Photography Helps Sell Real Estate
If you’re like me, you probably enjoy looking at homes online. Many people browse homes on the internet for fun. My wife and I like to look online at homes for sale in Colorado Springs, deep in the quiet mountain areas where we could never live, with our current lifestyle. We like to daydream about what it would be like to wake up and sit outside with our coffee in the morning and enjoy the deafening silence of mountain seclusion.
It’s fun to daydream. But in reality, when you are seriously looking to buy a home, it can be frustrating when the images online are the only visual aid to help you determine whether or not a property is worth looking at. As a home seller, online property photos are one of your strongest assets for getting showings and eventually selling your home quickly, and for top dollar.
With photos being such a huge part of your home selling marketing leverage, it makes sense to have an extensive list of questions to ask the person taking the photos of your house when you’re ready to sell. I have been in the business for many years and have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to real estate photos.
Through the years I have learned some major tricks of the trade, which I will share with you. Here are some good technical questions to ask your real estate photographer when listing your house for sale. These questions will help ensure that you get the best real estate photos possible.
What size wide angle lens do they use?
A wide angle lens captures more space and makes the room look as large as it possibly can. Most stock DSL cameras come with an 18mm wide angle zoom lens. In my experience, many real estate photographers are perfectly content with an 18mm lens, but in reality, this is not sufficient to capture the whole room, especially in smaller areas.
The best size wide angle is normally a 10mm lens. An 8 mm lens will create a “fish eye” effect which distorts the image and makes it less appealing to online home buyers, while 10mm is where that threshold stops. A good professional real estate photographer will usually have an upgraded wide angle lens to capture the most amount of space possible.
Some 10mm wide angle lenses will create a slight “fish eye” effect, but image correction software, such as Adobe Lightroom, will correct and manipulate the image back to shape without losing the edges of the image.
Knowing whether your photographer uses a wide angle lens is probably the single most important piece of information that you can find out about them.
As you can see in the comparison image, the depth of the room is dramatically different with a 10mm lens as compared to a normal 18mm lens. In bedrooms and small areas, this difference can make or break an online home buyers desire to view your listing. Make sure to find out what kind of lens your real state photographer uses and don’t let them show up with a stock 18mm zoom lens.
Do they use HDR photography software?
HDR (High Dynamic Range) imaging is a process that involves taking 3 or more photos of the same image, while using different light exposures. Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) is a feature found on most DSLR cameras. It will automatically snap multiple images while changing the light sensitivity on each one. One image will be dark, one will be average, and one will be very light. By adjusting the ISO and/or aperture of each image, the three images gather light from different areas of the room which could never be captured in one single shot.
HDR software will then take the three images and overlay them to grab the best parts of each one and create one final processed image. This allows the photograph to have equal amounts of light gathered from all areas of the room.
Typically a single image without HDR will have darker and lighter areas because the depth of field, and a single shot cannot fully capture all the areas of a room in one shutter click. With HDR you can really make a room light up and cause the viewer to feel as though they are standing in the room as they look at it. It’s one of the greatest photography tricks for real estate, and should be an essential part of your real estate photographers skill set.
It should be noted that simply having the software to process HDR images is not enough to make a photographer’s images flawless. It’s easy to over process an image and make it look like a computer generated image. Have you ever looked at homes online and noticed pictures that looked like virtual reality?
That’s HDR over-processing. A good real estate photographer will know how to use HDR to gather the best light features of each photo, without making it obvious that they are using software to manipulate it. Each photographer will have their own artistic touch that they add to their work. It’s important to know that your real estate photographer is aware of the unnatural affects of HDR over processing.
As with most artistic processes, moderation is the key. Using HDR in moderation to gently bring out the best light features of the room has a powerful effect on home buyers as they compare your listing with other real estate listings online. A good real estate photographer will make your listing stand out above the rest.
HDR imaging requires a tripod to get the best images, since it’s gathering 3 different images in a frame burst. Any slight movement of the camera will cause the photo to be blurry when processed.
If your real estate photographer shows up without a tripod, it should be a red flag that you are not getting the best quality images possible. Tripods are a necessity for good lighting. Make sure your real estate photograph knows how to use HDR imaging and uses a tripod with a decent wide-angle lens.
What model camera do they use?
