Real Estate Photography – The Ultimate Guide
A picture is worth a thousand words, and this guide to real estate photography will help you take better pictures, get leads with those photos, and produce quality video.
You’ve heard the phrase “A picture is worth a thousand words,” but as marketers, we need it to be worth a whole lot more than that.
And photos are.
In fact, 2016 studies have found that photos in color will make people 80% more likely to read content. And content with captivating visuals gets 94% more views than content without relevant photos.
That’s nearly 100% more engagement!
I mean just look at this…
Though by this point, I’m guessing these photo marketing stats aren’t actually that surprising to you. It’s pretty obvious that a listing, post, or anything you publish with photos, is going to get more interaction than just a bunch of text. But there’s a lot more resting on these images than you might think.
Ultimately, the visual content you pair with your writing, literally anything you write online, is probably going to determine how people perceive you. Your images are the first thing your leads see and will leave an impression. Make it a good one.
So, what components actually make up a killer real estate photo? And what mistakes should you avoid? And once you take a great photo, how do you market it to your audience?
We’re going to answer all of these questions and more in today’s post!
Let’s get into it!
Table Of Contents:
So, what makes a great photo? I wish there was a secret I could share with you to turn you into a shutterbug master, but the truth is you’ve already got all the skills you need to produce engaging real estate images that generate results and get you more leads.
Let’s start by discussing what you can do to take better photographs of properties because you are probably already do this a lot, or paying someone else to, and I also believe that you can apply these tips to the rest of your work.
Sure, you can slap a filter, or three, on pretty much any image to make it passable for use on social media, but by understanding the basics of good lighting you can also take pride in those #nofilter shots.
We need to touch on two types of lighting: exterior and interior.
Whether you’re photographing neighborhoods, landscapes, parks, or just the outside of a house, the majority of outdoor subjects will look best either first thing in the morning or much later in the day.
You can also account for which direction your subject is facing. If you’re photographing a house, you can use Google Maps to see if the property faces the sunrise so you can arrange your day to shoot it on your way to the coffee shop, instead of waiting until you’re on your way home in the evening.
Alternatively, if the home is turned toward the sunset, then maybe you want to save that project for the end of your day.
There are two notable “golden hours” that occur each day in the world of photography and that is the magical time after sunrise and again after sunset. Never underestimate the power of good lighting.
No matter where the sun is in the sky, a good rule of thumb is to shoot with the light behind you and not directly into it.
If the skies are overcast you can either take your chances or choose a different day, though clouds can often make an image appear even more rich. If you know which way your subject is facing, you can also figure out where the sun is. Once you pinpoint the light, put your back to it and start shooting.
You’ll also want to pay attention to the details. Power lines, signs, weeds, garbage, even unkempt gardens can distract from the purpose of your photograph. That said, I am also not encouraging you to remove notable aspects of the area because you also don’t want to misrepresent the property or location.
This is a great tutorial on some of the lighting settings that will help you get great outdoor shots.
Interior lighting can be a bit more tricky, but you do have control over several aspects. Let’s again assume you’re taking photographs of a home. To start, make sure it’s prepped. And by prepped I mean make sure your client cleans it and prepares the space for the photo shoot. You can send them a list of things to do to make sure it’s presentation ready.
Without professional lighting tools, you’ll have the light that comes in through the windows and lights inside the house to work with. Unlike shooting outside, your lunch break might be the perfect time to take pictures inside because the midday light will be very bright and can help to illuminate darker rooms.
Of course, you can also use a flash, but this can make images look harsh and it’s all too easy to catch the flash of the camera in the mirror or window reflection, but we’ll get into photography faux pas in a minute.
I’d encourage you to learn to work with natural lighting. If you already know the best times to shoot you can arrange your day to work with the light. Because unlike a professional photographer, this isn’t the only part of your job and your time is limited.
Here’s an awesome video about how to compile these photos & videos into a great product:
If you’ve taken any sort of photography class or workshop or picked up a book on the subject then you’ve probably heard of the rule of thirds. This rule suggests that we divide the image we’re shooting into thirds in our mind and then position the subject of the photograph either in the left or right section.
Those who are new to photography may assume that centering the subject is best, but your image will become much more interesting and dynamic when the rule of thirds is applied.
Before shooting, you should also consider the orientation of the photo. Many real estate photographers will tell you to absolutely avoid vertical orientation and to instead you landscape.
