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Model Home Photography

Model Home Photography

Perhaps one of the most neglected aspects of home building is the act of photographing the model home interiors. We live in a world where documenting every part of our day via Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, twitter, etc. is the norm. From creating a hashtag for our Starbucks coffee cups in the mornings to cataloging our daily progress at the gym after work, social media is becoming increasingly more image-based. Even if you aren’t a pro, solid photography skills are more essential than ever for professional success. Here are a few tips of the trade that will bring any model/spec home to life in the simplest and most efficient ways possible.

  • 1. Be prepared- Be sure to plan everything out the night before you go and photograph the home, and always have backup options. If you’ve ever posed for a photoshoot or hired a photographer for a wedding, you know that a true professional always prepares for variables. The last thing you want is to be scrambling at the last second, grabbing your camera equipment without thinking because you’re running late. Be sure you have your SD card ready and inside the right camera slot before walking out the door. No SD card means no photos! They are often the easiest things to forget, but also the most important. There are too many tragic stories where the photographer has the perfect photo opportunity in range, only to realize that they left their SD card on their nightstand back home. Bring an extra card just in case you need more memory space, or if your current one gets lost. Bring an additional backup battery as well in case your camera begins to run low. You don’t need a fancy $10,000 camera with studio lights in order to get the right shot. Just a decent digital camera with good picture quality will suffice, such as a Canon G12 or a Nikon D3500 depending on your price range. A tripod isn’t essential, but it can be a nice addition to get a more leveled image.
  • 2. When in doubt, use your cellphone – The beauty of the modern cellphone era is of course having the ability to take quality photos easily and quickly. Don’t be afraid to use your cellphone as an alternative option. They are lightweight, simple to use, and easily accessible to you. Sometimes the most successful photographs that win major contests are often done with a cellphone camera, and not an expensive camera. When you click the photo app in your phone, be sure you hold the phone as steady as possible while taking the photo to avoid any blur on the image. An edit option should appear once you have taken the shot. This will allow you to edit the photo right from your phone, whether you want to adjust the exposure, color saturation, crop the image, etc.. Depending on the type of phone, you should be able to access it from a personal computer to officially download your images.
  • 3. Compose the right shot - Remember, you’re not taking a selfie at a Superbowl party with your buddies. You are photographing a model home for a sales opportunity. Try and think like a professional would. Find the best angles of the room that accurately capture the size and the feel. If the home has high ceilings, the photograph should showcase that expansive size accurately. If the living room has a nice fireplace, take a photo that highlights it as the focal point. Be sure the lighting is right in each room. Photographs that are too dark or overexposed won’t cut it. Your goal here should be to get clear and focused images. Shooting from multiple perspectives can also give you additional options to choose from in the editing process. Shots should be level for the most part, at the medium range so that perspectives aren’t unnaturally distorted from lower or higher angles. Treat it like you would a headshot: professional, minimal, and with as little gratuity as possible. This example here is framed at medium level, with good lighting, and space is well represented.
  • 4. Everything should be clean – The house should ALWAYS be furnished before taking the shots. Cover the basic areas typically referenced in a home, such as the living room, the kitchen, dining room, etc.. Giving the rooms a more lived-in quality will help paint the right picture for the customer. The more they can relate to the visuals and picture themselves living in the space, the more likely you are to close in on a sale.  If you wouldn’t buy the home in the condition that it’s in, don’t photograph it! An empty room lacks the proper incentives necessary when it comes to personalizing a home. Avoid clutter, accentuate space. For example, when photographing the master bathroom, if the toilet is in frame, photograph it with the seat down. Do not put the toilet paper roll on the holder, so that the space appears cleaner and more presentable. Remember that what might be practical in real life may not translate to photography as easily. While it is important for the home to be furnished, it should not appear messy and lived in. As you can see in the photo, the kitchen here is clean and minimal but still looks like a home.

  • 5. Stock Photos are a good backup – If you are unable to get quality photos of the interiors for whatever reason, do your best to provide any materials for reference for your customer. Stock photos can be a great way to provide alternative visuals as well as additional information about the surrounding areas. If there are little to no interior shots available, having plenty of exterior stock photos can help close the gap, such as photos of the surrounding community, club houses, nice walking paths, etc.
  • 6. Try some trick shots -  Have some fun! Learning interesting photography tricks is a great way to put your photoshopping skills to work if you have them. Keep in mind that it isn’t necessary to be a master of photo editing programs, but going the extra mile could make the difference. For instance, let’s say you are photographing the bathroom. If you took a picture head on towards the mirror, you would normally be seen in the reflection right? If you happen to be a good photo editor, try taking your reflection out of the final image. A unique trick like that can intrigue the right customer, and help you stand out from the crowd.

We can’t all be Annie Leibovitz. But then again, some of the most successful photographs inherently have that basic understanding of composition. More people than ever have access to cameras at their fingertips. DIY culture is booming. You have all the tools in the world to get started, and the opportunity to improve sales performance by working through the details.