- Basic Camera Settings for Real Estate Photography Exteriors
- What You Need to do Before Taking a Single Real Estate Photo
- Professional Real Estate Photography Kit: What’s in the Camera Bag?
- Best Lenses for Real Estate Photography
As the saying goes, you only have one chance to make a good first impression.
In real estate, that first impression is often the photos that potential buyers see when they search property listings online.
Given the importance of exterior photos, it’s necessary for you to take steps to ensure your images are of the highest quality and make that all-important first impression a good one.
In this tutorial, we offer a variety of tips that will help you compose eye-catching and engaging exterior photos of real estate.
Be Mindful of the Time of Day
The time of day you’re shooting might very well determine how you frame the image as well as the shooting position you take when composing the shot.
For example, the image above might have been better suited for a shot in the afternoon or evening, when the sun would be entering the shot from the left side of the image. This would have eliminated all of the shadows that extend into the frame from the mature trees behind the photographer. The result might have been a cleaner shot with fewer shadows to distract the viewer.
As another example, if you’re taking exterior photos in the early morning or late evening, your shadow might stretch into the foreground of the shot.
To mitigate this issue, you might compose a tighter shot by zooming in and eliminating some of the foreground, or you might try switching positions to photograph the property from another angle entirely.
Bear in mind as well that you might need to make multiple trips to a property at different times of day to get the best shots. While the front of the property might look wonderful in the early morning, early afternoon light might be more appealing for photos of the back of the home.
Quick Tip: Photographing properties on cloudy days is sometimes advantageous. The clouds act as a giant diffuser, and the softer light means less harsh shadows cast by architectural elements like eaves and covered porches. Likewise, cloudy days also minimizes the sun’s glare off of the property’s windows.
Find Unique Angles That Enhance the Property’s Visual Appeal
In many cases, the featured image of a property listing is one taken of its exterior from directly in front. However, this is not always the most ideal angle from which to shoot.
When you take an exterior photo from head-on, you often find that the driveway or sidewalk dominates the foreground. And while leading lines are certainly a good thing in many photographs, in this case, you probably want to avoid highlighting concrete or asphalt in your photos.
Instead, try composing images from the front corners of the property, as shown above. Doing so not only highlights the yard space but it also gives the home more depth. This is especially important for homes with a front porch as this angle highlights its depth much more effectively than a head-on shot.
Quick Tip: Vary the height from which you shoot as well. A perspective from below eye level or above eye level might generate a more pleasing photo.
Though the images you take of a property’s exterior should reflect what the property actually looks like, that doesn’t mean that you can’t work to minimize distractions.
That is, work to compose your shots such that things like garbage cans, air conditioning units, gas mains, storage sheds, and other unsightly elements are hidden from view to the extent possible.
For example, if the neighboring property isn’t especially appealing, you can compose a shot in which you fill the frame with the desired property, as shown above.
As another example, if the owner of the home shown above placed their garbage cans on the left side of the home, shooting from the opposite corner would hide them from view. In that regard, minimizing distractions is essentially all about finding the right angles and perspective to keep undesirable elements out of frame.
Quick Tip: Work with the property owner or listing agent to ensure that the property is spotless before you take photos. Walkways and driveways should be clear of leaves, dirt, and other debris. The lawn should be freshly mowed. If there are children that live in the home, toys should be picked up from exterior spaces. Patio and lawn furniture should be clean and neatly arranged as well.
Highlight Unique Features
Not everything about the exterior of a home is featured most effectively in a wide view.
Instead, if the property you’re photographing has unique features - be that architectural elements, interesting materials like stone work, or amenities like a pool or a beautiful garden space - be sure to get in close so prospective buyers can get a better feel for those elements.
In instances in which a property has a beautiful view, it’s advisable to present that view in context.
That is, as you can see in the image above, this property has a wonderful deck with beautiful landscaping that enhances the view of the ocean. Rather than stepping to the property’s edge and taking a shot of the ocean on its own, a photo from this vantage point offers some context to the view and makes it much more impactful.
Quick Tip: In instances in which there is a lot of dynamic range in the scene, consider bracketing your exposures and merging them in HDR software to retain detail in all elements in the shot.
How to Photograph a Home’s Exterior
Composing exterior photos of homes is all about telling potential buyers a story - while each image should be able to stand on its own, ultimately, you’re creating a collection of images that serve as a tour of the property for a potential buyer.
Of course, telling the best visual story of a property requires a lot of planning and forethought - like cleaning up the property beforehand. Additionally, considering the time of day and lighting will help you get the most pleasing photos of the property’s exterior.
By experimenting with angles, you will not only have more interesting compositions that grab people’s attention, but you can also minimize distractions and mask unsightly features as well. This is also important to remember when composing shots of a home’s unique and interesting features.
If you can do these things, you’ll be much better equipped to create eye-catching photos that make a good first impression.