January 5th, 2014
In real estate photography there’s one shot that is as important as all the others put together. The primary exterior shot. Most MLS’s (but not all) require this first shot in the listing photos to be an exterior shot. It’s the shot has the potential to grab the buyers attention and motivates them to look at the home in more detail.
To understand why this shot is so important, think about how real estate web sites are designed. They always feature one photo larger than all the others with a bunch of thumbnails for the rest of the photos. As buyers search through large numbers of properties in their location and price range of interest the search process becomes a visual contest to see which primary image is attention grabbing enough to get the buyer to look at more listing details. In this contest you have a split second to grab attention. It can be a fantastic property but if the front shot doesn’t grab the buyers interest they are not going to look farther. They will scroll or click to the next property. All real estate photographers should spend time searching through real estate sites to see how this works and feels.
The two photos to the right are of the same home. The lower one is the front and the upper one is the back view high on a hill behind the home. It took me a while walking around the home to discover the rear view. In this case, the shot of the back makes the best money shot! As it turned out on this listing it was in fact this rear view shot that motivated the buyers to physically come look at the home. I know because was able to talk to the buyers at length during the home inspection about the how they found this property. They first saw it on a regional website where it was large with a bunch of thumbnails below it – they were actually had a printed copy of the webpage with them.
There are a number of things to do when working to create a strong primary exterior shot:
- Increased camera elevation always looks better than shooting from the ground. It is truly miraculous how a little elevation adds to visual interest. Use a vehicle, a ladder or a painters pole or UAV to get some elevation.
- Large expanses of driveway, street or straight on views of garage doors always detract from the strength of the image. These are just not architecturally interesting features.
- Three quarter shots, where you are shooting at a slight angle to the front of the home are are usually stronger than shots taken straight on to the front. These have the capability to show some of the side and/or back yard.
- Front shots are not the place to use ultra-wide-angle lenses if you can help it, because lenses wider than about 24 mm or so will exaggerate perspective so the photo has a strange look. I have to admit though, there are some cramped front yards where you are forced into shooting with a wide-angle lens.
- Try to show as many home features as possible. For example, the top photo shows, the view, the garden with a pond, the potting shed all from a high angle of view.
- Take lots of shots from many angles. You don’t always see everything in the finder. You may discover the best shot later in Lightroom.
- Sometimes the back or side view looks better than the front.
- Twilight shots generally attract the most attention and should be used whenever possible
Then there are some homes that are simply “butt-ugly” from every angle and there is nothing you can do to help them. They are harder to sell. The is an old listing agent saying, “if you can’t see it, you can’t sell it”. It has a lot of true!