchen sink. Sometimes it’s helpful to take a photo with your smart phone just to see what you notice in the photo. You’ll see things in the photo that your conscience mind has blocked out.
Go outside, and stand on the opposite side of the street. Can you see the front door? If not, what is the focal point? Make sure the light works and turn them on. Trim overgrown bushes and plants. Add potted plants or flower arrangements for a fresh burst of color.
Take exterior shots on an overcast day – especially if your home faces North
A good photographer understands that bright sunny days are beautiful in person, but the camera prefers a light cloud cover. Dark shadows basically minimize whatever they cover. I’ve seen many “professional” photos where the home is covered in shadow. If you want to hide an area, take a photo of it when it’s in the shade, and the front of your home should never be hidden or minimized.
The easy rule, add light to what you want to highlight and add darkness to what you want to hide.
Helpful tip: if you want to minimize the driveway, some photographers will even wet the driveway down with a hose as the water will darken it and minimize its presence.
Just think of it this way, shine a light on what you want the viewer to see and cast a shadow on the areas that aren’t helping. If you don’t have the proper light in the key areas, add white or yellow flowers as a light substitute.
Perhaps it’s a blessing that I’m prone to motion sickness because when a photographer shows up with the widest angle lens they can find, that’s when I’m gonna reach for the Dramamine.
While a wide-angle is necessary in areas like the bathroom, if the lens is distorting the sense of space, the shot should be reconsidered. For example, if the backyard is only 10 feet deep, and the photo causes it to appear like a football field, this is not good photography and ultimately will only frustrate buyers when they think they are getting a big yard only to show up to realize it was just trick photography.
I often tell buyer clients to look for universally sized objects and look to see how distorted they might be. For example, I once saw a photo of a stove where the front burner was 10x the size of the back burner and it was obvious that the burner’s should have been closer in size. Windows, chairs, or other objects that should be the same size are great tell tell markers of bad photography.
For interior shots, hire a stager to consult with you on the best placement of your furniture and accessories. Turn every single light on, light the candles, and if possible start a fire.
Helpful tip: What we like in person isn’t always the same as what we like in photos. We like sparse furniture and accessories in person so the buyer can see the space, however in photography, we want high visual interest, so more can better.
Bring interest to each photo
Light and angles are interesting. I love photos that show intrigue by indicating there is a room down the hall. By making sure lights are one in the background rooms and hallways you show the viewer that there is more to this photo than what’s in the frame.
Make sure the light fixtures are on, light candles and if possible have a fire in the fireplace. Every photo should be exposed long enough to really capture all the light.
If you are taking a photo of a dark area, like a large TV or empty fireplace, make sure you can add an image in Photoshop or some other photo-editing software. My other favorite trick is to put the paper-towel holder on the corner counter-top, you know the corner that you wished had under-cabinet lighting because it’s so dark. Use flowers or fruit as another way to bring interest to the photograph. Bright lemons and limes on the counter will give a pop of color and sense of life to a two-dimensional representation of the real estate.
Need a laugh? Check out Terrible Real Estate Agent Photos here
Use HDR technology
The most important tip is that you have to show the home the way the eye sees it. And a camera will never be able to capture both the interior and the exterior because they just can’t focus on both the bright exterior light at the same time as focusing on the soft interior light. So you need to take multiple photos with a tri-pod and combine those photos together so that the buyer can see what’s outside, while looking at what’s inside.
This is where the real expert photographer earns their salt. And honestly, once we get to this level I’m in over my head. That’s why as part of my service to my clients, I bring in the pros. Check out my professional photographer’s website by clicking here.
Check out examples of homes in your own area
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