6 Tips to capture Better Real Estate Photos with a Cell Phone
Given how much cell phone cameras have improved over the last several years, a realtor with a good eye for attractive images can take pretty good real estate photos with an iPhone or Android phone. This article will help you to learn the steps to capture quality real estate photos with just your cell phone.
- Ensure the property is clean, unnecessary items are removed and add a bit of a flare to each room.
- Be mindful of internal lights and sunlight and quality of available light.
- Tripod, or lens attachments can help with each photo.
- In camera settings changes to HDR, wide angle and exposure.
- Finding the right angle and height to capture the overall flow of a room.
- Bring out the best of your images with editing apps on your cell phone.
1. Real Estate Photo Staging
There is a saying among real estate photographers. Real estate photography is 20% shooting and 80% moving furniture.
Its a joke that points out the amount of work that goes into staging a room before shooting.
This joke however is based on reality. Most often a house or home is designed to be comfortable to the users of the home. This often means that the flow is not as good when it comes to photography.
Chairs and tables are not aligned with the room. Pictures are off centered and the color combination can be mismatched.
Take the time to remove the clutter of items from the top of counters and tables. Things such as TV remote controls, magazines or that tissue box left from flu season.
In the Sitting and TV area, arrange throw pillows in way that the seating area looks welcoming. Add a center piece to coffee tables with a bit of color.
In the kitchen remove dishes from the drain, and only show appliances that complement the kitchen. Everything thing else is hidden in drawers or cupboards.
Simplify the bathroom as much as possible leaving only towels on racks and a few hand sanitation matters such as a soap dish at the face bowl. Fold the tips of bathroom tissue on the roll to give it a fancier look .
2. Real Estate Photo Lighting
The best real estate photographs have a soft, welcoming warmth to them, even if they show a very bright scene. There’s nothing like the first impression these photos have on potential buyers.
This comes from using natural, diffused light. This is especially important if you’re taking photos of interior rooms with only one or two windows, or even rooms with none, like some bathrooms.
To make your photos inviting, especially photographs of family rooms, bedrooms, or other parts of the house that should convey comfort and coziness, use sunlight or artificial lights that imitate sunlight.
Your flash should be your last resort, especially for real estate photos, where mood matters so much.
Whether on a DSLR camera or a camera phone, even the more advanced iPhones, built-in flash makes lighting harsh and makes images look cold and sterile.
If the only available light source is potentially cold, consider throwing a sheet over it to diffuse the light.
3. Real Estate Photo Accessories
Put your iPhone or Android phone on a tripod for any real estate photography, interior and exterior you plan to take.
Even if the light lets you use a fast enough shutter speed that you might think you don’t have to worry about blur, there’s no substitute for a tripod for giving you professional-quality images without any shakiness.
The tripod also means you can concentrate on the details of a photo as a realtor and how it will help your ads and sales, rather than concentrating on keeping your hands steady.
While cell phones can take excellent real estate photos, even a hint of blur in a photo makes it look less professional, which can reflect on you as the realtor.
Take advantage of that tripod to make sure that any lines in the picture are exactly straight. This is especially important for photos of buildings because if a line looks crooked, a real estate purchaser might think, even unconsciously, that it might be a sign of poor construction or maintenance.
Use a wide-angle lens for interior shots and small spaces, like a balcony.
Most interior real estate shots use wide-angle lenses to increase the sense of space, since regular lenses have a narrower range of vision than normal human sight.
A wide-angle lens is closer to what a human sees and especially for real estate photography, where proportions and room sizes dictate how much a real estate buyer will spend, you need to use one for photos that will sell houses.
A good wide-angle lens for a camera phone isn’t expensive and it might be one of the best investments you’ll make in your real estate career. But just like HDR, make sure that the photo still looks realistic, or potential buyers might be turned off.
4. Shooting Real Estate Photos
Your camera phone, especially for the latest mobile models, should have a High Dynamic Range (HDR) setting. This function essentially smooths out any extremes in lighting if a room has very dark and very light areas.
For example, if the light in one part of the room (such as near a window) is very bright, adding more light might wash it out, but without extra light, a darker part of the room would look too shadowed.
