Okay, okay. We know. We’re starting an article about DIY real estate 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. DIY Matterport 3D Tours & Drone Videos Are Not Worth The Time, $$$$, or Effort
Let’s face it, if you want a chance of getting a decent referral from a homeowner in 2019, then Matterport 3D tours & drone videos are no longer optional. The only problem is that a Matterport camera costs a cool $4000 and you need a license to operate a drone commercially…
If you’ve got that $$$ and all those skills in your back pocket, hats off to you. If you’re like the rest of us, you’re going to need HomeJab. Using Homejab, you can schedule pro photographers, Matterport tours, and licensed indoor + outdoor drone pilots with one click. No more juggling multiple appointments, haggling prices, or getting drone videos that look weird or different than your listing photos.
HomeJab’s packages start at just $200 including the entire shoot, editing, 24-hour turnaround time, and property page. Schedule your shoot today.
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. Provide a Self-Guided Virtual Tour Using Matterport Technology
Christopher Linsell, Real Estate Writer, The Close
Virtual tours have been taken to a new level with the latest innovations from Matterport. This all-in-one reality-capture-system gives users an interactive VR experience without the expensive goggles.
When you open a Matterport virtual tour, you really do get the feeling of exploring the property on your own two feet. Click here to explore some examples of Matterport and to chat with a sales rep (incidentally, this is one of the most responsive customer service and sales staff we’ve ever talked to).
5. 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 scruffy landscaping across the street, an 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.”
6. Hire Someone From Fiverr to Edit Your Photos For You
Christopher Linsell, Real Estate Writer, The Close
The gig economy is flourishing, and experts who are ready to to take your photos to the next level are just a click away.
At last check, there are 260 listings on Fiverr for freelancers who will take your DIY real estate listing photos and run them through Lightroom and Photoshop to give them the polish your listings deserve. Click here to visit Fiverr and see what options are available to you.
7. 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.”
8. Get Your Lighting Right
Anne Jones, Owner and Realtor, Windermere Abode
“Make sure the sun is on the front of the house. Your cell phone camera is good but you lose the details when homes are backlit. I also love high contrast homes. Bright colors photograph better than neutral ones – almost the opposite of interior photography rules. You may not like the fake grass an clouds, but blue skies and green grass make compelling thumbnails!”
9. 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.”
10. Invest in a Wide Angle Lens
Erin Attwood, Real Estate Photographer, Dune Life Photography
“A wide angle lens is a must-have for shooting interiors, but most of the ultra-wide range zoom lenses run well over $1,000. Unless you are shooting the Taj Mahal, this isn’t necessary. I would recommend a 24mm wide angle to help “open up” rooms but won’t break the bank at only around $130.”
11. 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.”
12. Sell the Property & the Lifestyle
Kiah Treece, Real Estate Writer, Fit Small Business
“Help potential home buyers envision themselves in a space by using listing photos to sell a lifestyle. Always avoid clutter and personal items like family photographs, but stage rooms in a way that is both clean and inviting. For example, if you specialize in luxury properties, highlight a home’s charming breakfast nook by setting the table with fresh flowers and simple but gorgeous china.”
13. 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 existing furniture. 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.”
14. 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.”
15. 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.”
16. 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 buyers 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.”
17. 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.”
18. 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 to remove 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.”
19. 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.”
20. 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.
21. Use Drone Photography to Highlight The Neighborhood
Diana Bourgeois, Real Estate Writer, Fit Small Business
“Realtors can use drone photography and video to promote neighborhood amenities. A photo through a room window of the mountains or the beach gives the buyer an idea of the view, but drone photography of the whole property in relation to high-value sales features like a golf course or a lake speaks to what it is like to live in the neighborhood and the home. Investing in drone photography of the home can increase buyer interest and reinforce the value of the property for the price.”
22. 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.”
23. Take Photos of Your Photos
Christopher Linsell, Real Estate Writer, The Close
Documenting the photography process is a great way to build excitement about a new listing. Use your social media platforms to let everyone know that there is something new on the horizon, and give just a little glimpse of the work behind the scenes.
Real Estate Photography Tips: Bringing It All Together
- Whenever possible, hire a pro.
- If you take your own photos, remember to capture space, not stuff.
- Photos should have the buyer in mind. What is going to entice them to take the next step?
- When people buy a home, they buy a lifestyle. Do your photos reflect the home’s lifestyle?
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?