Over the past two years, advances in virtual property marketing have basically saved the real estate industry. CGI Renders, 360° Virtual Tours, and 3D Floor Plans have all helped buyers get a great sense of a place, even if they couldn’t visit it in person, even if it didn’t yet exist. But, despite all these advances and innovations, no element of real estate marketing is more important than a solid suite of stunning images. 

National Association of Realtors research consistently indicates that buyers rank quality images as the most useful feature of their property search - and by a wide margin. Over the past year, 84% of buyers listed images as very useful website features in their hunt for real estate - more than any other assessed feature. 

When it comes to producing the best possible real estate photos, these tips will help you lift your game and attract the sort of buyer interest that will help your listings sell for more. 

1. Solid Preparation Is The Key To Stunning Presentation

Yes, digital editing services like the one we offer can work miracles on your overall image quality. But this does not mean that you don’t need to prepare for your shoot. 

There is so much to keep in mind during any photo shoot that the more the site is prepared in advance, the more effective you will be in focusing on aesthetics:  Are ceiling fans turned off?  Are ceiling lights turned on? Are tables centerpieces so high that they impede a clear view of a room? Are doorways free of shoes, mats, bags, umbrellas, and other clutter? 

These are just a few of the numerous things to look out for. Brad Filliponi
Our co-founder Brad Filliponi is a firm believer in the importance of thorough preparation for a photoshoot. His Pre-Photography checklist has been downloaded by thousands of photographers and real estate agents around the world as a guide to getting things right on the day of the shoot.

Our co-founder Brad Filliponi has compiled a Pre-Photography Checklist that has become a great friend to many agents and real estate photographers. It can be a great time-saving practice to download it and send it to the homeowners in advance of any photo shoot. 

Unoccupied properties tend to have fewer obstacles to a clean shoot. But if you are going to employ Virtual Staging to turbocharge your marketing and maximize your sale price, it pays to read our post on How to shoot real estate photography for virtual staging.

2. Schedule Adequate Time For Your Shoot

If you get in the habit of preparing (or encouraging the homeowners to prepare) your listing according to the guidelines laid out in our Pre-Photography Checklist, you’ll end up shaving many hours off of your shoot times each week. Still, it is essential to schedule enough time for each shoot so you can give the property the attention it deserves. 

The exact amount of time will depend upon the size of the residence, your level of experience, and, of course, the readiness of the property to be photographed. 

Just remember that your images are your most important marketing weapon. The last thing you want to do is squeeze yourself for time during this vital point in the sales process. 

 3. Tour The Property Like A Buyer, With The Homeowner

When you allow yourself adequate time, you will be able to walk through the property once WITHOUT camera gear.

This is common practice amongst veteran photographers, but if you are one of the increasing number of real estate agents who are shooting their own images with their smartphone, it might not be part of your routine. 

Ask the homeowners to give you a tour, as they will know the place intimately and will be able to lead you to its most stunning features. This will also allow you to ask the homeowner to remove objects like fridge magnets, yard hoses, family photos, or garbage bins that don’t perform well in real estate photography. 

And if you're lucky, this owner-guided tour will lead you straight to the jackpot - the jackpot being your Hero Image. Hero Image
As you walk through the house for the first time be on the hunt for your Hero Image. It might be a view as in the above example or a streetscape, or a staircase with a beautiful chandelier. Your Hero Image is your “thumb-stopper”. Thanks to programs like our Day-to-Dusk edit you don’t have to wait around for a perfect sunset or to the best sort of light to bring out the blues in the pool. We can do all that for you.

4. Never Forget That You Are A Hunter (For A Hero Image) 

This initial walkthrough is often the catalyst for the Hero Image, which is the most important piece of visual marketing you will produce. 

The hero image is the “thumb-stopper” - a word uses to describe a real estate image that leaps off the screen and captures a prospective buyer’s interest in a property. It’s what you’ll use as your thumbnail on MLS sites and will be the most prominent image in all your marketing. 

Your Hero Image is the most sensational image of the most sensational aspect of a home, and the best way to decide upon it is to walk through the home first - not as a photographer but as a buyer. 

Don’t overthink it. Let the property speak to you. Whatever jumps out as the most exciting attribute of a place - it could be a streetscape, a stunning kitchen, or a backyard pool - that is your Hero Image. 

For that extra touch of heroic quality, you can run your image through our 16-step Day-to-Dusk Image Enhancement package, which can transform even the mediocre image into something marvelous and costs only $4. 

And speaking of saving time, the Day-to-Dusk feature eliminates the hassle of waiting around for the perfect twilight moment. As its name suggests, no matter what time of day you take your photo, this feature can paint it with the gorgeous hues of an eye-catching (and thumb-stopping!) sunset.  Ahhhh! 

5. Go Head-And-Shoulders Above The Rest With Aerial Images aerial color fade
Our Aerial Color Fade service is just one of many versatile aerial edits we can apply to a drone shot. In this case, the Aerial Color Fade is a great way to make a home and its entire property lines, stand out from the houses that surround it.

