1. (This is obvious) Prep the Property
Make sure to clean the place up, put away all personal items, and turn all the lights on. Smart phones do not shoot as well in low light as well as professional digital cameras.
2. Get the Right Shots.
You want to make sure you get all the shots you need when you’re onsite – a good rule of thumb is to always take a minute to get that extra shot or additional angle. You never know how much different an image can look when you start editing compared to when you’re onsite.
For the exterior I like to start from the outside and work my way in. Generally, I will get 6-8 shots from the perimeter of the property at different angles working my way around the house. As I move closer, I will take shots of any notable exterior features such as a deck, drive way, garage, front steps, etc.
For the interior I will take 2 shots for bedrooms, bathrooms, and other non-primary parts of the house and 3-5 shots for primary areas such as kitchen, living, and dining rooms. These shots are generally taken from opposite angles to show as much of the space as possible.
3. Get the Right Angle.
Naturally, we like to take photos with the camera right in front of our face. However, this will lead to the photo looking imbalanced. Instead, you want to hold the camera as close as possible between the floor and ceiling (generally around waist height or slightly higher). This is so that you can shoot a photo that is straight and proportionally balanced. Secondly, make sure you are in the corner of the room or against the wall to make the room appear as large as possible. You really want to provide a useful perspective of the room, this may not always be corner to corner but instead shooting from the corner and having a wall or doorway in the photo for context. I like to mix up the angles and shoot straight on in a room as well as at an angle from the corner.
Getting the right angle also includes making sure all of your photos are straight with your verticals, vertical and your horizontals, horizontal. “Keystoning” is when the horizontal and vertical lines are slightly off in a photo. This can be distracting and appear unprofessional even when the person seeing the photo doesn’t know exactly why. While it is difficult to avoid this when shooting on your phone, fixing this can be easy and only takes a moment! Edit the photo and select your “Crop” tool. Aside from rotating the photo, you can also change the aspect ratio to fix horizontal and vertical lines as needed.
4. HDR Mode.
Photographing real estate can be tricky because our eyes see a broader dynamic range (lights and shadows) than can be picked up on a camera. You’ve probably heard the term “high dynamic range photo” as this is the method or editing process of bringing detail into both the really bright spots and the shadows. Generally, this is done with a camera, tripod, and special software, however, these days most cell phones have an HDR mode in their camera app which can improve the results from your phone. While this isn’t a magic switch for perfect pictures, it can make a big difference! If you want to read more in-depth about this, check out this article.
5. Add Some Final Touches.
First, you will need an app to edit your photos. Personally, I like Lightroom from Adobe. This is free on your phone or $10/month for your computer.
After you’ve selected your “keepers” make sure all the images are straight and add some touches that “enhance” the photo. Your goal is for it to appear more similar to how it does to the natural eye. Generally, this will be to slightly lower the highlights, raising the shadows (think HDR) and adding a touch of saturation and sharpening. Depending on the color of the lights, you may also want to adjust the warmth as well.