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Rookie tips when hiring a real estate photographer

Photo by Realtour photographer David Stewart

Hiring a professional real estate photographer should be a given when listing any home. There are still a lot of agents who believe in doing their own shots, often with a cell phone. The quality of those shots is usually reflected in the number of viewings and ultimately the selling price. In fact listings that use pro real estate photos sell 32 per cent faster, for up to $19,000 more and earn twice as much commission. That said, it is important to recognize that not all real estate photographers are created equal. Here are some rookie tips to help make sure you are getting your money's worth from your real estate images.

Be prepared

Photographers are there to shoot the home and cannot be expected to work around a mess. It is the agent's responsibility to make sure the home is properly staged so you might want to consider popping into the home prior to the shoot to make sure it is presentable. The home should be thoroughly cleaned, pets removed and anything that you don't want people to see should be out of sight. This is especially important when the homeowners are still living there as life goes on and they might not have the time or inclination to clean up on their way out the door. Read more about home prep here.

Another aspect of prepping for a shoot is the weather. Check the weather for the date you are planning to schedule the shoot and make sure it looks like sun. Rain and other inclement weather can literally put a damper on your plans to shoot.

The right timing

Knowing what direction the home faces helps the photographer determine the best time of day to schedule the shoot. If at all possible, try to accommodate their recommended shoot time as a good photographer will have this in mind when booking. If the home is shot when the sun is directly behind it the shadows cast will make the front of the home appear dark and you will lose the opportunity to literally show the home in its best light.

It is also popular to shoot homes not only in the light of day but also at twilight when the home can be lit up in a flattering manner. This also works well for special property features such as pools, fire pits and out door fireplaces, etc. and can help viewers imagine themselves cozy and safe inside the well lit home, or entertaining poolside.

Twilight photo by Realtour photographer Todd Kamp

The right type of images

Many rookies might hesitate to choose an HDR package over a standard package to save money. HDR or High Dynamic Range photos are of a higher quality, and also take more time to shoot and process which is why they tend to cost more.

HDR uses a series of images taken at different exposures. The exact same area of the home is taken from dark to light and then combined during processing to create a deeper look that perfectly balances all the varying light sources in a room.

This works well to show off features in a home, both inside and out. For example a window with a stunning view benefits from HDR as you will not only see the interior of the room with perfectly cast light, but also the view beyond the window. Another example would be a kitchen image with under cabinet lighting, or lighting from the kitchen fan. When shot in HDR this light is allowed to sparkle and add depth, as opposed to washing out the areas around the lights or the detail of the back splash.

Standard Image

Note the overexposed windows, lighting and furniture in the standard image.

HDR Image

HDR lighting is balanced, and colors and textures are more realistic. Note the window view!

HDR allows each room to be shown more realistically with highlighted dark corners, properly lit windows and balanced light from fixtures. It improves color and makes it more true to life as well so that the viewer experiences the rooms and exterior of the home in a more meaningful way.

There are some instances however where HDR is not needed or can even prove detrimental including:

  • Rooms with windows with an unflattering view

  • Empty rooms (shooting a vacant home)

  • Rooms with a clean, neutral palette

Touch ups

Touch ups can help enhance images and are quite common for outdoor shots. Greener grass, bluer skies, or enhanced sunsets for twilight shots are perfect examples of retouching. However, it is important to avoid touch ups that will misrepresent the home and lead to disappointment if a viewer tours the home in person. As well overly touched up images can look "fake" which can make viewers mistrust what they are seeing.

Realtour photographers use the right techniques to get realistic images that best reflect the property. Our ordering system also makes it easy to provide the photographer with key information that will assist them such as which direction the home faces and you can even check the weather in your area before you schedule a date. You also receive a free Single Property Website as well as endless use of our print creator for your print material PDFs.

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