I regularly receive inquiries from real estate agents looking for someone to photograph their listings. The conversation usually abruptly ends when the Realtor learns that I won’t photograph a house for the rock bottom rates they are accustomed to paying. There are no hard feelings on my part. As I wrote before, most real estate listings don’t require the level of attention that I put into a project.
However, as I mentioned in the other post, high end real estate is an exception. When a property is at the upper end of the market, the potential commission on the sale, as well as the need for more attention-grabbing marketing justifies the cost associated with my approach.
When Humberto Alcazar from Exit West Realty in El Paso contacted me, he confirmed that a trend witnessed elsewhere is beginning to take hold in this region. Across the country, real estate agents are beginning to see the value in investing in quality photography for their listings. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal touched on the trend.
The investment pays off in two ways – First, the listing stands out and sells quicker (and for a higher price). Second, the Realtor stands out in a competitive and crowded field when they are trying to get their next listing.
Those are my two goals with real estate photography – sell the house, and help the Realtor get their next listing.
Quality architectural and real estate photography has a few rules. Here are some:
– Vertical lines must be vertical
– Windows should not appear as a supernova of light
– Shadows behind objects should appear natural
– Extreme wide angles should be avoided
While the level of effort required is not as great as architectural projects, real estate photography benefits from some extra effort in the areas of composition and lighting. Most of the photos in this post were created with the assistance of between two and four off camera flashes.
Real estate agents tend to want the photos to be composed as wide as possible, often to the point where portions of the room look distorted and unnatural. The goal is usually to make the rooms appear as large as possible. That’s understandable, but something about those ultra-wide angle photos just doesn’t look right and that causes the photo to be less realistic to the viewer.
Viewers want the photo to help them feel like they are in the space in a believable way.
Sometimes the extreme difference in the amount of light inside compared to outside is too much even for a bag full of flashes. In these cases, a little photo editing helps bring the balance between inside and out back to a reasonable level.
When it comes to the exterior shots, there are many options that go beyond the typical mid-day photo from the street. The most popular trend right now is dusk and twilight shots. For most properties, this time of day is magical.
As the sun sets, the color of light changes significantly in the span of just a few minutes.
The dramatic light helps draw attention to the prominent features of the property – especially if they are lit by landscape lighting. At the same time, the darkness hides less visually appealing elements.
Do It Right
If you’re a homeowner looking to sell, find a Realtor who understands the value of quality real estate photography. I can recommend Humberto to you – he gets it.
If you’re a Realtor who lists high end properties, do a little research and ask around. I think you’ll quickly learn that this is the way the industry is going. Buyers want to be impressed and your next client will want to know you will be able to give them the quality photos that will help their property stand out from the rest.