In a tough property market, you have to be exceptional to survive. There’s no room for average.
One of the simplest and most effective things you can do to turn your average listings into exceptional listings is to focus on property photography. Get your photography right and the benefits are numerous. You’ll create wonderful first impressions, attract more enquiries and win more instructions.
Photography is a fantastic tool to visually show everyone how you do things. If your photos are exceptional, people will associate you with an exceptional service.
Capturing amazing property photos isn’t as complicated as you might expect. In this summary of Rightmove’s recent webinar, given by Elements Property’s own Alex Stretton, we’ll give you the lowdown on the most important property photography tips and techniques to get you shooting like a pro!
If you’re not already signed up to receive the incredible content Rightmove puts out for agents each week, sign up to the Rightmove Hub right now!
The impact of amazing property photos
First impressions count. It’s a cliché for a reason. Rightmove listings has just have three seconds to make the right first impression. Don’t forget that this is also when people will make their first impression of your company or brand, so make sure it’s a good one!
One of the first things that potential customers will associate with your name is your photographs.
If you were a homeowner or landlord, who would you choose? The agent who takes five dull, uninspiring photos, or the agent who puts the effort in and takes 12 bright, beautifully composed shots?
It’s a no-brainer.
Preparing the property before the shoot is one of the simplest things you can do to improve your photos.
Ask the vendor to tidy up beforehand, move cars and wheelie bins out of shot, turn on all the lights, and open doors, curtains and blinds.
These may seem like minor points but you’d be surprised at how often they’re overlooked, and how much difference they can make.
Use a wide-angle lens
Even if you’re completely inexperienced when it comes to property photos, the right equipment will put you well on your way to professional-looking shots.
The most important tool in your property photography kit is a wide-angle lens. This will allow you to fit more into the shot, giving a more spacious feel. Because human eyes are built to see things in a wide angle, these photos give a more accurate impression of the property.
We recommend the Sigma 10–20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM wide-angle lens with autofocus, which retails for around £300 to £320. Make sure that the lens is the right fit for your camera brand before you buy!
Purchase a DSLR camera
You may have been able to get away with a point-and-shoot camera for many years, but estate agents can no longer afford to slack off when it comes to property photos.
DSLR cameras provide huge amounts of functionality and customisability through interchangeable lenses and technical settings.
You can save money by purchasing just the camera body and buying a wide-angle lens separately.
Essential camera settings
When you’ve got the right equipment, you can take great shots with just a few basic settings.
If you’re new to photography and DSLR cameras, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Here are the only settings you need to master to capture amazing property photos:
- Save images as JPG rather than RAW.
- An ideal image file size is 3–6 MB.
- An ideal resolution is 4272 x 2848 pixels.
- Setting your camera to 12 Megapixels will give great quality images with a reasonable file size.
- Set your shutter speed between 1/5 (slower) and 1/25 (faster), depending on the light. Slower shutter speeds let in more light and are better for darker conditions, but increase the risk of blurring.
- Set your aperture using the Av or Ev button, depending on your camera brand. This allows you to choose the size of the aperture (f-number) while the camera automatically selects a shutter speed for the correct exposure
- Using the camera’s internal landscape mode will enhance blues and greens in external shots and keep both close and distant objects in focus.
- Save time and money by not using an external flash or tripod.
Compose your shots like a pro
Amazing property photos should get people excited about booking a viewing. By taking the time to properly compose your shots, you can improve the visual appeal of your photos with very little effort.
Here are some top composition tips for property photos:
- Always shoot in landscape orientation. Along with the wide-angle lens, this will help to capture even the tiniest en suite.
- Crouch down and shoot at waist height to keep walls vertical.
- Frame the shot by aligning objects in the corners, such as windows, door frames, or where the walls and ceiling meet.
- Shoot through an open door and include the door frame in the shot. This produces inviting photos and is a great way to capture small rooms
- Use the Golden Ratio when composing your shots.
- Show off your property’s unique features. Include close-up shots of details like beautiful woodwork, elegant taps or ornate fireplaces.
Check out our Ultimate Guide to Property Photography for even more tips on capturing amazing property photos.
Enhance your images with post production
No matter how well you take the shots, they can sometimes still look a little flat. Grey skies, rogue wheelie bins and poor lighting can all ruin a perfectly good image.
Fortunately, photo editing software makes it possible to change things we couldn’t control during the shoot.
Here are some of the many edits you can make to ensure that your photos do the property justice:
- Brightening the shot and removing shadows.
- Adding an inviting blue sky.
- Straightening wonky shots.
- Cropping or re-framing for better composition.
- Removing unwanted objects like clutter, cars, wheelie bins or competitor boards.
While it’s fine to enhance what’s already there, it’s not okay to make significant changes that would be misleading. Be aware of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and the Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008.
Outsource your property photo edits
If you’re not familiar with software like Lightroom or Photoshop, these edits can be tricky or time consuming. Fortunately, Elements Property can help you to make the most of your property photos.
Our Image Enhancement service allows you to benefit from all the essential edits that will give your photos the wow factor without you having to lift a finger—other than sending us the files! We can even add your logo as a watermark for a truly professional feel.
