The quality of your property photo can make the difference between a sold home or an expired listing. Level up your real estate photography skills with these 12 tips.
It goes without saying, but it's worth repeating again. Great real estate photography is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL for your success as a real estate professional.
That's because the vast majority of home buyers start their search online. And not only do these buyers spend far more time looking at the photos than the home description, but listings with professional photography sell faster, and at higher prices.
If you want to make sure your listings’ photos look as good as possible, check out these real estate photography tips.
Know When to Hire a Professional
Unless you have sufficient expertise and the right equipment for the job, you should seriously consider hiring a professional photographer.
A professional will know which angles are the most flattering, the best time of the day to take them, how to properly light interiors, and how to edit the photos to make them look their best.
This professional will be able to deliver amazing property photos that are ready for uploading on to MLS and your website.
Even if you’re an experienced photographer yourself, a professional photographer could be an invaluable ally. Hiring one could save you hundreds of work hours each year and free you to focus on other important real estate related tasks.
Use a Wide Angle Lens
As you get into real estate photography, you’ll quickly learn that your choice of lens is just as important as your camera itself. That’s because your camera lens will have a gigantic impact on how your final image will look.
Though there’s a huge variety of camera lenses available, the perfect lens for real estate would be one that allows you to show as much of the property as possible in a sharp and flattering way.
That particular lens is called the wide-angle lens.
As its name indicates, a wide-angle lens captures a wider visual range than what a stock lens can capture. A wide-angle lens helps make rooms feel more spacious and provide a better sense of depth and detail. All of this without an excessive amount of distortion. And if that wasn’t enough, wide-angle lenses are also fairly affordable.
Wide-angle lenses aren’t just available for DSLR cameras (the so-called “professional cameras”), you can also find smartphone wide-angle lenses too.
Of course, you don’t want to go too far and get an ultra-wide or a fisheye lens. These lenses produce images with heavy distortion, which could lead to deceiving expectations of the homes you’re listing. The last thing you want is to have a buyer visit your property only to feel cheated by your misleading photos.
Get a Tripod
Alongside a wide-angle lens, a tripod is an essential tool to have for any sort of real estate photography.
First of all, a tripod eliminates all shakiness from your part, which leads to sharper and clearer images.
Second, a tripod lets you shoot photos with low light. If you want to use natural light exclusively, or shoot photos at dawn, dusk, or overcast weather, a tripod makes it possible to shoot long exposure photos without blurriness.
Finally, a tripod allows you to frame your image more accurately and lets you make tiny, subtle changes to get the best possible shot. In addition, your tripod could also double up as a stand for additional lights and reflectors you may take into your photoshoot.
Take Full Advantage of Natural Light
Natural sunlight gives depth to interiors, it brings attention to details, and brightens everything from stainless steel to upholstery. Natural light also shows buyers how much sunlight the home gets throughout the day.
So if your property features large windows that let in a large amount of sunlight, take full advantage of it and shoot your interior photos using natural light.
All that sunlight will also help make the interior spaces look more inviting and spacious as well.
Make sure all of the blinds or drapes are completely open and remove any screens if necessary. Screens block light and take away from the view.
Be cautious as to what the windows look onto if they are part of the photographs. Any obstructions or poor views can deter buyers from wanting to view the property.
On the other hand, you also have to know when not to use natural light for illumination. If the home doesn’t have large windows, and it’s a bit on the dark side, it may actually make the home look darker and less inviting. In that case, you might be better off using artificial lighting.
When shooting exteriors, don't do so in harsh sunlight around noon. This light causes unflattering dark shadows.
If you want to take the most flattering as possible exterior shots, consider shooting your photos shortly after sunrise, when daylight is redder and softer (also called the Golden Hour), or right after sunset, when indirect sunlight is evenly diffused (also called the Blue Hour).
During these time periods, sunlight is more diffused and softer, shadows are less harsh and highlights are less likely to be over-exposed.
Stage The Home
Let’s get one thing out of the way. You should NEVER take interior photos without staging. Not only does staging your home helps sell it faster (according to The Mortgage Report, a staged home can sell up to 73% faster), it also leads to far more striking real estate photography.
While there are countless interior design guides you can use to stage a home worthy of being featured in a glossy magazine, neither you nor your client is required to go all out and spend thousands upon thousands of dollars in decoration items, furniture, or floor renovations.
Sometimes all you need to make a home look great is work with what you already have, and ask the owner to repaint the walls.
Before you start taking photos, assess the owners' placement of furniture and decide if moving a few pieces around could make for a better photograph of the room or space.
