How to Take Better Property Photos

Person taking a property photo

Let’s face it, in today’s marketing environment property photos play a critical role in your marketing success. But unfortunately, hiring a professional photographer can be very expensive and out of most people’s budgets.

The good news is you don’t need to hire a professional photographer, or buy expensive camera gear to get the job done. With a good smart phone and a few simple “do-it-yourself” tips, you too can dramatically improve the quality of your property photos. Here are a few we recommend.

Turn the HDR setting on – If your smart phone has an HDR setting, make sure it’s turned on. This will give you a higher resolution image making it easier to edit and giving you higher quality photos. The larger the HDR photo, the better it will look when you adjust the size down later on.

Landscape vs portrait orientation – In almost every case, it is better to take photos with your phone in the “horizontal” or “landscape” position. A couple of reasons why? First, computer screens are oriented “landscape” – giving your photos maximum coverage on the screen. Also, landscape photos give you a wider range of view – allowing you to fit more of a building or room into the frame. You can easily adjust the orientation of the photo later on in an image editing program.

Photograph your property early AM or late PM – By timing your photo shoot right, you can literally put your property in a better light. Mid-day sun will cast shadows downward and will make your photos look harsh. If you pick the right morning or evening then the angle of the light will highlight your building much better. It also is helpful to avoid photographing the property during any unusual seasons. No one gets excited about photos with piles of snow in the parking lot or trees without leaves. Clean, bright surroundings can easily sell a property.

Time your photos with your landscaping crew – When you’re taking exterior photos, it’s better if you can time your shoot for just after your landscaping crew comes through. This will ensure that your property looks it’s best. A well-maintained property is an eye-catcher.

Photograph staged units when possible – For many people it’s difficult to visualize how an empty space may look with furniture in it. That’s why – when possible – you should photograph your units with the appropriate furniture in place. While you may not know the exact type of furniture that will end up there, you can certainly put things into perspective.

Use unusual angles – Try either crouching down and photographing your rooms looking up or better yet, stand on a chair or ladder and look down. This will give your photos a unique perspective and will be more appealing to your prospects. Also, avoid photographing rooms straight on. Try standing in a corner to shoot a room – flat walls don’t look very appealing in photos. Ensure that you show as much of the room as you can, as this gives the feeling of more space.

Avoid toilet photos – Unless your bathroom includes some unique feature (unusual faucets, large counters, extra linen storage or upgraded shower), you should avoid taking photos of the bathroom. Trust me, we’ve all seen a toilet and bathtub and they just aren’t very inspiring. However, if you have a restroom that is beautifully decorated and your clientelle are going to be impressed, by all means, take a photo of the gorgeous décor. Just make sure you do so from an angle that leaves the “necessities” out of the picture.

Keep Your Light source to your back – Be aware of where your light source is coming from. Avoid taking photos with the light pointing directly into your camera. Try and keep your light source to your back or, if necessary, to one side. Also, turn on any light fixtures that are in the room. By doing this you will add warmth to your photos and give the image of clean, open, well-lit space.

Include people in your photos – It’s always nice if you can include people in your photos. It makes your pictures look less sterile and more appealing. Of course, be sure to get anyone in your photos to sign a release (you can download a template release here). For example, if you have staged a reception area, find someone to pose as a receptionist and a few people to pose as clients in the waiting area.

Focus on your key property features – Before you start, make a list of the features and benefits your property offers prospects. Then, as you walk around your property, focus on how to photograph those things well. For example, if your apartment includes a washer and dryer be sure to take a photograph of those. Or, if your commercial property features a roll-up door, try taking a photo with it open and include someone loading a shipment. Make sure to do this from a side-facing view, as the light from the door could ruin your photo straight on.

Add the finishing touches with a free photo editor – Chances are that only a few of your photos will be perfect after taking them. That’s why learning how to use a free photo editor that allows you to adjust the exposure and saturation, crop unwanted areas out or emphasize highlights or shadows is worth the time and effort. These actions are not complicated and can be completed in minutes. Here is a list of the 9 best free image editors.

The bottom line is that it will take practice. The more you try to include these tips the better your end result will be. And, having better photos will certainly help you with your marketing and leasing. For more tips and suggestions be sure to visit our blog.

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