5 tips for better real estate photos // Canadian Real Estate Marketing Podcast #002

Episode #002 transcript

This is an automated transcript from this episode so please forgive any typos.

ANNOUNCER (00:00):

Podcasting from BC’s beautiful Sunshine Coast, this is the Canadian Real Estate Marketing Podcast. Each week, you’ll hear ideas designed to help Canadian Realtors get more clients and make more money. Here are your hosts, Val Labrecque and Paul Poulsen.


I’m Paul Poulsen. And today we’re going to talk about the difference between amateur pictures and professional real estate photos.

VAL  (00:23):

So professional photos is really the base that a real estate agent should use in marketing their property. That’s the first thing often that buyers will see. And so you definitely want that first

PAUL (00:34):

And you know what you’re talking about, you’re our photographer. Then you should have all of our listings for all of our realtors and do a great job of it. And so now you’re going to share some tips about what separates a professional image from an amateur image.

VAL  (00:46):

Yeah. So I have a few very good tips that will help you if you want to attempt to shoot professionally. And then a, yeah, I’ll maybe throw in a few more at the end, but, um, so probably the five main tips we’ll start with one is using a wide angle lens, a wider angle lens really has a wide field of view. So you can really capture a lot of the room in the photo. So you go to the corner of the living room and often you can include three walls as opposed to a regular lens are often the lens that’s on your camera. You might only be able to include two walls in that photo. So you’re not showing much in the room.

PAUL (01:21):

So wider lens shows more of the room, makes the space look bigger.

VAL  (01:25):

Yeah, exactly. The openness of the space, the welcoming, welcoming ness of the space. That’s that’s key that’s looks, it’s a mix it for a pleasing composition of an, of an image

PAUL (01:37):

Wide angle would be tip number one and tip number two. The next tip would be what

VAL  (01:41):

To shoot with purpose. And so ideally when we go onsite where actually Paul does the video part of it and I do the photo bark, but the first thing that we kind of discuss is what are the highlights of this home? Like what do we have to capture for me in photography and for him in the video. And, uh, so yeah, often that’s ocean view. Um, sometimes it’s, um, the whole, like a huge property and estate property. Sometimes you’ve got a massive backyard. So just realizing what the key, uh, huge things of the property are that you cannot miss.

PAUL (02:11):

And sometimes the realtor, when they send us out, they’ll say, make sure you get pictures of the fireplace or make sure you get pictures of the shop in the backyard. There’s a lot of times that we don’t have to make that decision that it’s been decided for us. We just have to make sure that we get the shots that we’re told to get. Yes.

VAL  (02:27):

So then we definitely make sure we hit on those shots and then basically shooting every room, every space, including the laundry and whether the realtor uses that photo or not, at least you have it, those main ones like the ocean view, you definitely want a great shot of that. And then inside you want like the kitchen on its own, the living room on its own. But then I also like taking a photo where I’ll show the wholeness of the space, where the kitchen to the dining room, to the living room, like it’s all connected. Then those wide angle shots that show all that, you know, the aspect from one room to the other books often really good. Those are pretty nice photos.

PAUL (03:02):

Well, and it’ll answer a lot of questions for buyers too. It provides context to how one space moves in to the next and where rooms are in relation to one another.

VAL  (03:11):

And then a third tip is lighting. Ideally, you want to work with all the light you have, and as much as you can even create so natural light from the windows and then putting the lights on and a big thing with a light is kind of exposing for all the different aspects in the photo. So you might take a picture of the living room that has an ocean view, but often an amateur will take that photograph and the window will be blown out because you want to make it bright enough. So you can see inside the living room, but then the windows blown out and you can’t see the view.

PAUL (03:42):

Okay. So can you fix that? Can a professional deal with that?

