Tips for Stunning Property Photography and selling your home

If you really want to sell your house.

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The above picture will get 30% more clicks on property websites than the picture below.  Good camera angles, vibrant skies, lush and uncluttered lawn are what buyers are hoping to find.

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Our society has become increasingly more visual.  With so many bits of information constantly vying for our attention having a great set of images to showcase your home will guarantee more interest and this equals more offers.

When we trawl through Rightmove or equivalent we are deep down hoping to find our ideal home and one of the ways we determine what is right for us is to subconsciously imagine ourselves living there by scrolling through the available sales images.  These are the hook to encourage us to find out more by reading the particulars then arranging a viewing then writing a cheque.

So here is a quick bullet list of the main things I look for  when photographing clients homes.

1- A great external shot is where everything starts. It needs to be bright with no distractions.  Sky needs to be contrasty and blue but not so artificially blue that the picture looks unbelievable.  Distractions could be cars, people, refuse and recycling bins, bicycles, toys, dead plants, signage, rubbish, clutter, open doors or windows, evidence of pets, junk mail, milk bottles.  Hide all this out of shot.

2 – The garden shot should be devoid of washing lines, washing, gardening stuff i.e. wheelbarrows, hoses etc. Gnomes, old bits of wood, toys, broken furniture, rusty bbq’s etc.  Again it should have a contrasty and realistic sky.

The lounge should have rugs removed, these feel homely but in a two dimensional photograph they make the room look smaller.  General clutter should be hidden including remote control’s, newspapers, extension leads, board games,

Most people have a list of ranked priorities when finding their new home:

1 – Price

2 – Number of Bedrooms

3 – Size of Garden

4 – Parking

5 – Kitchen Size

6 – En Suite

Once these ranked piorities are determined there then comes more ethereal  questions including:

– Could I visualise myself living there

– Will my furniture look right

– Is the current decor to my taste

– could I make the decor to my taste

Then there are some human basic needs that we look out for:

– warm

– safe

– comfortable

– light

– space

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Boutique bedroom or bomb site.  An oasis of calm, a retreat, somewhere to relax and unwind.

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Most estate agents photograph your home with a compact camera.  Whilst in some circumstances the resultant pictures are adequate they do not make your home stand out from the others for sale.

Compact cameras have tiny lenses that cannot allow sufficient light to make your home look bright and airy.  Neither do these cameras have wide angle capability so your rooms often look cramped and small.

The sensors in compact cameras are often much less than a quarter of the size of a professional camera and detail is lost and pictures can look fuzzy.

To summarise, the pictures that often end up on rightmove do not do your property justice and your litsing sits with all the other adequate listings on the site

If you really want to sell your home there are things that you can do to help you get more viewings and these mean more likelihood of offers being received and then a sale being agreed.

We are professional property photographers.  We have perfected techniques to show off your home to its best.  Here is a look into our technique to make your home stand out.

We aim to get to your home as quickly as possible when you decide to sell.  We are recommended by estate agents and work with you directly.

There are six key elements in ensuring the best pictures of your home.

1 – Equipment.  The best photographic equipment to really capture your home.  Large wide angle lenses with wide light gathering apertures and the biggest available sensors.

2 – Qualified and experienced photographers.  With the knowledge and skill to bring your home to life in a photograph.

3 – Room dressing.  Preparing each room to be photographed so people can imagine themselves living there.

4 – Balanced internal and external lighting ensuring each room looks as bright as possible and each window shows off the best available views.  We also carry a range of additional lighting and reflectors to really make your rooms stand out.

5 – Fast and responsive post production ensuring a strong neutral colour balance, even lighting, blue skies and emphasis on your homes key features and selling points.

6 – Availability and speed.  We are fast to photograph, fast to edit and fast to get your images over to your agent so they can begin the process of producing a stunning and compelling listing.

7 – After Sales Service, should we find that your home images are not the best they could be to sell your home we will come back and re-take shots to ensure you have the best chance of selling.

Photographing homes is a lot about subtraction.  The typical things in pictures of your home that do not assist in the sale:

–       Bins

–       Rugs

–       Remote Controls

–       Anything on kitchen worktops

–       Toys

–       Pet bed, bowl, toys, paraphernalia

–       Washing lines

–       Washing hanging out

–       Rotary Driers

–       Clothes over radiators

–       Dirty Windows

–       General Clutter

–       Cars on drive

–       Wheelie Bin

–       Bathroom Products

Features of your home that do sell it:

–       Light

–       Space

–       Warmth

–       Security

–       Cosiness

–       Cleanliness

–       Good Decoration

–       Spotless bathroom and kitchen

–       Landscaping

Key Photographic Techniques we will employ:

–       Use of a tripod to ensure that all images are sharp

–       Use of a full frame professional camera so that images are light

–       A distortion free wide angle lens so that straight edges are straight

–       Use of filters to remove or minimize distracting reflections

–       Use of additional lighting where required

–       Photographing from angles and planes that show your rooms to their best

 

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Oasis for entertaining or man cave.

