Why You Need Real Estate Photography

Why Real Estate Photography

“Real estate cannot be lost or stolen, nor can it be carried away. Purchased with common sense, paid for in full, and managed with reasonable care, it is about the safest investment in the world.” 
–Franklin D. Roosevelt, U.S. President

Today’s home buyers do most of their house hunting online, and great home pictures are an absolute must. Most would agree that bad listing photos are a very real problem in our industry. 

Why You Need Real Estate Photography

Why You Need Real Estate Photography

All we need to do is browse the real estate listing in your area to see how bad many of them are. These images are the first impression a buyer has of not only the listing but of the Real Estate agent who posted them. Bad photographs are simply one more dagger in the chest of an industry that is working hard to improve its reputation and showcase its relevancy and value. That’s why we wanted to help you with some techniques, tips, and tricks for taking amazing real estate photographs. These are the same techniques, tips, and tricks that many of our professional photographers use, but you do not have to be a professional to take advantage of most of these! 

According to a study done by Redfin, listings shot with great photography receive 61% more online views than their competitor listings. More online views can turn into more interested buyers, more showings, and a quicker sale! 95% of online shoppers, first look at is your listing’s front exterior real estate photo.  

The studies show that they will spend about twenty seconds looking at that front exterior photo, before moving on to the other photos and the listing details. Make that first 20 seconds really count! There is a lot of listing out there. Having a beautiful portfolio of previous listing photos just may help you win the next real estate listing. 

Especially when you combine it with the stats previously mentioned. Social media content. Visual content is all the rage in social media these days, and having a library of beautiful professional photos is a huge asset. Use those photos on sites like Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ and Facebook to attract interest and gain referrals. 

Move with Emotions for Great Real Estate Photography

Beautiful photos move other to respond. Emotion sells, In fact, for most buyers, emotion is about 80% of the buying decision. Buyers use logic to choose price ranges, locations, and home sizes. 

But from there, most consumers will rely on emotion to choose the homes they visit in person and ultimately purchase.

The Right Equipment is Essential with Real Estate Photography

According to a study by Redfin, listings shot with DSLR cameras receive 61% more online views than their competitor listings.

A DSLR CAMERA BODY You can’t shoot real estate with a point-and-shoot (non-interchangeable lens) camera. Sorry. Won’t work. A primary gear driver in real estate photography is a good quality wide angle lens and this means you need a DSLR camera with interchangeable lenses. Don’t even think about using a wide-angle converter that screws on a point and shoot; they cause distortion in your images most are very poor quality! How many megapixels do you need to shoot real estate photography? Most experts will tell you that 12 MP is perfect. 

A camera with 12 MP is more will create images that can be printed up to poster size, and the images are a size that can be managed easily on most computers. But what is more important than the megapixel count is the quality of the lens on your camera. There are tons of DSLR choices, ranging in cost from $500 to over $10,000. Most of the lower priced DSLR camera bodies will work perfectly. 


WIDE ANGLE LENS for Real Estate Photography

Real estate photography shoots often put the photographer in tight situations. Small bathrooms and bedrooms are difficult to photograph without having a wide-angle lens. In fact, ALL real estate images look better when shot with a wide-angle lens. But choose your lens wisely, because shooting with too wide of an angle will cause distortions and inaccurate perspectives. Obeo’s photographers typically use a lens with focal lengths between 16mm and 24mm (If you are using a camera with a full frame sensor). If you are using an APS-C sensor size, you will need a 10 or 12mm lens. And this is the same focal length that I recommend for your lens. Low-end lenses will have a bigger impact on your photographs than the camera body. If you’re going to budget, save on the camera body but splurge on the lens! One of my favorite photography blogs is Photography for Real Estate. It’s full of great information, including this chart of commonly used wide angle lens. It includes a rating system, which might be helpful.  


FLASH for Real Estate Photography

Anyone who shoots real estate photography needs at least one good flash. Good lighting is essential in real estate photography. One of the cheapest ways to dramatically improve the quality of your photography is to invest in an external flash, or “speed light”. These flash units are far more powerful than the one built into your camera. This additional light output makes it possible for you to shoot at smaller apertures for greater depth of field. The additional power output also makes it possible to light up larger areas. Both of which can be very important in creating great images. The speed light mounts on your camera hot shoe. Most feature heads that tilt or swivel, which allows you to bounce the light from nearby walls or ceilings. This technique results in a softer, more flattering light than what you get from direct flash. When bouncing light, be sure you are using a white surface. (For instance, if you bounce the flash off of a red surface, everything will turn red in your image.) You can either purchase a proprietary flash unit that matches the manufacturer of your camera, or you can choose a third party unit (verify compatibility). 


