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5 Ways to Improve Your Real Estate Listing Photography

Updated on December 30, 2016
David W Jackson profile image

David Jackson is a real estate photographer and model train hobbyist, living in Lakewood, California.

Whether you are a home owner or a realtor, there are a lot of things to do whenever you are listing a new property for sale. And one of the most important things that you can do is to take a set of attractive photographs which will complement your listing. In the age of the Internet, visual information will quickly grab the attention of potential buyers, and listings without pictures typically do much more poorly than listings that have them.

Listings with well-done photography will not only attract more buyers, but it will also inspire those buyers to imagine what the property would be like if they were to own it. Capturing their “hearts and minds” is the key to closing the sale quickly. It will also increase the initial offer, and make your listing much more competitive, drawing more potential buyers, a scenario which should seem attractive to the motivated seller. This will decrease the time that the listing is on the market.

But it’s not enough to simply own a high-end prosumer DSLR. This will help you take pictures which meet most technical qualities for a good picture, but will fail to capture the mood or potential of a living space. These are subjective qualities, but thoughtful compositions and a few basic pointers will help you to create pictures which will serve as your most valuable marketing tool when selling your property. So, what are those pointers? Here are 5 ways that you can improve your real estate photography.

1. Hire a professional photographer. I know this isn’t strictly a tip for improving your own photography, but hiring a professional photographer can eliminate the stress from this chore. Professional real estate photographers will have not only the experience to produce exceptional photography, but they will also understand the needs of the realtor when listing a property for sale. It’s a “fire and forget” proposition – you schedule the photographer, tell him the highlights which you feel are important for him to include, and with 24-48 hours, he should produce for you a set of images which you can use to advertise your property on the MLS, Zillow, Trulia, or social media. On average, this should cost about $200, sometimes a little higher. Also, be sure that you are not hiring an architectural photographer, as they have a different focus, and their rates are typically much higher.

2. If you are going to take the pictures yourself, make sure you have a good camera and use a tripod. A “good camera” can be almost any modern DSLR. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to get a camera which will serve your needs. In only the most extreme circumstances should you rely on your smartphone; remember that these images will be used to sell a property which might represent a significant return for you. A smartphone is great for taking selfies, but simply doesn’t have the flexibility that you will need for the dynamic photography environment of the interior of a house. If you can’t afford it, find a friend who owns a DSLR, and borrow their camera for the shoot.

As well as a good DSLR, you should use a tripod. A tripod will stabilize the camera, and allow you to have longer exposure times. Longer exposure times allow you to capture poorly lit scenes, without having to use a lot of external lighting. And unless you want to invest several hundreds of dollars on lighting, you can spend the $30-$40 on a tripod, and use it. It will decrease the “softness” (or blurriness) of your images, and allow them to be crisp and clean, and allow you to take pictures that you otherwise would not have been able to take.

3. Stage the property. This doesn’t mean that you need to hire a designer and spend thousands of dollars on fake furniture to dress up your interiors. What it does mean is that you should have the lawn mowed, garbage cans stowed away, leaves raked, that sort of thing. And on the inside, a good house cleaning and general tidying up will do wonders for those valuable first impressions. Don’t forget to put away the remote controls, and certainly close those toilet lids. This all contributes to the impression that you are giving the buyer, which will in turn close sales and increase initial offer price.

4. Take diagonal shots. No matter how tempted you are to have everything lined up and squared off, the most effective shots are going to be diagonal shots. These shots show off the depth and flow of the interior of your property. For the exterior, it shows a more natural landscape. Remember that you are not selling just a house, you are selling the idea of a house. Tapping into hopes and dreams is what it’s all about!

5. If the subject matter of the picture isn’t interesting, don’t include it. Nobody wants to see the interior of a closet, or a laundry room, or a messy garage. These things won’t sell a house! Don’t be afraid to skip rooms that detract from the overall impression you are trying to give. Stick to the strengths of the property, and make sure that you have the best pictures you can compose of those areas. You are not documenting a property for insurance purposes. As I’ve said before, you are fueling someone’s dreams with pictures that will inspire them to think of the future.

So, those are my five main tips for better real estate photography. I hope that they were helpful, and I hope that you have great luck in the future.

© 2016 David Jackson

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