Bright, Bright, Bright Sun Shiny Day

Real Estate Agent with EXIT Realty- Massachusetts Short Sales & Residential Sales

Search ResultsGrab their attention.....

Grab potential home buyers attention with a great front shot of the house.  Lets face it, no one wants a dull, drab house.  They want to see a happy, bright, sun shiny day! 

Blue sky in the background and full sunlight on the front of the house.  About 70% of the homes listed can have such a shot.  The exceptions are if the house faces due north or if it is shaded by the trees.

The most important shot is the front exterior shot of the home.  Take the time and get it right!

What do most agents show for the first shot of a home?  The exterior front.  So that automatically makes exterior shot that shows up in the search results as the teaser thumbnail.

Make it the Best You Can!

So the thumbnail photo of your brand new listing is competing on a page of 10-50 other listings.  You want that photo to jump.  Don't you want your new home to be cheery and attractive and shown in the best possible light? A blue sky for the background and full sunlight on the front is just more attractive then a drab home on a cloudy day.  It evokes an emotional response.


A photograph with more contrast draws a viewers attention to a photo with less contrast.   This is a fact.  A photo that has full sunlight on the front and blue skies in the back wiill draw your attention because it has more contrast..  Don't believe me try it.

Look at the photo of the list of homes for sale to the right.  Close your eyes for 10 seconds and then open them looking at the photos.   I think for most people your eye will be drawn to the middle photo of a home listed for 309,900 and 27 Cottage Street and 11 Parker Ave will compete a little, but your eye will seemingly want to land back on the one for 309,900.  As hard as you look away, it will continue to draw your eye back to it.  662 Bay Street and 96 Lee Street get overpowered by the other photographs and go hardly noticed.

Your front exterior shot is just like curb appeal, it sets the tone for the property and sometime will help draw the home buyer into look at the detials.

Below is a sample of a house that you can never get sunlight on the front given the time of year. You could just barely catch almost skimming across from the left hand side at 7:30am.  The first shot was taken by another agent in my office then they asked me to photograph the house for them.  While full sunlight is ideal this is the best that can be done.   But by waiting for the optimum time, I was able to get the best possible exterior shot I that was attainable. 

Again close your eyes and open them and look at the two photos.  Your eyes will always be drawn to the photo on the right.  It has more contrast.












Whats Ideal?

To know whats idea,l lets look at how houses are designed.  The architects use roof lines and overhangs to add interesing details to a house.  To best show off those detials we want highlights and shadows.  So we need sunlight to create those highlights and shadows. Cloudy days or houses that are in shadow do not create the shadows and highlights that best showcase the homes details.  It is extremely difficult to get a good shot once the sun gets in front of the camera lens.  You will have a hard time getting a good exposure and the house will be in shadow and your sky will be washed out.


The ideal situation for me to photograph a house is:

  • Dracut Home

    Camera Angle Just to the left or right of the center of the home so the view of the camera catches about 10-15% of the side.
  • Time of day-  Before 10am and after 2pm.  The later or earlier in the day the better.  The closer you get to sunrise or sunset the longer your shadows and there is a hint of warmth and softeness to the light.
  • Sun Position The position of the sun should be to my left or right behind me in about the 4-5oclock position or the 7-8 oclock position.  I prefer to have the sun on the opposite side of the side of the home I am showing.  I prefer that the 10-15% side shoing is in shadow.
  • Sun Full sunlight with no clouds blocking the sun.
  • Sky Either clear blue or some clouds.

These are what I strive for but no always achievable.   there are just some house because of their position, tree lines or obstacles that this is not achievable.

What we are doing is trying to take a 3 dimensional subject and put it on a 2 dimensional plane.  To make the house pop and give it a third dimension on a 2 dimensional plane we need those highlights and shadows.  In the example below, we show the relationship of the shadows to our suns position on a subject.  The longer the shadows the more depth we will have.  The other advantage is the light is not as harsh and has a nice quality to it.

The other thing to bear in mind is the suns postion in relationship to "modeling" the subject.  If the sun is directly overhead your highlighting the roof and your shadows are straight down and appear almost non existant.  We do not want to highlight the roof we want to highlight the front of the house.  If the sun is directly behind the house we are putting the front of the house and the landscaping in shadow, the features we want to highlight the most!

I generally will plan carefully the time of day I go to photograph the exterior of the home.  You can use mapquest and see what time of day will be best and swing by at the optimal time.  I use an app called Sun Surveyor where I can type in a property and show me a 3D model of the path of the sun in realtionship to a given location. 

A little bit of thought and planning and you can improve your front exterior shots and get more exposure for your listings!


