Rich in Philly sent me the following last week:
I live just outside of Philadelphia, most of my Real Estate Photography work is in the city. I shoot a lot of apartment condos and renovated row homes. Thanks to your blog and Scott Hargis's tutorials, I am coming into my own as far as interior photography goes.
My big problem is the exterior shots. It's really a big concern of mine, so-much-so, that I even decided to market myself as an "interior photographer", simply because I find it very difficult to get compelling exterior shots in a city environment. Most of the time I'm dealing with parked cars, telephone poles, wires, high rises.. I was wondering if there were any tips or tricks out there to help improve my exterior city shots, or as I like to call em "shitty shots".
One thing that i do try and deliver with every shoot is strong interior compositions, that way at least there is something that my clients can use to draw potential clients in.
Here are my suggestions for Rich:
- First of all whether all agents realize it or not exterior shots ARE important even in downtown Philly. Mostly because a thumbnail of the front exterior shot (that is usually the first photo on the MLS) is frequently what potential buyers have to scan when searching sites like Zillow.com or other real estate sites. That thumbnail is the lure that gets a buyer to click and look at the interior shots. It's instructive to go to zillow.com and search downtown Philly like you are a buyer... You can see Rich's problem, there are a lot of properties that have good looking interiors that are butt-ugly on the outside. But the point-and-shoot exterior shots on most listing are not very inspiring!
- I notice from looking at current listings in Philly, that there apparently is no rule on the Philly MLS that says you can't have an interior shot as the primary (first) MLS photo... I see quite a few interior shots as the first photo. If this is true, make use of this and instruct agents to use the your best interior shot as the first MLS photo and put the butt-ugly exterior photo as the last photo. I think this would help.
- I agree, you aren't going to be able to make many of these exterior shots breath taking. However, by just making the verticals, vertical, and having a minimum of cars and garbage cans you could make your front exteriors will look better than 99% of the ones I see on Zillow.com in downtown Philly listings.
- I would not hesitate to remove superfluous temporary objects like cars or garbage cans but I would NOT remove telephone poles or power lines or satellite antennas or any thing that is a permanent object.
- My guess is that a twilight shot in downtown Philly would make a lot of power lines and telephone poles go away or be less noticeable while lit windows would be more noticeable. The biggest problem with this one is a twilight shot requires another trip back which agents are not likely to want to do. On the other hand a killer twilight shot could hide a lot of the ugliness.
- Giving your camera a little height (10' to 20') could help in some situations. A painters pole or just standing on your vehicle can help with this.
I'm sure readers can come up with more ideas.