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How do I take pictures of my house?

Property photography is an art, and just like any art, the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That means photographing your house in the way you wish to have it presented. Selling your home is about making it stand out, and whilst we would typically recommend having professional property photography taken, there are without a doubt a few skills that almost anyone can learn to make the first steps towards selling their house. So, even if you are not taking your properties photographs with the intention of selling it yourself, its a good idea to get familiar with some of those angles and understand how to open your house up for better presentation. Do most people take their property photos themselves? No, is the simple answer, but it is 2021! With the power of the internet on everyones side, knowledge can spread like wildfire, and whether or not you chose to take your photos yourself, or you chose to pay for professional property photography, we would advise taking a these steps to get you on the right track.

  1. Staging

Staging a home for viewings and photography is the typical starting point for anybody looking to sell their home, and this first step is arguably the hardest for most to comprehend and get right. You may have been living in your house for a year, you may have been living in it for 30 years, but you also may have never lived in it at all, and whilst all of these scenarios have their benefits in selling a home, the persona of a property developer who has never lived in the home before is the most well equip for understanding what a buyer wants. When we step out to take property photography, in general we can tell the difference between those three types of sellers by the way the home is staged and we can categorise them conclusively into three personas to get an idea of the workload needed along the entire frame of a project. Its a good idea to allocate yourself into one of these groups when staging your home to set yourself realistic expectations of the potential workload you have in front of you.

The short term home owner tends to have a reserved yet almost homely vibe within the house. Maybe a few frames on the walls, some personal bits around the house and a really structured layout. The structured layout of furniture is for Feng Shue purposes only, and the short term buyer has probably tried every arrangement of furniture possible just to get it right for themselves and most of the time they probably haven’t even found a sweet spot and are probably using their coffee table as a foot rest at the moment or maybe a shoddy, unwatered bonsai somewhere in the house to add some colour to the eggshell white walls. No matter how open the home is, their idea of right is not necessarily right for photography staging. This is where we differ from the long term buyer. The long term buyer typically has a family home with a particularly homely feel to it. That means that no matter what room of the house you go into, there are personal items and more often than not the space can look much smaller than it really is. Whilst the homely feel is what we’re all trying to achieve, your home will probably also be home to some dog toys in an area of the living room, maybe a few too many plants in the conservatory or even an overwhelming amount of art and when opening up a space of staging, brightness and grandiosity is what you should be trying to achieve. That brings us to the property developer persona, Our favourite person to work with. The property developer is our most advisable outlook a property when taking your own pictures or staging your home for property photography. A property developer typically knows how to set his or hers house for staging and the preset of the home has been curated from previous homes which they know work, or just plain and simple, the house has been designed to sell. The property developer knows what it takes to make someone buy a house and has carefully curated the furniture and decoration of the home to suit the buyer.

Our biggest piece of advice to anyone looking to sell their home and stage their photos is to ‘always remember that people want to visualise themselves living in your home’ and that’s usually finding a happy medium between the homely and the practical. So spread the furniture, clean up the walls and put those dog toys away. Lets move onto the equipment.

2. Equipment

So the equipment used in property photography is usually the biggest difference between the quality homes on the market and the not so expensive, ‘AirBnb-esq’ properties. What do we mean by AirBnb-esq? Its no put down to Bnb’s, but when you think of a bed and breakfast, you usually think small and dingy, with a purpose to facilitate a quick and easy trip, that is the opposite of how you want your house to look when you’re selling it. So why do Bnb’s and smaller apartments tend to look to dull on photos? Because they’re probably taken on an iPhone or android. Whilst iPhone and android technology is arguably in the same realm of some quality DSLR’s on the market, I’m sad to say it, but there really is a big difference between a high quality wide angled lens and a smartphone.

Typically, the standard equipment for any property photographer ranges from DSLR camera, wide angle lens, tripod and flash, but can extend to a lot more, so we’re going to keep within these 4 elements. So why the DSLR over the mobile? Well the DSLR camera will ‘typically give you more creative control when it comes to exposure. You have absolute control over your shutter speed, aperture and ISO settings. Smartphones can simulate a lot of these scenarios, but they are only as good as the software that they ship with’, which should be a good enough reason to chose these cameras, but the ISO and exposure settings are a conversation for another time. Just remember that taking photos and editing them are two separate jobs, so going into the editing process with 1 smartphone photo over a a plethora of bracketed (light to dark ranged photos) DSLR photos is going to help you to build an image which you have created of your home.

As for the wide angle lens, tripod and flash, these elements can be seen for most junior photographs as non-essentials but unless you’re able to hold a camera still for 4-8 straight shots whilst manipulating the camera settings and also capturing three whole walls without getting your shadow in a shot, there is a need for all of these pieces of equipment and it’s just about learning to use them. We’ve all seen those low panned shots of the kitchen and the high Birdseye bedroom photos, well they’re all taken using a tripod. The main aim of all of these different styles is to best capture the light, because the light is the only way to build an environment to work on for editing…which kindly brings us onto our next step.

3. Editing

Editing is potentially the least hard to learn skill of the three. Photo editing tends to be subjective when depending on what we’re looking at. For instance a fitness model will take photos and raise its saturation to accentuate the deep details of the human body, and a nature photographer may reduce highlights of a photograph to blend greens and yellows together seamlessly. However, in our opinion, property photography is an objective art form which has two crucial goals, to make a house look bigger and to make a house look better. You’ve probably already gone through the hassle of making your house look bigger by rearranging the furniture for staging and even widening your DSLR camera lens if you are following our steps so the last part to get right is making your house look better.

The first step of the editing process is finding a program that works well for you. There are several trials and free services available out there but the real photographers tool of choice is Lightroom, for the sole reason that there is so many options on how to change your photos. Whether brightening your room and adjusting the temperature of your photos adobe Lightroom can help a lot. As well as adjusting bracketed photographs, you can also repair parts of the house that you may have forgotten previously., For example if you have left a bit of dirt on the floor which isn’t usually there and you don’t want to take a photo again, there are tools to quickly help you get rid of that dirt without looking like it was even there in the first place. Anyone can learn to edit photos by spending a bit of time on them, but its just about willing to spend that time, but if you can’t, I mean really can’t be bothered to learn a program yourself, there are presets on a lot of applications which you can buy to aid you with typically settings most property photographers use, which could also be a great option for most people.

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