Recently Omar asked:
What can I do to improve my exterior shots?
Good to hear you are aware of the importance of exterior shots. In my time working with my wife listing homes it was very clear that exterior shots are the single most important photo of the listing photo set. The exterior shot is always seen by every buyer searching through listings. It can tell the story of the property and entice buyers to click through and see more details of the property. But the biggest factor is it gets the listing agent more listings. My wife and I would get 2 or 4 listings a year just because someone would see the marketing we did for some other listing (usually a twilight shot) photos and say, "...we want you to list our home and do a photo like that", referring to a twilight photo or exterior photo that we would feature on our property flyers. Note that this is a BIG deal to a listing agent that is getting 3% of the net sales price! Frequently it was a neighbor that had grabbed a flyer from the flyer box. I always use front shots as backgrounds for flyers and brochures similar to the flyer above.
Here are some key factors in getting good exterior shots. My Photography For Real Estate e-book has a whole chapter on exterior shots and has more detail on each of these:
- Twilight shots: While this could be a more sophisticated twilight photo like Mike Kelley does it can also be a simple twilight photo just shot on a tripod from 15 min before sunset to 15 min after sunset. Twilight photos are hugely popular with home sellers. Here's how. Recently Tyrone asked, "should I charge extra for twilight shots?" Absolutely, you have to make a special trip to the property and spend about 1/2 hour on site and 1/2 hour processing so most real estate photographers charge $100 to $200 for a twilight shoot. They are well worth it to agents!
- Shoot elevated when you can: Some homes, sited above the street require some elevation to get a good front shot. But, 10' to 15' improves the look of any front shot. I just use a ladder in my pickup, but a painter's pole or giant tripod works well too.
- Find the best point of view: Shooting from the right angle can take a while to figure out. For our important listings I always end up coming back more than once to get it right. This approach doesn't always make sense of you are shooting for an agent. The important principle is try a lot of different points of view. It isn't always the front. The best one isn't always immediately obvious.
- Be there at the right time: Shooting into the sun can destroy everything. Use the Lightrac or TPE Apps to figure out when the best time to shot is. Of course, weather is always a big factor.
- Use a circular polarizer: The home owner who's home we listed in 2004 (see photo/flyer above) was a professional photographer and educated me on the benefit of using a circular polarizing filter in many sunny external shots. Polarizers don't improve shots in every situation but when it is sunny, like this shot, it can make a huge difference. Always carry a polarizer so you can try it out.
Not all listing agents realize the importance of the exterior shots. Be prepared to educate agents on the importance of the exterior shots. The exterior shot is the single most important shot in a real estate shoot!