Put Your Real Estate Photos In The Right Order!

October 28th, 2014

PhotosInorderTim Wilson pointed out this article at inman.com today. Tim said what caught his attention in the article was the following:

What I found super-intriguing was that the sequential order of the photography made a difference. The participants I interviewed wanted to see the photos flow in an order emulating how they would naturally walk through a home. They wanted the first photo to be of the exterior, capturing the entire property, and then see photos that take them through the home. The last photo should be an exterior shot of the rear of the house.

Tim said this is the first time he’d heard this. My response to Tim was:

Yes, absolutely, I’ve never even thought about the fact that I always order photos in walk-through sequence because my wife has always insisted on walk-through sequence ever since I started shooting her listings in about 1990. After getting scolded so many times for not putting photos in exactly the “right order” I guess I’ve just totally habituated this concept. I even deliver photos to agents in walk through order.

So put photos in walk-through order so viewers see the property sequentially in logical order.

Share this

23 Responses to “Put Your Real Estate Photos In The Right Order!”

  • Tim,
    I too always place my images in the order I walk through the home, with minor changes, as placing the master bedroom before any other bedroom. But I normally do the front of the house, starting with an elevated (if I shoot an elevated) then, I go through the front door, do the shot looking in, and then do a reverse angle looking back at the door I just entered. then, I normally shoot a living room, then the kitchen.
    But at my shoot today, the owner asked me to photograph his laundry room and the inlayed tile floor in his garage.

    The laundry rooms, I mostly place near the end, before I exit the house and do the pool or back deck then do the back of the house and the image inside the garage. But this time, the garage image looked out of place, no matter where I placed it. The main thing is to make sure your tour has continuity.

    Because I used to shoot some industrial films, (many times out of sequence) we had to learn how to edit to make the final film flow smoothly and make sense.

    Now that more people are shooting Video, continuity will be a very important part of the editing process to tell a story.

  • I think the bottom line is that the viewer wants to see some order of the view, so they can mentally “walk though” the property when viewing the photos. Otherwise they are just looking at a bunch of rooms, but have no idea how they conjoin.

    One problem to be aware of is when uploading to the mls in the “walk through” order, is that some websites….Realtor.com for one, will pull only the first 4 shots on their website if the agent has not paid the “pay to play” fee. This limits the view of the home drastically. If the agent has paid for the shake down fee “Premium member” than the site will download all of the photos on the listing mls. So, if your loading to the mls, check that the agent’s status and adjust from there. I will select 4 shots to put first, then post the rest from a walk through point of view if the agent is not a premium member. Side note, most of the agents I work with today have cancelled their association with Realtor.com as they find it not cost effective.

  • I use 2 sequences when I order photos. The first half of the sequence starts with the front exterior. I don’t image a home like I’m frame grabbing from a video so I usually only provide one front exterior image. The main common areas I order based on the angles I have shot so one leads into another. The second half of my sequence are bedrooms, dens and other private living areas. The master bedroom and bath lead the section since that’s where the buyer is going to sleep. If the agent wants to purchase more photos, I will photograph the secondary bedrooms and baths. I end the order with the rear exteriors. I leave out pictures of hallways, laundry rooms, water heaters and garden plants. The bonus of pricing by the image is that it focuses the agent’s mind on what is important and worth featuring.

    In Lightroom, I create a quick collection and drag the images into the order I want. My export presets rename the images in the format yyyymmdd_NNNStreetVVVSSS.jpg where the first VVV is the file type (HiQ or MLS) and SSS is a 3 digit sequence. So far, the agents and/or the mls’s have presented the images in the order I put out. I remind the agents to upload the photos in order to help maintain the sequence in a text file I include with the image download. It’s easy to do it that way and they also understand that if they just post them up any old way, they might wind up with a powder room as their lead image.