Just like a stunning sunset, there’s something about an aerial photo that really makes a property pop. 

Aerial pics are still among a minority for most real estate listings, so there is a real opportunity to stand out from your competition by heading to the skies. 

Many forms of Aerial editing will raise the profile of your listing - depending on the type of property you are trying to market. 

Location drop pins, for example, are great for properties in need of renovation as they highlight the area - which is often the strongest selling point for a fixer-upper. 

If you wish to highlight the property over the surrounding neighborhood, our Aerial Color Fade is a clever (and pretty cool) way to showcase an entire property from the sky in a way that the neighboring homes don’t compete with the house you are selling. 

This edit retains the color in only the listing you are marketing while fading the surrounding homes to black and white. 

Aerial edits are also probably the best way to showcase empty lots or larger development sites, which can be difficult for prospective buyers to envision from the ground level. 

6. HDR Bracketing Helps Buyers See The Light aerial color fade
The importance of Bracketing is on full display in this comparison. The top image does not employ this technique and as a result, loses out on a spectacular view. But even if the view was not spectacular, the light through the window in the BEFORE example creates an unpleasant distortion to the interior of the room.

Whether you’re an aspiring real estate photographer or an agent who is learning how to shoot your photos, you might wonder why your pics never look quite as good as the pros. If you find yourself in this situation, it could be because you are not employing the technique of HDR Bracketing. 

HDR (High Dynamic Range) Bracketing is the technique that allows photographers to produce images with the maximum amount of detail. It also allows the view outside the windows of a room to appear as it does in real life. 

This might not sound like such a big deal, but when you view images of a room that don't use Bracketing compared to ones that do, you can immediately recognize the massive difference in quality. 

The Bracketing process involves taking multiple identical photos at varying exposures. These exposures are then blended (at the editing stage) to get the best version of exposure, focus, and white balance. This allows photographers to capture the sharpest internal and external details all in the same photo.

If you feel a little intimidated at the prospect of blending these images, don’t worry! That is the whole purpose of our Image Enhancement with HDR Bracketed Images service,

7. Save The Staging For The Editing Process

If you are not a professional stager, you'd be wise to save your staging efforts for the editing room.

Some of the great benefits of Virtual Staging are that it is cheaper than physical staging, a lot faster, less expensive, and far more flexible. Countless studies have shown that a tastefully staged room (whether virtually or physically staged) will help sell a home faster and often for more than the asking price. 

This knowledge might make it tempting for your inner interior designer to come out and express itself. Whether you're tempted to add a beautiful flower arrangement, rearrange the pillows on a sectional couch or set up a cluster of candles in a bathroom, you might be wiser to skip this step altogether and leave such touches to the pros. 

The danger of adding such real-world design tweaks is that can appear one way to the naked eye and another (less-appealing) way in a photograph. Sometimes a vase or a flower arrangement can impede the view or the flow of a room, and these 'improvements' can be difficult to rectify once you're looking at your images on your desktop.

Given the dramatic reduction in Virtual Staging costs over the past year, the time you will save and the margin for error you will eliminate, it's best to let the experts (us!) handle your virtual staging after you've captured your images. 

8. Little Things Can Have The Biggest Impact

One of the cool things about studying photography is the growing awareness of the way little things can create big impressions. Sometimes these impressions are subliminal.

Our co-founder Brad Filliponi was a real estate photographer for over 16, before embarking upon the journey. Over this time he picked up many nifty little tricks to get the most out of his photograph. 

He's shared many of these tricks in a PREVIOUS POST which is well worth a read for any aspiring or established real estate photographer. 

Some of his pointers include supposedly 'little' things that wouldn't necessarily occur to photographers with less experience, but which can make a big difference in the look and feel of a property. Here are a few:

  • When shooting from inside, try opening the front door. This creates space, brings the outside in, and elicits a warm and welcoming among prospective buyers. 
  • Include foliage in the foreground. Exterior shots that include some foreground greenery have a way of making a property look much more appealing.
  • Don't include too much ceiling. Make sure your camera angles favor more direct shots of the room and less floor and ceiling space.
  • Don't shoot the pantry! Yes, storage space is important, but unless specifically requested adding shots of closet or pantry space will add very little sizzle to your listing presentation.

9. Relax And Enjoy - You Are An Artist

Making art is fun and everyone is an artist in some way. Perhaps the only opportunity you might have to make art in your busy life is when you are walking through a listing with a camera or a smartphone in your hand. Let it bring you fulfillment. 

If you are strictly focused on the commercial elements of your shoot, or worried about getting it done as quickly as possible, the quality of your images is almost guaranteed to suffer. And by the opposite logic, if you are enjoying what you do you will be more engaged in the tasks at hand, and the quality of your output will become better and better. 

Why this works, is difficult to say. But ask any high-level real estate photographer, or any overachiever in any other field whether or not it is true and you will be hard-pressed to find any disagreement among them. So relax, enjoy, and take beautiful photos!



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