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25 Tips to Dramatically Improve your Property Photos

25 Tips to Dramatically Improve your Property Photos

Keeping in mind that 80% of people searching for a new house go online first; you therefore want the best possible photos on your property listings to get most of these eyeballs going onto your listings (as opposed to your competitor’s). In this blog post we will list 25 tips essential to achieving significantly higher level of productivity and more importantly quality property photos.

Here is what Alexander Glover - a professional photographer - says on his website about the Impact of professionally done property photos:

Photographing properties for estate agents who want a massive increase in viewings (internet 'click-through' go up by, on average, 500% when compared to normally photographed property).

Assuming the quality of the photos listed on the property website is an essential factor in how viewers will click on property photos and therefore the number of leads generated from the listing; learning how to use your Camera (or paying a for a pro) will be time (or money) well spent.

General Suggestions:

In wisdom gathered over time I have found that every experience is a form of exploration.

Ansel Adams American photographer (February 20, 1902 – April 22, 1984).

In this section we will cover general suggestions that you may want to apply at any time to improve your output quality. By exploring new and better equipment you will quickly see great improvements.

  1. Upgrade your camera (Skill: Medium - Time: 3 Hours - Impact: High): technology has improved so much in the last 3 years; if your camera is 3 years old or more; it is probably outdated and you should consider upgrading. You won’t break the bank today with the entry level cameras which produce good enough picture for the web out of the box and probably much better than your old 3 camera.
  2. Get used to your camera (Skill: Basic - Time: 1 Day - Impact: High): nothing worse than going to a gig with a brand new camera you are not familiar with. Digital photos being cheap there is no excuse for not taking time to learn it before you go on your first job. Have fun take pictures of your office or you own house and see how they turn out. If you don’t like them probably your customer won't.
  3. Turn your camera in manual (Skill: Advanced- Time: 1 Hour - Impact: High): If you own a manual or semi-manual camera like a DSLR you should make yourself comfortable with the manual settings as you will have more control on the camera and should be able to achieve better results than when using the automatic modes. You basically need to understand Aperture and Speed and how they impact your photos.
  4. Draw inspiration from the professionals (Skill: Medium - Time: 1 hr/week - Impact: High): compare your work with their work and see how you can improve, a different point of view or a different lens can make a lot of difference and produce far more appealing pictures. By comparing your work to the best you will quickly see where you can do better. However don’t obsess on details aim for 80% outcome 20% work (Pareto rule). The items in the list will help you achieve a lot quickly.

What to Do Before Going to the Property:

I must govern the clock, not be governed by it.

Golda Meir Prime Minister (May 3, 1898 – December 8, 1978).

This section is about getting ready for the photo shoot. Pretty much all of these need to be done for every shoot.

  1. Time your photo shoot (Skill: Basic - Time: 1 hr/shoot - Impact: High): you want to go on a nice sunny day possibly without too much cloud (well we are in UK hey) but not too bright as it will create problems indoor with lighting as was as wash out the outdoor shots. Typically mid mornings or mid afternoons are good times as the sun light is still there but no so direct and strong. Exterior shots are best done early morning before there are too many people about.
  2. Remind the owner to tidy up (Skill: Basic - Time: 1 hr/shoot - Impact: High): cluttered rooms and messy rooms make for very unappealing photos. You could in theory fix this (remove the pile of dirty clothes) using photo editing software but it is very time consuming. You are much better off convincing (or helping ;-) if you are really keen) the owner to do a little bit of tidy up before you come in. You could send them to my list of decluttering tips too.
  3. Bring a small tripod with you (Skill: Medium - Time: 1 mn - Impact: High): nothing looks worse that a photo that is not level. This is a problem for sea, sunset but also for property. Because properties have lots of lines, an unlevel photo stand out for the bad reasons and may put off potential buyers as it seems unprofessional. You could fix this afterward on your computer but you may as well bring a small tripod to avoid the problem altogether. Bring a small spirit level (Skill: Basic - Time: 1 mn - Impact: Medium): this is small device that can be fixed on your camera hot shoe (flash) and will tell you if your camera is horizontal or not. It is really inexpensive and worth having as publishing wonky photos looks seriously unprofessional and detract buyers and fixing many wonky photos in post production can add up to a lot of time.
  4. Bring a small step ladder (Skill: Basic - Time: 1 mn - Impact: Medium): it sound silly but changing the view point by just a few inches higher makes a big deal of difference to the photos. Unless you are super tall or have super long arms you better bring with you a small step ladder especially for the external shots. You will get a better angle of view and also limit the impact of large object like cars that can obstruct a lot if you are are ground level.
  5. Bring a spare battery and memory card (Skill: Basic - Time: 1 mn - Impact: High): battery and memory card have gone really cheap these days. They can something become faulty or fail at the wrong time or get damaged. It is worth having spares ready to go in case the main ones died on you.
  6. Clean your lenses (Skill: Basic - Time: 2 mn - Impact: Medium): sound like a small detail but a greasy finger print on your nice new lens will ruin shots. It creates light diffraction and reduces overall contract (look for round color hallows and dull light). This can be fixed to some extend in post production but if presents on all your pictures it would be really hard work and time consuming.
  7. Check out camera (Skill: Basic - Time: 2 mn - Impact: High): before you go off to the property; check and if necessary recharge battery and clean memory card if no space is left. Make sure the camera is ready and you have the right lenses. The best way is to take a few test shots so you are 100% certain it is working normally and don't find that the battery is dead while you are chatting with your prospect in the house (always leaves a bad impression).