Place larger furniture items like couches and sectionals along a wall and smaller pieces like ottomans and armchairs in open spaces.
Make sure there is no furniture blocking walkways or closing off rooms completely. You want to create openness to a room and oversized or misplaced furniture can close off an area making it appear smaller than it is.
In fact, in many cases, the simplest things can make the biggest difference when it comes to real estate photography. Adding fresh flowers in the kitchen, lighting candles in the bathroom, adding toss pillows to a bed or a throw blanket to a couch adds a homey feel (and make the home look a lot more expensive 🧐) in the photographs.
And of course, if your budget allows for it, you could also consider hiring a professional stager.
It may seem obvious to ensure the home is clean prior to photographing it, but it may be a sensitive subject and hard to discuss with a seller if there is work that needs to be done before you are able to photograph the home.
Let them know the importance of clean open spaces and how it makes for great real estate photography. Fingerprints on windows, scuff marks on walls or dust on bookshelves can really ruin a photo and deter a buyer from wanting to see the property.
Wash the floors, bathmats, towels, bedding, blankets, shine the appliances, mirrors, and countertops. Dust table tops, vacuum rugs, and carpets. Wash the windows, empty the garbage, and get any scuff marks off the walls. Subtle things like these can make a huge difference in photographs.
Highlight the Best Features
When photographing a home, you want to highlight the uniqueness and special characters of the property while downplaying the flaws.
Post the photos of the oversized windows, custom-designed bookshelf and built-in wine fridge. Leave out the pictures of the unfinished basement, dated bathroom or oven grown hedges.
Ask the owner what the best features of their property are, what upgrades did they make or put money into. Make sure those are evident in the photos.
Get Your Technique Right
Shoot horizontal - Leave your vertical shots for selfies. Homes take space primarily in the horizontal axis, so make sure you shoot horizontal as well. Shooting vertically makes homes feel cramped and constricted.
Use overexposure to your advantage - Unless your home has an incredible view, in most cases you don't really need to capture the view from your windows. Instead of trying to catch the outside, bring the focus back into the room, and try overexposing the windows. By doing so, you'll make the room seem brighter and more inviting.
Experiment with camera height - There's no need to always take photos at eye-level. Experiment by taking photos at different heights. This can help enhance the uniqueness of each room, and help highlight their most prominent features.
Put Away Personal Items
Having personal items in photographs can detract from a purchaser being able to picture themselves living in your home. Personal belongings could include family photography, toiletries, clothes, shoes, books or bags.
Look at images of a model home, you would never see personal pictures or hair products anywhere. It is essential to focus on the finishes and features of the home, and not remind the buyer that someone is living there.
When shooting photos of the bedrooms, “degender” the color scheme. By doing so, you’ll provide a neutral mental canvas for buyers to picture themselves (and their children if they have any) living in your home.
Compile Photos Throughout The Seasons
Ask your clients if they have photographs of their home throughout the seasons. If they are listing in the middle of winter you will want photos of the home in the summer, highlighting features like landscaping, a backyard pool or a built-in BBQ.
Alternatively, if your clients are listing in the summer you can ask for photos of their home in the winter, pictures of just after a snowfall or in the autumn months when the leaves have turned color.
This photo compilation will show how beautiful and versatile the home is throughout the seasons.
Don’t show too many or too few photos
You need the right amount of photos for buyers to get a good idea of the property but not so many that they do not feel the need to come and see the property.
According to Street Easy, “if a listing has between four and 10 listing photos, there is a 5x likelihood that a buyer will contact an agent. But as for that magic number — that sweet spot — we found that when a listing has 11 to 14 photos, there is a 6x more likely chance a buyer will contact the selling agent versus a listing with zero photos.”
Edit your photos
Editing is a digital photographer's best friend.
Editing lets you salvage photos that were otherwise too dark, fix lens distortion camera, create composite photos, increase contrast, and crop photos for better image composition
Photoshop and Lightroom are industry standard tools for photo editing. If you don’t own these tools, you could download them for a trial period, or purchase a monthly subscription to get access to them. There are plenty of online tutorials that can help you become an expert photo editor as well.
But if you don’t have the time nor the resources to get into photo editing, you can also hire a photo editor from Fiverr, who could do all your editing tasks for an affordable price.
Good photography tells a story. The pictures you take should communicate to the buyer why the home is perfect for them.
And as most property searches start online, the photography of a property may be the single biggest determinant on whether or not a buyer will come to view the home.
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