3:19 Minute Read.
Taking great photographs of homes is an important task when listing properties. It sells houses, shows off your professionalism and helps you acquire more listings. It’s worth spending the time to develop the necessary skills to do it right. And getting good at it is not difficult. Follow a few simple rules and use these tricks to make your photos look like a pro took them.
Use a good camera
You don’t need an expensive DSLR camera or elaborate software. I have an iPhone 7 and love the photos it produces. Make sure you have the ability to crop and adjust lighting and color. It’s nice to have software to alter photos with thousands of adjustments but most agents never take the time to utilize those functions.
Create a vibe
Keep in mind these are marketing photos. They are meant to be warm and inviting. Work towards creating a vibe – not just displaying a house.
My buyers hate listings with wide-angle
Why do agents do that?
Take lots of pictures
Take at least 5 to 10 photos for every 1 you need. When you’re back at your desk uploading them, you’ll appreciate having several to choose from. Its not uncommon to have a few hundred photos once you’re done.
Take photos in all 4 corners
Whether you’re inside a house or outside taking exterior shots, stand in every corner and take pictures. Don’t just stand in doorways and snap a shot. You’ll be surprised that one perspective may be far more attractive than another.
Stage each photo
Look through the lens and find things that appear out of place – then move them. Pet items, kid’s toys, towels and soap around the kitchen sink, health and beauty aides in the bathroom, all detract from an image. Take the time to move unnecessary items out of the frame.
Adjust your settings
At every position, take time to adjust the focus, lighting, color and crop. Small changes can have a dramatic effect on the overall image.
Use your stomach
Take photos at stomach level. It makes the exterior appear elevated and interior rooms larger.
Level and plumb
Look through the lens to find vertical and horizontal lines. Use these lines to keep your camera level. Often, I’ll zoom out to find a doorway to determine if my frame is level and balanced. Then zoom back in to get the shot.
If you’ve taken a great front exterior photo, chances are buyers will click on the listing to get more information. Here are some smart tricks for beautiful exteriors: Always show the front door in your photo. Always include a portion of the side of the house to indicate depth. Try to schedule your photo session to get plenty of sun on the face of the house and good weather in the background. Zoom in/out to get the entire house in the photo. There should be enough space around a house to frame it for the viewer and add context for its environment. Don’t let any portion of the house be excluded from the photo – it raises the question “What am I missing?” Or “What are they hiding?”
Most homes have either a garage that protrudes from the front of the house or is located towards the rear of the house. For houses with garages out front, position yourself in the opposite corner away from the garage. This will make the home look larger in the photo. For houses with garages out back, take photos at the end of the driveway so viewers can see the home has a garage and how it’s oriented. Add extra front entry, back of house and backyard view photos if they enhance the overall vibe.
Sometimes it’s hard to get good interior photos. Too often, they start looking like items for sale on Craigslist. No one needs to see a picture of a dresser, or bed, or washer. Try to get a sense of the space and not the items in the room. To get that perspective, every interior photo should include a portion of both ceiling and floor in the frame. If you can’t capture both, you might need to bypass using those photos.
Why is it the moment you start taking photos, the owner’s pet tries to get into the picture? I love animals but some people don’t. It might feel rude to ask a seller to hold or move their pet while you’re taking pictures. However, it’s for their benefit. Make sure pets, along with their toys, bedding, and litter boxes don’t appear in your frame.
Wide-angle lens or not?
Nothing frustrates a buyer more than seeing photos online that depict large open spaces but in reality are only small rooms photographed with wide-angle lenses. If the refrigerator appears to be the size of a garage door in listing photos, chances are buyers will be upset when touring the house, sellers will be disappointed by no offers and agents will look like frauds. Why do that? If you need to add more perspective in a room, the newer iPhones have an awesome “pano” feature that can do the trick.
Add your name or logo
There are plenty of apps available that can add your name or logo to each photo. They are inexpensive (many are free) and easy to use. I use the app BeFunky with my iPhone. Beware. Most real estate board have specific rules regarding information on photos.
Adding frames and fades around the edges of photos was really cool 15 years ago. Not so much today. Clean and crisp photos present a better image.
Lead us not into temptation
With today’s technology, its fairly easy to alter photos digitally. Don’t be tempted to present a property inaccurately.
Upload in touring order
Back at your desk, upload photos in the same order you’d tour the house. Having photos in the proper order helps a buyer mentally “walk through” the house. Photos that are out of order create a jagged and unsettling feel. Start at the front exterior, through the living area, to the dining and kitchen areas. Then, go upstairs and then to the basement.
How many are too many?
It’s common to see 30 or even 60 or more photos for each listing these days. Personally, I think it’s a bad idea. Photos are meant to raise interest in a property. They’re meant to motivate a buyer to tour the home. Unfortunately, too many photos give buyers the false impression that they’ve seen everything there is and they have enough information to decide whether to tour the house or not. I’d rather they’d come and see for themselves. That’s how we sell houses. Unfortunately, some sellers compare real estate agents by the number of photos that are used – and too many agents are willing to just go along with it. They don’t calculate if it’s in a client’s best interests. After educating my sellers – if they’re still hell-bent on a lot of photos - I’ll add as many as they want. I may be old-school, but I’m not leaving without the listing.
Hire a professional?
Don’t think you can handle taking great photos? I know some brokerages provide photography services for their agents. I think it’s an excuse to charge expensive splits. Taking good photographs is a skill anyone can learn. However, if you don’t want to take photos, or just want a professional handling your upscale properties, hiring a photographer is easy and rather cheap. Most photographers I’ve worked with charge around $100 for a complete spread. They can also add 3D and aerial photography for a little extra.
We’re looking for a few good agents to join us…