A Guide to Lead-Generating Real Estate Photography

A Guide to Lead-Generating Real Estate Photography

As consumers scroll through Zillow or Realtor.com, researching houses, they notice something. They click on into a specific house, get onto the page and go to the photo gallery. Perhaps, you’ve done something similar. We have.

As consumers scroll through Zillow or Realtor.com, researching houses, they notice something.

They click on into a specific house, get onto the page and go to the photo gallery. Perhaps, you’ve done something similar. We have.

When looking through the gallery, you shake your head impressed at how bright and inviting the kitchen looks, or how nicely that finished basement could be arranged.

After that, maybe you read the description of the house, getting into the detail and specifics about the hardwood floors or cabinetry, and the surrounding area.

Then, you back out and continue your search.

But, that house you were just looking at doesn’t go away necessarily. Instead, it sits in your mental list of places you can see yourself living.

But why not the others?

It could be the colors, which can always be changed, but admittedly, they’re still a determinant, or maybe it was how the living room was staged.

Though, even an average-looking, suburban house (with distastefully colored walls) can make you rethink passing it by – even hook you in.

Much of that can be attributed to professional real estate photography.

"If you want a better chance at generating qualified traffic, take better pictures that show the property clearly and cleanly to potentially interested parties who are doing their initial research online," wrote Adorama in an article on real estate photos.

A professional photo flags visitors down, intrigues and invites them to explore what else might be in store.

This could be because of the angle at which the photo was taken, or maybe it’s simply because of the ostensible quality of the image.

What’s vastly important, though, is that customers notice great photos, which makes displaying them on your single property site or your team’s website absolute necessity for staying competitive in the real estate business.

If you display poor photos, or no photos at all, you risk falling far behind the rest of real estate agents and brokers who have already taken to this proven concept.

Here’s a list of ways to take lead-generating photos of your active listings:



Staging a Home For A Real Estate Shoot Isn’t Complicated

When homebuyers step into the house, they want to see themselves there. They want to imagine their pictures and heirlooms adorning the house; they want to picture their desk over there, and the couch here and TV there.

The way you stage photos can help consumers identify with the home, helping grab their attention and pull them away from the sea of real estate photos.

You want your photographs to be inviting to potential homebuyers and hold their attention, which might only be a few seconds, reported Kristine Hansen, an author with Realtor Mag.  But, unfortunately, there isn't a rule of thumb when it comes to staging.

The magic rule for couches inside the living room isn't two, and having seven plants around the house doesn't make it resonate more with homebuyers. There is, however, a golden rule you should abide by.

Joan Sliker, broker-owner of The Cream City Real Estate Co. in Milwaukee, Wis., was quoted in Realtor Mag saying, “Never photograph homes as-is. Remove personal items; declutter and straighten up before shooting." 

When a house is packed full of furniture and ornaments, it can be a red flag for people, because they can't see themselves in the home.

What they see is a room stuffed with other people's furniture and knick-knacks, resulting in a stunted homebuyer's imagination. You want to make sure it's not cluttered so that it doesn't distract and disengage potential homebuyers searching for their homes online.


Lighting Is Everything In Photography

Shannon Petrie, a managing editor with HGTV, reported that about 80 percent of homebuyers start their search online, putting a heavier emphasis on the importance of real estate photography.

Petrie wrote, “Online listings with bad pictures -- or worse, no pictures at all -- can cause buyers to overlook your home from the get-go.”

Listings that really stick out to homebuyers have many clear attributes, and the exposure of the image is near the top.

Go through Beautiful Homes HQ’s Instagram feed, and as you’re scrolling through, pay attention to the light source in each image. Notice where it is?

Lighting is at the core of photography, because without it, well, there is no photo – just a black screen left to interpretation.

When you scout out the home, look for where the light enters the room so you can plan on where you want to set up the tripod (yes, you should have a tripod for this).

When you’re shooting the inside of the home, try to do it on a sunny day so you’re getting a nice, bright scene with natural light. Try to avoid using the camera’s flash so you don’t over-expose the image, causing distracting bright spots and imbalanced color.

With the same idea in mind, when you’re shooting the outside of the home, plan for an overcast day so you’re able to balance the lighting and avoid engulfing shadows, Petrie explained.

However, if you need more light, here’s a tip from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

The NAR collected responses from real estate professionals all over the country, giving short, cheap tips on how to fix up the home for photos. Ann Bishop, with Ann & Denny Bishop Group, from Wichita Falls, Tex., said:

"Replace the light bulbs in the home with higher wattage bulbs. Buyers like 'light and bright,' and the brighter light bulbs make all the difference in the world. Inexpensive and easy!"


