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Real Estate Photography…for beginners!

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Taking effective real estate photography is one the first important steps to marketing your home. Photos create a lasting impression, and often will be the deciding factor towards whether a potential buyer contacts you for a visit. In fact, 74% of buyers will judge a book by it’s cover- they won’t even bother visiting a place that looks dark, blurry, or untidy in the listing photos…even if the place looks like it might be alright in real life!

Ideally, if you don’t have a decent camera or a basic grounding in photography, you should really be hiring a professional photographer for the shoot. It’ll only cost you between $70-150 and will be worth every penny as it’ll increase the number of visits to your home. But for those who’d like to try their hand at their real estate photography, here’s a starter’s guide to follow.

1. Prepare your home.

Move around the furniture, clear away any lingering objects, tidy up the living room and rooms, make the beds with light coloured bedding, and make sure the floors are clean and shiny (any dust lining the floors, surfaces or window sills is likely to show up in the shot!) In the kitchen and bathroom, put away any day-to-day necessities such as toasters, blenders, rags, shampoo, and soaps.

2. Adjust the Lighting

If your home already has good natural lighting, open up all the windows and use the sunlight as much as possible. If not, turn on all the indoor lights, try to use a fill flash, and adjust the exposure and white balance on your camera. Avoid fluorescent lighting which can look ugly-green in the final shots. Unless you have an professional camera and external flash, it may well be that your images still appear too dark even with the lights on. This happens when the sunlight from the windows creates a contrast with the darker interiors, blackening out the corners and shadows. You’ll need to fix this by using an image editing tool such as
Photoshop CS, Lightroom, or iPhoto. Pump up the exposure and shadows- being careful not go to overboard! Lastly, consider that time of day has a significant effect on the quality of your photography. You’ll have to try out different times to see which
intensity of sunlight complements your particular architecture best.

3. Find the most flattering angles.

Move around the condo and locate the most pleasing angles before you start. Show off the best features of your home and hide the less flattering angles just by moving your position. This will also help you notice any issues with the placement of the furniture. For example, you might notice that from a certain angle, the table blocks the view of your windows, and that it might be best to move it slightly over to the right.

4. Shoot!

Put yourself tight into a corner or doorway to capture the widest angle of the room. Rarely will the middle of a room offer the best perspective. Hold the camera straight, not inclining up or down and not tilted to either side. Easy method: the left and right edges of your viewfinder should be exactly parallel with vertical lines in the scene, such as doorways. Keep your hands perfectly still as you shoot- if this is an issue for you use a tripod. Movement during the shot will make the image look blurry!

Extra Tip: When possible, use a wide angle lens for your photography!
Most bedrooms are too small to get the entire room with a regular lens.

To maintain sharp focus in your interior photography, use hyperfocal principles to focus one-third of the distance into the scene. Avoid shooting very close to objects (adding to focus difficulties). Keep apertures small (typically f/11 to f/16).

Use a high shutter speed to absorb as much light as possible, resulting in a brighter image.
Note: For long shutter speeds it’s absolutely necessary to use a tripod, even the smallest hand movement will cause a visible distortion or blurriness in your image.

Examine your frame in the viewfinder. Remove unnecessary objects and clutter clutter. Make sure any defects are hidden. Avoid large and bulky objects on the ends of the frame, such as tables, or couches.
Align the camera on the tripod: avoid tilting the camera side to side or elevating it up or down. Check that the alignment of vertical objects (like door frames) are parallel with the sides of your viewfinder frame.

Focus your frame on light or mid-tone objects rather than dark furniture. A colourful pop, such as a red chair or a bright painting, can liven up a room as a central piece in the composition if the rest of the decor is neutral coloured.

If you have little experience with exposure, you can try bracketing the values by as much as a full stop plus and minus, varying the shutter speed — this is easy to do on a still life subject as it provides a clear point of comparison. Later, you can pick the most appealing image of the three, and sometimes it’s not the middle exposure you’d expect.

Shoot wide-angle to capture entire rooms and make them look big, but don’t ignore the details: the unique character of some interiors can be found in smaller areas or objects, or even close-ups. Complement your panoramic, wide angle shots with details of particular decor which may inspire buyers on how the home can be furnished. Overuse of ultra-wide shots can result in a boring set of photos, though they are needed to a certain degree to give the viewer an orienting overview of the space.

Watch out for your reflection in mirrors, metal surfaces and even on shiny floors. Also, look out for flash reflections in glass (picture frames, windows, mirrors). Such reflections will create intense hot spots where you didn’t expect them, and are likely to ruin your image.

Photo Tip: Contrast splashes of colour in the decor with bright,
neutral backgrounds.

5. Try our different shooting positions

Holding the camera too high up will make the room look smaller. To get a mid waist shot, bend down or place the camera on a chair to lower your angle. Get creative and try shooting from the stairs, balcony, or from behind the sofa.

6. Get some outdoor shots

Include some shots of the exterior facade of your building, the garden, rooftop areas if applicable, and the neighbourhood. For example, if your house is close to a park, you could include some images of the surrounding greenery. The charm of your residential borough can be great selling point for buyers browsing through your image.

Which Lens Should You Use?

For a full frame sensor camera, use a lens around 16-35 mm.!
For cropped sensor cameras a lens around 10-22mm or 12-24mm will do the job!
Tilt-shift lenses help avoid converging vertical lines such as wall edges and door frames leaning in or out. There are several tilt-shift lenses available from Canon’s 17mm, the 24mm from Canon and Nikon, and others. These lenses have a fixed focal length so if you need a perspective that is for example; 19 mm or 27 mm or somewhere in between, a 16-35mm zoom lens is a great companion to a tilt-shift lens.


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