Photo Finish!

Would you like improve the sale value of your next listing? A recent US study has shown that professionally photographed homes can sell for up to $100,000 more, and receive 60% more online hits, than those with amateur photographs. Helen Clarke from professional photography company Top Snap, gives us some tips and tricks to ensure you get the most out of professional photography for your listings.

Savvy agents have long understood that professional property photography is indispensable for marketing homes, helping to entice more buyers and drive competition, and ultimately lift a property’s sales price.

These days, buyers are presented with an overwhelming choice of potential new homes online, which has made them more visually discerning as research statistics show. It also goes without saying, that listings which are attractively photographed and include sophisticated visual content like virtual tours and floor plans, will be more likely to make it on to a buyer’s their shortlist.

With so many people now house hunting online, and considering how extensively photography is used in property marketing – for signboards, newspaper ads, window displays and brochures for example – professional property photography is a smart investment for any campaign.

Here are a few tips and tricks to ensure you get the most out of professional property photography:

Do your research to find a good photographer?

Look online or ask colleagues to recommend a good photographer. Check out their website portfolio to find whose style best suits the look you want in your campaigns.

You can opt for a freelancer or photography company; larger companies usually offer virtual tours, copywriting and floor plans as well as photography, along with fast image turn-around and online image management systems.

Select the right type of photography

Daytime photography suits all types of homes, whereas houses with pools and lots of outdoor lighting really shine with dusk photography. For larger properties, or those with a highly sellable location then elevated photography, taken from up to 20 metres high, is ideal, while aerial photography is perfect for extra large properties/acreages.

Cheapest is not always best!

It is always good business sense to keep costs down, however, photographers who offer ‘too good to be true’ prices generally don’t have the same skill level as their professional counterparts, and are likely to cut corners – spending less time composing images, not using wide-angle lenses, tripods or studio lighting, and doing little or no retouching.

Sub-standard photography is a false economy that could do a disservice to your marketing campaign and overall brand.

What to ask your photographer?

Before you engage a professional photographer, you should ask the following questions:

How long will they spend at the property? You want someone who is efficient but who spends time carefully composing and lighting images. A ball park guide would be one hour per eight images, depending on property size.

Are they trained in property photography? Do they use professional equipment? A professional has a trained eye for composition, uses professional cameras, wide angle lenses and studio lights, and is an expert in photo-editing, giving even the most average home that magazine quality ‘wow’ factor.

How much retouching will they do?
Professionals will digitally alter images to brighten and evenly light them, removing imperfections and enhancing views and colours. They can also make pools bluer and cleaner, green lawns, cover dirt patches or remove items such as bins or ‘for sale’ signs.

Can they offer virtual tours and floor plans? Buyers expect to see visual content including virtual tours and floor plans, as well as photography. A good photographer will offer these products, or refer you to a reliable supplier.

When will your images be ready? Make sure they will be back in time for your publishing deadline!

How many shots will you get?
Some photographers may appear to offer value for money by providing many images, but often this means repetitive shots which add no value to your campaign. On the other hand, a professional will capture the highlights of any room with only one or two carefully composed and studio-lit shots.

When can they fit you in? Good photographers will often be booked in advance, so allow plenty of notice when booking to make your deadlines.

Involve your vendor

It’s important to speak to your vendors to find out which features of the property should be photographed to help sell it. What attracted them to it? What are its highlights? What time of day does it look its best?

Encourage them to prepare their home for photography, with the goal of helping buyers to envisage it as their new home:

  • De-clutter and depersonalize throughout – remove pictures and other personal items
  • Tidy away toys and play equipment, pet bowls and accessories
  • De-magnet the fridge and clear kitchen bench tops
  • Tidy toiletries away in the bathroom and hang clean, matching towels
  • Neatly make all beds
  • Lay the dining table with nice tableware
  • Remove washing from the line, mow the lawn and clear up dead leaves
  • Neatly arranged fresh flowers or fruit add a welcoming touch

Meet your photographer before the shoot

Your photographer should work as part of your team, representing your brand to clients. Look for someone who is not only skilled in their craft, but also well-presented, personable and respectful of your vendors’ homes and idiosyncrasies.

Try and meet them before the shoot so you are comfortable with their behavior, attitude and appearance. This is also a good time to mention any ‘housekeeping’ – i.e pick up the keys from the neighbours, don’t let the dog into the house etc.

Give feedback after the shoot

Most professional photographers will deliver your images via an online portal, where you can download your print and web images.

If you’re not happy with anything speak to your photographer, who should be accommodating of realistic requests – although removing telegraph poles or the neighbour’s house would be an exception here, and may even be illegal – always check the rules on altering property images with your state’s Office of Fair Trading.

And finally…

Having access to a talented and reliable professional photographer, who you can trust to deal diplomatically with vendors, is invaluable if you want to produce consistently jaw-dropping campaigns, attract more buyers and ultimately secure a higher price. Reason enough to go pro for your next listing!


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