Understand and Practice The Rule of Thirds In Every Photo

When you’re going from room to room, snapping away at all different angles, you should keep in mind that the visitors viewing your photos will gravitate to certain sections of the image, because it’s what comes natural to viewers, explained Darren Rowse, editor and founder of Digital Photography School.

At first glance, the viewer’s attention will be on an object or section off to the left or maybe toward the bottom right corner. The idea behind this is called the rule of thirds.

The rule of thirds sections images off into nine parts by intersecting lines on your display. On your camera, it’s referred to as a grid.

What this means for you, the photographer, is that you need to line the main focal point of your picture on one of these intersections, or, at the very least, on one of the lines.

Say you really want the fireplace to be your main focus of the image when shooting the living room. To follow the rule of third best practices, you would line up the fireplace in the upper or lower right or left corner to help guide the viewer’s eyes naturally toward that spot of the room.

Keep this principle in mind when you’re shooting anything, and you’ll find it’s more enticing for homebuyers.

Higher-End Cameras Can Make You More Money, Faster

Redfin reported, “Homes with listing photos taken with DSLR cameras sell for more money than those with amateur photos.”

Redfin completed a study in 2013 that compared the home sales. The study focused on homes listed and sold within the year, with a price between $200,000 and $1 million.

"Professionally photographed homes priced between $200,000 and $1 million sell for $3,400 to $11,200 more relative to their list prices,” the company reported.

Other major findings from Redfin’s study include:

  • Homes with sharper photos sold at listing price or more 44 percent of the time.
  • “Professionally photographed homes are more likely to sell within six months.”

Redfin’s study shows that DSLR cameras are the better option when looking for high-quality photos, and HGTV’s Shannon Petrie encourages agents who are on a budget to at least invest in a decent camera.

It doesn’t have to be the best camera on the market, but it should outrank your smartphone. With that in mind, it’s about time we answer this question: What are DSLR cameras?

DLSR stands for: Digital Single Lens Reflex. Now, that breaks down into a few pieces of information, further defining the type of camera.

When you hold up a range finder camera – a point-and-shooter – and a DSLR, you’ll find very noticeable differences.

For one, the lens on a DSLR is removable, bringing a world of versatility to the machine. This can make a night-and-day difference in your real estate photography, because of what a lens will allow you to capture.

It seems most often that houses, condos and apartments are photographed with a wide-angle lens – a lens that’s 35mm and wider.

Wide-angle lenses allow you to capture as much of the room as possible, making it easier to photograph in tight corners or at awkward angles.


An ultra-wide-angle lens (24mm and wider) might not be the best option to shoot with, though, because it can give the image an exaggerated look.

Have you ever seen a house that looks like it’s massive with what looks like an arch? That house was likely captured using an ultra-wide-angle lens.

But, we can save the lens argument for a different day.

Another big reason DSLRs are a first choice for real estate photography is because of their powerful sensors that allow for sharp, high-quality photos, which, as we’ve noted earlier, is one of the biggest reasons consumers take to listings in the first place.

There are many other reasons that make DSLRs the best choice, like it’s various manual settings, but you can still make due with a point-and-shoot camera, and in really tight situations, your smartphone too.


If All Goes Well, Editing Takes Only Minutes

If you follow the rule of thirds and ensure there is an appropriate amount of light, it’s likely that you won’t have to edit your images that much.

The legwork really comes at the beginning when you’re setting up the house, and then, of course, the shoot itself.

But, sometimes minor touch-ups need to be made. Here’s a quick list of what to look out for when editing your real estate photos:

  • Tilted or crooked images
  • Imbalanced colors
  • Areas that are too dark or too light
  • Busy or distracting objects

You can upload your images to free online editors to fix these minor issues within minutes. Your colors and cropping might be the only edits you make to an image, but if you shoot the exterior on a really bright day, you might want to try and brighten up shadowy areas.

But, again, if all goes well with your setup and production, the house will be doused in well-balanced, natural light, and potential homebuyers will soon call for a showing.


Use your real estate photography on single property websites.  


Key Takeaways

  • Staging the house for a shoot shouldn't be comprised of eliminating clutter and choosing the right adornments for the scene. Remember, the homebuyer wants to see themselves in the home.

  • The light source will dictate the angles of your photos. First, scout out the house, finding the light sources, then decide from which angle you'll take the best photos.

  • Knowing the rule of thirds and putting the concept to practice is key for taking great photos, because it's going to help guide viewers to your main focal point naturally. 

  • Redfin's report shows that listing with DSLR photos often sell for the asking price or more, and faster too. You might want to make the upfront investment. 

  • Editing your photos likely won't take long, assuming you've demonstrated these recommendations well. If your photos are well exposed, angled correctly and showing the house in the best light, only minor touchups will be needed. 

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