Real Estate Photography
The client needs in real estate photography are paramount. Realtors use photographs to entice buyers into taking a deeper look at the home for sale. It is usually the first contact an agent has with a buyer. That is why composition is so important in real estate photography. The Internet has become one of the biggest sales tools in real estate, allowing buyers to see homes in other states.
Tips on How to Take Pictures of Homes for Sale
There are five basic elements to consider when learning how to take pictures of homes for sale: composition, lighting, angle, time of day, and exposure. The combination of these five things will produce the best rendering of the outside of a home. Interior pictures will also be necessary. The images will need to be sized for web and for print fliers. Color correction is necessary for optimum visual impact. The goal is to have the buyer look at the image and picture their family living in the home.
The exterior of the home or building is where the curb appeal shows most. How the outside of a home looks gives buyers an indication of whether the house is well cared for, the type of neighborhood the house is in and the condition of the interior. In ideal conditions, the house will be clean with a freshly manicured lawn in a neighborhood that is well kept. In the real world, most homes have some flaws that need to be minimized and any distractions in neighbor’s yards avoided in the final image.
Take a moment to walk around the house and look at the different angles. Find the side of the home best emphasizes the positive architectural aspects of the home. Look for any landscaping flaws in the house and nearby yards. The angle of the image will need to avoid these aspects of the landscape.
Ideally, the sun should be shinning directly on the front of the home. This gives the best color saturation in the image. All the elements of the exterior of the building will be clearly visible and definable. It also gives a bright and cheery look to the outside of the home.
Time of Day
If the light not good, choose a different time of day to take the picture. The best light is usually between 10 to 11 am and 3 to 5 pm, depending on the area and direction that the home is facing.
Use a large depth of field to show detail of the landscape and the front of the home. Use f/16 or f/11 for the aperture setting and adjust the time exposure to the necessary setting. The ISO setting should be between 100 ISO and 250 ISO for fine grain. In a pinch 320 ISO can be used, but the larger the ISO, the more grain in the image. A tripod should be used.
Angle is very important. The angle of the picture can highlight interesting architectural features or show building flaws. Look at the home through the viewfinder at different angles to find the most flattering. Another item to watch out for is making the home look shorter or longer than the actual size. A camera angle can foreshorten a side of a building or make it look stretched. Be sure to analyze the image and choose the most balanced angle for taking the picture.
A 35mm digital SLR is the best choice for real estate photography. It can provide a large enough image for printing and produces a quality image. Other digital cameras can be used, but be sure to check the file size setting to ensure a large enough image for multiple uses.
A wide-angle lens is necessary for most real estate pictures primarily because many situations do not allow the photographer to get enough distance from the home for a 50 mm lens.
When learning how to take pictures of homes for sale, it is important to note that interior images share the same basics as the exterior except that the lighting conditions will be more challenging. Depending on the request of the realtor or agent, at least one shot of each room is necessary. As with the exterior, the angle and composition should highlight the positive elements of the room and any architectural features.
These are not architectural photographs and there will be some distortion because of the camera used. Try and minimize any distortion while retaining a good image angle. Another angle that works with interior shots is a view from the top. This can be achieved by using a ladder, or if the home has stairs, try shooting at different locations on the stairway.
A tripod, reflectors and a strobe (flash) unit will be necessary. Use reflectors to bounce the flash to dark areas. If the ceiling is low enough and white, bounce the flash off the ceiling to soften the shadows. Use as much natural lighting as possible. Open window coverings and let the light flow into the room. Natural light is more inviting and gives a soft mood to the image.
Things to Avoid
Here are some pitfalls to avoid when learning how to take pictures of homes for sale.
- Do not use direct flash on interior shots. This will make harsh shadows and unflattering images.
- Do not bounce flash against walls that are painted any color other than white.
- Do not make the house look distorted by shooting too close to the house.
- Do not use a wide-angle lens wider than 17mm. The distortion will not make the home look the best.
- Do not take pictures with garbage cans in the front of the house.
- Do not get old or beat up cars in the picture.
- Do not get any part of the neighbor’s house in the picture.
- Do not use a throw away camera. The image will be a throw away image.
- Do not shoot the house in black and white.
- Do not get creative in imaging. The house must look as close to the real home as possible.
Remember, if it does not look good through the viewfinder, it will not look good in print.