VAL  (03:45):

Yeah. So the way a professional will do that is you’ll put the camera on a tripod and you’ll take more than one photo. And the first photo you’ll expose it for the living room. And then the second photo you’ll expose it for the window. So you’ll have like a lighter and a darker image. And then in your photo editing software, you can just overlay one photo on top of the other and then bring out the dual window pole, bring out, mask out the window and bring that so that you can actually have the ocean.

PAUL (04:09):

So you would take multiple exposures of the same photo, then put them into your computer afterwards. And then it creates one master image using the best parts of each photo. Is that right?

VAL  (04:19):

That’s exactly right. So it is a little bit of work. There’s definitely a lot of photo editing that goes on afterwards. The realtor might get his photos in the next day and not the same day, but then the photos will look awesome.

PAUL (04:29):

A big thing I hear from professional photographers is watching your verticals. So what are the verticals and why do I have to watch them?

VAL  (04:36):

Yeah, this is so important with real estate photography. You want to verticals, you want the walls to look straight up and down. So that’s what watching your verticals is, is that walls that are up and down, actually look up and down and look square in your photo. And it’s important because it’s just more pleasing to the eye. Um, on amateur photographer, taking real estate photos, we’ll go to a corner of the room with their cell phone and then tilt it down and take it from a high angle and think that that shows a lot more of the room, but then the walls are all wonky and it’s just not pleasing. But then if you take a nice square shot, put the phone on the tripod, put it in the corner of the room and then make sure that your camera is level, then that your vertical lines you’ll have your vertical lines. And once you know it, now that I’ve talked to you about it, you’ll right away. You’ll just, you’ll see it.

PAUL (05:25):

You won’t be able to unsee it. It will just jump out at you when you see a photo that the verticals are out of whack.

VAL  (05:30):

If you’re concerned about the height of where the camera should be, the rule is that you can see over countertops. So in the kitchen, you’re going to be setting up your tripod a little bit higher so that you could see over that kitchen, kitchen countertop cause kitchen countertops are usually a little bit high. Um, in the bathroom, vanities are a little bit lower. So your camera’s going to come down for that, uh, living room and bedrooms. They’re going to come down a little bit. So it all just depends on the height, the counters, and like for the vanity in the bathroom, the idea is that you want to be, um, just high enough to see over the vanity and then a little bit of the bowl of the sink. And then if you’re you’re too high, if you’re not seeing any floor, so you always want to include the flooring, um, the walls and a little bit of ceiling.

VAL  (06:16):

Another thing with vertical lines that you want to be aware of is the outside of the home, taking that front shot of the home and whether angled or straight on you want the home, the walls, the lines of the home to be up and down. And so with a taller home, that’s like a two story, a three story. It might be hard to get the whole home in the shot and you’ll want to tilt your camera up, but you don’t want to do that. So you just need to bring that your camera higher. And there’s a few ways of doing it. Usually you can’t hold it at high enough and take the photo, but you can use a painter’s pole. So just you can Jack up a pole, put your camera on top of that and take that photo. And then the other way is a drone. So some people will put just a drone up a little bit high in the air, not too high, and you can get that square shot of the front of the home and have that good first impression shot.

PAUL (06:59):

The thing that’s nice with the painters pole is there’s no permit. There’s no permission to use it with a drone sometimes depending on where you’re located, there can be a little bit of a rigmarole to put that drone in the air, even if you’re only going up 10 or 20 feet with it, but the pole, unless you’re under a power line, you’re in pretty good shape to use that pole wherever you want. Yeah. And it creates a really nice image. Verticals are tip number four. What would be tip number five,

VAL  (07:24):

Have the property tidy. That’s a really important one. Yeah. So ideally we let the seller know to have the property ready as though they were going to have an open house. Often the real estate agent will talk to their seller about that, that they’ll already have all decluttered the space that the amount of furniture that should be in each room is in each room and not like a crazy amount, big things is kitchen countertops. Like pretty much clear the kitchen countertops, no cutting boards and no toaster, the coffee pot. Sometimes that one just stays there and that’s fine, but as much as possible clear encounters and then the bathroom vanities too, I’m maybe a little bit crazy, but I’ll put soap dishes away. Cause nobody wants to see you use bar soap on a soap dish. And even the pump soaps I like to put away because then they might, depending on the angle of the photo, they might hide the faucet and the faucet is most important. So any little thing that’s kind of distracting should just be

PAUL (08:18):

What happens when you go to a site and you see that there is a soap dish on the sink or that the furniture maybe isn’t quite in the right place.

