Have you ever wondered why the images you take on your phone or DSLR of properties are not as good as those taken by a professional? Professional property photographers are professionals for good reason. They have, or at least should have an understanding of the law, ethics ,camera technology, lighting, some light physics, complicated software, and psychology.
Understanding of the principles of property photography
Put simply, a property is a product that is to be sold. It is to be made as attractive as possible to interest the largest number of people to gain the asking price or above. A product, like any other, has features. Some of these features work with the above statement and some work against. As a professional property photographer it is our job to negotiate these features and create persuasive visual arguements.
Psychology and property photography
Some studies suggest that by de-personalising a house (removing sentimental or personal possessions such as family photographs or towels) a potentially interested person is able to imagine themselves living in the property much more easily. This is why in most property photographs, the majority or all personal images are removed where possible.
Children’s belongings may be the exception to this rule. If a family is looking to move home, having attractive toys or child-furnishings may send home the message that this property is very suitable for raising children.
The other and more generally more effective rule is that less is more. A room filled with objects no matter how organised, will feel crowded and stuffy. Most property photographers will ask the vendor to remove all clutter from rooms or may do it themselves.
Equipment that a professional property photographer uses
A professional property photographer will or at least should own a range of equipment to deal with any task when undertaking property photography.
A full frame DSLR body geared toward extended best dynamic range to afford recording information in the brightes and darkest parts of a room. This may sound unncessary but the difference can be substantial.
A wide-angle lens is often used for the the majority of property photos. Wide-angle lens’, are expensive to manufacturer due to potential problems with chromatic abberations (coloured lines running parrallel to the edges of reflective surfaces such as windows, sinks and cookers. They also exaggerate close objects making them appear larger.
The tripod is one of the most important pieces of equipment a property photographer can employ. Tripods ensure the camera is level and does not move when bracketing exposures.
Additional lighting in the form of flashes allow the photographer to manipulate the levels of light in a room and help with dark areas. Multiple flashes may be used when one image has a view into another or multiple rooms.
Once the property has been photographed the post-production work requires numerous changes to be made to the photograph. The first change is often the colour balance. When using flash in a room that is not white, the light bounces off the walls and colours the whole room. This has to be accounted for to ensure rooms do not look overly yellow, cyan or magenta. Some cropping may occur to remove unwanted elements of the composition such as lights or doorframes. Cables besides bed, or fluff on carpets may need to be cloned out of the picture. A general tweaking of the exposure or comprehensive HDR (high-dynamic-range) procedure may need to be performed in order to retain details through windows or across the scene. This is just a few of the most common areas of property photography post-production.
If you are an Estate Agent you have made it this far well done. Treat yourself to your favourite hot drink at the office.