The interior photograph is a subject matter as feared as it is important to the real estate industry. In the digital age, most home buyers’ first impressions of a property will be through its online photographs. Further, the importance of professional photography in listings has only increased in recent years.
A 2015 survey by the American National Association of Realtors found that 87 percent of individuals who bought homes that year relied on online images to help influence their decisions. Another recent NAR survey concluded that online property listings with more photographs were sold faster than those with fewer photographs. A home with just one photo took an average of 70 days to sell on the market while a home with 20+ photos took an average of 32 days to sell. Producing outstanding photographs will allow your listings to exceed in a competitive market, attract more spectators to your listings and open houses, enhance the value of your listing, and develop increased quality for your brand and character.
When hiring a professional interior photographer is not an option, real estate agents should not be excessively concerned with developing their own photos. Below is an assortment of tips and advice for real estate agents seeking to improve upon their interior photography skills and enhance the quality of their listings.
Choosing your camera
The average “standard” of real estate photography is becoming easier to achieve as technology rapidly develops. The same 12-megapixel camera on your iPhone 7 would have cost you $8,000 for the 11-megapixel Canon EOS-1D in 2002. So long as you have a recent generation smartphone, your photos should already meet a certain standard of quality.
Purchasing a high-quality, professional DLSR camera could be one of the best investments that you make as a real estate agent. It may not be necessary to spend thousands on a camera such as the 40-megapixel Pentax 645D, but $800-$1,000 should be the start of your ideal budget. A wide angle lens is the key to real estate photography, as you’ll be looking to capture tight spaces in a single frame.
Many real estate photographers recommend starting with a Nikon or Canon such as the Nikon D7000 along with an 11-16 wide angle lens like the Tokina AT-X116PRDXN AT-X Pro 11-16mm ultra-wide angle lens. This pairing will ensure that you capture a sufficient amount of interior space in the best possible quality necessary for a listing photograph. The Canon DLSR equivalents are excellent as well, including the Canon 6D, Canon 5D MKIII, and Canon 70D. A tripod can be helpful, but is not a necessity.
Bushari’s Art of Staging article extensively details the necessary measures for outstanding home staging. One of the most important aspects is ensuring that all furniture angles are drawn to a focal point. A single focal point makes it easier for your viewers to envision the design and personality of a room.
Other important staging tips elaborated upon in our previous blog post include decluttering, keeping furniture grouped away from the walls to expand the space, and accessorizing.
Your goal in developing professional real estate photographs is to ensure that your viewers can envision themselves in your properties. After you’ve finished decluttering the room for staging, you’ll want to ensure that the furniture, as well, is cleanly arranged so that your audience can see that they have room to breathe.
Since you will be using a wide-angle lens for the shots, it is imperative that you find the best angle to get the largest shot of the room. This will vary depending on the shape of the interior, but it’s usually a safe to back yourself into a corner for the shot. A corner composition allows you to make the interior space look as large as possible. When you’re backed into the corner, you should avoid taking the shot at eye level, or angled downward. Instead, crouch down a bit to the approximate position that your chest would be if you were to stand straight. This will give you the perfect angle to ensure that all verticals are corrected.
Finding the perfect lighting for real estate photographs is usually the trickiest part of the venture. Be sure to take some time before shooting to study the natural and artificial lighting in a house. Interior lighting can be difficult because you are trying to find a balance between the room lighting (which usually produces a sort of orange glow) and the light pouring in from the windows (which will be much brighter). In the event that you have absolutely no artificial lighting in a house, then you run into an issue of balancing the dark room with the blinding window lights. Your ideal time for shooting may actually be during overcast or at dusk.
Unless the sunlight has produced sufficient lighting in your rooms, you’ll want to flip on all of the lights. Once you judge that a room is thoroughly illuminated, you’re ready to take your shot. You may want to experiment with the various settings on your camera to see which looks best with the room’s lighting. You may want to use your “auto” setting, but be aware that flash settings can often cast shadows onto the floor, which can be difficult to clean up and balance during post editing work. Lighting is always going to be an experiment for interior photography. Take a few photos with flash, check how they turned out, take a few with increased ambient lighting, and check how they turned out. It can be a lengthy process, but the result will be well worth it over the traditional run-n-gun photography method many are so used to.
This section is optional but recommended for those who want to go above and beyond with their photographs.
After narrowing down the best of your compositions, you can utilize several software programs to make them truly outstanding. The most popular software programs for real estate photographers will be Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.
Lightroom is a photo processing tool that allows for corrective retouching of digital images.
After importing your photographs into the program, you can use the “develop” module to change several aspects of them. The “temperature” and “tint” sliders will alter the coloring of the photos, which may be necessary if your camera caught a lot of green light from the windows or any ambient orange glow from lightbulbs. “Exposure” and “highlights” are important for adjusting the brightness and whiteness of the lighting. If you have excess light streaming from the windows, you may want to turn down the highlights.
Further, Lightroom can even alter the perspective of a photograph to adjust for disproportioned verticals. This can be especially helpful for small, tight rooms such as the bathroom. Use the “auto” or “vertical” perspective corrections to turn an awkward bathroom angle into a straight, open position.
After correcting the lighting and perspective of your photos, you can utilize Adobe Photoshop to clean up any smaller details you may want to correct. For instance, there may be a few wires jutting out from the television that can be cleaned up; or a dish in the sink that you hadn’t noticed during the initial shot. Photoshop will be the perfect tool for correcting these smaller mistakes.
Taking the quality of your listings and rentals to the next level will pay off when your viewers notice that you are taking the necessary strides to ensure that your photographs are flawless. Check back regularly on the Bushari Blog, as we will cover real estate photography software in the next “Art of real estate” publication.