26th April 2021
Most agents will agree that photos are one of the most important elements when listing a property For Sale or To Let. With that in mind I’m often appalled by the "Crimes Against Photography" committed by agents who should know better!
There’s a notable multi-branch agent close to me who has a habit of taking exterior photos from inside the car. With the window up. If the weather is so bad you can’t get out of the car then should you be taking photos in the first place? Are you so busy that you don’t even have time to step out of the car?
There’s no excuse for this.
It all comes down to planning.
Make sure you allow enough time to take good-quality photos inside and outside the property. And that includes allowing enough time for preparation before you even get your camera out of the bag.
It may be my own personal OCD coming to light but I would never publish a shot of a bathroom where the toilet seat was up. Or an outside front shot on bin day.
Preparation is vital.
It’s also something most of your competitors won’t bother with. So by getting this right your listings will stand out.
Remove all bathroom shampoos, shower gels, toothpaste, bleach, cleaning products, towels, lotions, and potions.
In the kitchen, leave the work surfaces as clean and clear as possible.
Remove everything but the toaster, microwave, and kettle. Remove the oven gloves and tea towels from the radiator or the oven door.
Clear away little Archie’s charming artwork stuck to the fridge. Also hide the washing up liquid, scourers, or cloths.
Remove everything but an attractive fruit bowl or vase from the kitchen or dining room table.
An example of a property photo with items left out and a window in shot.
With living rooms and bedrooms, it’s often harder to remove the occupier’s personal effects. But keep things that shouldn’t be there to a minimum or hidden.
Ironing boards, piles of laundry, exercise equipment, that sort of thing. And make the bed! With experience, you’ll get to know what’s going to be visible in the final shot and what isn’t. This often means you don’t have to remove things completely, you can often get away with scooting them behind a bed or piece of furniture...
One final piece of advice on preparation. From the outset be strict with your Landlords & Vendors about what you expect from them.
Give them a checklist of what they need to do before the photo shoot. Tidying up, removing items, painting, etc. Stick to your guns if they haven’t lived up to their end of the bargain.
Call them the day before to check they’ve done everything. If they haven't, rearrange the photo shoot.
If you're in any doubt, ask them to take a quick couple of photos on their phone and send them over to you. Your time is precious - so be firm.
Before taking the ‘real’ shots in each room I would always suggest you get into position and take a test shot.
Then study the test shot on the screen of your camera. That way you can spot visible items, check the lighting was OK, think about moving furniture, etc.
Having the discipline to do this in every room will add around 5-10 minutes to each photo session. But it will save much more time by reducing the amount of editing needed back at the office.
It’s always best to shoot the room from corner to corner.
With small rooms, I would stand or set up your tripod outside the room. Shoot into the room through the open door towards the opposite corner. When I was taking our listing photos I developed a handy skill of using my front kneeling foot to wedge open the door so it didn’t appear in shot.
Property photography is often best done alone because some of the positions you have to contort your body into are not always best shared with an audience...
I’ve heard some photographers say you should never have a window in the shot. Others say never show an internal door. Do what works for you.
It’s up to you whether to have a window in the shot or not. But you should always avoid auto-focusing on the window. Given this is the lightest part of the room, if you do focus on it the rest of the room will look very dark.
When taking external shots they always tend to look better taken from an angle rather than face on. Especially if there’s a front garden or drive. I’d even take this approach with mid-terrace properties.
A final word on preparation for outside shots – it will look weird if you have some flashy supercar on the driveway of a not-very-impressive semi. I’ve seen this and it will just raise eyebrows that you don’t need. So even if the owner is very proud, respectfully ask them to move it before you take your photos.
How Many Photos?
I would always aim to take 3-5 ‘Good’ shots of each angle, of each room. This is having already undertaken the test shot exercise outlined earlier.
Outside try different angles and different distances. Alter the main focal point in the foreground. For the rear garden, I would also shoot away from and facing the property, straight-on and from many angles.
You’re aiming to have at least 5 – 9 superb photos per property – because that’s what the portals suggest maximises interest and click-through rates.
An example of what NOT to photograph!
Thank you for reading, I hope these tips have been useful for you!
#1 Bestselling Author Of ‘The Ultimate Property Listing’. Letting Agency Business Growth Specialist.
Neil provides one to one and group coaching for letting agents & estate agents who want to stand out in their local market, grow their business and make more money.neilwhitfield.com/