Okay, okay. We know. We’re starting an article about DIY real estate listing photography advising you to well, avoid DIY listing photographer whenever possible.
Well, we are providing you with tested, actionable advice for DIY photography below this, but consider this a public service announcement.
The consensus among experienced listing agents is that DIY photography rarely offers an ROI better than hiring a professional. Full stop.
1. Whenever Possible, Hire a Professional Listing Photographer
We think Sunny Lake Hahn, Partner at 7DS Associates, the most well respected (and trusted) real estate consulting firm in the country explained it best:
“Professional photographers understand the importance of light and how to capture a space at the right time for the highest visual impact. Based on the position of the property, they know if it’s best to shoot at sunrise, sunset, or anywhere in between. They also have the ability to blend the same photo taken with different exposures to create the perfect image.”
In our digital, mobile world professional photographs have the ability to stop the consumer from scrolling through listings. Beautiful images capture attention and get people to click through. Being able to get and keep the consumer’s attention is highly valuable in our instant-gratification world.
2. Use Boxbrownie to Enhance Your Photos
Named as a runner up for Inman’s 2018 Innovator Awards, BoxBrownie provides image enhancement and virtual staging every agent can afford.
For example, they can fix dull images, add furniture, add fire to fireplaces and even transform your boring daylight shot for an on trend dusk shot for just $4! Click here for a free trial and get three image enhancements plus one day-to-dusk edit when you sign up.
If you’re still not convinced, check out the before and after below:
3. Ask Your Homeowner if They Have Shots of the Home in Different Seasons
“Ask the sellers for any photos they may have showing the home in different seasons. Show off that beautiful winter wonderland scene in the winter or the gorgeous red maple in the fall. Our job is to tell your home’s story and those seasonal photos can be used in creative ways.”
4. Be Wary of What’s in Your Line of Sight Through Windows
Michael Edlen, Edlen Team Coldwell Banker
“Photographers and agents sometimes neglect to consider what is in the line of sight through windows when shooting interior spaces. If one is not careful, the shot may inadvertently include a scruffy landscaping across the street, old van in someone’s driveway, or patch of weeds in the sidewalk area. Worse yet may be a shot that includes a window with large bush blocking most of the outlook, making the room feel closed in.”
5. Make Sure All Lightbulbs Work, & Make Sure They Are Consistent With the Fixture
“Make sure all your light bulbs work, and please keep your bulbs consistent within a fixture. I have seen bathroom light bars with three different kinds of bulbs in them, standard, LED and compact fluorescent.”
6. Don’t Show Too Much. Sometimes Less is More.
“Sometimes less is more. Don’t show too much. For instance, if the floor plan isn’t ideal, show individual spaces. The goal is to get buyers into the home. Let them decide when they get there whether they want to make any compromises the property may entail.”
7. Neutralize and Declutter Before You Start Shooting
“We explain to our sellers that some design features and elements that look great in person may not photograph well. For example, bold accent wall colors, or collections, or a photo collage. We advise to clear everything off of counters and leave minimal décor for the professional photos. It may look plain to the sellers but it will really make the home shine in the photos. For over 93% of home buyers the first showing is online and the photos are what make them decide whether or not to schedule a time to view it in person.”
8. Always Stage The Home, Even if it Just Means Rearranging Current Furniture
“Staging your home for listing photos is absolutely crucial. If you are currently living in your home, rearrange furniture in a way that lets potential buyers see the potential. Buyers won’t be able to envision themselves living there if they can’t see past crowded furniture or dated decor. For a quick fix without breaking the bank try adding trendy rugs or pillows to your existingfurniture. If the house is vacant, consider hiring a professional stager. They know what is in style and proper placement. Contemporary furniture and decor will bring your house to life and help buyers visualize the space.”
9. Avoid Developers’ Stock Photos of Amenities
“The vast majority of the time such photos are highlighted, the interior photos are terrible, if they exist at all. When someone has been looking long enough, they’ll associate these irrelevant pictures with a low quality listing. The same can be said for stock photos of the building’s amenities – you’re diverting attention from what the viewer actually cares about which looks suspicious.”
10. Pay Attention to the Details…
“Pay attention to the details! There is nothing worse than a fabulous home /photo with a crumpled, crooked bedspread or an open, dirty toilet! Put away toiletries, straighten bedclothes, and always look over the photos for small details that will turn off a potential buyer.”
11. Don’t Post Too Many, or Too Few Pictures
“There is a quantity sweet spot. Too few photos may leave buyers wondering what isn’t being shown, or confuse them on the layout/features. Too many photos may cause buyer to lose interest.
Around 20 pictures will give a pretty accurate depiction of most homes without being too overwhelming, however a lot of it depends on the size and square footage. For instance, 10 would be far too few on a 10,000 square-foot, million dollar house, but could be just fine for a one bedroom one bath condo.”
12. Open All Curtains and Blinds Even for Drone Shots
“As a professional drone photographer in the real estate business, a pro tip I always recommend for real estate photos is to open all of the interior window blinds. While these may be outdoor photos, opening the blinds makes the house look more inviting and bigger from the outside by allowing potential buyers to see the exterior and interior of the home in one picture. From a photographer point of view, opening the blinds dramatically reduces any glare that may shine back at the drone camera when capturing pictures and videos.”
12. Remove Window Screens and Make Sure the Windows are Clean Inside & Out
“I think one of the little details that a lot of people miss is toremove the window screens, and clean the windows inside and out. This just makes rooms look so much bigger in photos and in person with the right light.”
13. Always Inform the Neighbors Before Drone or Exterior Photography Sessions
“As a rule of thumb, I always inform the neighbors that a drone will be flying in the area to capture real estate photos as it can ease unnecessary anxiety for both the neighborhood and the pilot.”
14. Never Fake Views Through Windows
Although it may be tempting to photoshop in a pastoral green meadow or weeping willow to cover up a drab backyard visible through the windows, don’t!
First and foremost, you will likely be flirting with violating NAR rules, but more importantly you’ll be starting your relationship with a potential buyer with a lie. A white lie to be clear, but a lie nonetheless.
15. Use Exposure Bracketing When Shooting Exteriors
“When shooting exteriors always opt for Exposure Bracketing over one single image. Taking several images of the exact same shot at different exposures and combining them in post gives you the the most range to work with. Never worry about losing detail in the shadows or blowing out the sky again.”
Over to You
Is real estate photography something that amateur agents should try on their own? If so, what are some great real estate photography tips our experts missed?