STURDY TRIPOD for Real Estate Photography

The tripod has been hailed as the greatest photographic accessory ever invented! A steady pro camera is a necessity for all types of photography, and a sturdy tripod is like an assistant, helping you hold your camera steady. Here are some additional reasons to buy a good pro tripod. Better framing precision. How many times have you seen photos with angled walls? Lots of times, I’m sure. By using a tripod with a bubble level, you can assure a straight image every time. Enhanced depth of field. You want an image that is sharp from the foreground to the background. Slower shutter speeds will increase your depth of field, but require the use of a tripod to avoid motion blur. It makes you look more professional! If you’re not going to hire a professional, then you’ll want to impress your homeowner with how professional you are. 

Listings marketed with DSLR photography have higher perceived value and sell for more money. According to the Wall Street Journal, listings gain anywhere from $934 to $116,076 at closing. 

Tips to Capture Amazing Real Estate Photographs

SHOOT LEVEL Doors, walls, and window frames are almost always perfectly vertical in real life. They should be vertical in your image as well. Using a tripod is the best way to take real estate photos like a pro! Your camera needs to be 100% level. A good tripod with a bubble level is the key. If your tripod does not have a bubble level, you can buy a bubble level at a local camera supply store that attaches to the camera. Shooting with a level camera will straighten the vertical lines in the frame and make the resulting photo much more pleasing to look at. 


AVOID BRIGHT WINDOW LIGHT WHEN POSSIBLE

Tired of fighting the glare and dark exposure when there is a large amount of light? Bright light streaming in a window confuses the camera into thinking the entire room is bright. A simple way to avoid this is to take your listing photos when the amount of light outside is similar to the amount of light inside. Using a flash can also help you balance the light inside the house with the amount of light outside of the house. When the outside of the house is brighter, a bright flash while shooting inside will allow you to see detail outside of the house as well. Overcast days, although not as good for exterior photos, are great for interior photos because it softens the light coming in the windows. 


SHOOT DURING THE “MAGIC HOUR” 

The professionals all know about the “magic hour.” It’s the hour during sundown or sunrise. The challenge is in determining the exact time because it varies geographically and seasonally. Try a series of shots and you’ll see just how wildly the light varies as day turns into night. Shooting during the magic hour is the easiest way to get brilliant, contrasting colors in the sky, building…and everything! It’s soft, warm, dimensional and just flat-out magical. Capturing the magic hour adds something to images that can’t be replicated no matter how many filters or actions you use.


MAKE ROOMS LOOK SPACIOUS

The last thing you want to do when photographing a listing is to make it look smaller than it really is. But there is a very easy way to create the feeling of space. To make photos appear more spacious, simply avoid shooting straight at walls. Shooting straight at a wall makes the photo look flat and can distort the perspective. Instead, shoot into the corner of the room, which will create more depth and make the room appear more spacious. Be sure to stand back as far as you can, perhaps shooting from the doorway of a room. Or even the opposite corner. Trying lowering your tripod just a tad. Photographing from a low angle and with a wider angled lens is a great way to increase the size of the room.

ADJUST TRIPOD HEIGHT

Many beginners will set their tripod at eye level and shoot everything from that level. But, depending on the size of the room and the contents of the room, going lower or higher may help. Lowering the tripod slightly will make a room appear slightly larger. But this technique looks terrible on kitchens, where you need to see over the countertops. So when shooting kitchens, raise the level of the tripod. The best advice here is to take the time to choose the best height for each individual room, and not just use a standard height. 


CAMERA SETTINGS MATTER

Shoot in Aperture priority mode. Simply set your camera to the A or “Aperture Priority” mode and adjust your other settings from there. If unsure which aperture to shoot with, start at f8 and adjust as you go. This will require you to use a slow shutter speed, which is why again, why a tripod is essential. Sharpness Matters. For real estate photos, you want your image to be sharp from foreground to background. Try using what’s called the “hyperfocal principle”. Simply focus on an object that is approximately one-third of the distance into the scene. The meter on a mid-tone object, not a piece of dark furniture or a white wall. Or, consider purchasing an 18% gray card from your local camera shop. Point the camera at the card to set your manual exposure. Make sure the lighting on the card is the same as the lighting in the room. This will set your exposure perfectly every time. Manually adjust for White Balance. We’ve all seen photos with off-color hues. To avoid this, try manually setting your camera’s white balance. This is super easy. When shooting outside on a sunny day, use the setting marked with a sun icon. When shooting outside on a cloudy day, use the setting marked with a cloud icon. When shooting inside a home, we always recommend turning on all the lights. It provides a dimension you can’t get with only natural light. But it can also create white balance issues. So try using the white balance setting for incandescent light. You can also try doing a manual white balance using the 18% gray card.