However, there are probably going to be times that you’re going to shoot vertically and the most important thing you need to remember in this case is that the subjects in these images needs to be truly vertical. You can make sure this happens by using a tilt-shift-lens and you may also want to invest in a tripod because the height at which you shoot with your camera can also impact your end result.
The goal of finding your perfect camera height is to ultimately avoid diversing vertical lines. What can happen is that if you’re not holding and aiming the camera perfectly straight, it’s easy to unknowingly pointing it ever so slightly up, down or to one side or the other and this can mess up vertical lines.
If you’re lost at this point, don’t worry. Here’s a quick video that might be easier to digest:
And there are a lot of different opinions about this. I’ve heard from many that shooting from chest height is the best option, though other articles on this topic recommend aiming from door knob level.
If this is an aspect of photography you’re interested in exploring further, I’d suggest shooting from chest height and seeing how it goes.
But capturing your images in horizontal or landscape orientation when you can is still your best bet.
If you need to edit a photo’s size and dimensions for social media you can use one of the many, many apps available to scale your photo to size for a specific channel.
Canva.com has pre-built designs for just about every digital and conventional marketing platform you can imagine.
If you are going to apply photo filters or start engaging any photo techniques for the images you snap to put up on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat…etc you should also take a bit of time to consider how you can best convey your brand message, services and mission statement throughout your photography.
Although it’s great to keep things fresh on social media, you also want your visuals to deliver a sense of purpose and consistency. All content you publish should elevate your brand and integrate with it.
Have fun with your photography and see if you can develop a sense of style with your photos. This can only help set you apart from your competitors.
Things to avoid
So, what makes a good photo and what mistakes will ruin it? Here are the top things to avoid when shooting:
Just like it can be easy to overlook overgrown weeds or litter in exterior shots, inside clutter can also tank your perfect real estate photo. This is when it can come in handy to give your client an idea of what personal touches they may want to remove to prepare their home for photographing or viewing.
Magnets on the fridge, unsightly appliances,mismatched rugs, leaving toilet seats up or bathroom essentials out…you get the picture. No pun intended.
Of course you’ll want to find the most flattering angle for a room and this starts with making sure you can see the entire area.
Walls, doorways and/or large pieces of furniture are going to be your greatest obstacles here. Try shooting from a few different positions and you can always choose the best later on.
It’s good to have options.
A quick tip: the center of the room is probably never going to be the best position to shoot from. Start in the doorway and then move to various corners to find your sweet spot.
You may also have to account for dark spots or blaring sunlight, depending on how many windows you’re dealing with, but you can usually balance this out by using lamps and overhead lighting, and maybe adjusting the blinds. Using a wide angle lens is a good way to make the most of each capture and get most everything in the frame.
If the first thing a potential lead notices about your photo is the post-processing this is a problem.
A little retouching is great and you will probably want to tweak the white balance and adjust the contrast, but an image that is overly edited, harshly sharpened, has too much vignette, or is over-the-top photoshopped isn’t going to do you any favors.
Just don’t get too heavy-handed in post because less is often more in real estate photography. Go easy on the processing and let your technique and unique eye shine through.
At the end of the day, you may still prefer to hire a professional photographer to help with property photography, but in order to build your business and market yourself and your services online, both through your website and social media, you have to have a strong visual presence and the ability to maintain it in the long run. Consistently publishing solid photos is your best chance to market and sell properties and your services.
Now, we’ve talked a lot of gear here today.
I honestly think it’s worth it to invest in a real estate photography. And potentially your own DSLR / Gear for filming videos.
That being said, I think this following video is an apt summary of how little difference gear can make. And how important the angles, lighting, and for videos story are to your videos and real estate photography.
Casey is a very popular videographer with over 3.5 Million subscribers on YouTube. He shows you the difference between every phone, point-and-shoot, and DSLR in this quick video:
I think every real estate agent should invest as much as possible in photography. And view that investment as a long-term lead generation tactic.
Here’s the thing
You simply NEED quality photos to do digital marketing.
Want to dominate on Google? You need quality images on your InstaFarm pages.
Want traffic from Pinterest? You need quality pictures to upload with captions.
Real estate photography can drive your video marketing too. YouTube and Facebook video enable you to generate leads in so many ways. Let’s take a look at that deeper.
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