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The Most Important Photo in Real Estate Photography

Published: 18/10/2020

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While we can discuss how to capture it, the fact remains that the front exterior photo is THE most important photo in real estate marketing. It's my understanding that, before the advent of online listings, agents were only required to choose one photo to showcase the property in print media ads and invariably, this shot ended up being a daylight, front, exterior shot. I'm not sure if it was due to this precedent but to this day, a vast majority of MLS organizations require that the first shot of the listing be a front exterior shot.

While there are no concrete rules for shooting a front exterior, here are a few commonly accepted best practices:

Shoot It on an Angle

For me, if trees/landscaping permit, capturing the home on an angle is important because it allows the viewer to get a sense of depth that a straight-on shot often doesn't. Yes, if the home is architecturally stunning, a straight-on/one-point shot can be very impressive. In most cases though, shooting from an angle is the way to go.

Choose the Proper Angle

Once again, if trees/landscaping permit, choosing an angle that places the front entry door closest to the camera, rather than the garage doors, is the way to go. Doing this makes the entry door physically closer to the camera and thus, will make it appear disproportionately larger, relative to the garage doors.

Consider Different Camera Heights

This one isn't a best practice, as much as it is an important consideration as your camera height can make a huge impact on the viewer. That said, this one often comes down to personal preference or creative instinct in the moment. Many shooters prefer to shoot from a lower camera angle, to look up at the house. The belief here is that doing so makes it look grander. Others prefer a much higher camera position, as doing so distinguishes the house in that it presents a view that people aren't familiar with. I think this notion has contributed to the repaid growth of drone photography in our field.

Twilights Anyone?

Given the hyper-competitiveness of the field with so many agents trying to distinguish themselves, we're starting to see more and more agents using a twilight exterior photo as the lead shot in the listing. When done well, it's a very "sexy" shot that often really shows off the features of a house. On the other side of the coin, a good twilight can "hide" certain features that may not be attractive in daylight (i.e., an untended lawn). 

What about Condos?

Sometimes, the front of a condominium isn't a great shot because the exterior is usually uninspiring. If this is the case, then it might be better to stand farther back and capture a wider shot that shows the building in its entirety, as well as its immediate surroundings; particularly if it's a nice neighborhood.

Tony Colangelo