Tag Archives: freelance estate agent photography

Essential professional property photography equipment

There is a common misapprehension that photographing a property is easy. Turn on the lights, tidy up, take a picture with whatever camera you happen to have at your disposal, and upload the results onto the internet. It’s a philosophy espoused by budget estate agents and one-person property firms, where selling is usually prioritised over marketing.

The sad reality is that an iPad or iPhone is not going to represent any building to best effect, or allow prospective purchasers and tenants to make an informed decision about its accommodation. The reasons why a smartphone doesn’t quality as appropriate property photography equipment would fill far more space than this blog can provide, but a few examples include:

  1. The basic nature of most smartphone or tablet flashes doesn’t illuminate the whole picture evenly, flooding some areas while leaving others looking dull.
  2. Camera lenses are rarely wide-angle, meaning they miss large percentages of each room. Even wide-angle phone lenses tend to distort around the edges.
  3. Focus is almost always automatic, meaning the camera decides which parts of a shot to have in focus and which to ignore. In reality, every part should be equally clear.
  4. Small, lightweight phones and tablets aren’t compatible with accessories like sunshades or filters, which may be required for glare-free outdoor photography.
  5. It’s hard to mount a mobile device on a tripod or monopod, which professional photographers use to ensure shots are properly framed with straight verticals.

If you vis the Before and After page of the G75 Images website, you’ll instantly see the difference between an image taken with high-calibre property photography equipment, and one taken using a basic camera lens. For the last ten years, we’ve been providing clients throughout Scotland and England with freelance property photography services, enabling them to market residential, commercial and industrial buildings to optimal effect.

• Our roster of property photography equipment includes Canon DSLR cameras, with wide-angle and telephoto lenses – the former for internal shots and the latter for views and details. Having formerly used Nikon cameras, we now find Canon images are sharper.
• We use a master flash gun mounted to the camera body, and a slave gun which can be positioned anywhere within infra-red radius. When the shutter button is depressed, both flashes fire simultaneously, casting equal amounts of light into every corner.
• A tripod has a dedicated space in the car boot, though seventeen years of freehand experience means it’s rarely needed. A trained eye can usually ensure verticals are perfectly straight at the first time of asking.
• Even if a shot does need peripheral clutter cropping out, or slight post-production adjustments to its brightness, we use advanced photo editing tools to ensure every image looks its best before it’s provided to the client.

If this sounds like the calibre of property photography you’d like to see in your next property listing, contact us for more information on our services and costs. We have the expertise, the confidence and the property photography equipment to ensure every listing looks its best, doing full justice to the building in question and maximising its appeal.

The challenges of photographing flats and apartment buildings

There is a common misconception among people unfamiliar with property photography that marketing one house or flat is the same as marketing any other. Every home has a frontage, an entrance, rooms and corridors, so surely the same photographic principles should apply whether you’re photographing flats, houses or bungalows?

In reality, that’s simply not the case. Photographing flats and apartment buildings requires what Liam Neeson fans would refer to as a very specific set of skills, due to the unique challenges these properties present. And while generalisations are the enemy of effective property marketing, these are some of the issues which are more likely to apply to flats than houses or bungalows:

Internal apartments. The design of apartment buildings tends to limit opportunities for windows, in the same way traditional back-to-back houses only enjoyed natural light in front-facing rooms. Effective illumination of internal apartments requires a flash gun with adjustable power, compensating for the absence of daylight without bleaching out images.

Tall external façades. It’s easy to stand outside a bungalow and take a photo where the verticals are neat and everything appears in shot. Yet photographing an apartment building by simply pointing the camera skywards results in shots where the building seems to be falling backwards. Clever framing and post-production tricks are essential here.

Other properties in shot. This is another challenge with communal buildings – portraying the property being marketed and giving a sense of place, without capturing too many other homes. If the property you’re photographing is on the ground floor of a ten-storey block, do you cut off the roof in your photos? If it’s on the top floor, do you crop out the ground?

Orientation. Even though we tend to hold mobile devices in portrait mode, most property portals favour landscape images – wider than they are tall. That’s incongruous when trying to capture buildings which are taller than wide. One compromise involves supplying square photos, framing each external in such a way it can be trimmed without losing key details.

Communal grounds. The photograph above shows a Glasgow tenement stretching into the distance. Its communal gardens do the same, with no demarcation. Capturing open spaces is much harder than in private gardens, where hedges and fences provide clear boundaries – and where neighbours’ rubbish or personal effects aren’t in full view.

Tricks of the trade

At this point, it would be easy to launch into detailed descriptions of how to tackle and mitigate the above issues. However, any guide would fail to explain the instinctive knowledge freelance property photographers bring to photographing flats and apartment buildings. At G75 Images, we’ve spent 17 years arriving outside tenements and apartment blocks, immediately assessing the challenges of street furniture or sunshine behind north-facing façades. We know how to mitigate dazzle, how to ensure a square building doesn’t appear trapezoidal, and how to direct the audience’s gaze to the property being marketed.