If you want to stand out from your competitors even more, we can turn your photos into an engaging video with our Video Slideshow service.
Take advantage of our free trial by entering code BLOG46 when you create your account and see how we can take your photos from good to amazing!START FREE TRIAL
As an estate agent, you’ll know that you’re up against a lot of competition, but what can you do to stand out from the crowd and win more instructions?
We watched Rightmove’s webinar ‘What does it take to be an exceptional estate agent?’ and have summed up the key points for you. Take a look at how you can go above and beyond to be more than just a great estate agent.
What is an exceptional estate agent?
Being an average estate agent isn’t good enough.
A common statistic is that prospective sellers only invite two or three agents out for valuation. So even if you’re the fourth or fifth best agent in your area, you’re still going to miss out.
That’s why it’s important to aim for exceptional.
Rightmove analysed data from 15,000 estate agent branches and conducted 50,000 secret shops by phone and email to assess levels of service.
For the purposes of the webinar, they defined an “exceptional estate agent” as being in the top 5% of estate agents in a given area.
They also identified four fundamental areas that determine an exceptional estate agent, based on what customers want.
Let’s look at these in more detail.
Marketing a property is about more than just sticking it on Rightmove and waiting by the phone.
Exceptional estate agents make sure that their listings are well presented and enticing. This includes:
- High-quality, eye-catching property photos
- At least five photos
- A floorplan
- A unique and well written description
- Tailoring the listing to the target market (e.g. “a perfect family home”)
- Accurate pricing (including reviewing and updating the price as necessary)
- Updating the listing every couple of weeks (e.g. changing the lead photo or amending the description)
How you handle enquiries makes a big impact on the way you are perceived by customers and can make or break a professional relationship.
An exceptional estate agent makes sure to treat all enquiries with care. This includes:
- Using technology to prevent calls from going unanswered
- Replying to emails as quickly as possible (preferably within 10 minutes)
- Using a customer’s preferred method of contact
- Personalising responses
- Thanking customers for their enquiry
- Sounding enthusiastic when answering the phone
- Asking about a customer’s current situation
- Confirming next steps
- Including contact details in emails
- Using call recording for staff training purposes
Securing a sale or let
While securing sales and lets is key to the success of your business, having a proven track record will help you to build trust and gain more clients.
An exceptional estate agent agrees 65% more sales than an average one. Some of the ways that they achieve this include:
- Building trusting relationships with customers
- Being picky about what stock to take on and only doing so at the right price
- Saying no to sellers with unrealistic expectations
- Speaking to sellers in person to explain a fall-through, why it happened, and what they plan to do to get it back on the market ASAP
- Being realistic and up front about timescales<.li>
Exceptional estate agents win 30% more instructions than the average in their area.
Techniques that help them to do this include:
- Handling leads well
- Being consistently good at the fundamentals
- Demonstrating how they add value when someone contacts them
- Using certificates on Rightmove
- Showing how they do things better at every stage of the process
- Using exceptional care and attention to detail
- Providing a better service, allowing them to charge a higher fee
Elements Property can help you to become an exceptional estate agent
Having a detailed, enticing property portfolio will not only help you to sell more properties but will show potential customers that you will provide a dedicated service should you win instructions from them.
We can help you to make your property marketing the best it can be and set you on the path to being an exceptional estate agent.
Our Image Enhancement service will make sure that your property photos are high quality, enticing and free from distracting clutter.
To register for a free trial and find out just how much we know about being exceptional, simply use code BLOG44 when you register.START FREE TRIAL
As an estate agent selling or letting a property, you want to do as much as you can to make the listing attractive and professional.
You’ve put in all the work, taking photographs, measuring for a floor plan and writing an appealing description for Rightmove. But have you ever thought about how important it is to add a watermark to your property images?
There are several reasons why watermarking your images could be a great idea, and we’ve outlined some of them below.
If you think watermarks are unnecessary, read on and find out how they can help you.
Strengthen your brand
When people look at buying or renting a property online, the property itself is usually the main focus. Prospective buyers often only look at the representing estate agent once they want to book a viewing.
This means that although hundreds of people might look at your listing, brand awareness could still be pretty low. If you’re paying to advertise on property portals like Rightmove, Zoopla or On The Market, you should be getting a little brand recognition out of it!
Adding your logo as a watermark to all of your property photos will make sure that more people see who you are. It also helps to create a connection between the listing and your brick-and-mortar store or website.
Make your listings more professional
Branded photos make your property listings look more professional, bringing in more enquiries. If you’re willing to put your name on something, this creates a sense of confidence in potential buyers.
If a buyer finds their dream property online only to see “SSTC”, they may visit your website to look for other similar properties.
Should they see your name on another listing in the future, they might remember you from the dream property, connecting your brand with positive emotions.
Protect your images
It’s unfortunate, but sometimes agencies lose the instruction to a competitor.
Should this happen when your listings are already live, your images may be stolen by another agency. This isn’t exactly professional, but some agencies will cut corners to save money.
When you’ve gone to all the effort of taking high-quality photos, having them stolen is particularly frustrating. This is especially true if you paid extra for image enhancements.
