If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen some of the behind-the-scenes shots I’ve posted of my camera and tripod positioned so I can get a good shot. In interior photography, the size of the room and layout of the furniture sometimes present challenges against the composition I want to achieve. Below are some of those shots and the end result.
It’s been awhile since I’ve done a “before and after” series (you can see the past posts linked at the end of this one). I thought you might enjoy the night and day differences between the images a client had before and what I delivered. The client was so pleased, he said it looked like two different villas.
I got a call from a prospective client asking me to take pictures of their home which they were putting on the market. The caller said she wasn’t happy with the photos the realtor took. I chuckled to myself because I know all too well the horrible pictures on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) sites. When I got to the home, the husband told me how the realtor took a few snapshots with a point and shoot and he knew right away the pictures would just not do. Judge for yourself:
The homeowner told me how he hired a professional photographer to sell a previous home and how quickly the home ended up selling. So why don’t more realtors use professional photographers? Maybe they think it’s too expensive. But as I pointed out in a previous blog; depending on the price of the home, the cost could be a fraction of the commission. The payoff is selling the home faster which means not having to lower the price as the listing lingers on the market. Maybe they think mediocre pictures will do just fine. Or maybe their mindset is stuck in the “this-is-the-way-we’ve-always-done-it”.
Ten years ago, if you wanted to buy a house, you had to do some footwork. It required going with your realtor from house to house. Today it’s all done on-line. So it’s even more important to have good pictures to attract more visitors to the property.
[UPDATE 8/28/12: Check out this article from the Wall Street Journal that states home listings with professional photos attract 61% more views: "Get a Picture Perfect Home Sale"]
Consider this quote from a 2010 Wall Street Journal article (it was still getting comments as of June 2012) that cited a study which found homes with professional photography gained higher asking prices.
At the closing table, listings with nicer photos gain anywhere between $934 and $116,076–as measured by the difference between asking and final price–over listings using photos from point-and-click cameras.
Here is the study the WSJ cited with nice charts and graphs: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Dollars.
I could site several more articles and studies that show homebuyers begin the process online, even on their phones and tablets; and that listings with good pictures attract more views and sell at higher prices. It’s time to end the status quo. If you are selling your home, you should demand professional photography. If you are in the business of selling homes you should add professional photography to your arsenal of online marketing. At the very least, it would differentiate you from all the other realtors who think they can do it themselves and settle for far less.
I’ve been a little busy the past couple of weeks. I was given 10 shooting days to shoot the exteriors of 113 homes. If you’re counting, the image above only shows 110; I needed an even number to make the collage work. Click on it to see it bigger.
The first step was plotting the homes on map and figuring out the best time of day to shoot them. The LighTrac app I blogged about recently was indispensable. I was able to figure out, down to the minute, when the sun would hit each home at the best angle. Unfortunately, I was at the mercy of the weather. In Florida, afternoon thunderstorms are a regular occurrence which made shooting the west-facing homes a challenge. Sometimes, it would be too cloudy. Sometimes, I’d have good sun, but dark clouds behind the house. Other times, I’d have a good sky behind the home but a huge cloud obscuring the sun. As it was, I usually had to wait for a cloud to move. There I would be, camera on a tripod and me standing next to it looking up at the sky.
I do want to share one tip which I mentioned in a previous blog regarding shooting exteriors. Absent of a tilt-shift lens, you have to make sure your verticals stay vertical. Most people have the inclination to stand in front of a house and tilt the camera up. This makes the house look like it’s falling over. So I set up across the street on a tripod. I dial in my exposure manually, raise the tripod as high as it goes and use a cable release to take the shot.
In the end, I got it done in nine days. It would’ve been sooner if it wasn’t for the darned weather!
I shot a home a few months ago and today came across an older realty listing for the same home. I thought it served as a perfect example of how hiring a professional photographer can make a world of difference. The home is listed for $1.9 million. If my assumptions and calculations are correct, the realtor stands to make about $57-thousand from the commission of the sale. For a little more than half-of-one percent of that, they could have gotten quality images from me. See for yourself and ask, “If I had 1.9-million lying around, which pictures would get me to go see that house?”.
(Note: clicking on my images will open a larger image in a new window. To see the full gallery click here.)
I shoot mostly interiors and architecture. I am routinely asked to reshoot rooms and houses when there are updates to the property. Often, I’ll look at the previous or existing image to know what I’m walking into and examine angles and lighting. My goal is to improve upon the previous image. So I wanted to show you a few examples and walk you through why I did some of the things I did. While some of these tips may seem specific to interior and architecture, I think they can apply to other types of photography.
First up is the exterior of this house. I see a couple of things wrong. The perspective is off. Whoever took this photo stood too close to the house and pointed the camera up. Tilting your camera up will cause buildings to look like they’re falling over backwards. We see this all the time in people’s vacation photos of famous monuments and buildings. The other problem is that the sun seems to be just behind or almost directly over the house. This affects the exposure and makes things look washed out.
In the “after” shot, I stood across the street and raised the camera as high as the tripod would let me. This makes the angle of the focal plane almost parallel to the mid-point of the house. In other words, the camera was about even to the eave above the garage. I had to step back far enough to get everything in frame without tilting the camera and I made sure my tripod was level. Lastly, I waited until mid-afternoon to make sure the sun was hitting the house. This makes the colors pop and adds brightness to the image. If you want nice blue skies, shoot with the sun at your back.
This kitchen shot is another example of bad perspective. I can’t identify a single vertical line. The room looks like it’s tilted toward you because the camera is tilted down. To keep your verticals vertical, you have to keep your camera level.
This “after” shot shows what a difference is made just by putting the camera on a tripod and making sure it’s level.
This last shot shows a living room. Here the lamps seem overexposed and the room seems to be tilting to the left. When I walked into the room, I saw the opportunity to show more of the space.
In the “after” shot, I chose a composition that shows more of the space. I opened the blinds so you can see the patio and I made sure to light the bedroom on the left. Also notice there is still detail in the lamps.
Well, I hope you’ll pick up some useful tips. If you have any questions on technique or lighting, let me know.
Ok, I’m calling this “Technique Tuesday” but I can’t promise I’ll do this every week. But today is Tuesday and this is about a technique I use almost everyday; hence the title. Brilliant, no?
The image above is pretty much the RAW image straight out of camera. It’s shot with a Canon 5D and a 580EXII on camera with a diffuser and bounced off the ceiling. If I remember correctly, I believe I have the flash set to TTL and boosted it by +2.
I then set up an Alien Bees 1600 strobe to camera left fired through an umbrella and set to 1/8 power for the image below.
You can see right away what adding an extra off-camera light adds to the image. (Note: the image above was tweaked slightly in Adobe Camera Raw.) I then took another exposure for the window:
I also tweaked the image above to bring out the blue in the sky a little. I then placed that image on top of the first one in Photoshop and masked out the window for the final image. I also got rid of that bothersome sensor dust in the ceiling.
That’s it. No fancy HDR tricks. Let me know what you think or if you have any questions.