What is the very first image that people encounter when they take a look at a real estate listing? Nine times out of ten, it will be an exterior shot of the home, apartment, or office building.
A top-quality image of the outside of a property is absolutely vital for success in the real estate business. In fact, many first impressions when purchasing real estate are based solely on exterior photos. If clients find the exterior image attractive, they are more likely to call the agent for a closer inspection of the property. If exterior images are shot poorly (or are non-existent), prospective buyers will typically pass on the property without giving it a second thought.
As a professional real estate photographer, you must have the ability to take stunning exterior photos that can catch someone’s attention and make them want to see more. Below are some simple but effective tips in taking high-quality exterior shots for real estate.
1. Make sure the property is ready for the shoot.
Before the shoot, work with the realtor or property owner to make sure the space is ready to be photographed. Think about it: would you leave your hair uncombed before having your portrait taken? Of course not! The same principle goes for real estate photography. Make sure the yard is tidied up, any cars are moved and unflattering objects like garbage bins are moved out of the way
2. Think about the position of the sun.
Think about which way the house faces and the time of day you’ll be shooting. Try to book the shoot so that the sun is striking the house perfectly when you are there. If you can, shoot the exterior whenever the light on the house will be softest—usually the time furthest away from noon—whether that be at the beginning or end of your shoot. Avoid shooting at noon when the sun is directly overhead creating extreme highlights and dark shadows on the exterior of the home.
If it’s an overcast day, don’t fret. The overcast sky acts as a giant diffuser, which dissipates shadows and provides nice even lighting. Blue skies can always be added in post-processing.
Thinking about the position of the sun will help you show off the exterior of the property in the best possible light.
3. Take dusk or early-evening shots.
Many property exteriors truly come alive when the sunsets. Switch on all exterior and interior lights at dusk. Ideally, the brightness of the property’s light should match that of the sky. Offering additional dusk shots can be a great thing to “up-sell” to your agents, enabling them to show off the house at different times of the day.
4. Try another angle.
Get creative! After you’ve got your “safe shot,” try shooting the house at different angles to figure out which side of the property is most flattering. Creative takes on an exterior shot can help separate your work from other real estate photography professionals.
5. Use a tripod and your camera’s timer.
For the sharpest results, mount your camera on a tripod and use your camera’s timer to take the photo. Doing so eliminates the camera shake, which causes the photo to become blurry. For long exposure times such as in low light at dusk, a tripod is a must.
6. Keep the horizon straight and level.
Use your viewfinder alignment grid to ensure that lines are level both horizontally and vertically. If the lines are not straight, the property will appear distorted and sliding off the photo.
If you’re trying something creative, don’t worry too much if the horizon is not perfectly aligned. Perspective can always be corrected during post-production.
7. Focus on the details.
Does the property have interesting architectural elements? Is there a pool? Are there pine trees surrounding the house? Include these details in your photos that give each property its own unique personality. These details are often key selling points for real estate agents so take some time to show them off.
8. Use a drone for overhead shots of the property.
Another interesting idea is to use a drone to photograph the entire property in a single shot. The aerial view of a home can really help prospective buyers get a feel for the entire property and its layout in relation to other homes/businesses.
Be careful when using drone photography as some states have strict FAA regulations on who is allowed to operate drones for commercial use. Check with your local authorities to see what permits/licenses you need to operate a drone in your specific area.
9. Review and retouch.
In today’s digital age, editing your photos is essential to produce the best possible image. Photo editing allows you to remove blemishes, get rid of unwanted reflections, brighten colors, improve contrast, and more. Whether you want to retouch a little or a lot, photo editing can make the difference between a good image and a great image.
First impressions last, and in the real estate industry, it is the doorway to a successfully closed transaction. Beautiful and realistic exterior photos generate a positive and lasting impression on potential homebuyers and realtors alike. At the end of the day, if your images can help sell homes faster, you’ll begin receiving more business from your clients, and the more likely they will be to refer you to others.
Spending too much time post-processing at night and not enough time growing your business or spending time with your family? Let PhotoUp help alleviate some of that stress so that you can shoot more, edit less, and spend more time with those you love.