To prevent your competitors from taking credit for photos they didn’t take or pay for, make sure to add a watermark. Clearly display your company name and logo on property photographs, floor plans and any other images, so it’s clear who they belong to.
Example watermarked property photos
Watermarked images as standard
Elements Property help estate agents and letting agents to show properties in their best light with a range of services to improve your property marketing.
If you partner with us for our Image Enhancement service, one option we offer is to fully brand and watermark your property photographs as standard with no additional cost for including your logo in the centre or corner of your property photos.
Make your listings stand out from your competitors and keep your images safe with fixed prices and a 3-hour average turnaround.
For agents and property pros wanting a completely free trial of our Image Enhancement service, simply create an account and use the code BLOG43 when you sign up.START FREE TRIAL
What happens when a complete photography novice gets his hands on a digital SLR and the Ultimate Guide to Property Photography?
Well, that novice is me, and I decided to find out.
I’m Chris, and I’ve just started at Elements this week as an Account Executive. I am trying to gain an understanding of the business from a client’s perspective. So, for the purposes of this exercise, I am Chris Britten Estates; an independent estate agent with a house to sell – I reckon I’ll need some decent photos.
I’ve read the Ultimate Guide to Property Photography once, (that’s the guide that Alex, our Founder, wrote) and I am holding a digital SLR in my hand for the very first time.
Let’s go shooting!
Skill level: Rookie
My photography experience consists of the odd snap with my phone. I haven’t used an actual camera since the days of 35mm film and waiting in Boots for 24 blurry photos to be developed. Then followed the game of ‘count the quality control stickers’.
I start the shoot with a standard lens. The guide stresses how important a wide angle is, so I decide to see what the fuss is about. Even before I’d tried with the wide angle, I realised how restrictive the standard lens is. I can barely get 25% of the room in shot. Nevertheless, I persevere around the house, just to see the contrast between lenses.
Wide angle wow factor
So, onto the wide angle. Holding the camera, I remember for external shots I need to turn the settings wheel to the picture of the mountain. Even shooting the outside of the house, I notice the difference. The wide angle seems to offer more freedom, giving me much more space to work with.
I know a common reaction to wide angled property photos is “oh, so you’re making the rooms look bigger than they are!”. However, we see wide angles with the naked eye, do we not? Immediately, I’m conscious that the wide angled photos I’m taking are much closer to the reality of standing in a room than the standard lens.
Let there be light!
For internal shots, I turn the setting to ‘Tv’ (I’m using a Canon; otherwise it would be ‘S’ – I’ve learned something!). I turn on all the lights and open all the curtains and blinds. The more light, the better! I spin the lens to it’s widest setting, as my aim is to get as much of the room in shot as possible. I also open all the interior doors, showing the flow of the house.
Shooting from waist height
I remember that the guide advises to take photos from waist height. This was an initial surprise to me, but it really makes sense! Crouching down in the corner of the room, I find it much easier to frame the shot using the lines of the walls, windows and doors. I am also able to get a great ratio of floor to ceiling in the photo, whilst keeping the walls straight in the frame.
The setting on my camera is a long exposure. This means the lens is open for a relatively long period of time, and may result in a blurry image. So, I crouch down, lock my elbows against the walls, and hold my breath whilst taking the shot. Who knew photography would be such a workout? *cancels gym membership*.
The kitchen I am shooting is a long room leading to a conservatory. There’s a lot of light coming in through the french windows, so the kitchen itself is quite dark in comparison. I focus my camera on a darker area of the room before shooting towards the light (a light touch on the shutter release button). It’s a bit of trial and error, but it really is a simple way to gain a better balance between light and dark. I’m almost convincing myself that I know about property photography!
No skill, no problem
I think I’ve got the best possible photos that I can. I have the right kit – the camera and lens. I’m also convinced that I have all the knowledge that I need in order to get really top quality property photos. That’s within a couple of hours. Skill? Experience? I have none of either. However, the photos I have taken are evidence that skill and experience is of very little importance if you have the right equipment and a small amount of knowledge.
I purposefully leave a few things lying around, to see what magic can be worked in photoshop. Just the odd little thing I planned to get removed – a towel, a dressing gown, a washing powder box, some kids toys, a car! So, I pick the best photos and wing them off for editing. As I settle down to write this blog, they ding back into my inbox before I finish typing.
The enhanced images are great. A few of the photos were a bit gloomy, and they have really been lifted. I went for the vibrant edit, and the colours are vivid; bringing out the best in the property. Whilst I was pretty happy with my photography, it’s really noticeable how much sharper they are now, and any imbalance of light and shade has been corrected. Okay, I admit – one of the photos I took was really wonky. The walls were leaning and it just looked unprofessional. That’s been straightened up too!
The object removal option is really helpful for those things that may have made the photo look a bit untidy. I have no idea how the car was removed from the driveway – now that’s magic!
The results would look great in any estate agent’s window! Not bad for a rookie 😉
Creating great first impressions
So, not only have I learned a great deal about property photography in a short space of time, but the enhanced images take the photos to the next level. Photos on a property listing make a huge difference to the amount of interest generated.
