Having great photos on your property listing helps you attract tenants. You could hire a professional photographer or do it yourself.
While a professional photographer will have professional equipment and extended skill in taking and post-processing good photographs, for a rental, getting the property rented efficiently and affordably is most property owners’ goal.
If you want to take pictures of your property without fussing over photographers and extending your budget, it is possible to get good results yourself with just your phone.
Mobile phones have progressed considerably over the years and are more than just communication tools to the point that a key selling point of any phone is the performance of its camera.
Here’s some tips on how you could take photos using your phone.
1) Use a Wide-Angle Camera
Many of the modern day smartphones come with an additional wide-angle camera, also known as super-wide. Wide-angle cameras are almost essential for shooting real estate, especially the interiors. If your smartphone has a wide-angle camera, use it to your advantage when shooting your rental properties. iPhone or android – both have phones with this camera. Typically to active wide-angle mode you would just zoom out by ‘pinching out’ of the screen.
In case your camera doesn’t have a wide-angle camera, it might be a good idea to invest upon a wide-angle lens for the smartphones. There are plenty of options available of these lenses, and it is worth an investment if you have to take pictures of properties regularly. You could also invest in a smartphone with a super-wide lens, if your budget allows. Some of the good cameras with super-wide are iPhone11 (all versions), Google Pixel 3 onwards, Samsung Galaxy current models, and even lower-range Android phones. Wide-angle lens attachment like Moment Wide Lens are also available for all phones.
2) Use a Tripod
Tripod is one of the most essential accessories in any form of architectural photography. Whether you are shooting real estate or rental property, first thing to remember is a few extra seconds in setting up tripod will make your photos unbelievably better.
The tripod can be a full tripod, or a mini tripod, whatever suits your style and convenience. There will be a need for mobile holder with tripod screw, which you can easily find both in shops and online. The tripod lets you take better pictures because the pictures will be sharper, shake-free, and will allow you to keep the camera perfectly straight – either horizontal or vertical. You’ll also be able to shoot from places where your hand won’t necessarily be able to reach.
3) Shoot from the Middle
We often take pictures from weird heights, sometimes from the top, while other times from the bottom. Often, the best height to take architecture photos is simply from the straight and middle height. Why? Wide angle lenses, in any camera (or even super-wide angle lenses) have distortion. This distortion can be minimised only when taking from near the middle, which is the height you normally would shoot comfortable, and on good days can even manage decent photos even without a tripod (though tripod is always recommended).
Additional tip: yes, taking the photo from a normal height almost always works. But you need to try photographing from a few different heights, especially in spaces that do not conform to the usual designs and architecture. Also, some details cannot be captured at normal heights. Therefore, keep the safe shot as is, and then try some variations.
4) Use the Grids
The most important part of a picture, probably, and also the most difficult to pin, is how straight an image looks. It cannot be fixed in post-processing very easily, especially considering you are doing smartphone photography. There is going to be distortion around the edges, and often not enough pixels to play with.
With tripod, you will have the stability. Using the grids feature on smartphone will help you align your pictures properly. When the lines appear straight, everything else seems to be alright. Keeping the floor lines or ceiling lines, or walls parallel to the lines on the grids will get you there, and you will barely have to edit anything, especially if you have shot using a tripod and rest of the parameters are correct.
5) The Camera Angle
There are probably a hundred ways of shooting real estate, and there’s no clear right or wrong. But for non-professionals, who want to shoot it for listing their rental property, it is best to keep simple and get the basics right.
For rentals, the idea is to not focus on creativity but showcasing what is there in the best possible way. For this, taking simple, front shots, which are taken from a wide-angle for coverage, work the best. Likewise, in case of height, it is best to shoot at an angle that covers maximum area with minimum distractions. Shooting a simple angle with every other guideline in mind will help rent out your property faster.
Again, there’s a scope of going creative, only with the intention of detailing more parts. For example, the side you are shooting from will be hidden from the picture. To include, you will have to move to the opposite side. If the hidden side has an interesting feature, you could use take it from a more artistic angle.
Also, you will have to take different angles as per requirement. For example, if you have to cover the ceiling design, you will have to take an angle from below. Instead of pointing upwards from anywhere, the best way is to go directly beneath and then point the camera upwards and take picture. You can add different angles but the main angle, ideally, needs to be from front on.