 

 

 

 

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The excitement and anticipation of a new notebook

Do you remember film ?  Taking home an new box of Kodachrome 64 slide film.  Gently prising open the yellow and red cardboard flap and retrieving the hermetically sealed foil wrapped canister.  Then finding the bit of foil that rips easily and getting a slight whiff of the cellulose as the seal is broken.

ImageImage  Kodachrome 64 film canister and box

36 virginal instances of delight just waiting to receive and record whatever takes your eyes fancy.  Or 36 opportunities for wanton wastefulness should I choose to snap away with unbridled abandon or take time and compose each shot to absolute perfection ensuring that composition, focus, aperture and speed dance in total synchronicity to ensure the perfect image is sent back to me in a couple of weeks perfectly mounted in a beautiful mount waiting to be projected to seemingly infinite size onto my screen.

That feeling of eager anticipation and trepidation has gone forever with digital only instantaneous feedback of either a good or bad capture.  Then again a bad capture can often be rescued in post production.

I feel a similar sense of excitement or doom when I slit open the wrapping on a new notebook.  Those crisp and creamy pages waiting eagerly to receive my thoughts, ideas, ramblings and doodles.  Am I going to to sully those pages with a pencil.  A good old fashioned one that requires sharpening or one with the clinical precision of a propelling hypodermic styled implement.  My favourite pen is a Pilot Frixion rollerball where mistakes or changes of mind can be easily erased.  It is amazing how something looking so permanent can be simply removed with just a few strokes of the rubberised tip.

Maybe I will use the total statement of opulence in the form of my Mont Blanc Meisterstuck resin and platinum medium tipped royal blue ink ball pen which flows with permanence and style often only used to impress clients.  I have never been able to bring myself to use a disposable bic styled biro nor anything with a promotional logo on the side.  I find them so utilitarian and disposable.  Not somehow worthy of my often pathetic and almost unreadable scribblings.  I also find the permanence stilts my thought process as I know that one single mistake will be visible forever in the beautiful notebook.  A permanent reminder of my fallibility.

My scribblings feel elevated somehow when placed into a good notebook with a good writing implement.  The notebooks I favour most have understated and classic black covers, fit snugly into the pocket of my jacket so are available instantly should I need to get something down on paper.

Image  3 months worth of Moleskine notebooks

The Moleskine which was once primarily used by arty types has become popular with the general public through good marketing and excellent distribution or the German Leuchtturm notebook are both my favourites and both with their individual strengths and weaknesses.  Moleskines have hard covers and a pocket where I can store receipts, business cards or other stuff that might otherwise clutter up my wallet.  

The Leuchtturm also has a pocket but comes with a tactile soft cover so is better for stuffing into my jeans.  Leuchrrurm means lighthouse in German.  I kind of like this as I am drawn to the solidity and permanence of lighthouse structures and that they are sited in remote and hostile environments by the sea.  It has numbered pages so I can index my thoughts with teutonic efficiency.  Not quite so many thoughts though as this notebook has less pages than the Moleskine.

I fill up a dozen or so of these notebooks each year and sometimes when a new project starts so does a new book often way before the old book is full.  Each time this happens I think that perhaps a Filofax would be more suited to my lifestyle however the rings always seem to be in the wrong place for my left handed writing clunkiness.   Filofaxes (or filofaxi) were an excellent invention but for me better left consigned to the 1980’s.  I do however still use an A5 filofax for complex business projects where more space is required.  I did find a 6 ring system that is slimmer than most whilst on a recent trip to Shanghai which is less cumbersome to carry in my messenger bag.

A small black notebook coupled with my iPhone is all I really need.  A quick method of taking down notes, writing to do lists and speedy mind mapping held on perfectly styled paper and an electronic database of contacts, important reference information and appointments synchronised with my macbook through iCloud on the iPhone.  When I’m travelling really light I resort to just this and a Fisher Space Pen which is guaranteed not to leak in my pocket.

I do not like the conformity suggested by lines in a notebook.  To me they distract.  The Leuchtturm comes with dots that act as a guide but do not push my writing in any particular and uniform direction.  The Moleskine is plain and is perfect for sketches, mind maps and doodles.

