One of the key factors in successful lifestyle marketing is the quality of your photographs. You can have a fantastic property and a captivating story, but the animation is the most important element, and this is achieved through creative and engaging photography. Here are a few tips to taking good pictures:
Choose the right equipment
Take 30 minutes to learn how to use the camera properly – especially image quality and exposure settings – Learning how to half-press the shutter to focus then recomposing will give much better results than just point & shoot!
Experiment with different settings then upload your tests to the computer and decide which looks best. Remember that every house is different so settings that make one house look great may not work as well for another.
Set camera to high/fine JPEG at the maximum resolution and ISO 100 for outdoors - 400 for indoor shots if you aren’t using a tripod of other camera support. If you are able to change the aperture the best all round option would be about F8.
Ensure your camera has a wide-zoom (E.g. 18-55mm or 12-24mm) lens so you can take good interior and exterior photos
A tripod is a very important piece of equipment that will give you the stability to take clearer, sharper and more consistent photographs. To prevent your pictures looking wonky, use a bubble spirit level to ensure your camera is perfectly angled for each room. Having the use of a tripod is essential to taking professional looking property photographs. They are relatively inexpensive but can make a huge difference to you shots.
Staging a room is a way of showing how best it can be used. Temporarily repositioning furniture in a room, putting lamps on tables and flowers in vases, or setting a table for dinner are the best ways to show off the property. The most important thing to remember is to clear away clutter, hide things in drawers, move them out of the room you are about to photograph, just make sure there are no personal belongings laying about.
If there are obvious special elements about the property it is crucial to show them now. Whether it is the view from the kitchen table into the garden or an inviting flowered terrace – show those gems to inspire a potential homebuyer to action.
Make sure all bins are out of sight, remove all cars from the driveway, hide footballs, outdoor toys and roll the basketball hoop away – whatever the focus of your photo attend to the details and make sure the tidiness abounds. Also make sure the vendor isn’t standing in the window!
> Internal shots
Do the interior photos during the day, whilst you have available light from the windows. Natural sunlight makes for better pictures. Before taking pictures of your home for sale, open the blinds, remove the curtains, and let the sunlight in. Just make sure that you're always taking pictures with the light behind you to avoid glare.
Having all the lights on in your home can make it look warmer and more appealing so try a few pictures with the lights on and a few with them off. Then pick your favourite later, when you view the results on your computer.
Set your camera to manual, switch the flash off and ideally use a camera support. The flash will only light the foreground objects, whilst not reaching the far end of the room. It also makes for uneven lighting so it doesn't look natural and creates nasty shadows behind every object in the room. The ISO determines how sensitive the camera's sensor is to the light that reaches it. Use a low setting, such as ISO100, for outdoors, on a sunny day, then change it to 400 for indoor shots but if you are using a tripod of other support there is no need to change the ISO so keep it as low as possible at all times.
> External shots
Try to avoid taking photos when the sun is behind the property, as the property will come out dark – choose a different time of day.
If possible try and find a flowerbed in bloom to create a natural frame around the bottom of the image adding interest to the foreground of your shot. Also try filling the top of the frame with branches and leaves from a tree, this also creates a natural frame, but be sure not to allow the leaves to cover the elevation of the house.
Don't take exteriors on a dull, grey day. Wait for a clear blue sky. Have the sun behind you (but beware of your shadow) and take the front in the morning, then the back in the afternoon, or vice versa, depending on which way the property is facing.
Try snapping images from unusual perspectives, don’t just stand in the corner of the room, find an interesting area, maybe with eye catching furniture and think about creating depth in the photograph by having something positioned in the foreground.
When photographing a room the best height to shoot from is waist level keeping the camera parallel with the floor. This helps keep everything in proportion and all vertical lines straight making the photo look uniform and professional. You can do this by using a tripod set at this height or you can kneel down. If you shoot from head height it is very obvious how tall the camera operator is by how much they are looking down on the room, this combined with a wide-angle lens completely throws the proportions out and looks messy.
Think Art – Get in close and use macro to blur the background whilst keeping your interesting detail in focus, this draws the viewers’ attention to the subject. Frame a photo in what seems to be the most traditional method, then think of how you could make it more artistic, such as zooming in tight on a beautiful fixture or detail. If there is symmetry in a property, use it.
Make use of wide-angle lens with interior photos; position yourself where you have the best view of the room. Include important features like fire places, doors and windows so the potential buyer can get a good idea of how the room is laid out.
Make sure nothing is partially obscuring your view, such as the edge of a lampshade; set your camera lens to its widest, to take in as much of the room as possible. Hold the camera steady, use a tripod if you have one or place it on a solid surface like a cabinet or worktop making sure it is at the edge so not to get the surface in the photo.
Photography software helps soften, sharpen and generally tidy up any imperfections. There are many photo-editing tools available; some very expensive (Adobe Photoshop), some free (Pixlr (pixlr.com/editor)). The most common tools you'll need are brightness, contrast settings and the ability to crop your images (all available in Pixlr): contrast to improve the definition of items in your property, brightness to adjust the lighting and crop to remove unwanted objects on the sides of your image.
Take a photography course
There are photography courses run by specialist companies or even adult education centers all over the country, and are a great place to start learning about taking better pictures. Study professional photographers’ photos online or in property magazines, look at what angles they use, what they have included/excluded from a shot, write down what makes them pleasing photos to look at. Also note their attention to detail; the smallest things in a photograph can make all the difference.
Hire a professional photographer
Sometimes leaving it to the professionals can be the best solution. Hiring a professional can make the difference between the house selling/renting quickly or not, and between winning an instruction due to the quality of your imagery or not. Please speak to the Professional Services department on 01223 361720 to arrange for our network of professional photographers to photograph your properties.