Squatting in corners…and other tricks of property photography

This morning I was taking some property photography for the lovely people at At Home in Edinburgh, which inspired me for today’s tips. I was thinking how odd I must look semi squatting in the corners of rooms, sweating through my clothes…it’s pretty hard work maintaining a wall squat in what is usually a warm room. It inspired me to make others look equally odd.

We all know high end property photography can be an expensive and time consuming business. This is not really cost effective for someone needing nice pictures for example a short term summer rental, so how do you get better pictures?

Light! There is nothing appealing about a dungeon. Here professional cameras with powerful flashes definitely have the upper hand, but there are are a few things you can do to make your rooms brighter without using flash. Yes you heard me right, turn off your flash. Front facing in built flash is horrible. Don’t use it! Instead take pictures at the time of day the room is at it’s brightest. Turn on all possible lights to help your camera (tablet/camera phone) and then trust the software. This generation of camera phones have an advantage over professional cameras as the software is designed to deal with a wider range of conditions.

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Clutter! Get rid of any and all clutter. Your cool beermat collection will not photograph well nor will the teddy bears. The more clutter in an image, the busier it is, detracting from the room and making it look smaller. The same is true for rubbish bins. People don’t want to see them. Then when you think it is ready take a test shot and see if anything jumps out at you, for example a furniture polish bottle with a red lid. If you notice it you can be sure it’s the first thing someone else will see. Take out anything that is too attention grabbing unless you want it to be a feature of the room.

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Get back! In answer to why I, and most photographers, will be in a corner when photographing property is that you want to be as far back as possible to capture as much of the room as you can. You also only really want 2 walls in your picture, 3 makes the space look smaller.

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Angles! Or more importantly straight lines, are another reason for the squatting in the corner. This is also where camera phones make your life easier. Where a professional lens (especially wide angle lenses) has a curve to it, which distorts lines, a camera phone or iPad fixes lens curvature this itself. With my camera I want the majority of lines to be straight, so I start from my starting perspective and squat down until my vertical and horizontal lines are straight. Make sure your vertical lines are straight. No one likes squint horizons or verticals unless it’s for a specific artistic compositional reason.

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Editing! This is a camera phone and tablet tip, use the editing software to brighten your images up if they need it. Don’t just think ‘they’ll do’. 5 more minutes and you can have pictures that represent your property much better. There are lots of options just don’t use obvious filters so your pictures end up looking like a teenager’s Instagram feed. No one will take it seriously.

Almost forgot! Take your pictures in landscape, not portrait, as that is how there are usually displayed on property websites.

Finally, sometimes it is easier just to hire a professional so you can avoid being featured on my favourite blog…Terrible Real Estate Agent Photos. It’s brilliant!

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