What to do at the Property:

Edison failed 10,000 times before he made the electric light. Do not be discouraged if you fail a few times.

Napoleon Hill American author (October 26, 1883 – November 8, 1970).

Now we are discussing the essentials tips to apply when you are onsite. Don't understand anything? Drop me a question using the comment below. These tips are essential; you must master them all.

  1. Switch the lights on (Skill: Basic - Time: 2 mn - Impact: Medium): dark room don’t look good and some camera are really bad at taking good shots in low light (typically you will see lots of noise or grain in the old days). This can be mediated by turning all the lights you can or bring your own lights which is a little more complicated but more efficient as you control the lights fully.
  2. Do the last minute cleaning (Skill: Basic - Time: 2 mn - Impact: Medium): if you could not get the owner to tidy up or if he/she didn’t finish that is the time to do it. Moving off the cluster and removing from view temporarily may make a big positive difference to your photos and ensure they have maximum appeal. Remember that on the web they look very small and clutter has even more negative impact. It is definitely a case of less is more here.
  3. Take the photos in order (Skill: Basic - Time: N/A - Impact: Low): to make your live easier I recommend to go room by room in the same usual order unless the external light changes or offer factors prevent you doing so. This will make it much easier for the person (or yourself) that will need to sort these out and upload to your favorite property portal.
  4. Take plenty of photos (Skill: Basic - Time: N/A - Impact: Medium): digital photos are really cheap unlike in the old days with films so take as many photos as you can so you don’t need to come in again (your time is probably much more expensive than the photos). Try different viewpoints, different heights, different camera settings and so on to ensure you have got some good shots. It is a good way to learn and improve your skills too.
  5. Take shots from different viewpoints (Skill: Basic - Time: N/A - Impact: High): rooms look different from different view point depending on the light coming in and also the furniture and layout you will find that from certain viewpoints the room look much more appealing. This may require moving some furniture around a little bit to make each shot the best.
  6. Take shots from varying height (Skill: Basic - Time: N/A - Impact: High): external shots usually are better looking taking from a higher position as it remove large distraction and bring the building into the frame forward avoid the typical the building to recede in the back and look too wonky. You could buy a special lens with perspective correction but they are quite pricey. You can also correct this or at least reduce the effect afterwards. For internal shots usually it is best to have the camera positioned at waist or chest level as opposed to eye level where it would look like the room is collapsing at the back (due to exaggerated wide angle lens distortion).
  7. Check photos for distraction (Skill: Basic - Time: 1 mn/photo - Impact: Medium): Look out for unwanted objects that might ruin your shots right after you took the photo or before leaving the. If not you are going to have to manually erase these with the clone or erase function of your photo software. This is doable but can become a time consuming procedure.You are better off fixing what you can on the spot and retake the shot.
  8. Check you bagged all the money shots (Skill: Basic - Time: 10 mn - Impact: Medium): Before you go make sure you have taken all the shots you wanted and if possible multiple shots of the same as errors or problems are not always visible on the camera small screen (typically that nasty socks left on the armchair). That would save you going back another time better you forget a room.

What to do Back at the Office:

Apply yourself both now and in the next life. Without effort, you cannot be prosperous. Though the land be good, You cannot have an abundant crop without cultivation.

Plato Philosopher Classical Greece.

A little of work in post processing at the office can go to a long way to make your pictures look significantly better and more professional.

  1. Crop to perfection (Skill: Basic - Time: 1 minute - Impact: Medium): crop a little your pictures to remove unwanted objects intruding from the edges (like a door or window). Basically these interrupt the flow of the picture and break the feeling of space which you do not want (you want a feeling a space as much as possible). Really easy and quick: look for cropping tool in your photo editing package. Strangely this is often ignored.
  2. Correct unleveled photos (Skill: Medium- Time: 2 mn/photo - Impact: Medium): ideally if you didn’t use a tripod and/or spirit level you may end up with wonky looking photos before your camera was not horizontal. You can fix this in your favorite photo editing package. Look for transformation tool and rotate. Some even special tool to level photo (i.e. LightRoom).
  3. Improve contrast (Skill: Medium- Time: 5 mn/photo - Impact: High): Correct low contrast images using a photography editing tool like Photoshop, LightRoom or if on budget GIMP (Free) using levels or if more experienced curves. This allows to increase quickly the level of contracts and give your image more punch. Basically you want move from dull to rich colorful images.
  4. Fix the white balance (Skill: Basic - Time: 1 mn/photo - Impact: High): Hopefully your camera should have picked the right white balance settings (if it didn’t the image will look off for instance have a yellow or green tinge to it) but if it didn’t your favorite photo editing software will do that for you quickly (look for white balance).
  5. Review old shots against new (Skill: Basic - Time: As much as you want - Impact: High): by comparing your photos over time you will become more able to appreciate why some shots worked and why some shots did not. This is an important part of learning and essential if you want to make good progress rapidly. Ideally you want to ask a friend for feedback as your may not be impartial when reviewing your own work.

What is your favorite tip? Any tip or trick you would like to add or suggest for this list? If so drop me a note using the comment form at the bottom of this page. Subscribe to my newsletter or my RSS feed to keep receiving the latest tips and tricks to improve your property photography. It’s Free and it will save you £££.

This post first appeared on The Daily Property Blog - Mega Quick Sale, please read the originial post: here

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25 Tips to Dramatically Improve your Property Photos


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