The purpose of professional photos displayed online is not to show what the house looks like, but to show what it could look like. Each photograph should be composed as if it were a work of art. The subject, the room or exterior of the house, should be properly staged. It may not be feasible to keep the house staged, so it is OK to move things around or away for the picture and then move them back. Most people like to live in their houses and not just look at them. Buyers, on the other hand, need to see the house in its ideal stage when they are looking online.
Photographs represent a three-dimensional object in two dimensions, so space can get distorted. That can work in your favor with the right staging. Pictures aren’t going to sell the house, but they have to sell the appointment. There should be enough of them to give the buyer a good feel for the house. Leave out rooms that are too small or don’t reflect well on the house. If there are any major rooms that don’t reflect well, you may want to consider correcting that.
If you are in charge of taking the online photographs please take a few moments to review the information below and then look at the photos for the houses featured on the “Our Listings” page to get an idea on how they should look. Please keep in mind that on some of the listings the photos will be taken by the seller and may not be an ideal example.
Below are some tips on creating photographs that will sell the prospective buyer on looking at your house.
- Never have more than two walls in a photo. Three walls will create a “canyon” effect and make the room look narrow.
- Close the curtains and blinds on the windows that will be in the photo and open them on the windows that will not. To minimize underexposure of the room you want to minimize the light aimed at the camera and maximize the light behind it. Setting the flash to “force flash”, where the camera flashes with each photo, may allow you to leave the blinds open to capture the view and still maintain the proper exposure inside.
- Another technique to avoid underexposure of a room is to focus your camera away from the bright light source and at a wall or floor area that has average or below average lighting, then lock that level in on the light meter and take the picture. The picture of the room should look bright and cheery. To accomplish that, normally the room will be correctly or slightly overexposed and the window will be overexposed. Check to make sure there aren’t any dark corners in the picture or shadows. Dark areas can be minimized by turning the flash on rather than leaving it set to “auto”.
- Setting the light meter on many cameras can be done by focusing the camera on the area you want to use to set the correct lighting level and pushing the shutter button down halfway. Hold it and aim the camera at the area you want in the picture, then depress the shutter button all the way. It is a good idea to check your users’ guide for the manufacturer’s recommendation on setting the light meter. Try taking the picture using the camera’s auto function first to see how it turns out before switching to manual.
- The camera has to adjust internal color settings based on the type of light in the room. If the colors do not look right, try manually setting the light type or turning off the lights and letting natural light and the flash illuminate the room.
- Eliminate as many unnecessary items in the picture frame as it takes to give the room an expansive look. A cluttered room looks small no matter how large it is.
- Position objects so that the photo looks balanced and the objects in the photo do not look cramped. You may need to move them out of balance so that they look balanced in the photo. That is the two-dimensional aspect of photography versus the three-dimensional aspect of real life.
- Review the photo on the camera before moving to the next shot to make sure it looks right.
- The photo will be resized to 1024 x 768 by the MLS, so it is best to have a resolution of at least 1280 x 960 which is 1.2 megapixel. Anything larger than triple will just make the file larger and won’t add to the clarity. I like to shoot at 1600 x 1200. The file shouldn’t be larger than 2,000 Kb otherwise it may not load on some sites. At 2 to 3 megapixels you should be fine. Try to take pictures so the height is 75% of the width (4:3), which is the ideal ratio for the MLS. The wider the image is relative to its height the shorter it will appear on the MLS.
- Avoid vertically oriented shots where ever possible, they do not look right on the MLS.
- If needed, use a photo editing program to further enhance your photos. You can easily correct darkness due to underexposure, rotate the photo, and edit out unsightly blemishes. Usually, by adjusting the brightness or gamma, a photo that is too dark or too light can be improved. Photos can be rotated in windows by right-clicking on the photo and selecting a rotate option.
- A camera is preferred over a cell phone. Most cell phones do well with exterior shots but lack the flexibility to render good interior photos.
- Most importantly, know your camera. The best way to do that is to read the manual and practice using the different features. If a picture isn’t turning out the way you want it to, try the different camera and flash settings. A buyer’s first impression of your house will most likely be from your photographs. If you can’t supply quality photographs hire a photographer or ask your agent about our photo services.
In a highly competitive market making a good impression on the buyer can mean the difference between selling your house and not selling it. It can influence the buyer’s perception of value and net you a higher sales price. The best house salesman is the house itself. Use it effectively.