Larry bought his first rental property back in the '70s and is currently working in the Tampa Bay area, rehabbing and renting homes.
If you are looking to sell your house, condo or manufactured home, you will need to have some pictures for your ads and flyers. Better pictures will get you more interest, which usually results in a better price. You can hire a professional for several hundred dollars, but if you want to do it yourself, there are a number of things you can do to make the pictures better and make your house look better.
Pros generally use a DSLR cameral with a wide angle and 50mm lens along with flash and remote triggered flash. Unless you are into photography I wouldn't suggest that you go out and buy a professional outfit, as you would need the experience most pros have to get the full benefit of expensive equipment. All is not lost, though, if you don't have all the gadgets; keep it simple and you will get better pictures than most homeowners and surprise yourself with the results.
So what do you use? If you have a relatively new phone, you probably have a decent high resolution camera already. With a few hints you can improve your work considerably beyond the snap shots most people get with this equipment.
Start by holding the camera in the landscape mode. Hold it straight so the lines like door and window frames are not crooked. Crooked lines can be corrected afterwards with a program like Photoshop, or, if you don't want to spring for that, GIMP is an open source free program you can download that does a nice job.
Hold the camera at about eye height to get a normal perspective. We will talk about flash when we get to lighting. A tripod can be helpful if you aren't real steady with the camera.
Preparing the House
It should go without saying that the should get a good cleaning AND decluttering. You don't want to see fingerprints on shiny surfaces like glass or counter tops. You may want to rearrange the furniture to make better pictures. Don't worry that you can't watch the TV from the staged location. It's temporary!
Clean the magnets, kids' pictures and recipes from the refrigerator. Everything should look as close to new and as generic as possible. You are showing a house that is for sale, not your home. Clear off the counter tops but put a few accessories out that add some color. This can be a nice dish towel or pitcher or anything that would be interesting in the kitchen.
This same thinking applies to the bathrooms as well. Toilet seats should be down. If the shower curtain has seen better days, it may be time to replace it. Mirrors should clean, and toothbrushes, toothpaste and shavers put away.
Beyond having clean windows, taking the screens out of the windows will give you cleaner pictures. Blinds and curtains should usually be open to get as much natural light as possible for your pictures. Doors between rooms should also be kept open. Ceiling fans and televisions should be turned off to avoid distracting elements in the pictures.
Taking the Pictures
A little planning will help insure you don't miss the home's best features.
Start out with a shot list and check them off as you work your way around the house. Take a couple pictures in each room. Don't include small powder rooms or closets, unless there is a unique selling feature. Do include mud rooms, utility rooms and entry ways.
You don't always have to shoot from a corner. Looking at doorways or through doorways lends some interest and perspective. Remember to hold the camera straight to minimize crooked doorways and windows. Get a closeup of features you want to emphasize.
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Don't forget the exterior. A straight-on shot from the street usually isn't the best view. Step off toward the side a bit and shoot from an angle. Include the back yard and features like a pool, barbecue area, deck or anything else that the buyer may find of value.
Don't be afraid to take a lot of pictures. You won't use them all, but you will have the opportunity to pick the best ones.
Here we have a brief discussion of color temperature. Not all light has the same color. This variation is what is referred to as color temperature. Sunlight, particularly toward sunset, has more of a reddish cast to it, which people call a "warm" temperature. Flash is whiter and is a cooler temperature. Some LEDs even have a slight bluish tint. You can get light bulbs in various temperatures, such as daylight bulbs.
We will discuss the mixing of daylight and artificial light because different types produce different impressions. As with vertical line distortion, color can be corrected within reason. Just be aware that pictures taken with natural light, table and ceiling lights and flash will look a little different. Warmer temperature lights give the place a more homey feel, where the whiter flash gives a cooler more distant feeling.
Sometimes you will have good natural light from the windows along with some darker shadows that need to be filled in. Use flash as needed to fill them in. If you are unsure, take pictures with various type of light and see which looks the best.
Lighting is where we see one of the greater differences is between the camera phone and professional equipment. Pros can bounce flash off of walls and ceiling for a softer, less direct appearance.
Some of the most dramatic exterior photos are taken at dusk with the interior lights lit to give the place a warm and inviting appearance. This can be a little tricky, but may be worth the attempt. Otherwise most photography should be done on a sunny day to maximize the natural light coming through the windows.
A Few More Tips
There are a couple more cautions before you start your project – several things to be aware of.
Be careful, when shooting windows and mirrors, that you don't get reflections of yourself in the picture. You are not for sale, neither are pets. As cute as they can be, animals should not distract from your pictures.
Look out the window before you take your photographs. Are there cars or other distracting items that will detract from the picture? If so, move them.
Taking pictures for flyers, ads and maybe videos is not rocket science, but it requires attention to details. Study professional work like Better Homes & Gardens, see how the pros frame their pictures and what the lighting looks like. You can't help but take better pictures by emulating them,
© 2020 Larry Miller
The Real David Pressler from Planet Earth on May 31, 2020:
Certainly agree better yet when pics show all the under unseen components holding everything together glued or screwed?