Taking Better Pictures of Your Property

Published on 12/7/2010 in Buying Process

Fris photoHow do you make your property stand out from the crowd?

One of the biggest selling points is good photography. 'A picture paints a thousand words', as the saying goes.

Imagine you've looked at two adverts of two almost identical villas, next door to each other on the same resort. Same price, same facilities. But the photos in one are dark, fuzzy, with unmade beds, pans in the kitchen sink and toys on the terrace. The rooms look small and cramped.

In short, it is uninviting. Basically, you don't want to spend your holidays there.

Yet the other has bright and clear images, well lit, showing a neat and tidy property, with wide, spacious rooms. Clean and inviting. Yes, I'd like to stay there!

If an owner can't be bothered to display good photos, then surely their service - and attention to detail - in other areas will fall short too?

It is vitally important to make sure you show your property in the best possible light (literally), otherwise you may lose a potential booking at the first hurdle.

Fris photoHere's my list of ten top tips for taking better photographs of your property. I don't intend to baffle you with science - what F-stop to use, which focal length lens, digital noise, that sort of thing. I'm working on the assumption that you're using a compact digital camera and your knowledge of photography is limited. (If it were advanced, then you wouldn't need my advice!)

1. Blue sky thinking

Don't take exteriors on a dull, grey day. Wait for a clear blue sky. Have the sun behind you and take the front in the morning, then the back in the afternoon, or vice versa, depending on which way the property is facing.

2. Beware shadowy figures

Try to avoid deep shadows across the picture, otherwise you'll lose detail in either the highlights or the shadow areas. Be patient, keep checking the light and take it later in the day, if you have to.

3. People power

Yes, people have the power to spoil your shots. Remember, these are not your holiday snaps, so don't have Auntie Dorothy in the foreground with a gin and tonic in her hand, or your children splashing about in the swimming pool. Much as you may love the pictures, most potential renters would prefer a blank canvas.

4. Daylight delight

Fris photo

Do the interior photos during the day, whilst you have available light from the windows, unless you want moody shots showing off your room lighting, of course, in which case it is best to take them as the light is fading, rather than when it is pitch black outside.

Try a few with the lights on and a few with them off. Blinds open, then blinds shut, and so on. Then pick your favourite later, when you view the results on your computer. It's good to experiment.

5. Don't be flash

Set your camera to manual, switch the flash off, then use'the highest ISO. (This determines how sensitive the camera's sensor is to the light that reaches it. Use a low setting, such ISO100, for outdoors, on a sunny day, then change it to 800 or 1600 for those indoor shots, but don't leave it on that when you are taking people pictures, with flash.)

You may find it strange that I recommend switching the flash off, but that's because the flash will only light the foreground objects, whilst not reaching the far end of the room. It also makes for uneven lighting and doesn't look natural.

Try the same shot with and without flash (changing the ISO from 100 to 800 or 1600 first) and compare.

It still makes me smile when I see someone take a picture of a tall building at night, using flash. It would take a mighty powerful flash to cover a whole building!

6. Cut the clutter

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Don't leave anything lying around, such as an inflatable by the pool or a mop and bucket in the corner of the kitchen. Clear the work surface and kitchen sink, leaving just the essentials, such as the microwave and kettle. Don't have a car in the drive.

Remember - more is very often less.

7. Be a copycat

Look at what other owners have done with their photos and study carefully those that you like. Pick on the ones that stand out from the rest. Ask yourself what it is that makes them better than yours. Pay special attention to composition and mimic it as best you can, within the limits of your camera.

8. Make it large

Stand in the corner of the room, making sure nothing is partially obscuring your view, such as the edge of a lampshade; set your camera lens to its widest, to take in as much of the room as possible. Hold the camera steady, or use a tripod or monopod (a sort of one-legged tripod, if that makes sense) if you have one. You may even be able to rest the camera on something, although that would probably mean you would lose the best viewpoint.

Fris photo

9. Rise to the occasion

There's no rule that says every shot must be taken at eye level. Be adventurous and do a few low-level shots, better still, high level: stand on a chair or hold the camera above your head. Experiment. Try a few quirky angles. You might be surprised at the results. After all, you've nothing to lose and it's not as if you're going to ran out of film!

Try it one way - landscape:

Then the other - portrait:

Shot of a bathroom, from a high viewpoint. Always make sure the toilet seat is down:

Try one at an angle:

A mix of available daylight and room lights:

10. When all else fails, call a professional!

Fris photo

It may not be as expensive as you think. Bear in mind, you should recoup  more than the cost of hiring a photographer with just one extra rental booking. And that's a one-off fee, as you can use the images year after year, on several websites. (Check the photographer's terms and what licence he grants for the images first.)


Written by: Mike Frisbee

About the author:

Mike Frisbee has been a professional photographer for thirty years and is based in Manchester.

He has a townhouse at La Torre Golf Resort in Murcia, Spain, which he visits every few weeks. Whilst there, he photographs properties for rental websites.

For examples of his work, visit www.fris.co.uk (password - Spanish property).
For stock images of the region, visit www.fris.co.uk (password - Murcia stock).
For an example of a 360 degree photo, go to www.fris.co.uk/MoorPan/The-Moor-Suite

Mike can be contacted by email: mikefrisbee@fris.co.uk or phone: 0044 (0)7976 894624.

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