It’s the first thing people look at when searching, and this set creates a great first impression not only of the property but also of the agent marketing the property as well, perhaps more so.
I know from personal experience of property searching that fantastic photos will not be ignored and will undoubtedly get people through the door for a viewing. Surely that’s the first impression every estate agent wants to create on all instructions. It’s simple to market more amazing!
Transforming property photos to video
I also converted these into a HD video using our Video Slideshow service to inject some motion. The slideshow is a great property marketing tool. Combining the quality photos with six key features of the property, everything is there to add more wow to the listing and bag some viewings.
There’s a choice of 12 music tracks for the video, which adds to the professionalism of the tool, and compliments the smooth transitions around the property. So, you’ve got the enhanced photos – why not create a video slideshow to make the listing irresistible and share it on social media?
Do you want the Elements wow factor?
I don’t blame you! If you’re an estate agent or supplier looking for a fast, cost-effective way of creating wonderful first impressions, attracting more enquiries and selling and letting faster, then sign up for a free trial today using the promocode BLOG40.START FREE TRIAL
The summer heatwave in the UK has been great for a spot of sunbathing but it’s led to one unfortunate issue for estate agents: drying up all those lovely green lawns.
When you’re selling a property, you want it to look its best. A big garden can be a really enticing feature for potential buyers, but all that dead yellow grass isn’t going to do you any favours.
You probably can’t get the lawn up to scratch before your upcoming viewings, but you can improve the appeal of your online listings. How? By asking Elements Property to photoshop green grass into your property photos.
A nice garden is a real selling point
Some of the top things that Brits look for in a property include:
- Good phone and broadband signal
- A large kitchen for entertaining
- A range of local takeaways and pubs
- Proximity to good schools
- A garden size of about a quarter of an acre (that’s roughly 1,000 square metres)
A well-maintained garden can easily add to the value. Buyers prefer simple gardens that are easy to care for and suitable for young children. This means that swimming pools and fish ponds are often undesirable, but big lawns are a crowdpleaser.
You might not be able to expand the kitchen or open a new local takeaway, but you can make the most of your property’s garden.
Adding green grass through our Image Enhancement service
You don’t always have control over things that may negatively affect the appearance of the properties on your portfolio. Cluttered rooms, competitor boards and parked cars are just some of the things that can pull focus or make your property less appealing.
That’s why we offer an Image Enhancement service to tidy up your property shots. Object Removal is one of our popular enhancements, and our green grass edits come under this category.
The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, but we can make it greener for you!
How to request a green grass edit
It’s really easy to add lovely green grass to your photos when you’re uploading them for Image Enhancement. This makes it a great add-on to images that already require additional processing.
Please note that Object Removal is a more advanced edit. As such, an additional charge of £2.00 will apply to each image requiring this edit. This includes adding green grass. Turnaround times may also be a little longer than usual while our talented photo editors do their thing.
If you fancy some lush green grass in your photos, just follow these steps:
- Open a new Image Enhancement order
- Upload your images
- Select ‘Object Removal’
- Enter the file name of the image(s) and the instruction, e.g. “Please add green grass”
- Place the order!
Let’s face it—that’s a lot easier than replanting the lawn!
It’s important for you to understand that adding green grass into your property photos may be seen as contravening legislation such as the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs) and the Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008 (BPRs).
While most Object Removal edits don’t change the structure or fabric of the property, green grass is more of a grey area.
Ultimately, it’s up to you if you choose to request green grass edits.
Get green grass for free!
Want us to photoshop green grass into your property photos? Would you like us to do it for free? Use the promo code BLOG36 when you create your account and we’ll give you a free trial!
If you’re an existing user, we can’t offer you this deal, but consider asking us to brighten up your lawns next time you send us your photos.LEARN MORE ABOUT IMAGE ENHANCEMENT
Seeing as you’re reading this on the internet, we’ll assume that you’ve heard of Amazon.
The online shopping giant sells pretty much everything, and its competitive prices and quick delivery mean that it’s had a huge impact on commerce as a whole. But have you ever thought about Amazon’s impact on property photography? No? We didn’t think so.
Professional photography is now the norm for internet shopping
When you’re shopping online, you expect to see clear, accurate photographs of the product on offer. Feedback questionnaires allow you to give a rating for the item being “as described” and you’d be quite rightly annoyed if what turned up wasn’t as pictured.
Even when someone is really interested in a product, if the images are low-quality, too dark, too small, or not detailed enough, they will often just move on.
Property photography is no different.
Online shoppers have learned to expect great images
Around 87% of British consumers have purchased at least one item online in the last year, while 26% shop online at least once a week. Internet shopping is so commonplace that we no longer consider it a luxury. The more frequently people see high-quality product photography on Amazon, the more they expect it from any website, no matter what they’re selling.
At Amazon’s 40,000-square-foot photography studio in Brooklyn, they produce some 19,000 product images every day to ensure that their listings are accurate and enticing. If Amazon thinks photography is worth investing in, we should probably all follow suit, right?
You can’t really offer next-day delivery when you’re selling property, but engaging photographs are easily achievable.
