PART 2: Preparation for a perfect Real Estate Photo Shoot.
Preparation is often overlooked in Real Estate Photography, not because it is trivial but because it is so difficult to keep track. But the good news is: if you can master this step, your work is 50% finished. So what are the best tips to get the property (and you) be ready before your shoot? Here are some useful advice – coming from the professionals.
*Not where you need to start? Revisit our first article of the series – Gear and Equipment here.
1. Build a shot list
Works magically every time. A shot list is basically a checklist that lets you keep track of what you need to shoot. Since each real estate property is different, it is quite easy for you to go with the flow of the architecture and details, and forget that you are booked for visualizing a potential listing for your client.
Below is a general shot list from Expert Photography that we find ideally:
- 2 wide angle shots of each bedroom, the kitchen, and the living room.
- 1 photo of the bathroom, unless it has some special features.
- 1-3 photos of the backyard unless it has some unique features
- 1-2 shots of the front of the home to show off the ‘curb appeal’. This shot normally works as the hero shot.
- 1 shot each of features such as laundry room, garage, and pantry
For best results, you may need to exchange this list to the real estate agent first. Since agents are in charge of selling the property, they are the one who understands it best and knows which part of the house should the camera lens focuses on. They are willing to help you get on track, and vice versa, with a shot list, they will know what to expect in your photos afterward.
A win-win cooperation. Who knows a shot list can have that many advantages?
2. Get your equipment ready
In the previous article, we have introduced you a collection of needed gear and equipment for a successful real estate photography career. But for a property shoot, having them is simply not enough. There is a lot of small preparation that you will have to do, and the best way to avoid distracting (or wasting your entire night packing) is to follow our steps below:
– Get the necessaries:
- Your camera (make that two for the unexpected situation)
- A tilt-shift camera lens with a flexible focal length
- A steady tripod with suitable tripod head type
- A drone if you plan to take aerial shots
- Extra: Polarizing filter, bubble level…
– Check for its condition and do packing:
- Charge the batteries and bring the charger with you. Format the memory card. Check for every function of the camera and adjust all settings (neutralize mode is preferred).
- Clean the camera lens and inside its cap
- Make sure the tripod head suitable to mount your camera on
- Check for all drone function, especially rotating and image stabilizing (and never forget: learn to use it proficiently!)
- Pack your gear neatly and check if your bag is fit in the back of your car
Bringing a backup gear is great but remember not to overpack things. Furthermore, prepare everything at least 1 day before the shoot, in case some problem occurs. That way you can have enough time to replace/upgrade broken and outdated equipment.
3. Confirm all information for the shoot
Remember the conversation about the shot list earlier? Contacting your client is a must-do task that photographers have to do before every shoot. A quick phone call or email to real estate agent can clear a lot of things out for you, so nothing can unexpectedly come and interrupt your workflow.
In this conversation, let’s remember to re-confirm:
- Which day and at what time you will arrive at the property. Undoubtedly, choosing the right time to shoot is vital – see more tips from photographer Eric Milliken here!
- The estimated duration of the shoot (based on overview property information)
- Has the house been decluttered or cleaned?
- Has the furniture been staged? Who will be the one doing it?
- Special features that the agent wants to focus at
- What is the quickest way to contact with the agent (in case you need some support and information provided)
And last but not least, check for weather conditions and direction to get to the property. Make sure you have chosen the best route to avoid any traffic jams or outdoor events.
4. Property check
Now you have arrived at the property, it is time to get your work done. But how should you do it? Normally, a standard real estate shoot takes from two to three hours. The clock is ticking, so follow a particular order is the key to have efficient results.
First rule? Don’t be impatient. Spend a few minutes for greetings and exchange information if the real estate agent is there. It is customer service without a doubt, and with a great attitude, you can score a big chance to team up with them in upcoming projects.
If the agent has time, walk with them for a tour around the property. Each house is unique and the only way for you to master its features is to join an inspection walkthrough like any other house buyer.
Through each room, try to visualize the photos you want by imagining the right angles and camera height. Note down all objects that need to be arranged or removed, and also inform the agent which room you would not take photo of and the reason why you choose not to do it.
Pay attention to the special features such as an outdoor pool, a manicured garden or a fireplace. These details might appear on the hero shot, so you need to discuss clearly with the agent about your concept, and the perfect moment to capture your shot best. Save the best for last is not always right – especially in Real Estate. You do not want your shot to end up with a creepy look at night, do you? In that case, you can leave it there for us to create an alluring twilight/dusk effect.
5. Decluttering & Decorating
When it comes to decluttering, there are many things that you need to do. Small items might not be noticed with eyes, but they can be very annoying and might ruin your entire work. So here is a checklist we dedicate for you, to make sure you do not miss anything.
A lot of homeowners will leave their decoration since they think it can make the house look cozier. But as a photographer, you have to be very picky about this. Choose the most outstanding décor piece and turn it into the spotlight of your photo. It can be a vintage candle holder or a set of colored-glass cups on the kitchen island.
Avoid anything too personal, such as family photos, or even hanging head-stuffed animal heads (who knows if a potential house buyer turned up to be a PETA member or not?)
For all declutter items, you should find a large cabinet, closet or even a space in the garage to store them, so they can’t be lost.
Last but not least, check for the condition of all the lighting and whether or not their colors/brightness are even.
And if you made it this far… Congratulations, you are officially ready to shoot!
Follow part 3 of our exclusive series Starter Guide for achieving success in Real Estate Photography, available soon on Revina.co!
More information about our Photo Editing services: Adjust the saturation, add window details, remove objects and more than that.