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How to take better photos

Friday 07 April 2017

When it comes to selling houses, a picture really is worth a thousand words. With more buyers searching online than ever before, great photos will not only make your listing stand out but it will encourage potential buyers to arrange a viewing.

Photography has become an essential tool in marketing a property and a collection of professional photos will catch the eye of house-hunters instantly.

Here we set out everything you need to know to get you started on the path to taking the perfect pics.

Invest in some equipment

To be the best you don’t necessarily have to have the best. However, it is worth investing a reasonable amount of money in kit that’s up to the job if you’re going to be regularly taking photos of the properties you’re selling, as the pay-back will be worth it. It may be tempting to use your iPhone to take photos, but try to resist. A mobile phone camera won’t cut it if you are looking for professional shots as the lenses on phone cameras are not of the same optical quality and usually the focal length is not wide enough to capture the entire room.

Size matters!

The sensor size on mobile phones is also tiny compared to a dedicated digital camera, due to the constraints of cramming so much technology into something which is so physically small. This is bad news if you want high quality photos, particularly in low light conditions.

Bigger sensors such as those found on an APS-C or 35mm DSLR cameras are able to capture more light, more detail, and greater dynamic range. Bigger sensors also mean less noise (the artifacts that look like fuzzy pixels, speckles or graininess – this is more noticeable in the shadow areas of an image, when you take a photo on a mobile phone in low light conditions).

Whilst megapixels aren’t the be-all-and-end-all when looking for a good camera, as a general rule, for photographing property, a DSLR camera with at least 10 megapixels will allow you to take much higher quality photos and get the most from each shot.

Shoot straight

Turning the camera 180 degrees to get an “edgy” shot will not help sell a home. Make sure your vertical lines are vertical and your horizontal lines are horizontal, this will eliminate wonky pictures. Many of the current crop of cameras have a built-in virtual horizon feature - if your camera has one, make sure you use it to achieve a perfectly straight shot.

Find your optimum level to capture the perfect photo, this could be from a high, mid or low viewpoint depending on the space.

Use a tripod

Blurry pictures look unprofessional and are a big no-no. A tripod will give you stability and make pictures look clear and sharp. It will also mean that you can take the shot on a much lower ISO setting than if you were shooting hand-held (the lower the ISO, the better the image quality).

Take advantage of natural light

Open the curtains and turn on all the lights to make a room look bright and open. Try not to rely on the cameras flash as it creates shadows and will reflect off mirrors and windows. Unless you want to capture the views outside the property, it’s usually best to position yourself on the window side of the room looking inwards to make the most of the available light (obviously provided that it allows you to capture the features of the room that you need to capture).

For the novice, exterior photos should be taken on an overcast day so that the sun doesn’t create shadows over the house. It will also reduce the risk of glare and sun streaks in photos. If shooting in sunlight it’s better to shoot when the sun is behind you – it will help with exposure and you’ll also stand more chance of the sky looking blue! If you’re still finding that most of your exterior photos look washed out, consider investing in a polariser to add to your lens – it will help saturate colours and minimise glare and sun streaks.

Photographing high-end property where the garden/grounds are a real selling point

Advanced tip: If it’s important to show the interior of a room and the garden/grounds in the one shot, then you need to consider investing in a higher level DSLR together which has the facility to use off-camera flashguns/speedlights. By doing this you can ensure that both inside and out are exposed to perfection for that killer shot. Alternatively, you’d need to become very competent with photoshop (or similar software) and learn how to blend multiple exposures post-shoot.

Symmetry sells

Symmetry is one of the oldest tricks in the book – it is aesthetically pleasing and will draw the eye in, making your images more engaging.

Embrace technology

Times are a changing and proptech can be seen across the industry, from drones to virtual online tours – embrace it. Technology is designed to make your life easier, not to stress you out. 

Drones are great for aerial shots of larger properties or those with sizeable gardens, showcasing a property from an alternative perspective. It will also position your company as an innovator within the market and offer greater online exposure.

Safety in numbers

You can never take too many photos. Before you leave the property, make sure you have all the pictures you need, this will save you from having to return. Double check that you are happy with your images before heading home.

Don’t fall at the last hurdle

Create a listing that is as good as your photos.

And finally

What we’ve covered here really is just the tip of the iceberg – a guide for novices if you will. To get the most out of your camera you need to invest time in learning how to use it – you can have the best camera going, but if you don’t know how to use it properly, you won’t see a big improvement in your photos. If time is short, consider employing a professional photographer to come in and give you and your staff a day’s training.