This post, Bright, Bright, Bright Sun Shiny Day, is provided by Kevin Vitali of EXIT Group One Real Estate.  Providing professional level real estate photography is part of Kevin's exceptional marketing plan to help get you home sold faster and for more money.  If you are looking to sell your home in Northeastern Massachusetts, call Kevin at 978-360-0422 or visit his blog filled with tons of valuable information for home buyers and sellers at

Looking for tips and tricks for better real estate photography vist the Google+ Community Photography for Real Estate



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Kim Logan
Kim Logan - Keller Williams Lake Oconee Realty

Nice blog post with lots of great advice!

Jul 24, 2013 12:39 PM #1
Kevin Vitali
EXIT Realty- Massachusetts Short Sales & Residential Sales - Tewksbury, MA
Helping Massachusetts Home Buyers and Home Sellers

Thanks for the comment... hope you find it useful Kim!

Jul 25, 2013 01:04 AM #2
Cara Gourley

Thanks for the great post! I knew the sun's position and timing was important but this really helped to narrow it down to a science. 

Jul 25, 2013 02:30 AM #3
Kevin Vitali
EXIT Realty- Massachusetts Short Sales & Residential Sales - Tewksbury, MA
Helping Massachusetts Home Buyers and Home Sellers

Thanks Cara.  Its all about timing and understanding why.  It only takes a minute to get the right photo of the exterior with no special equipment.

Jul 25, 2013 04:38 AM #4
Lee Jinks
Jinks Realty - McAllen, TX

Kevin, what do you suggest when the home does face north?  In this case the front of the house is always in shade.

I shot a house this evening that faces north and is surrounded by some very large shade trees.  I'll post the results when I get the photos ready.

Jul 25, 2013 12:51 PM #5
Kevin Vitali
EXIT Realty- Massachusetts Short Sales & Residential Sales - Tewksbury, MA
Helping Massachusetts Home Buyers and Home Sellers

Lee- always a tough scenario.  There is no one way I deal with it.  The one hard rule in that case is to try to photograph as early or late as possible. if you are photographing from the 6 oclock position try to make sure the sun is as close to the 3 or 9 oclock position. 

Possible choices are exposure fusion with a very contrasty scene youll need about 7 exposures.  Not my favorite way to go.

Usually but this can vary,  I take an exposure where I shoot for the highlights just to the point where the highlights arent blowing out.  The photo will look dark.  Then in post processing I fiddle with the highlights shadow exposure and contrast so the front of the house looks good.  I usually take that same exposure where the rest of the scene looks good.  Then I overlay them with the shot where the house is where I want it and start erasing the background areas until it looks decent.  Maybe a little opacity adjustment.

The key is to photograph late or early that way you have the chance of picking up some blue sky.  You can see on this one there is still frost on the house because the morning sun has not warmed it up.  You can also see from the shodow of the house on the house to the right how low in the sky the sun is.

Cabot Street Tewksbury MA


Heres a shot that is a little different and can even be more difficult.  Where part of the house is in full sunlight and part is in shadow.  Very Similar technique was used.  I shot this late in the day as that is when the sun just caught the front.  I used a similar technique as described above. 

The first shot is processed in Adobe the second is as shot.  The second shot the highlights are just blowing out and your losing detail while the shadows are just getting too dark.  I know I can pull the highlights in using Adobe Photoshop and bring the shadows up.  it does require some fiddling with and some experience to know where to head with it.

So the key is shooting as late or as early as you can.  This prevents the sky from blowing completely away and the light is also softer (less contrast) and good post processing software.  This second example shows the importance of good post processing software.  You will need something along the lines of Adobe Photoshop.

Hope it helps.

Jul 26, 2013 02:00 AM #6
Mike West
Heritage Oak Properties - El Dorado Hills, CA
El Dorado Hills, CA CDPE, CNE, Licensed Loan Origi

Excellent point Kevin.  You may or may not be aware of the fact that there is an App at the Apple store that provides onw with the sun's position by time of day for any address that you enter into the App.  It is called LightTrac and is used by professional photographers so that tehy can schedule the best time to take exterior shots. It is a great help.

Photo of home

Jul 26, 2013 10:03 AM #7
Lee Jinks
Jinks Realty - McAllen, TX

Mike, I also have LightTrac and really like some of the features.

Kevin, great examples and work.  Here's that photo I promised of the house that faces north surrounded by trees.  This was shot about two hours before sunset so there's really plenty of light in the sky, but without flash the sky would be completely blown out to get any detail on the house.

north facing house

Jul 29, 2013 08:43 PM #8
Troy Erickson
Diverse Solutions Realty - Chandler, AZ
Your Chandler, Ahwatukee, and East Valley Realtor

It's obvious you have done your homework on this one, and I agree, you want the photo of the front of your listing to put it in the best light, not pun intended. Thanks for the advice.

Aug 31, 2013 01:38 PM #9
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Helping Massachusetts Home Buyers and Home Sellers
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