Written by John Williams
Never mind a picture being worth a thousand words, it could be worth thousands of dollars. If a great photograph gets just one more person to your open home, and that person bids just once on auction day, then that could be worth $10,000 or more to you, the vendor.
What Makes A Good Photograph?
A good photograph is the result of a combination of factors, plus a little bit of magic on the day, usually provided by good old Mother Nature. Here are some of the things that can be controlled and planned in advance, using a dedicated architectural photographer:
Not all photographers will possess the specialist lenses and lighting required for shooting property. One of the absolute essentials is a tilt-shift lens that corrects the perspective distortion that occurs when a camera is either pointed up or down – particularly useful when shooting exteriors and tight spaces, like bathrooms.
A professional photographer will do their research. In most cases, they will visit the property in advance of the shoot, with the agent, to scope out the size of the property, how it is furnished, and its aspect and position to the sun and surrounding buildings, which will determine the time of day the property will look its best. The site visit will also give the photographer an opportunity to discuss with the agent or homeowner any specific areas of the property that need special attention.
Although a photographer doesn’t have the final say in the furnishings or the styling of a property, their input and experience can be invaluable. What looks good to the eye doesn’t always translate through the lens. Subtle changes can make a big difference to the end result. A chair removed, the addition of a cushion, and a window opened doesn’t sound a lot, but in combination, they can transform the way a room is presented.
These days, it could be argued that with in-camera and post-production software, lighting doesn’t really matter any more – that’s what PhotoShop’s for, right? Far from it. Waiting 10 minutes for the clouds to clear and shooting a frame in natural light, rather that cloning in a blue sky after the fact, gives a far better result. Of course, natural, balanced lighting is best, but a professional photographer will always carry additional lighting equipment as a back up, if conditions dictate.
This is probably the single most important factor that determines the success (or failure) of a photograph. It’s the culmination of all the above, combined with the experienced eye of the photographer. An architectural photographer shoots houses, day in day out. They live and breathe their profession, finding angles and locations that wouldn’t even occur to the uninitiated. In essence, this is what you pay for.
Pretty much every picture benefits from a bit of a post-production ‘dust up’. The key to using this software is making the final image look as natural as possible. A lot of ‘real estate’ photography can look hyper-real – think crazy, out-of-place sunsets, bluer-than-blue skies, and gloopy, over-saturated colours. All of these exaggerated effects can be directly attributed to heavy-handed post-production. A skilled architectural photographer is a subtle practitioner in the digital darkroom, producing a final set of images that are bright and evenly exposed, and as natural looking as possible.
Return on Investment
The bottom line is how much will it cost, and will I get a return on my investment? There is no definitive answer to this question. What is certain is that if you spend an extra few hundred dollars on commissioning a specialist architectural photographer, you will get better photography.
Selling property isn’t a cheap exercise, and in an increasingly competitive market, where the stakes are measured in the tens of thousands of dollars, the real question you should be asking yourself is, can I afford not to invest an extra few hundred bucks in something that will potentially give me the edge over rival properties?
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