Professional photographs create trust
There’s a huge amount of trust placed in a company when it comes to internet shopping. While people don’t exactly buy houses online sight unseen, it gives a poor opinion of your agency if the photos are wildly different from reality.
It’s infuriating enough if you spend just a few pounds on an item and it’s not what you wanted. The stakes are even higher with the type of money you’re talking about in property sales.
If your listing only features a single snap of the outside of a house, potential buyers might assume that you’ve got something to hide. Even if parts of the property are a little ‘well-loved’, it’s much better to be upfront. Get everything out in the open so viewings don’t lead to nasty surprises.
High-quality photographs capture attention—and sell!
95% of people conduct their property search on the internet.
Online listings allow people to browse the market whenever they’ve got time. If your prospective buyers are scrolling through listings on their lunch break, you’ve only got a few moments to attract their attention.
Think of your photographs as an extension to your sales team; they appeal to the buyer’s emotions and show off the property’s best features.
Rightmove conducted an experiment where they marketed the same home on two different listings. The one that featured high-quality photos with home staging and digital enhancements received 300% more views than the one with standard photography.
Don’t be afraid to enhance your property photos
“Accurate” doesn’t always mean “exactly how the photo came out”. Sometimes the lighting isn’t right, the weather lets you down, or you just can’t get the picture to look how it looks in real life. Even the most skilled photographer can sometimes struggle to show off their subject in the best light.
There’s nothing wrong with enhancing your images. As long as the end result is still true to what you’re selling, you’re not doing anything wrong. Adjusting the white balance or adding an enticing blue sky to make your shots stand out is fine. Just don’t try anything dishonest like adding windows to make rooms appear larger than they actually are.
Elements Property’s photo enhancement service
So now you know how important professional photos are, you want to know how to get them without rinsing your budget. The answer? Photo enhancement by Elements Property.
Sign up for a free trial of our photo enhancement service with the code BLOG35. If you’re not wowed by the results, there’s no obligation to come back to us, but we’re pretty sure you’ll like what we can do.LEARN MORE ABOUT IMAGE ENHANCEMENT
It’s time to head over to the latest property on your books to snap a few shots for the listing. What do you grab?
Camera? Power cord? Spare memory card? Tripod? Lighting equipment? Some of those fancy silver reflectors? Do you really need all of that for a bit of simple property photography?!
Taking good photos can feel daunting. You might think you need to invest in expensive, high-tech gear to take good photos, but you don’t.
The best lighting for property photography unfortunately isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Sometimes you just need a few clever techniques, and a little practice.
Read on for tips to make your property photography nice and bright, but be sure to take a look at our guide to setting up your camera correctly, and download our Ultimate Guide to Property Photography to give your photos the edge.
Should I use flash for property photography?
Flash photography in an enclosed setting can be very harsh. It doesn’t give an accurate representation of the space and you can lose a lot of detail—not ideal when you’re selling a house!
The flash will bounce off light-coloured walls and make the room feel washed out. And if your property has just undergone the traditional pre-sale magnolia makeover, this could be a lighting disaster.
Photographing spaces with windows, mirrors, chrome appliances and other reflective surfaces will lead to the flash being reflected in the final shot. This makes it hard to see the detail of the room—and it doesn’t look very professional!
How to brighten interior photography
Okay, so you’ve been convinced not to use flash, but how should you make the interior of your property brighter for photos?
Our one top tip: Turn the lights on.
Even on a bright day, switching on the lights in every room can make a world of difference and means that you can avoid using the flash completely. Electric lighting is softer and often better diffused than flash, giving an even light source rather than, well, a flash of light.
How to photograph a dark room
If you’re trying to photograph a particularly dingy room, don’t be tempted to run for the flash. Instead, turn on ALL the lights, open the curtains, open the doors, and let in as much extra light as you can.
To improve the lighting in a room, try switching out existing bulbs for brighter ones, or invest in a few lamps that you can place round the room, adding more light and making the room feel homely.
Even if your shots are still a little too dark, you can use post-processing to brighten them up. Steering clear of the flash will help these edits to look their best.
How to make photos brighter
Whether you’ve turned on all the lights or not, your photos still may not feel bright enough, but that’s nothing a little photo editing can’t fix!
Correcting the white balance, colour temperature, minimising shadows, adjusting the exposure and a whole host of other post-processing trickery can turn mediocre snaps into professional-looking shots.
If you’ve followed our advice to this point, you should have some decent pictures that will be easy to correct.
Not sure how to do that? Don’t have the time?
That’s where we come in.
Image Enhancement from Elements Property
Even if you’re a camera genius, you may still end up with photos that don’t do your properties justice due to miserable weather, cars in the driveway or cluttered rooms.
Contact the team at Elements Property and take advantage of our Image Enhancement service! We’ll give your shots a polish so there’s nothing to distract buyers from what you’re trying to sell.
Sign up for a free trial now by using promocode BLOG34 and you’ll see just how much of a difference we can make!LEARN MORE ABOUT IMAGE ENHANCEMENT
How important is blue sky in property photos? Probably more important than you think!