HDR settings fix these by combining images, saving you time in after editing. Be careful, though, that the final photo doesn’t look as though it’s been too manipulated, or it could make people mistrust the entire listing for the house or condo.
Internal Wide Angle
If it comes to the point where you may not want to purchase any extra accessories there is another internal option.
Most cameras now have a built in wide angle adjustment setting in your camera. Using this wide angle view will give you the added perspective to capture the entire room or smaller rooms
Use this feature for smaller properties or for bathrooms and other small spaces that are relevant.
Manual exposure adjustment
Cell phone cameras have the ability to overide the automatic setting in a few ways.
One of these overrides shows up as a light bulb on your screen when your are composing your image.
By adjussting this feature you can reduce the light for a bright room or increase the light in a darker room.
Its safe to mention that if the room is dark you may end up with a grainy image that is worse than you think.
To combat darker room use a tripod and let the camera take the photo as a long exposure similar to capturing stars at night.
5. Real Estate Photo Composition
Composition isn’t just for artistic and professional photographers. It matters to realtors and potential clients too.
Composition turns an ordinary real estate photo into a miniature tour of a room that lets you point out the most appealing features.
If you’re taking a photograph of a room that’s meant to create a sense of calm, such as a bedroom or luxurious bathroom, consider very symmetrical shots to convey balance and stillness.
Capturing a room with features that you want to show off? find a line that goes through the room, such as a counter-top in a kitchen, and stage something attractive at the beginning, middle, and end.
This will guide a potential real estate buyer through a room that doesn’t have natural lines, make composition lines from one attractive feature to another, such as three different vases with the same kind of flower.
The common go to angel in real estate images is the corner shot.
The corner shot is where you put your back into a corner and shoot towards the opposite corner. This tends to show the overall view and layout of the room.
To add a bit of flare for larger rooms with good symetry you can shoot wall to wall standing in the center of one wall toward another.
This composition is usually used in open space areas.
The height of your camera is very important, more important than capturing the best composition.
Try your best to avoid the eye level approach. This is typical when holding a cell phone to take a photo, but it does not work for real estate images.
Pro tip… using a tripod keep your camera at the same height throughout the entire shoot. The best height is about 3.5 feet above the ground.
A better way to think of the height is that you want to see the top of tables and counter-tops but also see a bit of the lower cabinets in kitchens.
6. Real Estate Photo Image Editing
If you follow these basic tips above you should be able to capture great photos with your cell phone. Of course your images will get better with continued practice and time.
Once you have a good image it is always an even better idea to run it through an editing software to enhance the overall aesthetics.
Don’t be alarmed… I’m not saying you have to go out and purchase some expensive software just to post a few images. No there are other options.
Im sure you have heard the saying… Theres and App for that!
Well technology has become so advanced that there are literally a number of apps for editing images that you can download to your phone and for free.
This article is not about editing apps so I will advise you to search or a few online and pick one that seems best suited to you.
Edit your real estate images to your liking but be careful not to over edit them. Extreme color saturation or very bright images are all not so appealing to the human eye so be careful on your edits.
Edit images to keep the photos as natural looking as possible and close to the real property as possible.
Bonus – Exterior Real Estate Shots
For better cell phone images of exteriors, avoid shooting around noon, when the light is directly overhead.
A slightly overcast day can actually be great for exterior photography since the clouds act as natural diffuser for the light.
Photographers refer to the times just after sunrise and after sunset as the magic hours. The light has a warm glow to it that can make photos of gardens, views from windows, or other real estate photos look, well… magical.
Properties with pools however are best to be photographed at noon when the sun is at its highest. This will ensure you avoid any shadows in the pool and the colors tend to pop more.
The same goes for homes on the beach. Noon time helps bring out the blues of the sky and sea.
Shooting real estate photos at dusk, with the interior lights on, can make some very appealing images as well. If a house seems to cast a welcoming light, potential buyers can already start to imagine themselves coming home to that light.
Final Photography Tips for Realtors
Your cell phone can give you great photos for listings and ads. Keeping your eye on lighting and composition, using cell phone tools like tripods and wide angle lenses, and taking advantage of the magic hour will ensure your photos help sell properties.