Last year I wrote a post about cameras realtors should check out if they wanted to do take their own real estate photos. (See it here ) Turns out many of you check out that post, and we have actually heard back from several people about the camera they purchased. Purchasing a nice camera is just part of the story. You also have to know how to pick your shots and make sure the light is correct. After the photo is taken you still have to edit the photo to make it look it's best. So I have narrowed the list down to a few easy steps to get the most out of real estate photos.
The Must Haves
First let me just say, having a nice camera like a Nikon D5200 DSLR or a Canon EOS 70D is not needed in today's world of real estate photography. Most of the time and smart phone can take great photos. I have included photos from my iPhone several times with great results. The tips below will apply no matter what camera you are using. The key is to learn how to use it. If you do go down the road of buying a DSLR I would suggest getting a wide angle lens. I personally have been using the Nikon 5100 with a Tamron AF 10-24mm lens to get the wide angle shots. They sell this lens for Canon and Nikon so make sure you buy the right one. I also use a large flash and a tripod. Flash is not required but the tripod helps.
Tip to improve your real estate photos
- Take your time - This seems like a no-brainer, but you can tell when photos are rushed. I know most of the time we are at the house getting the listing agreement signed and we just step side for a few moments and take the photos while the sellers are filling out the disclosures. Bad Idea. Rushing the photos is dumb. You are going to be stuck with them for a few weeks, so make them look good. Make a special appointment if needed to make sure the house is clean and the lighting is best.
- Stage the photo - You may not have hired a stager for the whole house, but that does not mean that you should just leave everything where it is and take the real estate photos. Pick up the toys, clothes, mail, dishes, or dog bowls to make the shot look clean. If you make a special appointment to take the photos, hopefully, the owners have picked up the place. If not you may need to help them. Just last week I saw a photo in the MLS with a pair of handcuffs attached to a four post bed. I bet the sellers don't want that plastered all over the internet.
- Make sure the light is right - Ok this one is hard. Hard in that every camera has a different way of adjusting for the light. In general, we want to make things as flat as possible. So if the sun is blaring in the window and the lights are off in the room, the photo will look bad. Ideally, you would be able to reduce the light from the window and make the rest of the room brighter. We want a lot of light, but even light. You can use a flash here if you want, or you can bring in extra lights to brighten the room. Either would be a great way to make things look more natural.
- Make sure the camera is level - 7 out of 10 real estate photos I see in the MLS are crooked. This is sometimes hard to realize because when we use wide angle lenses the image sometimes gets distorted. It really can be an optical allusion. To prevent this, #1 makes sure your camera is at eye level, and not too high or too low. #2 turn on the grid in the camera and make sure that a vertical part of the house, a corner, a door, a window lines up with one of the vertical lines. The closer to the center vertical line the better.
- Don't shoot VERTICAL - I should not have to say this, but I see it all the time. If you are using your phone to take the photos, make sure you shoot in the horizontal. Uploading photos were taken in the vertical just waste a whole lot of space on the website that could otherwise be used for the photo. Every single real estate website has a spot for real estate photos, and all of them are in the horizontal. So why take pictures any other way.
- Look at your shots after you take them - Since we now live in the world of digital photography it is now possible to look at every shot after we take it. Take a photo and then look at it to make sure it looks great. If not try it again. I often take a photo just to check the lighting. Then fix the lighting, and take another photo. Once the lighting is fixed I look at the photo closely for anything unusual in the photo we could take out, like handcuff or underwear on the floor. Then I shoot it again. 4, 5, even 6-8 times reshooting the same exact shot to make sure I have it looking as good as possible. After all you can always delete the bad photos.
- Edit the photos - After all the shooting is done you have to edit the photos. You should have taken way more than you are allowed to upload so the first step in editing is picking the best ones. Once you have narrowed it down to 30-40 it is time to get out the photo editor. Yep, you need a photo editor more than you need a good camera. If you have an Apple Computer then you have iPhoto, if you have a windows machine you have something similar. Either way, do yourself a favor and edit the photo to make sure #1 they are level, and #2 the image is enhanced as much as possible. Most of these programs have a magic wand feature that will do most of this for you. No real skill is needed.
So I hope that helps. Those are all easy steps you can take to improve your real estate photos. I sure hope anyone can use these steps to take better photos. While better cameras do take better photos, the user still has to have a basic set of skills to get the most out of them. Remember a $10,000 camera does not know if it is taking a level photo, it is up to the photographer to get the shot. Good luck with your real estate photos!