Real estate photos worth more than a thousand words

 23:25:43 | 2012-03-11

(BP MARKETING) — Photographs are a central component of marketing New York a property. The primary function that photos perform is to get prospective buyers to come look at the property.
10 Photo Tips to Make Your Listing Look like a Model Apartment
Image Source: New York Times

In today’s market where virtually all home buyers start their home search online, a little thumbnail of the front of the property becomes the first reason buyers choose
 to look at more photos of your listing over the 50 other properties at the same price
in the same area. Great interior photos in turn become the reason a buyer chooses to physically come look at your listing instead of the others.

Benefits to the Real Estate Agent

As a real estate agent there are even more compelling reasons for using great photography to present your listing:

— Your home seller client will be pleased how you are presenting their property.

— It’s a well established fact that great photos and marketing materials are a way to get more listings. Neighbors of the listing property watch carefully how a property is marketed. If they like what the see, they will ask the agent to list their property when the time comes to sell.

— If you are competing for a listing, the commitment of professionally done photography and marketing materials can help you win the listing.

As the marketing expert in charge of selling your client’s property it is all important these days to understand the way marketing photos work so you can use photography to maximum benefit whether you are shooting your own photos or hiring a professional photographer.

The Ten Essentials

Here are 10 essential principles that you can use to give your marketing photos maximum effectiveness:

Image Credit: Stribling NYC New York Property
Image Credit: Stribling

1. The primary purpose of a real estate marketing photo is to present the features of the property. Make sure that each photo visually supports this purpose. Any visual distractions that divert the viewer’s attention from this purpose need to be eliminated.

2. Use a wide-angle lens to shoot interiors. Wide-angle lenses increase the feeling of space in interiors. What’s a wide-angle lens? Lenses with a wide enough angle of view to shoot interiors don’t usually come with off-the-shelf or point-and-shoot cameras. For interiors, a lens should be between 14 mm and 24 mm effective focal length.

Ultra-Wide Lenses
Ultra-Wide Lenses

3. Remove clutter and stage interiors for best results. It’s a well known fact that staging homes pays off. Homes sell faster and for a higher price when they are staged. Most lived in homes have too much clutter. Photos will look better and show more of the home if clutter is reduced and furniture is staged by a trained home stager.

4. The primary exterior shot is THE most important photo. Spend extra time, money and effort to get a “knock- out” front photo because this is the photo that will be seen most and first by prospective home buyers. Online thumbnails of this photo must entice the buyer to look closer at the property. Many homes benefit from an elevated front shot where the camera is 10’ to 20’ above the street level. Find a photographer that does elevated shots.

5. Render interiors light and bright. Bright interiors are up-beat and make a more positive impression on the prospective buyer, so you want light and bright photos. Amateur cameras often under expose. Special lighting equipment or photo editing techniques must be used to get interior photos to come across light and bright. Lighting, along with controlling window brightness, is probably the most challenging aspect of real estate photography. The two common approaches to interior lighting are to shoot bracketed exposures or to use multiple small flash units to light interiors.

Brown Harris Stevens Hampton Property
Image Credit: Brown Harris Stevens Hampton Property

6. Vertical lines (walls etc.) must look perfectly straight. We live in a world where we unconsciously know that all walls are perfectly vertical. When a viewer sees a room where the walls are not parallel with the side of the photo, the viewer is visually distracted and disoriented. A voice in their head is saying, “This is not right”. Verticals that are not perfectly straight with the edge of the photo is the first indication of a non-professional interior photographer. Compare the two following photos and notice the visual tension in the first one where the walls are not vertical and the horizontal ceiling line is not horizontal.

7. Vertical and horizontal lines must be straight. Wide-angle lenses cause lines near the edges of photos to curve so special efforts and software must be used to remove distortion.

8. Don’t let bright windows distract. Unless special lighting or photo editing software is used interior windows will tend to look too bright so the view out the window is not visible. It is always possible to show the view out the window if the view is an important selling point of the property. However, special work by the photographer may be required to make sure the exterior view is clearly visible. Bright windows distract the viewer’s attention because the eye naturally moves to the brightest area in the photo. Sometimes the view outside is not important, while other times, with view properties, being able to show the inside and the view out the window is critical.

9. Don’t let color casts distract. Strong color casts (typically a strong orange color) distract the viewers attention.

10. The way photos are presented online has a huge impact on the overall effectiveness of marketing a property. Photos have the most impact when presented large (800 x 600 pixels or larger) and in a smooth, easily controllable slide show. Real estate sites typically do not present photos in the most effective way possible. One of the purposes of a virtual tour or slide show is to maximize the impact of marketing photos.

You can hire a photographer that uses these principles or you can use these principles to shoot photos yourself if you are technically inclined or have support staff that shoot your photos. But either way, you are the listing agent in charge of marketing a property, so use these principles to produce, select and present your marketing photos for maximum effectiveness.

Since these are well accepted photographic principles, most experienced real estate photographers follow them without being told, but there are some that won’t. It’s easy to think because you have a digital camera that you can be a professional. Remember, you are the marketing expert, it’s your job to make sure the marketing is effective. If it isn’t, ask questions.

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  • NYC

    Good tips – thanks for the insight.