Online property listings and window displays only give you a few moments to wow those potential buyers.
While you may not be able to control the terribly changeable British weather when it comes to house viewings, you can control the weather in your property photos.
Read on to find out how blue skies can improve your sales…
Grey sky makes us SAD
You’ve heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder, right? This form of depression fluctuates with the seasons and usually gets worse in winter. Symptoms include a persistent low mood, irritability, feelings of despair, overeating and oversleeping.
A milder form of SAD known as the winter blues is brought on by gloomy grey skies, affecting around 17% of the UK population annually.
It’s caused when your hypothalamus doesn’t get enough light and struggles to regulate melatonin (which controls your body clock and appetite) and serotonin (the feel-good hormone).
Medical mumbo jumbo aside, grey skies are just gloomy. They’re dull to look at, they don’t excite us, and they just emit a sense of coldness and impending doom. When you open your curtains in the morning, you’re never happy to see a cloudy grey sky.
Win new instructions
How many estate agents operate in your local area? With the rise of the ‘online estate agents’ and independent franchisees popping up, there is more competition than ever on your turf all trying to get a slice of a pie that at it’s smallest size since the property market crash of 2008.
If you can’t compete on price, you need to think of other ways to convince vendors to sell with you.
Advertising that your agency will add blue skies into your shots is a great way to stand out from the crowd. While your rivals may not bother, it’s a low-cost, high-reward technique.
If you’re willing to go the extra mile for your photos, this instills confidence in your services. And let’s face it, everyone knows that a blue sky just looks better!
Skyrocket your enquiries
Do your rivals’ properties look a little grey and downcast? When you scroll through results on Rightmove, does it all look a little samey? Make sure that when buyers come across your listings, they’ll only see properties with enticing blue skies.
95% of house-hunters now search online for their next home. With the huge technological leaps in screen quality over the last few years, chances are that your viewings are being listed on a Retina Display with high pixel density.
These are found in nearly all Apple products—and we all know how popular those are! Make your properties pop with a blue background that will wow on any device.
FREE blue sky in property photos from Elements Property
Admit it. You’re tempted now. But what if the blue sky edits look fake and OTT? Well, take a free trial and see what you think!
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One of the most common questions we get about house interior photography is how to photograph interiors without daylight over-exposing and washing out the windows. The quick and honest answer is – it’s tough but can be done.
For lots of listings, the view outside might be a big selling point you want to show off. Even if the view’s not that great you don’t want a big section of the picture completely blown out by those over-zealous photons racing into the room through the glass.
Read on to find some answers but be warned, this blog is a little more technical than usual. Actually, that’s a lie – it’s way more technical, mainly because it’s really hard to achieve the desired look if you’re not a pro photographer.
In my ongoing mission to simplify things and help agents have beautiful property photos to display, I do have a hack for you, dear reader. If you want the easiest way possible to stop whited-out windows, skip to Option 3 – but know this; it’s still kinda tricky!
Why are my windows over-exposed?
Over-exposed windows are a pain in house interior photography, but there’s a few solutions depending on how much work you want to put into your photos. Let’s start with why it happens in the first place.
When you walk into any room, you can see detail in the brightest highlights and the darkest shadows. If you look towards a window, you see everything in the room before the window and everything outside in perfect detail – the human eye is pretty amazing like that.
The problem, when it comes to house interior photography, is that there’s no camera or lens in the world that comes close to what your eye can manage. A camera’s sensor can expose for bright light outside, or it can expose for the dimmer interior ambient light. It can’t do both at the same time.
The sensor’s ability to show detail in the brightest and darkest areas of a shot is its ‘Dynamic Range’. The human eye can detect more than 20 stops of detail in its own dynamic range.
The best sensors in the most expensive professional DSLRs on the market can only manage about three-quarters of that. As agents, you are unlikely to want to buy the top of the range stuff, we actually recommend more basic entry-level gear so you inevitably will sacrifice some of that elusive Dynamic Range. It’s a cost-quality trade off.
If you do want to splash out a little more on a camera that can perform window detail capturing miracles, keep reading, but first, more technical stuff.
Here’s some interior photography tips to fix those washed-out windows.
Option 1: Balance out the lighting with flash (Skill level: Pro)
The only way to catch both interior and exterior detail in one shot is to even out the difference between the interior ambient light, and the daylight coming in from outside.
We can’t turn down the sun, so the only option is to add more light to the interior. You’re not going to manage this with regular home lighting already in the room, so it means setting up studio lighting or flash photography.
But that leads us to another problem. Unless you’re able to set up a few remote flash speedlights away from the camera to bounce the light, you’ll get unflattering shadows and a generally ugly photo.
Even if you can somehow bounce the light off the ceiling, your camera’s built-in flash isn’t up to this kind of job. And if you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know I’m not a fan of flash, it’s easy to shoot a dark room without flash.
Let’s forget the flash then.
Option 2: HDR interior photography and bracketing (Skill level: Pro)
No matter what equipment you’re using, whatever interior photography camera settings you try, sometimes getting a perfect exposure in-camera in one shot that shows the outside detail through a window isn’t possible. That’s where bracketing and HDR photography comes into play.
