M1. LESSON 4

PHOTOGRAPHING YOUR HOME

Studies indicate that professional photography of your home can reduce the time it takes your home to sell by 32%. Can you achieve your own professional looking photographs? In this section we will show you how.

Remember, the more you prepare your home before the photo-shoot, the better the look. Thorough preparation is key ingredient to beautiful images.

Tell a story with the photography by following the path that a visitor would take when viewing the home. This makes the exterior photographs very important, as it will be the first impression buyers’ form when viewing the listing. We want to create the feel like that a prospected buyer is walking through the home just like they would at an open house or if they lived there. The order should be: the exterior, entryway, kitchen, dining room, living room, master, and then any additional bedrooms.

Photograph each room from the doorway area and let as much natural light in the room as possible.

In order to help define the purpose and size of a room create small ‘vignettes’, which are groupings of décor (usually in groupings of three) to add splashes of visual appeal. Common ideas are a colourful cushions on the couch, modern vase with fresh flowers along with two smaller similar vases, bowl of fruit in the kitchen, two wine glasses and a bottle of wine on an outdoor table. Also feel free to move furniture around to create a better layout that gives the impression lots of space . . . e.g: do not display the back of couches in a shot.

Most MLS systems can accept up to 36 photographs. Below is a suggestion as to how many photos should be uploaded for each room.

  • (3) Front Exterior – One head on, one from an angle, and one closeup to show more detail
  • (5) Family – Showcasing the family room itself, and also how it may connect to other spaces like the kitchen
  • (5) Kitchen
  • (1) Eat-In Kitchen Area
  • (2) Master Bedroom
  • (2) Master Bathroom
  • (2) Bedroom 2
  • (2) Bedroom 3
  • (3) Guest Bedrooms
  • (2) Guest Bathroom
  • (4) Basement — if finished
  • (3) Back Exterior – One closeup to show detail an patio/porch, and two at different angles to show the backyard and back side of the home itself

Tips for Great Shots

Create a feeling of flow and space in a room by opening the doors that lead to an ensuite, walk-in-robe, or outside. In most cases, leaving doors open creates depth and interest; making a room look bigger—as long as it doesn’t lead into a messy closet.

  • Open all the blinds
  • Lite the fireplace
  • Turn television off
  • Children & pets out
  • Close toilet lids
  • Close shower doors but open shower curtains
  • Clean the mirrors
  • 
Use the best camera you have
  • 
Stay out of the shots including mirror reflections
  • Evening exterior photos are beautiful
  • Use a tripod
  • Take pictures with both lights off and lights on
  • Shoot rooms from different angles – at least 4
  • Open doors that lead to other rooms, ensuites, walk-in-rode, outside
  • Make sure all lights in a room have matching lightbulbs — not blue mixed with warm light
  • Photograph each room in the house
  • Photograph outside back of house
  • Photograph view into back yard
  • Beautiful front entrance shot
  • Community common areas

Photograph your home in the order like you are a potential buyer visiting the home.

  • In bedrooms the camera should be 15” – 20” higher than the bed, and in the kitchen the camera should be 15” – 20” higher than the kitchen counter.
  • In the living room and family room, the camera should be set anywhere between 36” – 48” high from the floor.
  • A good rule to stick by is that you want to capture more floor than ceiling. Floors are often more interesting, especially if they are hardwood or decorative tile.

The Exterior

  • Sweep the porch and sidewalks
  • Take exterior home shots at dusk with all the lights on

Exterior – Remove the Following

  • Cars out of the driveway
  • Stains on driveway
  • For sale signs
  • Motorhomes & Trailers
  • Garden Hoses
  • Garden Tools
  • Toys
  • Bicycles
  • Pet Utilities
  • Rubbish Bins
  • Clothes Line

Kitchen – Remove the Following

  • Counters are clear of all objects
  • Magnets and all papers off of the fridge
  • Remove dish racks
  • Cutting boards
  • Tea towels
  • Dish soap bottles etc
  • Garbage cans
  • Pet bowls
  • Turn range hood light on

