Real Estate Photography – the good the bad the ugly
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