Real estate photos – Why you need a pro

As I said in yesterday’s post, I’m starting to think ahead about my future plans.  Where do I want to land, how to earn a living, should I get a house again….all these thoughts are what I’m working through.  And for inspiration I like to look around on Realtor.com to see places I’ve thought about relocating to.  It’s fun to dream.

Last night as I sat back on the couch with my IPad in hand I cruised through a few favorite locations to see what’s for sale, what the prices are, etc.  Each place I looked at was based on my travels and the thought, “I could live here,” when I visited the area.  A few places in Colorado, New Hampshire, Arizona, New Mexico, & Utah.

As I made my way through listings and what would be a reasonable price range I realized that I kept coming back to a recurring theme.  The images of the homes and land consistently SUCKED!  Many of the images actually put me off of a property that sounded good on paper (or on screen as it were).  The right number of rooms, bathrooms, acreage, etc.  All sounded good.  But then I looked at the images and found myself promptly put off.

DIY real estate photography needs to be re-thought

I’m not a realtor.  I can’t tell you the best way to sell a home, the laws in the state you operate in, etc.  Given I know that I haven’t a clue in real estate I’m not going to try and sell you a house.  I know my limits, but I don’t think a lot of realtors know theirs because they do their own photography of properties more often than not.  And that photography was actually putting me off last night.

The digital imaging revolution has put a camera in almost everyone’s hands.  Our smart phones, cool little point and shoots, and of course DSLRs.  Big megapixels, auto focus, automatic color correction in camera, HDR in camera…….none of it guarantees a well thought out shot.  And looking at property after property I found myself wishing for better images.  Pro gear doesn’t guarantee pro results.

What I looked through last evening was almost a list of how not to shoot photos of homes.  What did I see over and over?

  • Blurry / out of focus images.  These shouldn’t make it into a listing where you’re trying to sell a home.
  • Washed out images outdoors.
  • Poorly lit interior photos.  The darks are too dark, the brights are too bright.
  • Messy rooms.  A quick tidying of a room goes a long way.
  • Garbage / Junk in exterior photos.  Showing a house with 2 broken down cars in the backyard puts me off.  How about picking a different angle to not show how sloppy the current owner is.
  • Not enough images.  If it’s a 4 bedroom 3 bathroom home, how come there are 3 exterior shots and one shot in the kitchen?

I could list more items, but I think you get the idea.  Of all the things that threw me off while looking at properties the messy interiors, and exterior shots with junk in them bothered me the most.  Those photos shouldn’t be in a listing, and they leave a potential buyer asking, “If there’s junk around the outside, how well did the owner care for the inside?”

Where did the Commercial Real Estate Photographer Go?

I actually know an incredible commercial photographer in Prescott, AZ.  I did prints for him now and again.  His name is Larry.

Unfortunately over the past few years Larry has been getting less business.  He’s been featured in architectural magazines, won awards, shot for huge land developers, etc.  This guy knows his stuff, but his business has really tapered off.  Not because the quality of his work has gone down, but because many of his former clients now think they can do it themselves.

We’d talked about it at length years ago.  Larry’s phone had stopped ringing like it used to.  The few commercial clients coming in to him had large multimillion dollar projects.  They knew the benefit of his expertise.  But the mid-line clients were vanishing.  The real estate agents had their own cameras, and classified their quick point and shoot images as “good enough.”

So, Larry is still here.  But his business has eroded as folks don’t think they need a pro any more.

I really have to ask…..is “good enough” really fair to the property owner?  Does it help the realtor entice a potential buyer?  If a realtor stands to make $8000 to $10000 on a sale, would it be worth having a pro come in for a few hours to help make the sale sooner?  I can say this…..the properties with poor quality images were bypassed quickly by me last night.  The ones with good images and more than 4 images got flagged consistently.

 

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Published on: July 18, 2013

Filled Under: Arizona, Arizona Photographer, Digital Cameras, Digital Photography, Notes from Rich, RLC Design

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One Response to Real estate photos – Why you need a pro

  1. phil says:

    You are so right. Sometimes no exterior (or interior) picture. Interior views taken with telephoto lens. I agree a well thought out picture will spark your interest immediately. There are many continuing education courses for realtors. Maybe there should be one on photography? Make it a correspondence course, and you have a new job.

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