Dining & Living Room

  • Line up chairs, make things symmetrical
  • If there are bookshelves are in the room, take out all the thin soft cover books, keeping only the quality hardback books. Arrange these in a pattern according to colour and size.
  • Turn lamps on.
  • TV Remotes
  • Video Game Equipment
  • DVDs
  • Any Visible Electrical Cords
  • Books o Magazines & Additional Clutter o
  • Pedestal Fans

Master & Additional Bedrooms

  • Flatten and de-crease bedding
  • Fluffy large white pillows on the beds — two large; one smaller between them
  • Open curtains

Bathroom

  • Clear counters of all personal items
  • Remove shampoo bottles
  • Remove soaps
  • Remove washcloths
  • Remove toys
  • Remove garbage cans
  • Remove bathmats
  • Remove laundry baskets
  • Remove extra toilet paper
  • Remove toilet brush
  • Remove scales
  • Close toilet seat
  • Hang fresh white folded towel evenly on the towel railing
  • All taps to the centre
  • Don’t catch your reflection (or flash) in mirrors
  • Open shower door

Laundry Room

  • Put away all laundry
  • Close the washer / dryer
  • Hide the detergent
  • Remove mats

Vertical Lines

Make sure that all vertical lines in the image are perfectly vertical. This is very important in order to achieve a professional look. You need to be sure the camera is 100% level. Lower the camera to waist or just above waist level to get the important details of the space in the frame.

Use Natural Lighting

Open the curtains and turn on all the lights to make a room look bright and open. Rely on the camera’s built-in flash as little as possible; it creates unattractive shadows and reflects off mirrors and windows. For interior shots, you should avoid taking photos on rainy days or at night, as this will produce gloomy photos. For exterior shots, take pictures at dusk with the all the lights on.

The Best Angles & Compositions

The best way to show off a room is to shoot from a corner or doorway to include as much of the room as possible. This provides context and makes the room look more spacious than a tight shot does. As much as possible, avoid photographing objects that obscure your home, like poles and wires.

Show Depth of Field

Introducing depth of field with parts of the image in focus and others blurred out can add interest. It can also emotionally draw in the viewer, or be used to highlight something specific.

To increase depth of field, use a lens with a bigger aperture and/or longer focal length. Frame your shots so some things are close to the camera and others are far away. Having a peek of an object at the edge of the frame that is blurred out can add interest due to the depth it implies.

Camera Settings

Recommended real estate photography settings for Digital SLR cameras:

Aperture: Between F/8 – F/11

ISO: 400 or lower

Shutter Speed: 1/60

Use a Tripod

You can easily pick up an inexpensive one on Amazon.

Using a Cell Phone

If you don’t have access to a digital SLR camera, then it is possible to achieve beautiful images with a modern cell phone camera by using an inexpensive wide angle lens attachment (not a fish eye lens) and a tripod . . . search Amazon for the best price.

TIP

For shots that have a lot of light and dark, try experimenting with the HDR (High Dynamic Range imaging) feature that is now common on Digital SRL cameras and cell phones.

Shoot Head On

Also utilizes head on shoots as there is a certain geometric designer flair they incapsulate.

Highlight Details

Remember to include some detail shots of some of the unique noteworthy aspects of your home.

Shoot Wide & Take Lots of Photos

Experiment with lots of angles and camera settings.

Touching Up the Photos

After deciding on which are the best photos, you will need to adjust them. Maybe your living room looks a little too dark, or your home’s exterior has distracting telephone wires crossing the image. Free online photo editing tools like Picnik and Snipshot are easy to use and allow you to crop your pictures, adjust brightness and contrast, and correct colours.

Box Brownie is a quality done for you online photo editing site — with edits at around $2 it could be well worth it for the time it will save. If you are going to diving in to doing all the editing yourself, then a free trial of Adobe Lightroom will allow you to manually adjust just about everything . . . exposure, white balance, clarity, contrast, HSL, highlights, and shadows.