Bracketing images means composing your shot, then taking multiple photos at different exposure settings, then using software like Adobe Photoshop to composite them together into an image that shows the detail from each image cleverly fused together.
The darker exposure adds more detail to brighter areas, and vice versa. We call the finished composite a HDR, or High Dynamic Range image.
The simplest bracketing method for house interior photography is to take three exposures of -2, 0, +2 “stops”. In this case 0 is a neutral, regular “point and shoot” exposure. -2 is a darker exposure two stops down, and +2 is a brighter exposure two stops up. Most DSLRs have an auto-bracketing setting which will set the exposures for you.
HDR interior photography is a way to get perfectly exposed photos with tricky lighting situations in any part of the property. Here’s how to pull it off:
Tried & tested interior photography camera settings
First of all, we need to measure the dynamic range of our subject. Turn your camera to manual mode and set the lens aperture wide – say, f/8 or f/11. This will make sure everything is in focus. We’re not after depth of field here.
Set your ISO low. The HDR process will add noise to your image anyway, so use as low an ISO as you can manage – 100 or 200 should be fine.
Next, we need to lock the focus so the camera doesn’t try to autofocus halfway through and mess the whole thing up. Either set the autofocus now by half-pressing the shutter, or switch to manual focus and adjust the focus ring on your lens until everything’s nice and sharp.
Either way, remember to leave your lens in Manual Focus mode. What’s the best lens for interior photography? A prime lens as wide as possible. We recommend this Sigma 10-20mm wide-angle lens.
Finally, set the metering mode to spot metering.
Use the spot metering to measure the brightest part of your subject (the window) as you adjust the shutter speed until the metering hits the mid-tone (0 in the middle of the meter). Make a note of the shutter speed.
Now, do the same on the darkest interior part of the subject. Those two shutter speeds give us the dynamic range of our photo, and the -2 and +2 bracketing we need to expose for. Now it’s time to take our photos!
Oh, and if you are still reading and thinking “WTF”, then you’re not gonna like this either, to do all this you need a tripod, and I personally am not a fan, in fact, I advocate not using a tripod as they just slow you down!
However, if you’re wanting to do the bracketing technique, you need one because we’re merging multiple shots you don’t want any movement or differences in camera angle. You should ideally be also using a remote trigger or the delay timer to avoid camera shake.
Take those two shutter speeds you measured, set your settings slap bang in the middle of them, and take the photo. This is your mid-tone, vanilla, middle ground exposure.
Next, set your shutter to the first shutter speed you measured and take the photo for our -2-bracketed exposure. The window will look good but the rest of the image will look too dark. Don’t worry, it’s supposed to.
Finally, set your shutter to the second shutter speed and take the photo.
So, we’ve now got three images, one exposed for the daylight through the window, one exposed for the interior ambient light and shadows, and a third with an exposure in the middle. It’s time to process them to create the final image.
Still confused? Don’t worry, the easier option is coming up soon.
There’s a lot of HDR programs out there, but the best HDR software for real estate photography is still Adobe Photoshop.
Launch Photoshop, and go to File→Automate→Merge to HDR Pro. Click Browse, select your three photos and click Open. Then hit OK to start the photo merge.
On the next screen, adjust the sliders until you get a natural looking image with both the interior and window exposed right, paying particular attention to the Edge Glow Radius and Strength sliders (don’t overdo it, we’re after a natural looking image). Once you’re done, click OK to create your HDR image, then carry on with your usual Photoshop edits as normal.
You should now have a lovely photo with good highlights and shadows, and some detail through the window.
Hard work, right? Especially if you’re just sending out Bob from the office to take some shots. Poor Bob. Fear not. Bob’s day is about to get a lot easier!
Option 3. Auto HDR Mode (Skill level: Intermediate)
Proper, manual bracketing and processing HDR images in Photoshop gives you the most control of the final image, but honestly, have you actually got the time or skill to do all that? Don’t you just want a nice set of shots with a cheeky bit of window detail on show?
Many of the newer DSLR ranges have built-in HDR modes that do a fine job for HDR interior photography. This is definitely true of all Canon DSLRs since the 5D Mk III was released in 2012. But cameras with built in HDR do cost a little more than the entry-level gear that most estate agents use to photograph their properties.
HDR mode (aka ‘HDR Backlight Control’) will take three bracketed exposures in-camera and merge them to extend your sensor’s dynamic range and capture all those important details in your house interior photography.
When you take the shot, all of the stuff in Option 2 is pretty much done automatically, inside the camera, in a couple of seconds.
And the best bit, you don’t need to use a tripod! Just try and stay as still as possible, hold your breath when snapping, that helps.
Now, I’m not wanting to make it sound like the HDR Backlight Control is the holy grail of an answer. It helps a lot but it is still a very tricky skill to nail. If you absolutely, positively, must have the window detail on show all the time, you may be better off hiring a pro to shoot your houses and do all this bracketing jigery-pokery for you.
These images below shows on the left; what normally happens when photographing a house, the whited-out window, and on the right, the image when the camera is set up to shoot in auto HDR mode; where the window detail can be seen.
