We have all seen too many really bad photos in real estate listings. Some real estate agents are better than others at taking photos, and some agents really are excellent. I believe that anyone can take decent photos of their listings with a little awareness and practice. The tips below are aimed at the average/below average skill level agent who uses a point-and-shoot camera set on "Auto" and wants/needs to improve the quality of their real estate photos.
1. Have the sun behind you, shining full on the front of the house for the exterior shot. Avoid extremely early or late in the day as there will be more shadows.
2. Turn on all lights and open shades/blinds. Use a flash for all indoor shots. Although a room may look bright enough to the human eye a flash will help it in photos.
3. Try an unusual point of view if needed. Sometimes a bedroom will look blah from the standard "doorway" point of view, but looking out towards the door from the furthest inside corner may show more details like built-in shelves, or just look more interesting or attractive.
4. Show as much of the room as possible. This may sound obvious, but isn't always done. The more area you show in the photo, the bigger the room appears to be. Avoid the "bed for sale" or "table for sale" shot at all cost! Make sure the bed, table or other furniture is part of a larger shot, not the only thing in the photo. If the space is small, try to frame the shot with the bed or table to one side and show part of a window, dresser or counter along with it. Remember, you're selling that room and the house, not the item of furniture.
5. Think vertical as well as horizontal. Although we naturally hold the camera and think in terms of a horizontal photo, some views become dramatically better when taken as a vertical shot. This is also helpful when shooting an area such as a wet bar, bathroom or small kitchen when a horizontal shot just emphasizes how narrow or small they are.
6. Photographing bathrooms. Be aware of mirrors and if your reflection will appear. Toilet seats should be down, nice or "guest" towels out, and counters cleared.
7. Flowers add a lot. Flowers introduce a nice focal point along with splash of color and cheeriness. For very little cost a kitchen island or dining room table can really benefit from a little boost that brightens up the room. Some pillar candles (not necessarily lit) can add a feeling of luxury beside a hot tub in the master bath.
8. Avoid the dark-as-a-cave shot of a room. I see this too many times in real estate photos - a photo of a room where the big window is bright and the room is almost black. There are three ways to prevent this. The first is to be very aware of windows, especially large ones, and do not aim directly at them when taking your picture. Second is to manually set your exposure and use a neutral part of the room to set it. If you use a point and shoot camera and can only deal with it on "auto", aim at a wall or piece of furniture without the window in the view that is a good distance for the focus. Press the shutter down half way and while keeping it pressed half way swivel over to the window view and press it further down to take the photo. This has locked in your focus and exposure.
9. There is no law saying every shot has to be at eye level. Looking down at a two story living room from an upper landing or hallway can be very dramatic. Also, remember that sometimes an upward angle can make a shot more dramatic or avoid your image showing in a large mirror.
10. Remove clutter. Don't have cars in the driveway in the front exterior photo, and close the garage doors. Have the counters fairly clear and the sink empty in the kitchen (and magnets/artwork off the fridge if possible). Remove large "Fisher Price" type toys from the living room/family room.
11. When it isn't possible to get a nice wide shot of the front of the house, don't be afraid to go in close. Sometimes because of trees or aesthetics a photo of the whole front isn't possible or desirable. Think about shooting just the front walk and door, or a great detail like a porch entry.
12. Be aware of how much ceiling is showing. Most people have a tendency to aim straight (fairly level) and shoot. Before you press the shutter look at how much of the ceiling is in the picture. You want some, to show the height of the room, but you don't want the top 20% or more of the photo to be an expanse of white. The exception is (as in the picture to the right) when there is a feature or detailing of the ceiling that you want to highlight. Even then, make sure to get enough of the floor and room so that the viewpoint doesn't look odd.
Amy Hunter Hearth & Home Videos serving the MetroWest MA area