If there was a diary with the just date at the top and only dots printed on the pages this would be perfect for me.  Constant scouring in stationers has been so far fruitless but maybe one day.

There are Moleskine and Leuchtturm diaries as well as loads of different styles of notebooks available but the system described above works for me.  There is also a fusion of electronic and paper in the form of Evernote but if ever I want to capture my written thoughts electronically the iPhone has a perfectly good camera where the images are instantly uploaded back to the cloud.  A remarkable innovation in comparison to that Kodachrome 64 slide film.

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Relative merits of Moleksine, Leuchtturm and iPhone written in a Moleskine Pocket Notebook and on an iPhone 5

Pen is a Pilot Frixion slimline

Spam and fat inboxes

Things have been busy recently to the point that I am turning off my smart phone for a break from interruptions and distractions. I noticed recently that in a five hour period I had received 75 emails.   On going through these I discovered that only one of them was not advertising or spam.

Each email was deleted and my life continued.  Then over the next five hour period another 80 emails arrived.  On reviewing these 75 of them were advertising or spam.  Thats 149 emails in a working day that I didn’t need.  I have spent today unsubscribing from every advertising email received.

The unsubscribe process has been interesting with some instantly advising that my request has been complied with and no more communication will appear.  Some asked for more information, some asked for me to log in when I don’t remember signing up in the first place so user name and password would be near impossible.

I will continue to do this over the next 10 days and see if my inbox becomes more manageable.

Want to work here ?

You must be at your workstation ready to begin at 08:00.  You must remove all vestments to your personality.  Including shoes, clothing, smart phone and leave these in your locker.  You must adorn a uniform and your wear an ID with your allocated number clearly visible.  You must not wear any form of unapproved apparel including a coat, hat or gloves and in certain instances a watch.

You must not have any contact with the outside world whilst at your workplace, email, web browsing and phone conversations are banned unless on Company business.  Drinking or eating at your desk is banned.  Having a coffee when you need one is banned.  Personalising your workspace is banned.  Standing out in any way and not blending in is banned.  Having conversations other than about work is banned.  Showing any form of personality is banned.

Your working life will be orchestrated and choreographed sameness.  Twelve hours at your workplace is the expected norm.  With every minute of that twelve hours choreographed by a computer and PA system which sounds when you have to be at your workstation, sounds again at 08:00 when you must attend a team briefing, again at 10:00 when you are allowed to leave your workstation for a strict ten minute break then at 12:00 for a thirty minute lunch and a final ten minute break at 15:00.  The end of day announcement is at 16:40 but is ignored by the management who have set expectation of a 19:30 departure at the earliest.

On a Friday the contracted end of the day is at 13:00 to make up for the long hours during the week but woe betide any employee who logs off any time before 17:00.

Modern devices that assist your productivity and help you manage and control your time are banned.  No electronic personal devices, no tablets or smart phones.  If your desk is not completely clear at the end of your day it will be photographed and you and your team will receive demerits.  You and you alone are responsible for cleaning your desk and removal of rubbish not just from your waste bin but to a central refuse area.

Toxic work environments rely on fear, intimidation, threats and lies.  Where Powerpoint becomes more important than physical delivery.  Where your personality and individuality is systematically removed to the point when you have no identity left and the only thing remaining in your life is the Company.  At this point you accept that this is the way things are and pension coupled with apathy lead to begrudged acceptance.

When the goodwill bank has ran dry but when goodwill becomes the norm and expectation exceeds all bounds of what is reasonable.

Where give and take means giving little and taking a lot.

Happy employees deliver a much better level of customer service and want to please.  They are empowered to take ownership for issues and come up with creative and astonishing solutions to satisfy their customers.

Sad employees hide behind Powerpoint slides, never commit, never take risks and avoid responsibility.

Employees that do not feel empowered will only do the minimum they need to do.

Employees that do not feel valued do the minimum that is required.

Employees that feel threatened will not take any initiative.

Employees that are tired make mistakes.

Time spent on internal presentations and bureaucracy is time that could have been spent on saving money or satisfying customers.

The balance should be no larger than 80/20.  That is 20% on Admin and 80% on the core role. When this balance shifts things will inevitably slide into decline.

About 30 years ago just before I left home my father gave me some advice which his father gave to him and I believe is still as relevant now as it was then.  This advice was firstly to always have clean shoes.  People notice clean shoes and first impressions are important.  Secondly, good life must be lived in balance but the best and most fulfilling life is balanced three equal ways,  work, family and an interest.  When these three are in balance then all flourish, if one takes priority the other two suffer initially then over time the third suffers too.

For businesses to be successful this must be taken into consideration.

I’m off to rebalance my life.  See you on the other side.