    I am creating a highlight package rather than a documentary, so impact is a key factor along with putting the best and most important images up front. The other day when combing the listings for agents to put on my mailing list I came across a listing for a mobile home that had 83 pictures. The images were all mixed up, of poor quality and randomly composed. Even if they were technically good and followed some sort of rational sequence, I still wouldn’t have viewed all of them. 83 is an extreme, but the cutoff point (web attention span) is different for different people so you want to impress them as soon as possible. If they don’t make it to the garage and back yard, at least they have seen the major selling points. You may lose a few if it’s 8 photos to get in the front door.

  • I deliver AS SHOT and have never had a complaint by the Realtor. It is the Realtors responsibility or obligation to arrange their marketing piece to their liking, not the photographer to second guess. If they are not, it makes a good ‘best practices’ discussion on something they probably haven’t thought of – and I usually put in a positive context like the thought process of how I create tours. While I do have a walkthrough system, front, interior entry, living, study, bedrooms then out the back and closing with community amenities so AS SHOT comes out that way. Many times that order sequence is interrupted. If early, getting community amenities before arriving at house, reshooting front at the end because there is now blue sky or delaying front to last in summer so not soaking wet when walking in their home. Likewise, the realtor may be sitting at the dining table doing final paperwork so have shoot around.

    That said, when I assemble a tour it is the walkthrough sequence. I even use a front door opening video as a transition from exterior to interior and at times get real fancy with a focus pull of a flower along the entry path to door, door opening, then a slider of an arrangement inside. The tour doesn’t stop with the rear but progresses to the community amenities, and ends with a front shot of the house, bringing it full circle.

  • Since day one I’ve always displayed my images in an order as I might walk thru. It’s always made sense to do so. It gives the whole presentation “a sense of order”, just makes sense. My work is good, not as good as a lot of what I see in this forum, but I see some work that seems so confusing to watch. I can imagine a buyer watching some of these tours and wondering if the Master Bedroom is really right off the Garage; granted, in some homes it might be, but I see my job as helping the agent, by doing that I’m really helping me and my business. I tell my agents, the way I Order my images, and how I Name the images is only a suggestion and they need to to go into the tour and customize the images order and name them as they want. I’ve found the agents who do this sell more properties than the agents who don’t as much get involved in there presentations. I get more headaches from the agents who do not get involved in their own marketing process, they depend too much on others.

  • I’ve always framed my photography around telling a story, so I’ve injected that into my real estate photography. I will always take the time to arrange the photos in a walk through order as best I can. As Ken mentioned, master bedroom/bath comes first, then the rest of the bedrooms/baths.

    One thing that has always tickled my brain is how to finish the album. One idea is to finish the album with the rear exteriors of the home. Another idea is to have all the exteriors at the beginning of the album and finish with the final room shot (usually somewhere in the basement). How do you finish your albums and why?

  • I totally agree that the order makes a big difference. I’m a realtor on Cape Cod and most of the buyers are NOT on Cape Cod, so they want to be able to learn all about the house from their home. To me this means having a complete virtual tour of the house and the neighborhood as required. Our MLS system limits the photos to 35, but my virtual tours run from about 60 to about 120 slides. This includes multiple floor plan slides that show them where the next set of pictures are in the house. If you are thinking “too many slides” then you are right and wrong. For most people this is way too many. But for a select set of viewers the more the better. These viewer will watch the complete slideshow over and over. Who are these wierd people, THE BUYERS. For a recent example (a modest house: 1,400 SqFt, $365K) go to its web site: 132GilbertLane.com. The virtual tour links are on the right. Note, the virtual tour slideshow goes to Phanfare.com–and requires Flash. The slide show video is just a recording of the Phanfare slideshow. Other real videos are coming for this listing. I need to get rid of Phanfare. Any recommendations for a new slideshow website or WordPress plugin would be helpful. Larry recommended Tourbuzz, but they would not allow me to be a customer since I am a real estate agent. Help!

  • Interesting. If I was a realtor/broker I think I’d care more about “What will get a person to come see the house” rather than “What order does a viewer want to see the photos”. Maybe they’re the same but I’d be inclined to arrange the photos for a listing the same way I arrange the photos for my portfolio: Start with a strong image, end with a strong image. I think that’s going to resonate much more with a viewer than a “walk through” orientation of the photos.

