Exterior Real Estate Photography Tips

Exterior Real Estate Photography Tips

Photo Tips Podcast: Exterior Real Estate Photography Tips #31

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Simple Real Estate Photography Tips (Exteriors)

In last week’s podcast, I talked about how to set up spaces for an interior real estate photo, today I’ll tackle the exterior.

Just like shooting interiors you’ll want to make sure that the location is neat and tidy. In my opinion there are four things you’ll need to bring with you on your shoot. 1. a push broom, 2. a rake, 3. a 5 gallon bucket and 4. a water hose! Of course if the home owner has all of these things then you’ll be fine, but if not you’ll need to bring your own. The first thing I do when I’m shooting an exterior is to scout the location ahead of time, and make sure that I know what time of day I’ll want to be shooting at. You’ll want to time the shoot so that the side of the house you are photographing is not in shade and you’re shooting into the sun. Often about 30 minutes before sunset or after sunrise is a good time to be shooting; which time of day you choose will depend on the direction in which it is facing. Again, generally speaking you won’t want it in the shade. Having said this, since most location shoots will involve multiple angles you’ll only be able to get one or two shots off before you lose your light; the rest of the shots will need to be done in broad daylight. I’ve come to find that it’s rare to have a big enough of a budget to bring a photographer back day after day for the perfect light for that perfect shot; so you are going to have to do the best you can. Another thing to pay attention to is whether you are shooting at dusk or dawn or in the middle of the day, be sure to leave all the lights on in the house and outside the house. No matter what time of day you are shooting leave all the window shades open. By opening the window shades the house has a much more welcoming and open feeling, rather than looking like a prison, especially if the home owner has vertical blinds. I have also found that if I’m shooting in the middle of the day, I often find that leaving the window shades open on the opposite side of the house can help to light the interior of the house as well. Again, opening up the look of the house quite a bit.

The next thing I’m going to look is the landscaping. Has the lawn been mowed recently? Do the plants look ok and are the hedges trimmed of dead leaves? Just like the interior shots? If any of the plants don’t look right, you might want to introduce a few strategically placed potted plants. Bringing a few of your own plants guarantees that you will have nice looking plants in the landscape. Another thing you need to look for are any missing pavers; if there are any missing pavers you’ll need to take care of that ahead of time. Often times you can find a paver on the side of the house you can put in that spot or you can move them around a little bit just to fill in the gap.  At this point we’re almost there. You’ll want to go through and to sweep any dead leaves off the paved sections of the landscape and make sure you rake the lawn; unless it is an artistic decision. Then just about 20 minutes before you do fire you’ll want to give all the plants a quick spray just to liven them up a bit. You’ll also want to go through and  spray down all of the paved sections of the photo including walk ways or driveways. By the way this is the reason why you needed to bring a 5 gallon bucket. It’s for the locations where the hose won’t reach. The reason we wet down the walkways or driveways is because it kinda gives the location a nice clean look; it also reflects some light back up but the other thing too is that it will actually help to hide any weathe ed pavers or blemished cement like oil spots. It gives it a really nice clean look. Having said this you do need to be careful not to leave any puddles. If there are puddles you can use your broom to sweep the puddles off. On the other hand if you’ve taken too long to do your shot or it’s a particularly warm day and you’ve taken too long to do your shot you’ll need to spray again because patches of dry areas will develop and that defeats the purpose of wetting it down to begin with.

As for camera angles I often find that I shoot exteriors at pretty low angles. The low angles tend to make the buildings look bigger and more grand than they actually ar. But if you need to show off any kind of landscaping or stone walkways you’ll want to be higher and pointing downward. Whether or not you’ll need a ladder depends on the location but you should have a ladder or step stool just in case.
Another thing I tend to do when I’m shooting exteriors is I tend to shoot with a tripod. So that I can set up my angle and then take some time to find problems. For instance the water hose. Yea, often times you forget that in your shot after you are done using it. I can usually hide these behind a hedge, but not always. But the key is to actually remember to hide it.

That’s it for today, I hope that was helpful. In the next podcast I’ll go over camera settings and technical stuff for advanced photographers. Until then keep on shooting.

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