Ultimately, focusing on simple angles will ensure the photographs inform prospective tenants about the layout and setting of the property, with more creative angles highlighting any detail.
6) Lighting (Exteriors)
Light is perhaps the feature that can make or break the photos. For exteriors, especially, it is imperative to shoot in the right light. To simplify, shooting during the morning or evening times, when the sun isn’t up high, is the best time on most days. Other days, shooting when it is cloudy is the best. Clouds add a dimension to photos that are impossible to replicate. Remember the famous Windows photos? Nevertheless, the important part is to avoid harsh sunlight that can often break your photos – unless you are shooting creative shots. But your aim is to display the property as honestly as possible.
What if you are obligated to shoot in the sun? Try to make sure the sun is not in the background. Shooting towards the sun will turn the property to silhouette or simply burn out the sky completely, and it might leave impressions on the edges of the property. It can make the photo uninteresting. Shooting when the sun is behind you is the best way to shoot, followed by sun from some angle, but still behind you. It will allow both the property to be well-lit and the background to be how it is in real.
7) Get a Pro Camera App
Often, while shooting, you will be low on light. At other times, you will have wrong parts of the picture in correct exposure while shooting auto-exposure. How to fix them? Whether it is Android or iPhone – both offer plenty of great Camera apps – both paid and free. Finding one, like Camera FV-5, and using the Pro-mode is advantageous while shooting in difficult circumstances. The low-light performance of cameras is bad. Don’t go by advertisements, because as per physics, it isn’t possible to shoot good low-light photos from tiny sensors. They do some algorithms to improve it, and that spoils images by inducing artificial smoothing and sharpening, etc.
Best is to remember only two settings – ISO – to be lowest, and decrease shutter speed till the light is sufficient. Of course, you can fiddle with Aperture too. You don’t need any other setting, simply these two will suffice. Also, remember the tip tripods. If not on tripod, this will not work because your hands will shake and the image will appear hazy and blurry. In the same app, you can also look for a timer setting. Often, a shake is introduced when we touch to click photo. Adding a 2 or 5 second timer (or more) before the smartphone takes picture, helps in stabilizing of the camera before the picture is captured.
8) Lighting (Interiors)
The challenge with interiors is slightly different from exteriors. Instead of light being all around, light is actually appearing from outside. And you also might have to showcase the internal lights of the real estate. In both cases, using the Pro Camera App and controlling the light is the way to go. For your normal pictures, you can switch on all the internal lights, and you may open the windows for slight ambient light, with curtains filtering it. Alternatively, you may only use the natural light, filtered by curtains, or not even that, because most of the properties already get light that is diffused and isn’t direct. If the light is coming directly and it can’t be filtered, it is best to close all doors and windows and shoot from the lights already installed in the property.
Do not, unless absolutely necessary, use camera flash. Camera flash, however evolved, aren’t meant for taking pictures, especially the architectural photos. It is best to avoid it. Depend on the light already there. There’s also merit in taking different pictures, some with natural light filling the room while others with only the lights installed.
9) Tidy Up the Surroundings
No one likes to see pictures with rubbish, bins, or junk standing in the way while looking for a property. Therefore, it is important to fix those issues before taking the photo. A shoot without proper tidying-up can be problematic as even the best photos look bad if the content itself is messy, and also adds distractions to the main focus of the image.
Rubbish or any such elements need to be in the right place, bins must not appear in pictures, and all cables should be hidden, or taken out while the picture is being taken. Neat and clean pictures always add value. You can’t remove everything, of course, and in some cases, you may have to look for angles from where the place looks cleanest.
10) Set up the Rooms
Setting up the rooms doesn’t mean to actually decorate and design it. It simply means keeping the elements to their place, and making sure they look good from the angles you are taking them. For example, dining table needs to be in place, so that it gives an aesthetic look. Same goes with the other furniture. If it isn’t possible to move it, then you can change the angle.
The little details matter
Simple things like choosing the right curtains, the right towel sets for bathrooms, the right bed-sheets, and so on, go a long way in making the pictures appear pretty. Don’t try to overdo, simply make the property presentable in simple ways. If nothing else, use plain white – bed-sheets, bathrooms, towels, everywhere – white works in all situations and makes the room look simple and clean.
Shooting real estate isn’t tough when shooting with a phone. All you need is a bit of care, some minor equipment, and the pictures will come out (almost) as good as professional photos for the purpose you are shooting them.