This is a very important questions. Since cameras are all digital now, new current models out perform old models by a long shot. The shutter speeds and image quality of today’s cameras are incredible. If your photographer is using a camera they bought in 2001, it’s highly likely that they are getting less quality images than a comparable new DSLR Camera. One of the main aspects to new camera technology is the frames per second. Here is a great list that shows the FPS of each popular camera on the market: http://www.hdr-photography.com/aeb.html. You’ll notice that Nikon and Canon seem to have the most powerful cameras on the market, which is why you generally see these cameras everywhere.
Take the model number of the camera your photographer uses and cross reference it with this list. This will give you a good idea of the quality of the equipment that they use. I personally wouldn’t want my photographer to use a camera that has any less than 6 fps. The images above were taken with a Canon 70D, which is a great camera for real estate photography.
Do they use a flash?
To a photographer that has been around for a while, using a flash has a bit a nostalgia. Old cameras did not have the ability to capture light at the speed of modern cameras, therefore using a flash was the best way to enhance the lighting in an image. The problem with using a standard flash for real estate photography is that it creates shadows in the image and takes away ambient lighting features. If someone uses a flash for real estate photography, they are most likely not using HDR imaging, and are not as knowledgeable of new camera technology and the best ways to capture natural light.
If your real estate photographer shows up with a flash, it should be a red flag that you are not going to get the best possible pictures for your real estate listing. Unfortunately, there are many real estate agents who do not want to pay the expense of hiring a professional photographer, or learn how to take professional photos themselves. They show up with an average camera and a clunky flash, (or worse yet- use their phone) and start shooting away.
As a full-time REALTOR, I look at thousands of real estate photos every year. When I take photos for my own listings, I generally snap around 500 images and then narrow them down to the top 20 to 30 photos. If you hire a real estate agent who does not respect or understand the complexities of professional photography, it may have a great impact on your ability to attract the most amount of buyers to your listing.
Make sure that you ask the questions mentioned in this article to avoid getting stuck with some bad real estate listing photos. There are so many bad real estate photos out there that people have created websites fully devoted to mocking and displaying them.
Are you in good hands with your real estate photographer?
There are many common questions that you can ask a photographer, such as “how long have you been a photographer?” and “ how often are you hired to take photos for people?”, but in my experience, the 4 questions listed above will cut straight to the heart of the interview and will quickly let you know whether you are dealing with a pro, or a novice. If you are dealing with a novice, stand your ground and ask for a better photographer.
The images that you and your REALTOR put online are extremely valuable. Photography is one of the most important aspects of real estate marketing. You do not want to be one of the many sellers who have poor images which turn buyers away. Photography is a vital part of good real estate marketing. You want to have images that make buyers emotionally attach to your house before they ever set foot inside it.
With all the knowledge you now know after reading this article, you should be able to determine the professional ability of your real estate photographer. Just to recap, here are some of the main things you need to look for when your photographer shows up:
- They should have a good wide angle lens, preferably a 10mm.
- They should have a tripod.
- They should have a newer model camera.
- They should not use a flash.
For a humorous look at how much influence online real estate photos have on the real estate business, take a look at my article called Looking at Homes Online Versus In Person. The info-graphic in the article will give you a good idea of what buyers deal with when shopping for a home online. It can be very frustrating for a buyer to look at a home in person, only to realize that it is very different from the way it was marketed online.
If you plan on selling your house, do your own due diligence and interview the photographer with these questions. If you are not comfortable interviewing them, then ask your REALTOR to do it. If your REALTOR is your photographer, you definitely want to ask them these questions, because most REALTORS are not professional photographers. Simply having a high end camera does not equate them with being a professional.
Photography is a challenging industry that is always evolving. Having the person responsible for your valuable real estate photos be on top of their game can really swing the odds in your favor when listing your house for sale. The image above of the upside down house is one I saw just yesterday while looking at homes for a client in Colorado Springs. Yes, this really just happened. Don’t assume that your listing will look great. These kinds of mistakes are common and I hope that it never happens to you. I wish you the best of luck with your online real estate photos. With the information that you have learned from this article, you should do great!
How to get the best photos when selling your home was written by Andrew Fortune. Andrew is a Real Estate agent in the Colorado Springs area and enjoys collaborating with other real estate bloggers and social media experts to help inform consumers of the important details involved in today’s real estate market. His website, GreatColoradoHomes.com is a great resource for home buyers and sellers in the Colorado Springs area.