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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*.

Avoiding overexposure

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.

The clutter

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.

Better boosted

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.

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Chris Britten

Chris Britten

Account Executive at Elements Property
I'm here to help you market more amazing. Fancy a chat? Reach me on 0330 808 1616.
Chris Britten

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