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These days almost every home buyer begins their search for the perfect new home online, which means the photos displayed with the listings are more important than ever before.
Internet surfers are on the whole very visual creatures and many will head to photographs in an online real estate ad before they ever read the full written description (if they bother to at all) so it is essential that the photographs of your home showcase it in its very best light.
Many Realtors will offer the services of a photographer and others will suggest that you provide your own. Often the latter is the better option, as who better than the homeowner to ensure that all of a home’s best featured are showcased, while maybe downplaying some of its less attractive attributes.
Obviously many homeowners will be a little nervous about this as they are unlikely to be professional photographers, but thanks to today’s digital camera technologies and editing tools you can showcase your home at its best as long as you keep some basics in mind.
Preparing Your Home for Its Close Up
The basic principles essential to successful real estate photography can actually be reduced to just two:
1. Focus attention on the subject
2. Keep it simple
The subject of course in this case is your home, so make sure that no one (and that includes your pets) is going to get in the way before you begin your “photo shoot”. You should also remove as many personal items from view as possible. That means putting away family photos, picking up the kids toy’s from the floor (as well as taking down those pop posters) and even putting all those bikes and ride on toys away in the shed. Nothing should distract from the home itself in these photographs so the average home seller may have to put a few “staging” hours in around the place before they begin taking pictures.
The Right Camera to Photograph your Home
With the exception of some professional photographers, almost everyone uses a digital camera these days and from a real estate photography point of view that is a wonderful thing. You are undoubtedly going to have to take a good many pictures before you get the shots you need (even the pros have to do that) and with a digital camera you can see each picture in an instant and figure out on the spot what went wrong (or right)
Try to use a camera (even if you have to borrow one) that has a good zoom lens so that you can experiment with various different focal lengths until you find the best one. A flash of course is an essential as well (yes, some of the cheaper digital cameras do not have one)
Some people wonder if they can use the camera on their iPhone to take these pictures. You can, if you have a newer model and are used to taking more than the odd selfie then you may indeed be able to get some great shots.
The Right Time to Photograph your For Sale By Owner Home
When taking the all important exterior photographs it is important to get your timing right. Although very early and very late daylight conditions really flatter landscapes from an aesthetic point of view with dramatic shadows and warm colours, they are less than ideal for taking pictures of buildings,In these kind of lighting conditions the details about your home that you want to showcase tend become lost in the shadows, and colours do not really look true at all.
On the other hand, photographs taken in the bright midday sun will have a tendency to appear flat, washed out and completely lifeless. So, as you may have figured out by now the best time to take them is in the mid morning or the mid afternoon.
To Edit or Not to Edit?
There are any number of photo editing apps that can be used to transform a so-so photo into something far more spectacular. But in the interests of honesty, is that something you should consider doing with the photos of your home. The answer is really yes and no. It might be OK to remove an odd shadow, or enhance the colours a little (think Instagram like filters) but actually using an editing program to remove or add to the pictures themselves is a bad idea. While doing so may make your home look more appealing online if the realty does not match up when a buyer comes to see the home in person it can only bode badly for the prospects of a sale.
Angelica Pinto is an artist, interior design lover and Realtor serving the Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge and Guelph, Ontario communities.