VAL  (08:25):

Like a lot of little things that I can just talk in the cupboard underneath, they’ll just hide in the cupboard and me take my photo and put it back. And sometimes if I forget to put it back, then the homeowner will figure it out that it’s in the cupboard underneath. So just kind of going through the room room to room, opening up windows, opening up blinds, talking stuff away is what I like to do.

PAUL (08:45):

The truth of it is as I Val’s pretty aggressive about moving stuff away. She really knows what makes a good photo. And she’s not shy about moving odds and ends around.

VAL  (08:53):

Yeah. It’s because with the Photoshopping I’m doing, if it’s easier to just get it in camera and move it out of the way than to have to Photoshop it out afterwards, full of shopping just takes a little while. So it’s just easier to get it done then. And it’s just what will be distracting then? What does the buyer want to see? So a lot of times too, you’ll have floormates in the bathroom and I like those gone. So I’ll tuck the floor mat away. Or some people will put a floor mat, drape it over the tub, but you want to see the straight lines. You want to see the tub. You want to see the flooring. You don’t want to see necessarily somebody styling the floor mat. And it just shows bigger. If these things are gone and out of the way, it just, it comes across like a cleaner home and a bigger home

PAUL (09:35):

Who doesn’t want a cleaner, bigger home. Exactly. Yeah. You also had a bonus tip.

VAL  (09:41):

Oh yeah. Oh, put the toilet seats down. Yeah. Don’t miss that one and put the toilet seats down. But the annoying part is commercial spaces often there is no lid on the toilet seat, so there is no lid. So then, then it just is open. Then when you initially look at the folder and you’re like, ah, they forgot to put the seat down, but then, uh, there is no lid.

PAUL (10:00):

The toilet seats are like verticals. Now that we’ve set it out loud and you’ve heard it, you’re going to look at photos, listing photos, and you’ll see the toilet seat up. And you’re like, that’s not a pro a pro didn’t take that picture. The pro would’ve put that toilet seat down.

VAL  (10:13):

So even amateur landlords or property managers wanting to rent out this space and taking photos, that’s often where you’ll see that toilet seat up. It just doesn’t look good.

PAUL (10:22):

So that was one bonus tip. And do you have anything else in your bag of tricks to share with us?

VAL  (10:27):

Oh yeah. Actually I do mirrors. Ideally mirrors need to be clean because any little spot on the mirror actually shows us two spots because of the mirror. So then I’m Photoshopping two little spots for every spot that is in the mirror. Streaks are really hard to deal with and like little splatter spots. Those are fine. Well, you just got a full shop, the mall, but there can be a lot dust. I don’t see so much in homes. Like you don’t have to worry about dusting too much, but definitely clean the mirrors. Please.

PAUL (10:56):

Good to know. Yeah. Yeah. Tales from the trenches of real estate photography. There you go. Yeah. You won’t be able to unsee amateur photos. Now, now that you know the secret of vertical lines and countertops and window poles, toilet seats, you’ll have photos jumping out at you all the time. That you’ll think that wasn’t a pro that took that photo and you’ll know what to look for. If you’re looking to hire a photographer, when they show you their portfolio of work, you’ll know what to look for. Are they a real professional or are they just somebody getting started or somebody that’s just playing on it?

VAL  (11:28):

There you go. Have fun taking photos. Have fun hiring photographers. Have fun being the best real estate agent you can be.