While the importance of curb appeal will never diminish, the process of buying a home is changing rapidly! These days, a majority of the searching process is completed online - very few clients, especially first time buyers or those of the younger variety, choose to attend open houses or showings without first viewing the property on the web and making sure they're not wasting time on something that doesn't fit their requirements. That's why it's vitally important that the photos you attach to your listings present the home in the best possible light - you want to attract attention and make a potential buyer pick up the phone to schedule an in-person showing!
Before you even get started, you want to make sure that you have the right equipment. No matter how nice you think your cell phone photos look, it benefits you to have an actual digital camera! It's easier to touch up your photos when you can put them onto your laptop and view them in a high quality editing program, and you might notice things in a larger scale image that you simply didn't see on your smaller phone screen. This does NOT mean that you need to run out and purchase the most expensive camera on the market! Don't waste money on features that you can't or won't use! Any camera with a 5 megapixel or higher resolution is going to produce quality images, so shop around for the best deals before you buy. A tripod and small, handheld light bar will also improve your photos!
When you arrive at your new listing, take time to walk around a bit before you start snapping pictures! Some agents swear by staging their listings, some feel they can do without - but everyone agrees that the home should be clean and not have unsightly garbage, filthy dishes, or questionable decor choices on display! Help your client by gently reminding them of these things before you show up to your appointment, and if you notice anything that might turn off a potential buyer, respectfully ask that the seller move that item out of the frame for a while. While doing your initial walkthrough, open up those blinds to let the natural light shine in - sunshine always looks better than artificial light in your photos!
Now it's finally time to start taking those pictures! I personally am drawn to listings that give the feel of walking through a home. Starting at the front door, take a photo of what you see in every direction, and keep snapping away as you walk around. As stated above, you want to use as much natural light as possible, and you should be sure to get as much of the room in each photo as you can so prospective buyers don't feel as though you're hiding anything in dim light and shadowy corners. Avoid the temptation to do any "artsy" shots, as they can distract a customer as they scroll through your listing. And be sure the photos accurately represent the property! Don't use a wide angle shot to make the master bedroom look huge, only to have a buyer walk in and feel duped. It's not necessary to highlight every scratch or ding in the paint, but you should definitely paint a realistic picture of the home so a prospective buyer is aware of what they'll see when they tour it. A few cracks in the plaster might not be a deal breaker, but feeling like you're dealing with a dishonest agent sure can be!
Remember that there is no such thing as overkill when taking these listing pictures. Don't walk away with one or two shots of each room, only to get back to the office and discover that one of them is blurred or too dark! Take more photos than you think you'll need, and then pare it down to the best of the best.
That said, don't go overboard on the editing! There are tons of free programs available that will allow you to preform a wide range of edits to your photos, from color correction to full on photoshopping - but be sparing! Again, the goal is to present an accurate listing while showcasing the home at its best. Feel free to lighten up any dark spots, crop the photos evenly, adjust your brightness and contrast...and then leave them alone. A great photo starts with the picture you take in the home, it isn't created on your laptop from scratch!
As with nearly everything, practice makes perfect, so if your first few listing photos don't turn out the best, don't fret! Practice with your equipment, play around with your editing software, and stick to it, and you'll be taking photos like a pro in no time!