Picture Perfect-Take Pictures That Sell!

The importance of photography in selling a property

Choosing correct angles is equally as important as it can determine how the property is shown. For example; if you need to photograph a smaller or small living area’s with poor lighting, what you need to achieve, is to make the living area’s look as big, bright and inviting as possible. Using plenty of colour makes the property more inviting to prospective buyers. This type of image is achieved by using a wide angle lens and then setting the lens on the widest setting. The colour and brightness can then be enhanced through the use of Photoshop. When using a wide angle lens however you might get what is called Lens Distortion (bending walls). This can also be corrected though Photoshop. As mentioned earlier it is important to capture photographs at the best possible time of day to achieve great results. Never display dark and colourless photographs.

Wide angle lenses capture maximum space of an interior, while retaining a flowing effect to outdoor areas.
Wade Steel, General Manager

Remember when prospective buyers are searching on the internet for their dream home, once they come across your property if the photo’s are dark, no colour, on a angle, basically with nothing to entice you to look any further, you could say the prospect is lost and you didn’t even know it!. On the other hand, if there lots of images to pick from, all of which are bright, full of colour, perfectly straight, sharp images & rooms that look big and inviting with no clutter, there would be an enhanced chance that they would download your details and arrange for an inspection.

Great interior photographs

There are three tips to interior photography that I recommend.

  1. To ensure a clean and clutter free house, eg. Remove all magnets and stickers off the kitchen fridge it looks so much cleaner and fresh looking. As the saying goes, less is best.
  2. Add some colour in the home, try not to have the same colours in the one room. Use some nice colourful prints on the wall, placing fresh colourful flowers on the bench always looks great and adds value. Adding contrasting colours to a room, shows beautifully through photographs.
  3. The most important tip would be lighting. Ensure that you have sufficient lighting. Always turn on the lights in the room that you are photographing, it never fails to enhance a room even if the room is already well lit. If you have lamps in the room, turn them on as well. It just looks fantastic when you have all ceiling lights and table lamps on. It completes the picture.

Great exterior photographs
When it comes to exterior photographs the main tip I recommend is understanding and appreciating which way the property faces. This is paramount, because you do not want to take a front photo of a property when the sun is shining overhead casting the property shadow in front of you. The property needs to be behind you or slightly to the side with the sun shining on the front of the property. In that way a great photo will be captured. You will not need to use the flash on the camera, therefore not creating flash reflection on the windows. My next tip would be if you are photographing a two storey or high set home. Use a ladder to gain more height for your photo. What you are trying to achieve is to photograph in line with the property not to photograph shooting in an upwards direction. This never looks good. If the property faces south (the sun moves over the house), it is best to photograph early morning while the sun is slightly on the side of the property. Additionally it’s always a good idea to mow the lawns, move any cars off the driveway and hide any rubbish bins prior to the photo shoot, this will ensure that the property is being presented in it’s best possible condition.
Photographing pools can be quite fun and enjoyable. My tip for this would be make sure the pool is clean and if the pool has a water feature, turn it on also if you can take out the pool cleaner hose it looks so much more enticing.

Always turn on the lights… it never fails to enhance a room even if the room is already well lit

Software plays a very important part with photography. The better quality the software and most importantly, the more knowledgeable you are with Photoshop, the better the photos. Sometimes you have to take the photo’s on a dark and gloomy day, in this case you will need to place a blue sky in the photo, and this is where it can get tricky. If you know your software, you will get great results, if not I suggest you do a course in Photoshop and learn the basics.

Other things that you would use Photoshop software for are:

  1. taking objects out of photos
  2. removing flash from photos
  3. removing reflections
  4. sharpening photos
  5. fixing Lens Distortion
  6. photo merging

The software I would recommend are Photoshop, Photo Elements, and Paint Shop Pro.

… it would be best to get a photographer who specialises in real estate photography

When should I call in a professional?
Some people think that they are budding photographers and want to save some money and photograph their house themselves. Unfortunately it can back fire on the home owner. How they think their property should be presented is not always the best way to show it, they can be too emotionally involved. I recommend that you should use a professional photographer from the start, when you call in a professional you get results. What you have to remember is that a professional does this everyday for a living, he knows what angles look better than others, he knows what time of day is best, to suit your property.