What’s an affordable camera for auto HDR?
I recommend the Canon Eos 70D. It’s awesome for its built in HDR functionality and can really help capture nice internal shots with a nice bit of window detail as well.
The shots will still look pretty dark, to be honest, so you’ll need to enhance your images in Lightroom, but we can help with Image Enhancement if you need it.
How do I set the camera up to shoot HDR?
The following settings are for the Canon EOS 70D. Why only this model? Because I shoot with Canon and I don’t actually know the Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Polaroid, or any other settings I’m sorry to say.
If you are shooting with a different camera, just see what your instruction manual or Google has to say on the matter.
- Spin the settings wheel to SCN
- Press the Q button
- Choose HDR Backlight Control
Is the extra window detail worth the hassle?
At the end of the day, if there’s a window view that could add something to your property photos, or if the windows are a feature in themselves, then by all means try to show them off with HDR interior photography. It’s quite an advanced concept, but definitely a lot easier to do now with the right camera.
On the other hand, don’t think that a slightly whited-out window will be the make or break of getting people booked in to view the property. Maybe you just have a pet-peeve about it and I get it, it’s amazing to have so much attention to detail and I salute you for it.
The choice is yours my friend; get a pro lighting setup, brush up on some pro bracketing tekkers, pick up a camera that does the hard work for you, or ignore all this and keep things simple but have slightly whited-out windows.
Professional property photography will make your listings look the bees knees but are you paying more than needed to achieve the premium look for your images?
According to Mark Hayward, Chief Executive of NAEA Propertymark, “commission rates are on the floor”, hovering at around 1%, or in cash money terms, around £2,800 – this is despite rising house prices over the last few years. To add to this, the proposed tenant fee ban that could come in and wipe out huge amounts of revenue for letting agents is looming.
Does this mean you cut your marketing budget or double down on things that help separate you from your competitors, things just like professional property photography?
Outsourced professional property photography
If you’re an agent that takes pride in the way your properties are presented visually then hat’s off, we like your style. This is one certain way to stand out from many of the big corporates and the Purplebricks of the online world.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve been reaching our via phone to agents all over the country to offer a free trial of our Image Enhancement service and I’d like to say a big thank you to all of you who took us up on that 🙂 If you didn’t hear from us, it’s probably because your receptionist was exceptionally well trained at filtering out sales calls!
We found loads of agents outsource their property photography to a pro who visits the property, shoots the house, does all the editing afterwards and sends the shots to the agent. They would also charge between £50 – £100 for the privilege.
It’s not the fee I’m knocking here, great photos are worth their weight in gold and will certainly help your listing stand out, attract more enquiries, sell quicker and sometimes for more money! It is 100% a wise investment. But are you investing more than you need to to achieve the same premium finish for your property photos?
Let’s go conservative and say you pay £50 to a pro to head out and shoot each property, let’s also say you list 10 properties per month, that’s £500 per month = £6,000 per year on photography fees.
If you’re selling more, say 25 properties a month, then this figure jumps to £15,000 per year.
If you’re visiting the property anyway…
If you – the agent – will be visiting the property anyway to meet the vendor and to get to know the property for writing the description, then why not take the photos yourself?
All you need is some basic know-how, and the right camera and lens. It really is incredibly easy to take a blinding set of shots yourself. Sure, the camera gear will set you back around £600, but you’ll make that back in no time in saved professional fees.
A quick read of our Ultimate Guide to Property Photography will have you and your team clued up in no time, and it’s FREE. It condenses my years of experience as a pro photographer into the essential simple tips you need to know in order to capture sensational shots. Give it a read and you’ll see how easy it is.
If you were to shoot the property yourself, it would take you or one of your team around 15 mins, so that is a small block of time you would need to factor in.
You could then do the photo editing yourself in Photoshop and Lightroom but many agents find that is not the best use of their time, or they are not too clued up on the magnetic edges lasso tool.
Here’s where the big savings come… send us your shots for the wow factor treatment. We specialise in photo editing for the property industry, you specialise in selling houses. Let’s both stick to what we’re good at.
The average Image Enhancement order will set you back around £10 (here’s more info on our Pricing). For this we perform a full suite of edits on a complete set of property photos, and we’ll have them back with you in around 3 hours. Sound good? Try us out for free if you’re interested.
Back to some figures, sell 10 properties a month and that’s gonna set you back around £100 to get the professional finish for your shots, that’s £1,200 per year and a saving of £4,800.
Sell 25 properties a month and your monthly spend would be around £250, that’s £3,000 per year and a cost saving of £9,000.
Put another way, we offer an 80% cost reduction.
Not my words. Often when I call up a new client to welcome them to our service, this is how they describe it. So, to answer the question.. should you cut your marketing budget or double down on things that help separate you from your competitors? Here at Elements – we’re offering a solution that can help you achieve both.
If you’re spending big on professional property photography and would like to try us out today, get your team to read our Ultimate Guide to Property Photography and send over some shots. You’ll get 3 free orders using the promocode BLOG25 to try us out and see if we’re right for you!LEARN MORE ABOUT IMAGE ENHANCEMENT