Picture This: Proper Photo Techniques for the Myrtle Beach Real Estate MLS

Real Estate Agent with Condolux Real Estate & Vacation Rentals

I've seen it a hundred times. It's not just a Myrtle Beach real estate thing. It's a national real estate agent epidemic that only a few have the vaccine for. Most of the pictures uploaded to their MLS system to show home and condo shoppers are absolute rubbish!  Either the picture is taken of a blank wall, or whoever formatted the thing compressed it until it looks like lego blocks took over the picture.  Well, no more.

They say you only have one chance to make a first impression (and that holds true with Myrtle Beach condo and house listings as well). And with web surfers checking out the MLS system, you better believe that if you don't have good photos of your product, they will surf on quickly to check out the next one. The pictures are the first thing they see!


Lets break this lesson down into three sections.  1) The equipment itself.  2) How to take the picture. 3) How to resize them and compress them properly for the web.


Camera Equipment Makes the Difference with Tight House and Condo Photos

House Zoom Comparison

Notice the differnce in a 35mm zoom lense and a 28mm zoom lense? You can see alot more of the house with a wider angled lense and will definately help showcase the property better.

I'm not saying go out and buy a new camera (or maybe I am). And I am not saying you have to purchase a top-of-the-line Digital SLR. A point and shoot camera works just fine.  HOWEVER, think about this. You are taking pictures of rooms, NOT landscapes.  Maybe the room is empty. Maybe not. But you better believe that you are not taking pictures of mansions every day with large rooms. 

Mainly, the one thing you want to take from this is to buy a camera with a WIDE ANGLE lens for real estate photos. Not all wide angle cameras are expensive. You can pic one up for $150 to $350.  You will want to look at the mm. Most cameras have a 35mm to xx zoom range. 35mm is not wide enough for most real estate shots.  You will want to shoot for one that has about a 28 mm. Just go to your local Best Buy, Circuit City, or any other camera shop to take a look.


How to take Real Estate Picture


We could spend at least a few pages talking about how to adjust your camera to take photos, but since I know you don't have the time, I just want to point out a few major concepts you should take away from this.  1) LIGHTING IS EVERYTHING WITH THESE POINT AND SHOOT CAMERAS.  2) YOUR FLASH IS ONLY GOOD FOR TIGHT PLACES.

Basically, open all the windows and take the pictures on a sunny day.  Then try to turn your flash off and take the picture. Does it turn out?  If you are more advanced, you can try and adjust your camera settings (some cameras even have settings JUST for indoor shots).  And remember, hold your camera as still as possible. In low-light situations, the camera's shutter speed is slower, so if you wiggle your camera, you might wind up with a blurry shot. This is especially true for condos in Myrtle Beach, when many times, the only outside light source is a balcony.


How to Resize Your Shots Properly For the Web


When you get the pictures from your camara, most likely they are large photos and need to be resized. What you need to keep in mind image size, and resolution, two very different concepts.  The MLS for the Myrtle Beach area does not accept photos that are larger than 640 pixels wide and 480 pixels. Is that resolution or is that image size?  That be image size my friends.  Resolution deals with how many pixels per inch there are. When you pull them off your camera, the are usually either 200 pixels per inch or 300 pixels per inch.  You want to change the resolution of your photos to either 72 or 96 instead of 200 or 300. (FYI, this is also known as DPI.)

Also, you want to make sure you do not "compress" the images too much. That compression leads to that blocky effect you see here:

Bad Myrtle Beach Real Estate Photos

Notice the difference?

Now, the entire reason you are formatting these photos is for one thing. SMALL FILE SIZE.  The smaller the file, the easier it is to upload and to view on the web. But you shouldn't go overboard. Compression too  much will lead to the "Bad Compression" example above.  If your file is under 100kb, then you are good. (Most should be about 40kb optimal.)

SO, I recommend getting Google Picasa. It's a free program that automatically organizes all your real estate photos in a very convenient way.  You then select the pictures you want and go to "EXPORT". Then select RESIZE TO: 640. Then set your compression to about 60. (60-70 is a good number since it does not hinder much of the photo quality.)


AND THERE YOU HAVE IT! In a nutshell, all the information you need to make your Myrtle Beach real estate photos shine. Of course, I am open to any comments, questions and suggestions!

Comments (6)

Tina Allen
Exit Realty Tri-County - Mount Dora, FL

Thanks for the great information.  I hate looking at some of the pictures people put on the web for all to see.  You are trying to sell something right?  You want it to look as good as possible.  I am glad you mentioned google picasa..I have been meaning to check that out and have kept forgetting.

Apr 08, 2009 04:36 AM
Tim Monciref - Austin, TX
Over 2,000 homes sold…..

Fascinating info.  The problem that we THINK we are having in our local MLS is that if we upload too small of a picture the picture size gets reduced in half on MLS and corresponding Realtor.com.  We were told to use a larger DPI to fix it and that does work; but I wonder if they are saying the correct information.

Apr 08, 2009 06:08 AM
Terry Adams
Condolux Real Estate & Vacation Rentals - Myrtle Beach, SC

Thanks for the comments.  Interesting Tim.   When a photo is reduced in size from the original, there shouldn't really be any loss in quality.  It's when a picture is small, and then blown up, then there is quality loss, especially from automatic resizing like Realtor.com uses.  So always make sure you are uploading a larger photo if you can, so that they do not HAVE to enlarge it.

I also think they say to use larger DPI because small photos with larger DPI are easier to enlarge without losing image quality. They probably see plenty of realtors submit too small photos, ones they may have stolen from thumbnails on the web.

I hope that makes sense, or even answers the concern. :)

Apr 08, 2009 06:18 AM
Cherry Temple
Real Living At The Beach - Myrtle Beach, SC

I'm on CCAR and I find most of the problems are caused by user error.  If a listing agent really wants to sell the property s/he has listed they need to at least review what goes out on the internet under their name. 

I really really hate those bad compression photos!  Not only do they hurt your eyes, I will frequently skip over them when sending info to my buyers.  Why should I hurt their eyes also when there is a house next door same price, great phots?

Another problem are the agents who don't really seem to know where the property is located.  If you do a property search on a subdivision by name it will come up in results being located in 2, 3 or even 4 different mls areas. 

Jun 11, 2009 09:04 AM
Jo Adams
Jo Adams Properties Investment Property Specialist & Real Estate Services, LLC - Mountain Home, AR
Investment Property Specialist

Thanks for the information!  I'm currently looking into a Kodak V570 with wide angle to help with my interior shots.  Thanks for the lighting and resizing tips also.

some of us need all the help we can get!!

Aug 13, 2009 12:38 PM
Terry Adams
Condolux Real Estate & Vacation Rentals - Myrtle Beach, SC

Seems like an excellent camera! That's a good one. :)

My family and I recently purchased a Panasonic Lumix TMZ-TZ5.  We paid $199 for it and takes WONDERFUL pictures. I believe they have or had them at Circuit City if you wanted to test it out. It's a bit larger than a normal "compact" camera, but it has a 10x zoom and is wide angled as well.

Aug 14, 2009 01:20 AM