Article: Taking the Best Photos

zBuyer Newsletter_195_IMAGEMASTER

 

Before a potential buyer actually comes to see a home you’ve listed, they have to WANT to see the home you’ve listed, and the only way to do that is with top-flight photos with the listing. You can have the most gorgeous write-up and the absolute best price in the market, but if someone can’t see what the home looks like, they’re moving on.

Alas, you went to business school, not photography school. How is a busy real estate agent supposed to go all Ansel Adams on each and every house they list? It’s easier than you might think: Here’s some of the best advice we could find.

Hire it out

This solution should be a no-brainer, and is an acceptable option for almost any agent. Chances are there are talented photographers all over your town willing to take photos for your listings – you can likely connect with them on social media (Instagram is understandably a hotbed for fledgling photogs), Craigslist or an odd-jobs site like upwork.com. If you can afford an established photographer, all the better.
Pro tip: Pay these people, even if their experience is minimal, and make sure there’s a contract and 1099 for tax purposes. This professionalizes the relationship. They’ll do better work, prioritize you as a client, and spread good word of mouth about you as a business person.
Work with the sellers

This may seem obvious, but if the sellers are still living in the house while it’s on the market, they’re going to need to do their share of the work. Before the photographer arrives, you need to do a walk through with the homeowners and make sure each space is optimized for photographs. That means clutter-free, clean, and well lit (visit several times in the course of a day to see when the light is best in each room, or better yet have your photographer come with you). Pay special attention to the rooms that sell homes, especially master bathrooms and kitchens. A little personal flair in bedrooms is understandable, but by and large the house needs to look as pristine – and anonymous – as possible. The same rules go for showings.

Equipment matters

A pro photographer will know most of this, but if you are trying to take photos yourself, you may need to invest. Your iPhone X takes great selfies, but for the best real estate photos you need a little more to work with.

The most important thing to think about is lighting – ideally it’ll be natural light at the right time of day, but you’re also probably going to want to have a flash (and a backup!) in your pack to make sure the lighting is just right. Practice in your own living space, or a friend’s, before you do it for clients.

The second most important thing to have is a wide-angle lens. Ever wonder how real estate photographers make a 10×10 room look like the master chambers at Versailles? A wide-angle lens is how.

Finally, use a tripod. Please. Especially for video (which is a whole other article). No Blair Witch-esque living room shots allowed.
More is More

Now, this is purely our opinion as folks who have spent our fair share of time surfing through home listings, but it’s hard to overdo it on photos, especially if they’re good. Post too few, even if they’re good, and clients are left wondering why there weren’t more, if that’s all there is to see… or worse, what you’re covering up. Just make sure the photos you do put up aren’t redundant and show the best features of the home from different angles. And don’t neglect quirks and more mundane areas like storage.
Focus on Turnaround

One thing to stress with your photographer (or yourself) is turnaround. There will be editing to do – sorting through the shots for the best and then brightening and cropping them – that can be time-consuming. But, every day you wait to get a home on the MLS is a day before it’s off the market, and time is of the essence. Consider building a mandatory turnaround of 24 hours into contracts.
Speaking of Editing…

You’ll need software. Most PCs have the basic Microsoft Office Picture Manager in the standard package, and that’s often all you’ll need. Photoshop is a little more expensive, but worth it once you get into the finer aspects of photo editing. If proper editing is a technical or time barrier for you, consider it another reason to hire this job out. You’re busy enough, don’t be ashamed.

Resources:

We found this article, from SLRlounge.com, a site for photographers, very helpful. The author addresses things like insurance, which you’re going to want to make sure any contractors have in place before you let them loose in a client’s home.

https://www.slrlounge.com/10-real-estate-photography-mistakes-avoid/

HGTV always does a good job covering the basics. We particularly like the advice to not make a home look like something it’s not. Keep its character even while you minimize the clutter.

http://www.hgtv.com/design/real-estate/take-better-real-estate-photos

Sometimes the best way to learn is by observing what NOT to do. Adorama.com has you covered by dissecting some photos that make your mom’s selfies look like Annie Leibowitz took them.
https://www.adorama.com/alc/0014129/article/9-Awful-Real-Estate-Listing-Photos-And-How-To-Avoid-Taking-Them

Simply HAVE to use your iPhone? Brush up on maximizing you’re the camera in your pocket…
http://blog.ahrn.com/8-tips-for-better-real-estate-photos/

Or find an app that will work for you
http://blog.zurple.com/the-best-photography-apps-for-real-estate-agents