Five Things Everyone Must Know about Real Estate Photography

There Really is No Excuse for Bad Photography

Everyone has a camera in their phone. Some of these cameras are so good that they are better than the point and shoot cameras available last year. If this is the case, why are so many listing photos so bad? While the average professional photographer’s camera bag is probably full of well over $3,000 to $5,000 in gear, your iPhone or Android phone can take better pictures than many we see online.

A picture is worth 1,000 words, can you show us where people could be better?

That’s a great question.  Let’s take a look at five common errors listing agents make when trying to shoot their own listings and save a couple hundred bucks. If you absorb these tips, you can improve your own photography, go on saving money and try to improve your own craft (hey, we all started somewhere). However, if you’re not willing to invest time and energy studying online or in books, watching tutorials, finding a mentor and working on the art, then the couple hundo you spend hiring someone will be a terrific investment, both for you and for the client’s bottom line.

1. Don’t take pictures of furniture. Try to capture the room.

We’re not online trolling for a new couch, we’re looking to buy a home with rooms that we can live in comfortably. Compare and contrast these two images of the same room.

This is a great contextual photo of a couch, but it does not share the room.

This is a great contextual photo of a couch, but it does not share the room.

What if, instead, you could see the whole room and have a feeling for how big it is, how your family could live there and where your own furniture could be placed?

Work to showcase the entire room. In this photo, you can not only see that the room is well lit by natural sunlight, but you get a feel for how it relates to the rest of the house. You also get a sense of the vaulted ceilings and know that a fan will keep you cool in the hot summer months.

Work to showcase the entire room. In this photo, you can not only see that the room is well lit by natural sunlight, but you get a feel for how it relates to the rest of the house. You also get a sense of the vaulted ceilings and know that a fan will keep you cool in the hot summer months.

2. Don’t capture just the room if you can impress upon the viewer the experience.

Once again, proper use of a wide angle lens can convey so much more than just the dimensions of a room. With the right angle and artistic eye, you can capture and share the views, the weather, the emotion of living in the home.

A kitchen and adjoining dining space are portrayed here. Can we do better?

A kitchen and adjoining dining space are portrayed here. The photographer even captured some of the beautiful ceiling architectural elements and the height of the room. Can you do better? What’s really missing is behind those bright white curtains.

Now look at this same room. Did you know there were overly tall french doors that opened on to a 600 square foot patio with spectacular views of the city from the previous photo? Not likely.

Try to share not only the space, but the environment that makes that space special.

Try to share not only the space, but the environment that makes that space special.

3. Line up your shot. Learn the word rectilinear.

A rectangle is composed of four right angles and two sets of matching sides. For photography purposes, it’s the right angles that are of concern. When you line up your shot on the tripod (it’s much more difficult to do this with a hand held camera), look to see that your vertical lines parallel the vertical sides of your viewer. Then check to see that your horizontal counters and flooring match the horizontal lines of your viewer. Then check both two more times as the horizontal will be thrown off when you adjust the vertical and vice versa. In the end, this makes for a much more pleasing image and relates to how our mind sees the room. Compare this kitchen image with how it is after it was “fixed” via an editing program.

Properly lining up your horizontal and vertical lines requires careful consideration when looking through the lens. Compose your shot, then line it up.

Properly lining up your horizontal and vertical lines requires careful consideration when looking through the lens. Compose your shot, then line it up.

4. Use a tripod.

I don’t feel a need to share a picture for this point, but here it is in short. Most interiors are dark. Dark rooms require longer exposures. In general, you want your shutter speed to be faster than the focal length of your lens. So, if you’re shooting with a 15 mm lens, you could hypothetically shoot down to 1/15th of a second and avoid seeing camera shake in your image. However, many of your darker rooms are going to take 15 or 30 seconds to allow sufficient light in for a good image. Additionally, you might want to merge shots in post-processing. The only way to make sure your darker images line up exactly is if you do not move your camera even one smidgen of an inch. To do that, you’ll need a tripod. Furthermore, you’ll also need a tripod to properly and carefully line up your shot and ensure it is rectilinear.

5. Don’t take a picture of the floor.

Some times, it’s the basics that need to be emphasized. This off-angle cropped in shot of a tv, an ottoman and a fireplace with mantel and blown out windows does little to sell the home.

Taking pictures of details can be a great idea, if the details are worthy of a picture - a $1,000 faucet, the vein in marble counters, etc. A hardwood floor and a fireplace? Not so much.

Taking pictures of details can be a great idea, if the details are worthy of a picture – a $1,000 faucet, the vein in marble counters, etc. A hardwood floor and a fireplace? Not so much.