  • +1 to what Malia said.

    If a house has a very strong feature like an infinity pool or an ocean view for example….of course it only makes sense to put that at the beginning.

    When car companies advertise they point out all their cars strong features that set it apart from the competition (Horsepower, hybrid, electric etc), not the fact it has an engine, 4 wheels, seats etc.

    Unfortunately in the end it up to the agents though and most like having them in a walk though order so they can call it a “walk through” tour.

  • @christian @malia, The survey from which the information was gleaned was of buyers…not realtors/brokers..Did either of you read the article yet?

  • uh… I just shoot in the order you’d walk through a home. I know, I know… it takes the whole fun out of doing it manually later… but after a few houses, the magic of numbering them later just isn’t as exciting as your very first hands-on numerical escapade.

  • @Tim

    Yes, I did Tim, my comment about agents was jut pointing out that its out of my hands in the end as they are the paying clients and get what they want.

    In regards to the order, its marketing 101 that you show the best up front.

    2 listings on the same street but 1 has a pool and amazing “backyard oasis” that make it stand out from the ohter listing…you would be insane not to show this at the start of any presentation/information.

    I find agents who will put this in the first line of their description in CAPS but fail to utilize the photos to get the same impact.

  • Also just to clarify, while I think that showing a standout feature early is important, I do agree that the photos must be in some sort of order or flow after that.

    Buyers can get annoyed/confused trying to figure out where the particular photo is located in the house when the order is all messed up (eg. kitchen shot, then a bedroom, then one of the recreation room, back to another bedroom, family room, foyer etc.)

  • I’m glad you found my research interesting. I initially set out to find how consumers interact with real estate photography. I knew the importance of professional photography, however, the sequential order was some what of a surprise. I utilized a Tobi eye tracking machine for the quantitative portion of the study. The study revealed some interesting data. Please let me know if you have any question.

    -Tom

  • @Christian
    “2 listings on the same street but 1 has a pool and amazing “backyard oasis” that make it stand out from the ohter listing…you would be insane not to show this at the start of any presentation/information.”

    I agree with that…you have to grab their attention

  • When I first started this business my thought was this…”the agent knows the layout of the home, and they can place them in the order they want”.
    After a while (2 or 3 jobs) I started to look at it from a customer service point of view. “Why make the customer do any more work than they have to?”
    Also, if they are busy, they might have only been in the home once or twice and trying to remember it with all the other active listings they have could prove to be impossible.
    Bottom line (for me)…. make it easy for both them and me.
    Shoot it as I walk through. That way everything is in order and I don’t have to rearrange anything.
    This has an added benefit of making it easier to build the virtual slideshow tour, which MUST be as you walk through the home.
    As for exterior? I shoot the front first and the back last, and that’s how I submit them to the agent and build the slideshow.
    Cheers!

  • @Tim – Of course I read the article. What exactly about my response is troubling you?

  • Good post. There’s another reason it’s helpful to put them in walk through order. In the ten years that I was a real estate photographer, I always named my photos main123 ba 1, etc. Of course they were alphabetical when received by the agent. Now that I am an agent and I have to upload the photos to the mls, it is so much easier to do a batch upload when the photos are named 001main, 002main, or something like that, putting the photos numerically in walk through order. Otherwise they have to be moved around in my mls which is tedious and a waste of time. Wish I had known that years ago. It would have made my client’s lives so much easier.

  • I agree with putting the best stuff up front. If a house has an amazing backyard, but the rest is ordinary, the buyer may never get to the end of the slideshow to see the amazing backyard. People’s attention span is very short (and time is valuable), if you don’t capture their attention within 10-15 seconds, they move on to the next home.

