9 Things Your Real Estate Photographer Needs To Know

 

 

My last post looked at why you need to hire a professional real estate photographer for your listings but now you know you need one, how much do you know about what they should do (or not do)?

Sadly, few professional photographers are properly trained to shoot real estate — especially in smaller and lower-priced markets. Here are the top nine things your real estate photographer needs to know before even pulling a camera out of the bag at your listing.

 

1. Plan Ahead

Click through to see the difference when Canadian photographer Sebastian Petrescu took this same photo under some cloud cover.

Click through to see the difference when Canadian photographer Sebastian Petrescu took this same photo under some cloud cover.

A few minutes of forethought can make the shoot much more successful. Ask your photographer to plan ahead, or even better, they should be advising you to plan ahead and asking questions like, "which direction does the home face?" If the sun rises behind the house, a good photographer won’t want to do an early morning, front, exterior shot. The bright sun above the house will cast the facade into shadow and ruin the photo so you would want the sun on the front facade where possible.

However, this will mean the yard is in shadow. Is the yard a highlight of the home? Maybe it's best to shoot in the afternoon so the yard has sun. If it's a great back AND a great front maybe the middle of the day is ideal as the sun will be directly overhead, minimising shadows. Even waiting for cloud cover can make a drastic difference.

There are plenty of resources available to help with this, google street view is one of them but there are also specialist ones built for photographers such as The Photographers Ephemeris: a website solely designed to show where the sun will be at any given time of day. Any good photographer will already know about this.

Does your photographer issue you with a shoot preparation checklist prior to the shoot taking place to make sure all the important things are done? I do.

 

 

2. Elevate the Exterior Shots

Houses aren't supposed to look like they're falling over like this.

Houses aren't supposed to look like they're falling over like this.

When taking exterior pics, a good photographer should get higher than ground level. That will give buyers a more appealing view of the exterior, especially if the house is above street level.

The simplest way to get an elevated shot is for the photographer to hold the tripod — with its legs fully extended — above their head. I've also been known to climb on the roof of my car on occasion for this. The photographer may look silly for a few moments, but the result can be well worth it.

In most cases, there’s a limit to how far up you want your photographer to get. You seldom need a top-down view of the roof. (unless you want to show the site layout, therefore a drone photo is a great idea) A good rule of thumb is to go no higher than the upper windows.

One thing you do not want to see is the camera "looking up" at the house and making the home look like it's falling over.

 

3. Plan Exterior Lighting

When, and from what angle, your photographer takes the exterior shots will have a huge impact on the appeal of the photos. The best light is usually available shortly after dawn and before sunset.

To obtain the dusk photographs that are so popular in our industry these days, you may want to help the photographer choose the angle that will best show off the house. Then, ask your photographer to create balanced lighting in all the windows by adding lights to the rooms that need it. The result will be a gorgeous picture in which a partially darkened exterior is made more attractive by having all the windows shining bright. Of course this is a premium product so expect to pay a little bit more for it but the investment can more than pay for itself and generate a lot of interested in the property.

 

4. Say No To Candy Coloured Skies

Tasmanian photographer Aaron Jones makes sure the house is the hero in this great twilight image

Tasmanian photographer Aaron Jones makes sure the house is the hero in this great twilight image

No matter what the sky looks like on the day of the shoot, photographers can easily use software to insert a different sky into the final image. It’s too easy, in fact. Cloudy and over cast? That's ok it can be fixed. However, don't allow your photographer to insert a sky that does not match the scene or takes the attention away from the home. The home should always be there hero and the sky should compliment that.

It sounds ridiculous to have to write this down, but this mistake is made all too often by inexperienced real estate photographers eager to make an impact and you wind up with skies that you can almost hear humming with nuclear radiation they are that over done.

Instead of dramatic skies, insist on subtle. The perfect sky for your photos is attractive but not dramatic. Complimentary, but not overbearing. Choose the barest hint of clouds instead of candy colours, and leave the buyer’s attention squarely focused on the house you are trying to sell.

 

5. Keep It Real

This photo made headlines for all the wrong reasons. The photographer decided to hide a giant water tower so it could not be seen and almost cost the agent a $20,000 fine (click for more)

This photo made headlines for all the wrong reasons. The photographer decided to hide a giant water tower so it could not be seen and almost cost the agent a $20,000 fine (click for more)

Your photographer should be well-aware that, when retouching the exterior images, he or she must avoid removing ugly but permanent features such as power lines. If he does, you may be the one who gets in trouble — for misrepresenting the property. Everyone knows the "water tower" photo from a listing in Sydney a few years ago.

Don't do that.

 

6. Light The Indoors

Seeing into the living room would be next to impossible without the help of additional lighting

Seeing into the living room would be next to impossible without the help of additional lighting

Photography is an art of light, and your photographer should show up carting plenty of lights. They should have a flash and be able to take that flash off the camera. If they don't alarm bells should ring.

 

The flash will come in handy for smaller spaces, while larger areas may require the portable lights. Sometimes rooms with the most natural light still need artificial lighting to avoid dark shadows behind furniture and kitchen islands.

Don’t accept any pictures with unsightly shadows. To avoid these, your photographer should use multiple light sources from different angles. He or she can also try bouncing light into an area indirectly, for example, off the wall behind the camera.

 

A good photographer will always get that light off the camera and put it where they want it.

 

 

 

7. Use a Wide-Angle Lens (BUT NOT A FISHEYE)

I'm sure when the architect designed this home he intended for those window frames to be straight. Not curved how they are here.

I'm sure when the architect designed this home he intended for those window frames to be straight. Not curved how they are here.

Any professional photographer who wants to shoot real estate will need a wide-angle lens. If you’re working with a photographer who hasn’t shot many homes before, you may want to remind him or her ahead of time to please bring one. The other end of this spectrum is a photographer who uses a "fish eye" lens which makes the edges of the image curved and unappealing. One quick look in any interiors magazine and you'll see everything is nice and straight.

 

8. Pay Attention To Window Blinds

When the view is a selling point you have to get it right.

When the view is a selling point you have to get it right.

One of the last things you want to see in a photograph of a beautiful room is a view through the window of some unsightly neighbouring structure. Check what is visible through the windows from each room of the house to be photographed.

Ask your photographer to pull down the blinds or close the curtains whenever necessary. Try to do so in a way that still lets in the light, but blocks out the bad views.

At the same time, make sure if there is a GREAT view, that your photographer knows how to make that show in the final photo you receive. Not everyone knows how to make both the inside, and the outside of the room appear evenly exposed at the same time.