Selecting a Real Estate Photographer (Part 5)


A nicely-staged kitchen displayed beautifully using natural light photography.

Go to Part 1 here

Now that we’ve examined the gruesome underbelly of HDR, there are a couple of miscellaneous points to consider when evaluating a real estate photographer’s portfolio.

Staging a home for photography is a vital, but overlooked step in preparing for the photo shoot.  Staging a home is the act of preparing and showcasing a property for sale. It involves cleaning, de-cluttering, repairing, arranging furniture and small appliances, and adding light.  Properly staged homes will photograph and show better than competing houses.  Buyers view staged properties as well-maintained and move-in ready.

Click here to read and download my staging checklist.

Golden hour exterior taken from atop my 25′ tripod.

For safety and liability reasons, I do not touch personal items and effects in the home.  If you promise not to tell anyone, I will admit to moving a sponge off a countertop, closing a toilet lid and sliding a trash can out of view now and then.  I do attempt to turn on lights and gently adjust window shades.  But it is up to the home owner, occupant and/or agent to make sure the home is properly staged when I arrive.

If a photographer shows you great photos of a cluttered home, try to look past the clutter and check the photography for composition and technical quality.  However, a really good photographer will compose to reduce clutter in the composition as much as possible.

Showcasing the view using HDR-free natural light.

Many agents, sellers and buyers love the look of photos taken at sunset when the sky has varying amounts of red, orange and dark blue.  The best photos will show those colors AND be bright enough to see all the details of the exterior.  Windows in interior dusk shots will glow dark blue, not be black and lifeless.

The duration of perfect light varies with cloud cover, seasons and latitude.  But it doesn’t last long.  Your photographer should be able to tell you their photo plan, identifying the money shots that showcase special light as well as the less-critical shots that can be taken before or after special light.  Don’t be surprised if the photographer wants to arrive up to two hours before sunset, depending on job requirements and the size of the listing.

A complicated set of verticals composed perfectly. All using natural light.

Take note if your photographer wants to check the weather and consult with a map program for the day and time you request.  Those extra steps help assure weather conditions will be right and sunlight direction will complement the property.

Aerial photography is a hot item.  Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or ‘drones’ fly with very capable cameras that capture both video and still photos.  Wind, weather, power lines and airspace limitations can affect when and where UAVs can fly.  And if UAVs are overkill, my 25 foot tripod helps me capture high-angle photos and video of large estates without the complexity and cost of aircraft.

Is the photographer available when you need them?  Do they deliver photos the next business day?  How does the photographer make the photos and videos available?  How much effort do you as the customer have to expend to view, select and post them?  Are the images of sufficient resolution for two-page printed brochures?  Are alternate presentation options available like virtual tours, upload to YouTube, syndication to MLS and national websites like

A multi-million dollar entry bathed in natural light.

As this series comes to a close, I would like to revisit the opening question…

What costs more – a couple hundred dollars for professional photos, or lowering the asking price by thousands of dollars after a month of no activity?

Remember – a scientific study of over 1 million home sales proved listings that can be described as having “natural light” sell faster.

The answer is clear.  Natural light photography, properly composed, showcases the property the way we actually see it and motivates buyers.  Why take a chance on anything less?

The proof is in the portfolio and references.  I’m happy to share mine with you today.

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