One thing I would recommend is that when you do call in a professional, it would be best to get a photographer who specialises in Real Estate Photography, not someone who photographs weddings or portraits on weekends as well, this way you know you are getting the best possible photographer to photograph your property. When hiring a Photographer, choose one that can provide examples of their work or offer current clients who’s photo’s you can view via a real estate website or better still a photographer that has their own website. In that way you can be confident that they are established in the industry.

What works on the web?
This is by far the best way to advertise listings. People these days shop from home, they search the web, download what they would like to look at then go to the property for an inspection. When it comes to web images its best to keep the file sizes small, for internet I would say around 400k, this way when prospective buyers click onto your property the images will download very quickly even if they are on a dial up connection. I find if you have a lot of images, it shows that you have nothing to hide for example; take two or three front photos (left, middle, right) two or three rear photos, two pool photos, two lounge room photos, two kitchen photo’s etc. If you can average around 15-20 photos per property it will generate a higher percentage of interest and certainly help in selling your home. This is one sure way to stand out from the competition, more the better.

View shots can be useful to portray the atmosphere relevant to the location of the property, ie. a vibrant area
Wade Steel, General Manager

What works & how to create great images

Twilight photography is in a league of its own. Great images can be captured in this way. The reason you might consider twilight photos would be:

  1. there may be a lot of exterior lighting around the property
  2. there may have pool lighting with a water feature which really works well
  3. orientation of property, eg. if your property faces in a southerly direction (the sun never shines on the front of the property), twilight photography would be the way to go to maximize your investment.

To capture a great photo in this way you will most defiantly need a sturdy tripod and also a cable release switch just to make sure that you capture a fully focused photo. Cable release switch, enables you not to touch the camera in any way while taking the photo. This method is extremely handy for long exposures in twilight photography. When it’s time to take the photo, once the camera is set on the tripod ready to go, all the property lighting should be switched on, inside and out with the blinds open so you can see inside the property. You only have a small window of opportunity to take the photo, if you take it too early the photo isn’t dark enough, if you take it too late, the photo is too dark. Finding the right time comes with practise and experience, over time you will know when it is the right time.

Twilight photos are better taken on a clear night or with just a little cloud cover, you don’t want a sky full of cloud. With a clear night a slightly blue sky background will be achieved, which is perfect. On a cloudy covered sky it will appear to be black, this is not so good. If there isn’t enough lighting, place lanterns around the garden, which are extremely effective. One last thing, you do not need to use the flash while shooting, as you will be photographing longer exposures than usual, this is where the tripod becomes essential.

Low light photography
When you are photographing in a low light room it can be a bit difficult. Some properties have very little lighting, the way around this is to adjust your ISO setting on your camera to a higher setting for example; ISO 400 or 800 and if you adjust your aperture around 6.3 or 5.6 this will give you a brighter picture. These photos may also appear to be a bit grainy when they are brought up on the computer screen. This can be fixed through Photoshop. I advise that you use a tripod, being low light the camera needs to be perfectly still to avoid any movement.

What will it cost?
For a professional Real Estate Photographer to come out to your property and spend around 1-1.5 hours on location, taking around 15″20 photos of the property, including photo editing, the average price is around $200. There many variables however that effect price including the individual photographer and experience. Some photographers will charge you an extra fee for coming out again if there is a problem with the photos, even if it is their fault, so it might be a good idea to ask this question first. I would not hire a Photographer for anything less, than $170 as this would indicate to me that they are not as confident, knowledgeable and experienced as they may appear to be, and may leave you rather disappointed with the finished product. Overall, this is really a cost effective way to go if you are serious about selling your home. Photos sell the property and if they are taken correctly, it will attract a lot more interest to your property from prospective buyers. In my experience I have found the results speak for themselves, faster settlement and a higher price achieved, a win/win all round.

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