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By Jet Lendon

Creative Director, Jet Black Squares

OTHER FEATURES

How can estate agents take professional property photos themselves?

As you know, having professional images of your properties is the best (only?) way to get people wanting to step through the door.

Whether your clients are actively looking to move, are thinking about moving in the future, or even just being nosy as to what the inside of a property is like (guilty!), great images are essential in that first step.

With the ‘C’ word having put the brakes on pretty much any movement within the housing market until this week, looking at ways to minimise costs for both you and your clients when we are completely out of lockdown is a must.

One way to achieve this is to save money on your photography by doing it yourself - on your smartphone.

As EAT editor Graham Norwood wrote on May 2, with Knight Frank predicting that there will be a 38% drop in house sales on last year - and this is based on the assumption that restrictions will be lifted within the next two months - savings need to be made.

Most smartphones now boast a wide-angle lens, or if it isn’t in-built, you can get clip on lenses, which are great for getting those all-important room shots.

The most important thing is to make sure you aren’t distorting the photo, or giving false representation to the dimensions (avoid fish-eye lenses for this very reason).

The image quality on phones now can rival professional cameras, and are perfect for online listings, property details or glossy brochures. The beauty of keeping the photography in-house is that you not only save money, but you can reduce the amount of people who need to attend the client’s house too.

Arrange to take the photos at the same time you measure up, meaning one less person your client has to have in their house, helping with social distancing.

It also makes updating the photos very easy too if, for example, your client changes the room around to create a better setting, or the garden suddenly burst into bloom with an array of colours. With this in mind, it’s very easy to engage all members of your team to take the photos and, once taken, they can be emailed over and inserted into the property details within a matter of minutes. No more having to wait for photographers to download, edit and send across the photos.

If you aren’t used to taking photos yourself, these ideas will hopefully help you get the best results:

1. It goes without saying that you ask your clients to make sure the property is ‘photo-ready’ and styled before you get there. You could even ask a local interior designer to send you over some top tips on styling that you can send beforehand. As well as making your life easier when photographing the home, it also gives some free advertising to the interior designer too.

2. Before you take the photos, make sure the lens on your camera is clean!  Our phones either live in our pockets or bags and can very easily become covered in dust and dirt (or chocolate in my case!). Just give it a quick wipe on a soft fabric to remove any unwanted spots.

3. Turn the grid lines on on your phone (Google how to do this for your particular phone). This will help with your straight lines, essential in property photography.

4. Check what the light is like. If it is too bright when, for example, shooting into the window, then make adjustments by touching on the screen where the brightest part of the image is. This will automatically bring the brightness down. If it is now too dark, change your exposure by either running your finger up (on an iPhone) or side-to-side (on some Android models) to change it. Again, Google how to do this for your own make and model of phone.

Most new phones don’t need much adjustment at all as they auto adjust. However, if it is still a little dark, you can edit it afterwards in Snapseed (see below).

Do not use the flash on your phone as this will produce harsh, flat light with nasty shadows.

It is also advisable to make sure lights are always on in the rooms you are photographing, as this also makes the photo look more homely, and in the case of flush ceiling lights, they don’t look like holes in the ceiling!

5. If you are using a clip-on lens, check that it is sitting flush against the phone and it doesn’t distort the photo. If you have a case on your phone, you may have to take this off in order for it to sit correctly. There are many clip-on lenses you can get from Amazon very cheaply, or if you are after a really good quality one, have a look at Moment lenses. These are more expensive, however the quality of the glass is exceptional and delivers razor sharp photos.

One thing to always make sure of is to edit every photo before it is published to make the images look as professional as possible. I use the free ‘Snapseed’ app, which is basically Photoshop for a phone.

The ‘perspective’ tool in Snapseed is amazing at making sure you have straight lines, as well as ensuring the colour tone is corrected (known as white balance). It’s also very handy at erasing embarrassing items on display in the bathroom or discarded rubbish in the front garden.

While these points will enhance your imagery from a technical standpoint, you will still need to consider your physical positioning in order to get the best angles. When photographing straight room sets, they need to be clear and simple to showcase the space. However, you could also be a bit more creative with close ups of a vase of flowers, the view from the window or garden, or even a shot of the local area too.

In using your smartphone to produce your imagery, there should be a significant cost saving without the need to have a reduction in quality, and by following these tips, you will hopefully realise the photographic potential in your pocket.

*Jet Lendon is Creative Director of Jet Black Squares 

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