Reasons why people take bad Indoor photographs of Property Interiors, and what can be done about it.

Recently I’ve been looking through online property listings for homes. And it’s got me thinking. Why do people use such Terrible Property Photographs for their property marketing?

A lack of technical knowledge and basic equipment can result in terrible property photographs.

Most people who are trying to rent out a flat or a Real Estate Agent selling property are not photographers. It’s likely the best camera they have is on their smartphone. While the smartphone camera may be great for taking a selfie, it just won’t cut it for Real Estate Agent Property Photography. There is some basic equipment and knowledge needed to make great real estate agent property photography.

The Estate Agent is not a photographer. They are great at the legal and organising duties of selling houses. But they don’t have the time or equipment needed to take a Professional Property Photograph. Most of the time the best they will have is a small point and shoot camera with a tiny flash on it, or even using nothing more than a smart phone camera.

Any Property can benefit from Professional Property Photography.

Avoid Terrible property photographs. It’s my aim to offer affordable Property Photography which you can send to your Real Estate Agent for listing on line. It’s proven that great images help to attract attention to your home and get much closer to the asking price. Also, if you are unhappy with your current Real Estate Agent and decide to change, you already have the photographs ready to go, no more disruption preparing your house to be photographed. After you have moved you have a series of photographs of your old home and all the good memories made there.

Cut the Cost, Do it yourself.

People selling or renting property and Real Estate Agents may try to cut costs to maximize their profit or commission by photographing the property themselves and not hire a professional photographer. Good quality photographs increase your viewings, which increases the number of offers you receive which gets you closer to your asking price and sell your home faster. Is doing it yourself and not hiring a Professional Photographer for Real Estate Agent Photography a false economy?

What made you stop and look at a property in detail?

It’s often said a picture is worth a thousand words. Today more and more people are searching for their next home online. Looking at property sites such as Zoopla, Right Move or Purple-Bricks. When you last looked for a home, I assume, like me you used the filter to find the type house you wanted, in the area you were interested in and within your price range. I guess you were left with a long list of properties. Then, you read the Estate Agents description. Of course you didn’t! Like me you looked at the photographs, only if the house looked good, did you read the description. What made the house look good? The Photographs!

Overexposed photograph is not a good look for this £170,000 property

Can the photographs put people off?

Converging Verticals
Converging Verticals make the room look an odd shape

Good Property Photographs can attract people to make viewings which helps your home sell faster, for a higher price, terrible property photographs can put people off. Common mistakes are the white balance is not set correctly making the room look orange due to the light give off from the lights and the camera not seeing and correcting light colour as our eyes do. Another mistake is holding the camera pointing up or down, this leads to converging / diverging verticals. Where the vertical lines of wall corners, windows and fire place point into or out of the photograph instead of running straight up & down, like in the photograph on the left, the room looks like it’s leaning over.

Point & Shoot, That will do?

As I look through online photographs of property, It looks as if the photographer has done nothing more than stand in the door way of a room, raised the camera to eye level, took a photo and hoped for the best. This results in a photo pointing down to the floor. To me this is one of the biggest mistakes a Property Photographer can make. It’s common to see photographs of a floor, not showing much of the room, just lowering the camera a few inches and pointing the camera up a little will help a lot.

Take Time to plan things out.

The only way to avoid awful Property Photographs is to plan ahead, and know the limitations of your camera. Plan where you are going to put the camera and what you want the photograph to show. Sometimes you will have to compromise with what you show and leave out. You may have to take a couple of photographs showing the room from different view points.


underexposed property photograph

Nothing looks worse than a dark photograph. You want the room to look bright. Are you taking a photograph looking at a bright window? If you leave the camera on automatic it will expose the photograph for the bright light coming in through the window. This will underexpose the room, which is what you want to show. You’ll have to increase the exposure to show the room. You also may need to use an off camera flash.

Take a look at my blog about Camera Settings for taking indoor or interior Property Photographs.

Out of Focus

If you are taking a photograph with the camera pointing towards a wall with solid colour, which has no pattern this can confuse the autofocus of a camera. This will result in the photograph looking fuzzy with out a sharp contrast between objects. If this happens you’ll need to know how to set the focus manually, or focus on an object, hold that focus setting and reposition the camera. You’ll need sharp focus from the front of the photograph to the back. This is called a wide Depth of Field.

Blurry Photograph

Blurry Photograph of room

This is different to Out of Focus. A blurry Photograph, often called Camera Shake, is caused by the camera moving while the shutter is open. When taking interior photographs the room is often dark to the camera, even with the lights on. This keeps the shutter open for a long time. There are 2 ways to avoid camera shake causing a blurry photograph. The best way is to make sure you keep the camera perfectly still while the shutter open. This is done by putting the camera on a stand such as a tripod. Another way to increase how sensitive the sensor on the camera is by increasing the ISO. The problem with increasing the ISO is that digital noise is increased, reducing the quality of the photograph.

Set the White Balance

The white balance is the way which the camera takes into account of the colour temperature of light. Out eye’s mostly do a very good job of doing this automatically. For example, our eyes know that something is white even if the light falling on it is a different colour. A good example of this is a white car under the orange glow a street lights.

The white balance setting you need will depend on the temperature of the light falling on the scene. For example, if the only light coming into the room is coming through the window on a dull day, the light will be very blue and the white balance will need to be increased. If the room’s light’s are on theses may be very warm and the white balance setting will need to be reduced. The white balance can sometimes be adjusted in Photoshop.

The Camera Equipment

To take the best property photography you’ll need some equipment. There is no need to spend thousands on new equipment. Always remember that the photographer takes the photograph. The equipment you use only records the photograph. I’m often asked what camera is best to take property photography. The answer is the camera which will record the photograph you want to take the best for you. Some things you should consider using-

  • A camera which has a Full Frame Sensor.
  • Wide Angle Lens (Not Fish Eye)
  • Off camera flash
  • Flash Triggers
  • Flash Stand.
  • Photoshop installed on your computer.

Also, you’ll need a computer to store the photographs on and to run photo editing software, such as Photoshop & Lightroom.

The Preparation

Arrange a day for your family to be out of the house and you have it to yourself so you can get it ready to be photographed.

Tidy The Room
Tidy The Room

OK, so now you have all the equipment you need! Are you ready to start taking great property photographs? Well maybe. But before you even think about setting up the camera and pressing the shutter button you need to get your property ready. Take a look around, forget that it’s your home. As a very minimum, make sure all the bulbs work. Interior Photography looks better with the lights on, even with bright sunlight streaming through the windows.

Remove all of your personal items such as family photographs and items you collect. The people viewing your photographs and property have to imaging themselves living there, not you.

Clean, like you’ve never cleaned before. Particularly the kitchen and bathroom. Don’t leave any dirty dishes in the sink.

Rearrange or remove some furniture to make the room look bigger.

So, Why do people use terrible property photographs.

With some basic knowledge and a little planning it’s not too difficult to take good property photographs. I believe that people are sometimes blinkered to how their home really looks, so they don’t take the time to get it ready to be photographed, or they take a quick photograph believing “that will do.” Then there is the knowledge needed to take the photograph. I hope I’ve given you guidance to help you avoid taking terrible photographs of your property.

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