How can you improve your photography Session?

13 Jul How can you improve your photography Session?

If I got a dollar for every time a vendor said to me “I didn’t know what you would want so I’ve left it as is, feel free to move anything.” I’d be writing this blog from the deck of my sparkly new super yacht parked in the Maldives. In the world of modern media where there are endless TV shows, magazines and internet articles on how best to present and market your property to maximize your chances of getting the best possible result, this statement has never ceased puzzle to me.

Sure, any good photographer worth their salt will of course offer up suggestions and start delegating jobs to get the place ship shape for photos… But the problem is, we don’t have all day to do this and any moving and shifting we have to do takes us away from valuable shooting time. Wouldn’t you rather your photographer adding some finishing touches and taking a shot of the master bedroom, the luxurious en-suite or the resort style outdoor entertaining area instead of dragging a hose around the backyard?  Wouldn’t you rather your photographer take their time setting up the perfect shot that is guaranteed to get the buying public salivating rather than wasting time moving remote controls, tissue boxes and rubbish bins?  I think I know the answer…

When I was just a young lad starting out in real estate photography, I remember waiting a full 10 mins for a vendor to truffle out some secateurs, orienteer past side of the house through canyons of debris not yet shipped out of sight only to start pruning an unwieldy bush, visible in the dining room window.  Now, I was way too shy and so, so eager be the best darn photographer in town to be so rude as to point out the obvious…perhaps that could’ve been considered before I arrived?  Mrs X was the customer after all and they’re always right, right?  To put that false adage into further practical and damning perspective, I was only booked onsite for 30 mins (the average time your real estate photographer will take unless you’re lucky enough to own a gigantic mansion).  Doing the math, that means one whole third of the appointment was wasted dealing with something that could’ve (and should’ve) been dealt with long before I arrived…and ultimately had no impact on the actual photo anyway.  Why didn’t you just move on and take other shots while you waited, I hear you scream? The shrub was just the tip of the iceberg, sadly, and every shot needed a great deal of attention to get it photo ready….Not to mention having to wait for a delivery of flowers en-route but terribly behind schedule from a “helpful” friend.

So what should you do to get ready for a photographer?  Lets start with basic domestic chores.  Seriously! It may sound incredulous but I can’t count how many times I’ve had to roll up my sleeves and bring in someone’s washing, put away their dishes, sweep their driveway or pick up clothes from a bedroom floor. Not to mention moving bins, hoses, kids toys, pet paraphernalia and discarded gardening equipment.

If you’re selling a house, you will no doubt have heard the term “de-clutter”.  That’s the next step and it’s not just a buzz-word designed to make industry folk look knowledgeable.  For many reasons, it’s really important to get rid of all those little things off surfaces, the “stuff” that often accumulates in corners on the kitchen bench or the coffee table.  Here’s a basic check list as to what shouldn’t be seen before your photographer arrives:

  • Hair care and personal products off bathroom vanities/exposed shelves.
  • Nothing other than a fresh bar of soap in the shower.
  • Mismatched or tatty, well worn towels.
  • Dishes and dish racks in the kitchen.
  • All food that isn’t a bowl of fruit, stylish bottle of olive oil and vinegar or a plate of beautiful cakes or biscuits.
  • Bills, bit’s of paper, odds and bobs and other stuff that usually accumulates on kitchen benches but should be hidden in the ever popular “junk draw”.
  • Magnets off the fridge…along with everything else!
  • Pet bowls, bedding and toys (both inside and outside).
  • Kids toys, both inside and outside.
  • Tissue boxes, remote controls, and tv guides off the coffee table.  Basically, if it isn’t a glossy magazine, coffee table book or a vase of flowers, it shouldn’t be there.
  • Everything that isn’t a nice looking novel, lamp or vase of flowers from beside tables…and yes, that includes your alarm clock!
  • Hoses should be rolled up and stowed out of sight, along with garden tools and any ash trays.
  • Bins should be hidden and junk mail (or any mail for that matter) removed from the letter box.

Want to go a bit further and really impress?  How about trying:

  • Removing the BBQ, and pool/spa covers. As well as any covers on outdoor furniture.
  • Shifting cars out of drive ways…unless the car is hiding a mountain of junk you haven’t gotten into the skip yet.
  • Straighten up curtains and other soft furnishings
  • Open up bi-fold and sliding doors
  • And have props like spare fresh towels, glasses and a bottle of wine, a nice tea set and spare vases of flowers on hand for the photographer to use to really make your images sing.

Now, I’m a big fan of checking out what everyone else is doing.  There’s nothing wrong with a little appropriation if an idea or a look appeals. Going online and checking out what design guru’s are doing is a great way of making sure you’ve got some flair at the ready.  But need even simpler inspiration? What are the neighbors’ doing.  If you’re selling or even thinking of selling, chances are you’ve been on one of the major real estate websites, flicked through the real estate section of the local paper or slowed down whilst walking the dog to secretly check out your neighbors’ for sale board.  So whilst contemplating their listing price, how many bedrooms they’ve got and if your backyard is bigger than theirs, take a closer look at their photos and see what they’ve done.  You’ll soon see what makes a pic have impact…for all the right reasons.  Take all of these ideas and look at each area of your property and then get busy!  I guarantee your photography appointment will be more fruitful than you could imagine!