How A Photographer Can Make Or Break Your Listing

“The last photographer I used had funny looking images. There were discolorations in walls, strange black marks around the windows and the sky on the exterior photos looked fake.”
— Fort Collins Real Estate Agent

I hear comments like the one above all too often!

At a recent photo session, I was talking with a real estate agent about the type of photography I do and he immediately went into a rant about his last photographer and how bad they were. 

I asked him what he was really looking for and he told me that he just didn't want the images to look fake or "photoshopped". The reality of the situation was that the agent really didn't know exactly what he wanted and didn't honestly know what to look for in a good listing photograph.

This short interaction prompted me to write this resource article for you so that you can make better informed decisions when choosing a photographer and the right images for your listing. 

Here are some questions for you to consider:

Are you feeling like you don't really know what to look for in a good listing photo?

Be honest, have you ever chosen a "pro" photographer because someone at the broker's office recommended them? Then you found out that their imagery really wasn't that great, but went with them anyway because you didn't have the time or energy to hire someone else?

Good imagery really does matter in marketing real estate.

According to the Wall Street Journal article, 20 seconds for love at first sight, "First impressions seem to matter most when it comes to dating, job interviews…and real-estate listings.

Researchers tracking the eye movements of subjects who looked at online home listings found that more than 95% of users viewed the first photo...for a total of 20 seconds." 

That's right, only 20 seconds to capture a potential client's attention. You better make it count!

Hiring the wrong photographer can cause your listing to rot away for days on end without any inquiries. 

Here are some examples of how an inexperienced photographer can BREAK your listings. They:

  • accidentally capture themselves in mirrors
  • cast shadows in images, disrupting good light in their photographs
  • over-process their images to the point that they look fake
  • include people or pets in images
  • leave fans running, causing their images to look blurry
  • capture reflections in windows and glass doors
  • "blow out the windows" making them too bright with an inability to see what's outside

In addition to the items above, I have seen good photographers take solid photographs and then ruin them when exporting from their photo editing software. If their export settings are not optimized for the MLS system you use, those good photographs turn into a pixelated and blurry mess. 

What should you be looking for in a photographer?

Here are some examples of how an experienced photographer can MAKE your listings shine. They will:

  • Tell the story of the home through their images.
  • Give you an exterior "money shot" at twilight, really displaying the curb appeal of the property. (remember you've only got 20 seconds to impress and this is the shot to do that with).
  • Produce high quality images (sign up for my monthly newsletter and receive a FREE copy of my helpful guide, 3 keys to a good photograph.
  • Not only do photography, but can produce other valuable marketing collateral like high quality video, drone video, 3D tours and online digital brochures.

How can you track and analyze how well your listing photography and your photographer is doing?

An easy way to do this is to create a simple spreadsheet and track the quality of the photos for each listing. I suggest you rate each one on a 1-5 scale with 1 being the best. In another column, track the number of days that it took for that property to sell. Also try a few different photographers and track which photographers go with each set of images. 

Over time, you will begin to see patters of which photographers had the best quality images and you can then correlate that data with the properties that sold the quickest. This will help you narrow down your preferred photographer list.

It is always a good idea to have 2-3 solid photographers in case you run into scheduling conflicts with your go-to photographer.

Give this a try and let me know how this article helps you obtain better listing photography as you continue to grow your business.


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I am a professional photographer and FAA certified drone pilot with a passion for great architectural imagery.

I help architects, builders and real estate agents with their property adventures and provide them with digital media to grow their business.