Ray in Newport Beach asks:
I’m guessing that pretty much all real estate shooters have to submit at least 5 or 6 exterior shots when delivering final photos to the agent. Is there a rule of thumb in terms of camera angles to include for the exterior shots?
It’s a tough question Ray, because the camera angles we can use to compose our exterior shots are so dependent on what the house’s surroundings allow us to capture. Typically though, my clients usually want 2-3 really good shots of the front (i.e., one each from the right, left, and straight-on) and 1-2 of the back yard. After that, they trust me to take any other shots that I see fit.
That said, on the assumption that your local MLS is like mine, an exterior shot has to be the first shot in the listing. If so, I do have some thoughts on which image should be the first of our submitted exterior shots--let’s call it the “hero shot” exterior. If trees/landscaping permit, I think there’s something about a shot taken from an angle that does the trick. And, yes, I understand that one-point/straight-on compositions often work great--especially if there are some very interesting architectural elements involved. However, capturing the home on an angle allows the viewer to get a sense of depth that a straight-on shot often does not.
So, the key question then becomes, “Which angle do we take for the exterior hero shot?” I’d like to propose that, if possible, choosing an angle which 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 therefore will make it appear disproportionately larger relative to the garage doors… and we see an example of this in the attached photo.
While I have no scientific evidence to back me up, it’s my hunch that subconsciously, making the entry door more pronounced like this, somehow makes the house feel more “accessible” to the prospective buyer. Symbolically, it’s almost as if that doorway represents an entryway to a new life, so to speak, and making the entry disproportionately large makes it easier for the prospective buyer to “walk right in”. And yes, we’re likely going to end up including a shot taken on an angle where the garage doors are closer to the lens (which will make them look huge!) but for many agents, this will be okay as they’ll probably want to show off the fact that the house has a large garage.
Another key variable to consider for the exterior hero shot is camera height. I know lots of great shooters who lower their camera. To them, looking up at the house a bit makes it look grander. For my eye though, I prefer my camera much higher. In fact, I always bring a 10’ collapsible ladder to a shoot as I believe adding some height adds distinctiveness to the exterior hero shot because it presents a view that people aren’t familiar with, as they’re not that tall!
Do you have any additional advice for Ray in regard to nailing the exterior hero shot, or any other exterior shots for that matter?