You may be wondering why we’re writing about taking your own professional property photos without expensive kit (which is clearly more possible than ever these days thanks to smartphone technology) right now. After all, at the time of writing, Britain is of course in virtual total lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with just about everything closed, movement severely limited and, for most of us, daily life transformed.
It’s hardly the ideal time to move house. However, as we’re previously written, for some there is simply no choice but to up sticks. The good news is that virtual viewings are becoming the norm and do give a pretty accurate picture of what a place is like.
For anyone who needs to list a property to attract locked-down potential buyers during this strange period, good old-fashioned still photographs remain vital marketing tools. And even if you’re only thinking of marketing your property after the pandemic has blown over, it’s still worth using this period to learn how to take professional-quality images, so you’re all set once lockdown ends.
Equally, if your property is already on the market, why not use the opportunity to update and improve the images you include?
Property photos: why they matter
It’s vital to get the pictures of your house or flat spot-on to make people want to make your home theirs. Pre-Covid, 82%, i.e. more than three-quarters, of property searches began online according to one figure from a national web-based portal. So images are crucial in drawing people to your door and not a competitor’s.
First impressions are the ones which last. Whether you’re offering a ten-bed mansion or a single-bedroom flat, with great photos people will be far more likely to book a real-life viewing when it’s possible again. Whatever your location and property type, there’s also a good chance your sale will be quicker and more lucrative with the right property images. Equally, you’ll get more clicks on your online listing.
With no sign of lockdown ending anytime soon, property photos are likely to remain important long into the future, as virtual viewings become normalised.
Our best tips for taking professional-standard property photos
The multiple lenses and greater numbers of megapixels in modern smartphones mean you can take professional-looking images without having to shell out for a costly DLR camera or snazzy lenses:
Here are our top tips for doing just that:
- Take landscape photographs
If you do this, rather than having vertical, portrait-style images, the end result is a lot more web-friendly, for viewing on both desktops and mobile devices. Landscape pictures show a whole room, a portrait one just part of it.
- Do the spring cleaning
Dust and grime show up on photos more than you may have realised. Vacuum carpets, clean windows and wipe down walls.
- Ensure your home is clutter-free
As with the cleaning tip, this one may sound obvious, but it’s surprising how many people forget it. As we’ve mentioned before, potential buyers or tenants need to be able to visualise living somewhere new. That’s clearly far harder if the bathroom is overflowing with personal clutter, the living room is strewn with toys or there are pet-food bowls on the kitchen floor.
- Get creative
Think about any nice touches or features of your home that you could highlight, and make the most of any symmetry you may have. Symmetry draws the eye, and brings out the potential of the simplest things. It can be vertical or horizontal, and there are even apps and other tools allowing you to create symmetry artificially.
What’s more, if you want to you could consider blurring the background of your images so that a highlighted feature really stands out.
- Rooms with a view?
If you’re lucky enough to have any lovely views from a window, or, say, a balcony, don’t be afraid to include them in your photos. These can be a huge selling point.
- Brightening dark photos
Photos looking a little dark due to a lack of artificial or natural light? There are plenty of free apps available for brightening images with just a few clicks. Equally, if you are already familiar with Photoshop, you can do the same thing there.
- Let there be light
Although we don’t all have access to reflectors, soft lighting and the like, in truth these aren’t really needed. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, but it’s a common misconception that you can get away with just using natural light. Experiment with turning on any lights you have, and open curtains and doors, to capture brighter images with fewer shadows. This tends to work better than using a flash, which can just bounce off pale-coloured walls and make photos appear washed-out in an enclosed space. It can also be reflected in mirrors and similar surfaces.
If you know what you’re doing, you can use some post-shoot photoshopping to brighten images.
Finally, early mornings or the end of the day are the best times to take your photographs, before the light gets too strong and harsh, but while there’s enough good natural illumination. It’s worth noticing what the light looks like in different parts of your house, night and day.
- Inside and out
The exterior of a property is key when it comes to those all-important first impressions and what’s known as ‘kerb appeal’. Front gardens should be clear of personal items and tidy – and don’t have any vehicles parked on your driveway for your shoot. Equally, if you’re planning on replacing or painting windows or pressure-washing outside areas, do the jobs before taking your pictures.
For exterior shots in particular, try and get your images first thing in the morning.
- Natural flair
Plants and flowers and the like enhance and brighten any room, so try and add a few vases or natural arrangements. If you’re reading this during lockdown, there’s no need to make an unnecessary shopping trip – flowers from your own garden will look just as nice.
- Preparing a room
Try and prepare or ‘stage’ a room to show it off to its best advantage. That may mean arranging lamps on tables, setting a table for dinner, or temporarily rearranging furniture.
Still here for you
During the Covid-19 outbreak, along with everyone else, at Oakfield Estate Agents, we’ve had to close our premises to the public for the time being.
But, as our chief executive Neil Newstead says: “We’re all working from home and well placed to offer advice. We know some people have no option but to move, so we’re happy to give tips and for people to submit their own pictures. You really don’t need a lot of fancy, expensive equipment these days to get excellent results.
“During the lockdown, we’re also offering our great online valuation tool, and virtual video viewings.”
Contact us in the first instance to learn more.