The bad news is that no two houses are the same but the good news is that there is a way around everything when it comes to property photography. Below we will take a look at some of the most challenging scenarios and see what we can do to work around them.
The first consideration is the sun and how exposed it is. Is it behind clouds or is there not a cloud in the sky? This is important because it will determine in what order the house is photographed. If the garden is south facing, the front shot will have some pretty nasty shadows to deal with, let alone the problems that come with shooting directly into the sun. Back-lit and you have the same problem only at the back of the house instead of the front. Side lighting and you’re in luck!
So what do you do if you find yourself in the front of a house with a South facing garden and a camera in hand? Firstly look into the sky. Fortunately clouds move around, so chances are it will only be a matter of time before the sun is behind a cloud. Once the sun is behind a cloud it’s time to take the shot. Problem solved. But what if there are no clouds? Well, it’s time to leave your shoes by the front door and keep the drive clear of any cars whilst you shoot the rest of the house whilst keeping an eye out of the window and hoping for a cloud to appear. If one does, then quickly head outside and take the shot. There is nothing worse than a cloud appearing only to realise that you cannot remember where you left your shoes. Worst case scenario and a cloud does not appear, then what? The only other option is to come back later when the sun has rotated around the sky a bit more or dropped lower.
The most important thing when photographing a house is the sun.
Preparation and clutter
You get to a property and there is clutter everywhere. No matter how many times you have reminded the client of the scheduled date and time of the visit, this will still happen. The first thing to do is to speak with the client and check if they are happy to prepare the rooms for the photography. There may well be a very good reason for the lack of preparation, you never know!
Once you have done your check and the client is happy for the rooms to be prepared, then get the client to walk around the house with you. Explain that you will guide them and let them know what they can do with their belongings. There is no point in not advising them where to put everything as they may well put it right where you want to take the shot!
Once done, work out the order that you will shoot the house and start with the room that is closest to being shoot-ready. While you are photographing that room the client is preparing the next room for you. This is how you will photograph the whole house, with the client preparing the rooms ahead of you.
The front shot is the money shot! This is because it’s the one that will be going into the shop window, on the front page of the brochure and will also be the first image to be displayed on the portals.
Rule 1: remove the cars! I know it sounds obvious, but this is something that happens quite often.
Rule 2: Never cut off the top of the house (or the bottom) and always get some of the floor in shot.
Rule 3: Always include the front door. if it is a side entrance, try to take a shot from an angle. If the sun is blasting into the lens, refer to the notes above in order to produce a nice shot.
Rule 4: When shooting the front, keep the camera straight! The camera’s sensor must be on the same plane as the house or it will cause distortion (as if the house is about to fall down).
For bathrooms, my favourite hiding place for clutter is inside the bath. This is because bathrooms are always very small and it is therefore necessary to shoot lower down. Quite handy, as it generally ensures that whatever is hidden in the bath will not show in the image. Put the light pulley on the top of the door frame so that it is out of shot, just don’t forget to put it back once done!
For bedrooms the best hiding place is on the floor down the side of the bed, so the bed can hide all the clutter nicely. Wardrobes may also be an option, but just ensure that you have asked the client to move things inside for you. Once done, pull the bed sheets tight in order to greatly reduce any creases - this takes a few seconds and looks 100 times better. Also don’t pull the covers over the pillows, always leave the pillows on top (unless the client has perfectly made the bed, of course).
Statistically, according to Rightmove, the kitchen is the most viewed image on any listing. This is most probably because it is the most expensive room in the whole house. Kitchens are therefore the most important room. If your client decides to skip preparation of all other rooms, always suggest that at least they de-clutter the kitchen. It’s generally a good idea to shoot the dining area first, this way once done you have a place to put everything that has been taken out of the kitchen.
Living rooms can benefit from a quick re-shuffle of the furniture (if practical). You will be amazed at how much bigger the space looks once the furniture has been moved along a wall or even had the coffee table taken out. Magazines should be taken out as they can age the photo and show how long it has been on the market, TVs turned off, curtains opened and don’t forget to straighten the cushions! All this takes a few minutes and can have a huge impact on the photo.
- We carry over 130 items just to photograph a property!
- The largest property we have photographed was 7,674 sqf
- Each photographer takes two shower curtains and two umbrellas to every house
- In 2018 we accidentally left 17 door stops in the houses we visited!