    Although I do agree that the slideshow should have a logical flow I don’t think it necessarily has to be the order you walk through a house. I wouldn’t stick the bedroom or a powder room before a kitchen for instance (even if the they happen to be the first room when you walk into a house)…

    I believe these slideshows should be a ‘teaser’ so the buyer makes an appointment to see the home. So showing the best rooms first IMO is the best way to interest them into making a visit to see the home. It is like watching a movie trailer, they show all the best/funny scenes so you go and see the movie. And in a way, this is exactly what our slideshows and videos are, trailers to the home (so to speak).

    Also in terms of delivering photos, I name them by room (ie LivingRoom1, LivingRoom2, Kitchen1, Kitchen2 etc., ). Where I am located, it is almost 99.9% certain that some sort of printed featuresheet/booklet will be created. Most of the designers and marketing individuals that create these rarely/never visit the home in person. By naming the rooms it helps them identify the rooms when designing the booklets/featuresheets so they can have the correct room names/labels. This is especially helpful when there are 2 or more rooms that look alike (Living room, family room, great room, rec room etc., sometimes it is very hard to figure out what is what). I have shot several estates where there are two kitchens, and both kitchens are top notch designer kitchens (granite, upgraded cabinets etc…), so telling the designer which kitchen is which just makes life easier…

  • All great points, and may rethink the “as shot” order for delivery, but would be a customer service gesture only. Also, it may be moot – but even easier to arrange after the fact – as about to shift delivery from Dropbox to Zenfolio which offers far more services and the order to arrange the gallery after upload. And while the photos are perpetually available with unlimited space, the realtor/client had the ability download all, or just the ones they select. But enough of that, as I finish up the site today and a couple of realtors have agreed to beta test with prior shoot uploads.

    While the discussions expanded to tours, the general consensus is for walkthrough order. Nothing has been stated about the audio voiceover that many tours support. One of the more popular mechanical ones is Animoto. Ignoring the lack of tonal inflection, recited with a rather bland affect, most just load in a master script – typically the verbage used in the MLS listing. Animoto does it even on their sample on their website and it drives me crazy. The script is describing the kitchen as you are looking at the bedroom, and when discusses the kitchen you are looking at the living room. AAAGGGGHHH! Coordinate scripts with rooms, specifically written for each slide rather than a master script.

    @Bill Silver…surprised Tourbuzz wouldn’t allow because I am also a Realtor, but I also own a photography company and shoot for other Realtors. There are several others that are DIY serving Realtors, but the ones at the top of my mind are some of the originals, like Visual Tour, who haven’t updated their platform and personally consider them rather weak, distorted walls and all. Since you later include/replace with a true video, may want to look at WellcomeMat for both. Granted, they don’t have a tour slideshow, it is easy to arrange stills with Ken Burns effect and transitions in iMovie and upload it. Then replace it later (or selectively use both) as you develop a true video. I actually taught one of my clients to do the IMovie for YOuTube versions before Tourbuzz added the feature and it would cost too much extra for me to profitably assemble and upload. As I recall, Wellcomemat was monthly flat rate pricing, but as I just checked their website, they appear to have removed fee info. Vaguely remember it a $25/mo unlimited, about the same as iPlayerHD that many here use to host video. The difference is, Wellcomemat is oriented to the Realtor, complete with backoffice and re-rendering video for unbranded, etc, but are individually (or brokerage/group) based and each of the photographers clients would have to pay the monthly fee. iPlayerHD is one account to support all clients which makes far more sense for photographers.

  • This is the realtor’s responsibility. I deliver as I shot the home (usually easiest rooms first). Realtors should be smart enough to know the order that will be the most effective. And I don’t recall ever seeing a listing that I’ve shot in the exact order I photographed the property.

  • I was doing this for six months and the agency I work with told me I didn’t need to do that, they have people to take care of lining up the images. I don’t mind, it saves me a few minutes of processing time.

  • @Russell Flynn – I started to look at it from a customer service point of view. “Why make the customer do any more work than they have to?”

    What a refreshing point of view 🙂

Trackback URI Comments RSS

Leave a Reply