By Peter Ricci
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a real estate agent in possession of a good property must be in want of great photography.” – Jane Austen
Alright, that may not be the exact opening line to Pride and Prejudice, but it definitely gets the point across on how valuable photography now is for real estate agents, what with the advent of the Internet and the increasing ubiquity of tablets and smartphones. It’s no longer a matter of “if” you use photography with your listings, but “how,” and we’ve got five essential tips to show how to use photography the right way.
- Join your competitors – As we were just saying, stop debating whether or not you will use high-quality photography for your listings; every progressive, successful agent out there is using it. Also, think of it like this – with its current fixation on photography, real estate has finally reached the standards that everyone holds other products to. As Brian Balduf, the chairman of Chicago-based VHT Inc., explained in a recent Chicago Tribune piece, even low-priced items at Walmart are well-photographed in the company’s catalogs.
- Have the necessary equipment – Aside from the camera itself (and make sure it’s a quality camera; peruse Amazon customer reviews for some perspective), you’ll definitely want to invest in complementary equipment, such as extra memory cards, the necessary cords for your computer (so you can transfer the photos from your camera to your computer) and, most importantly, a tripod. You could have steadier hands than the man who shot Liberty Valance, but a tripod will always take a cleaner shot. And, though it may seem like an obvious point, double check that your equipment is not visible in windows or mirrors; talk about embarrassing!
- Balancing act – As award-winning real estate photographer Dave Rezendes explained to us in a past issue, you’ll want to balance feeling and function in your photographs, so prospective buyers can see the property’s features and see themselves living there. In other words, the home should look livable, rather than mechanical, and the angles you choose when photographing will play a bit part in that. Forty-five degree angles, Rezendes said, are the preferable angle, because they really bring out the depth of a living space.
- Obsess over lighting – Don’t get us wrong, we’re not saying take a photography class and study the art of effective lighting; rather, be conscientious of how the lighting is in room when you’re photographing it. Few things are more taxing on the eye than poorly-lit rooms, and whether on Trulia, Zillow or your own personal website, buyers will not hesitate to click ahead to another agent’s property with well-lit rooms. Rezendes even recommended buying an external flash unit to balance a room’s lighting.
- Duplicates – This is another golden rule, right up there with having the right equipment. Your first shot may look perfect, but when you get home, load the image into your computer and look it over because there are a number of things you may not have noticed the first time around, like a bad shadow, a reflection or an unfortunate crease in the master bed’s comforter. Therefore, multiple shots from multiple angles are necessary to compensate for any unseen errors.
Photography can be quite a bit of fun, but as our tips demonstrate, it’s not something to be taken lightly. For nearly 90 percent of buyers today, the homebuying process begins online, so having great photography will be the ultimate difference between your property and the other agent’s down the block.