There is much ado about real estate photography today. I photograph a lot of it, I see even more of it and most of the images I see (but have not taken) are bad. I thought I would take a minute to explain and show by example the different types of photography that realtors and photographers are creating for today’s real estate market.
The real estate market has been transformed dramatically with the advent of the internet. People searching for properties today sit in front of computers and enter two criteria – location and price. What happens next is rather overwhelming. As soon as they hit the return key hundreds of properties, represented by images, instantly appear before them. How do they pick which property to look at first? They choose the best picture. Period. They click on the most enticing listing first, the one represented by the best photograph. You could hire the best speech writer of the day to describe your property but a potential buyer might not read a word if the picture is lousy. The goal of real estate internet marketing is to get potential buyers to schedule a showing. The more showings the better the closing odds and the way to achieve this is through great imagery. So lets talk a bit about what it takes to produce great real estate photography. There are many factors involved but it really comes down to three main ones – experience, equipment and photo editing software.
There is nothing more important than experience. A professional real estate photographer produces excellent imagery consistently. Anyone can get ‘lucky’ with a nice looking exterior shot but a pro learns how to use features of the property, building construction and sunlight to convey a visual story. I am amazed at how many exterior listing photographs I see that have been taken on a rainy day. A pro would cancel the shoot. A successful real estate agent knows how to ready a property for a showing. A professional real estate photographer knows how best to represent the property for visual marketing. Interior photography is where professional real estate photographers shine. Does the image look bright and clean or dark and cluttered? Can you see an ocean view out the window and still see the room? Or do you see the view without the room or vice versa? Sometimes you don’t want to see whats outside the windows but knowing when to show and when not to show takes experience.
Lets talk equipment. Sorry but your iPhone is not cutting it here. And although point and shoot cameras are great for general everyday photography, most don’t have a lens that covers a wide enough angle of view or offer enough control for real estate (look at the second image above). A professional full frame camera that records high quality images under low light levels is needed. A wide angle lens is a must but not so wide that images start looking distorted or circular (such as a fish eye lens would). A flash that has the same amount of coverage as the lens your using it with. A tripod. Real estate photography is a specialty service that demands more control and features than a typical point and shoot camera or phone can offer. Bottom line – equipment matters.
Lets talk about software. Today some real estate “photographers” produce images better suited for a CD cover – I almost wrote “album cover” but then I’d be dating myself. I’m talking about images where colors are over saturated and the contrast has been pushed to such an extreme that it looks like a scene from Harry Potter (look at the third image above). Interior and exterior photography should appear natural looking as if you were standing there and admiring the scene. This is accomplished through the use and knowledge of photographic post editing software. Everyone knows the term Photoshop as it is synonymous with digital image manipulation. It is the pinnacle photo editing software by which all others are judged. What most people don’t know is that Photoshop is a huge program that takes years of experience and education to master. When using photo editing software to produce images for real estate marketing the trick is knowing how to apply techniques that mimic reality.
If you want to entice buyers to look at your property in today’s real estate market you need to hire a professional real estate photographer. Not only will you save time but more importantly your properties will demand the attention they deserve.
Thanks for reading. – Chuck
I have been a photographer since forever. I started taking photos, developing film, and making prints in my elementary school days. I was dragged kicking and screaming into the digital age. I have participated in the transformation that photography has undergone over the past 40 years.
I grew up with the smell of developer, stop bath, and fixer, and understood the importance of proper agitation, time, and temperature control. I know words like reticulation, burning, dodging and resin coated (which has nothing to do with current law changes in CO). I have spent thousands of hours of my life in dark rooms, creating moments in time that I captured for the ages — moments that slowly appeared on blank canvases of white and materialized into tangible images that you could hold in your hand . . . and show to others. I was comfortable in small rooms illuminated in soft hues of red, yellow, and green. Yes, this was my realm and I lived it, loved it, and now miss it.
Fast forward. My darkroom isn’t dark. My enlarger is a computer screen and the chemicals I once used are now called Photoshop. I have tremendous control over my images. I can adjust color balance with the click of a mouse. I can lighten or darken an image at will, create soft focus backgrounds, and add or remove objects. The romance of the darkroom has been replaced with the clinical precision of a computer station. My images can be sent soaring to their destination within seconds of capture, or they come out of a printer and are dry to the touch. I don’t have to worry about time and temperature, mixing or re-bottling chemicals, rinsing trays, or hosing down sinks. I just press a button and my darkroom appears or disappears.
For years, my customers, friends, and family have admired my work, and urged me to seek a bigger stage. My Dad, a photographer, too, often told me I was the best kept secret in photography. Some of my loyal clients, many of whom have been with me for over 25 years, have echoed that thought. But I am arriving here kicking and screaming a bit, too. I have always been more comfortable outside of the limelight, behind the lens – not in front of it – as comfortable there as I was in the darkroom during my early career. Times they are a’changin’. While I won’t be joining the glitterati, you’ll be hearing from me. Hence this blog. I will write about my images, and the experiences I have capturing people and the lives they lead, the products and companies they build, and the families, friends, pets, and places they love. I will offer insight into the art and profession I’ve come to know since first holding a camera when I was 5 years old.
So come along for the ride and the shoot. We have things to set our sights on, people to meet, and images to capture and polish. We are now in the digital age, and although I came in kicking and screaming, I have learned to embrace it and call it friend. Thanks for reading. – Chuck