You’d be unlikely to list a property online without pictures. It’s clear that a listing with many detailed images will be more appealing. With many buyers window-shopping from their couch, or even on the bus, the photos used to promote a property online are more important than ever.
It can cost $1,500 a day for a photographer’s time. For a premium property this is money well spent. However, for an entry level home and for low-mid range rentals it’s a more considerable cost.
As it’s still important to get photos, the property manager or sales agent is often left with the task of photography. It’s not too tricky, we all take pictures while on holidays…right? Sure, it’s not hard to take a picture but it’s a little harder to take a good picture.
I’ll cover some basic tips and tricks to getting decent property photos for online listings. The three areas we’ll look at are: equipment, taking the photos, and finishing.
You don’t need the most expensive camera. Set a budget and shop around online or visit a camera store. A budget of around $1,500 will get you something decent. Pictured above is a Nikon D3200 DSLR, it goes for around $700.
- A digital SLR camera body
- A general purpose lens
- A wide angle lens
- A protector filter (for each lens)
- A tripod
- A camera bag
When you buy a DSLR you have the choice of getting just the camera body or the body and lenses. With your set budget spend 2:1 on the body and lens. It’s a good idea to get a general purpose lens. If you can afford a second lens get a wide angle lens. With a wide angle lens you can capture more of the space and remove the possibility of causing claustrophobia.
To protect your lenses it’s a good idea to get a protector filter. These screw on to the end of the lens and are used to filter the light or to prevent lens flares and ghosting. Don’t worry about the expensive fancy ones, you just want to stop scratches to your expensive lenses, you can pick one up for $15. Allow up to $100 for a tripod and the same for a bag.
Taking the photos
We’re not professional photographers but we can try to minimise amateur mistakes. To ensure the picture is wide and not blurry use a tripod. You can get a generic remote for $10 on ebay, using a remote will remove any chance of wobbelling the camera when snapping that shot. To avoid wobbles without a remote you can use the timer. Either of these methods will allow you to put the camera as close to the wall or corner as possible to get the largest vista you can and not bump it. A big room is a better room, show it.
Often the long name of the lenses has ‘VR’ in it. This refers to vibration reduction. If you need to hold the camera to take the shot, use it. It will help stabilise the shot and reduce blur.
You can download really great free light meter apps for your iPhone. A light meter is used to get the right f/stop, aperture and film speed. Follow the settings the app tells you and you can’t go wrong. Of course this requires you to read the camera manual so you know where to change all those settings. Don’t worry if that’s all too much, there’s no shame in using the automatic setting, or as some call it ‘A’ for awesome.
Turn all the lights on in the room and rooms that open on to it. The more light the better for documenting the space.
Other things to consider are inadvertently capturing personal information. By this I mean visible family photos on the mantel or car license plates. If at all possible avoid capturing these things.
The DSLR camera will most likely offer to save the photos as RAW files or Jpegs. Jpegs are best for our purposes. The files will be fine as is to send to a designer or publisher, they’ll know what to do with them. If you’re submitting it online yourself however you’ll want to prepare them first.
If you’re using Adobe Photoshop, open the file, press CTRL-ALT-S to save for web. In the dialogue box that opens you can set the size and quality among other things. I’d suggest using medium quality and a width of 700 pixels. Save the file and you’re done. If you don’t have and can’t afford Adobe Photoshop there are free open source software options available like GIMP that will do the job just fine.
If you’re on a tight budget you can still get a professional result. If you feel you need to learn more there are lots of short courses available for reasonable prices. As it’s a practical skill the best way to get better at it is to practice. Keep at it and you’ll be awesome.