MARKET YOUR IMAGES IN A MOBILE FRIENDLY PLATFORM

There are a lot of choices out there when you are looking for a platform to market your listing photos. But very few platforms offer mobile-friendly viewers. Even fewer offer responsively designed viewers. In fact, the only company we know of that offers a responsive designed Property Website is Obeo. Responsive sites are fluid, so whatever new screen size is the next big thing, your site will respond and work. Obeo’s Property Website displays listings beautifully on every single device, from big screen monitors to small screen tablets and phones. Big, finger-friendly buttons, super fast load speeds, and lead generating forms make this the perfect platform for promoting your gorgeous photographs. 


How to Prepare a Home for a Photo Shoot Everything You and Your Seller Need to Know

If there are any particular instructions are things I need to know to find the property please let me know as soon as possible.

Preparing Your Home for Real Estate Photography...

Exterior Real Estate Photography

  • Remove all cars from the view of windows and driveways. Please do not park cars directly in front of the home. We do not want your cars to be in view.

  • The cars will detract from the real estate photography. We want to all eyes on your home that is for sale.

  • Remove bicycles - boats - garbage cans - water hoses - alarm signs and also dead plants.

  • Sweep off patio decks and walkways.

  • Remove fallen limbs from the yard.

  • If you have patio cushions, please arrange them neatly on the patio furniture.

  • If they are faded and worn it is best to go without the cushions.

  • Remove all grill covers. Grills should be cleaned and ready for photos.

  • Place Trash inside the inside the garage area out of view.

Interior Real Estate Photography

  • All lights need to be turned on and all light bulbs working.

  • Curtains should be open.

  • A mini blind should be slightly opened and turn down for real estate photography. To push the white glair out.

  • Please remove all soap sponges drying racks dirty dishes and food off the countertops.

  • All garbage cans should be out of sight.

  • All towels should be removed from appliances.

  • Remove everything from the exterior of the refrigerator doors and sides. For example calendars magnets and photos.

  • All pet items and pet foods should be out of sight.

  • Plan to confine pets to a room.

  • Please attempt to hide all chords for your electronics as best as possible.

  • Clean mirrors and shower doors.

  • If you feel that the room is too dark, you may want to add a lamp to brighten the room up.

  • Please remove all small area rugs. If you have hardwood floors, it is best to show them off.

  • Remove all remote controls place in drawers or under pillows.

  • Please make sure Items that are under beds are not the scene from a distance.

  • Removed house and clothing items from the back of interior doors.

  • Please do not leapfrog items through the house as the photographer is shooting, for example, moving boxes around and in and out of the house. This interferes with the photography flow and sometimes items will show up in the photos.

  • Remove College blankets and throws. Store in the closet out of view colors and lines are distracting in the photos.

  • All lights need to be turned on and all light bulbs working.

  • Curtains should be open.

  • A mini blind should be slightly opened and turn down for real estate photography.

  • Please remove all soap sponges drying racks dirty dishes and food off the countertops.

  • All garbage cans should be out of sight. - put them in the garage

  • All towels should be removed from appliances.

  • Remove everything from the exterior of the refrigerator doors and sides. For example calendars magnets and photos.

  • All pet items and pet foods should be out of sight.

  • Please plan to confine pets to a room.

  • Please attempt to hide all chords for your electronics as best as possible.

  • Clean mirrors and shower doors.

  • If you feel that the room is too dark, you may want to add a lamp to brighten the room up.

  • Please remove all small area rugs. If you have hardwood floors, it is best to show them off.

  • Remove all remote controls place in drawers or under pillows.

  • Please make sure items that are under beds are not the scene from a distance.

  • Remove Sports themed licensed blankets and throws and flags from furniture and walls.

  • Remove all Mounted animals.

  • Turn off all ceiling fans the movement will cause motion blur in the photos.

  • All floor fans in bedrooms should be stored out of sight area, for example, a closet. Floor fans in photos give the impression that the room is not heated or cooled properly.

  • Bathroom counters should be completely empty and all light bulbs working.

  • Tissue paper needs to be stored under cabinets before the photoshoot.

  • Real estate photographer will be there for about an hour doing photos of the front yard all major rooms and the backyard.

  • Agent client meetings...

  • Please hold real estate client meetings outside of the scheduled photo shoot time.


Typical Photoshoot List - listed in order

  • 3 or 4 photos front of the property

  • 2 Entrance

  • 4 Living room

  • 2 Dining room

  • 4 Kitchen

  • 1 Hallway bathroom

  • 3 Master bedroom

  • 2 Master bathroom

  • 1 All other bedrooms

  • 1 Hallway bathroom

  • 3 or 4 shots of the backyard

Note:
No photos will be taken inside the garage or inside closets.

Beautiful photos trigger an emotional response. And emotion sells. In fact, emotion impacts about 80% of the buying decision. Buyers use logic to choose price ranges, location, and home size, but they rely on emotion to choose the homes they visit and ultimately purchase.
 

Kenneth Purdom