You can view examples of how G75 Images approaches photographing flats and apartment buildings on our Before and After page, with further examples of apartment photography in our Residential section. You can also contact us to discuss how we can provide our acclaimed freelance property photography services for your flat, or for properties you’re marketing.

Why cheap property photography could cost you dear

During the last decade, estate agency was unwittingly engaged in a race to the bottom. The advent of online estate agents led to industry-wide cost-cutting, driving many established brands out of business. From traditional solicitors property centres to online-only brands, numerous selling agents have folded in response to the proliferation of cut-price property marketing services.

If you’ve ever handed over thousands of pounds to an inept or indifferent estate agency, you might regard this as belated justice. However, prioritising cost over everything else has led to a marked drop in the quality of service some customers receive. And this is particularly evident in the cheap property photography appearing on property portals across Britain. As the most visual element of real estate marketing, property photography is uniquely susceptible to any loss of professionalism incurred by cost-cutting. And the start of a new decade makes this the perfect time to weigh up whether cheap property photography will do you more harm than good in the long run…

Taste the difference

On the Before and After page of this website, we’ve highlighted instances where G75 Images was asked to replace cheap property photography with high-calibre imagery. In every case, the selling agent was attempting to cut corners by (a) delegating photography to a valuer rather than a qualified professional, and (b) using basic equipment like pocket-sized cameras or tablets.

The first point reflects the jack-of-all-trades approach used by many budget estate agents and property marketing brands – saving money by asking one person to undertake several specialist roles. The second point provides another example of the perils of cheap property photography. Smartphone/tablet cameras lack the wide-angle lenses and flash guns required to make any room look its best. You might just about get away with it when taking external shots from twenty feet away, but internal images will suffer markedly.

Cheap property photography comes at a price

Our recent “How to recognise professional property photography” [How to recognise professional property photography] blog listed the specialist equipment G75 Images uses. Although our fees for professional property photography services start at just £100, we could never be accused of supplying cheap property photography to our clients. And since photographs are often the main aspect of a property listing people look at online, cutting corners is invariably counter-productive.

People browsing through online listings won’t care that a particular vendor saved a hundred pounds by accepting cheap property photography, rather than commissioning a freelance property photographer. They’ll simply decide the seller’s home looks cramped, dark and uninspiring, and move onto the next listing. Good news for selling agents who recognise the benefits of professional property photography – but bad news for anyone trying to sell their home on a budget. It’s impossible to say how many viewings and offers this might ultimately cost, but any loss of interest would be worth more than the money saved in the first place…

In conclusion, cheap property photography is never worth the cost. To upgrade your current property profile, or to ensure property marketing materials always look their best, get in touch with G75 Images for professional property photography in Scotland.

A strange decade in the freelance property photography sector

The end of a decade always inspires reflective editorials and articles about how much has changed over the last ten years. However, for G75 Images, the conclusion of the current decade is a cause for celebration rather than nostalgia. Our dedicated freelance property photography agency was launched early in 2010, as the property market struggled against a sluggish economy in uncertain political times. The more things change…

Business has been steady ever since we started accepting freelance property photography assignments from private individuals and estate agents in central Scotland. Yet as we look back on this decade, we’ve seen some fairly remarkable things. We’ve visited million-pound mansions with basement home cinemas and swimming pools. We’ve found ourselves standing in penthouse flats with spectacular city and coastal views. And at the other end of the spectrum, we’ve photographed a wooden Airbnb caravan on Skye, and student halls of residence in a converted Paisley office block.

Commercial breaks

While residential properties tend to be fairly conventional, G75 Images also undertakes commercial property photography throughout Scotland. These assignments are often fascinating, and occasionally bizarre; we once photographed the opening of a refurbished petrol station, with the ribbon cut by an elderly local resident who didn’t drive. Capturing images of an office complex inside an MoD base involved three separate security checks before we were allowed to set to work. And photographing a wedding shop in North Lanarkshire involved working around camera-shy brides-to-be in the fitting rooms…

Of course, strange photography assignments aren’t unique to this decade. In the Noughties, G75 Images’ founder Neil Cumins was asked to photograph a recently-cleared traveller site, and the evidence of a ram-raid on a corner shop. And sometimes it’s not the properties themselves that throw up challenges. How many people in any industry have been asked to grind wasps into someone’s carpet as a way of tackling an infestation, or been prevented from leaving a property until they ate a tomato sandwich? Still, nothing could be worse than having to photograph a recently-repossessed crack den in Kilmarnock, complete with soiled bedding and bloodstains…

Needless to say, the latter property’s selling agent is no longer a client of G75 Images. However, if you’d like to benefit from our freelance property photography services in 2020, give us a call. We’d be delighted to hear from you – providing your properties don’t contain a wasp’s nest or brown sheets…

How to recognise professional property photography

If you’re not a professional photographer, it’s often difficult to tell whether an image is good, bad or somewhere in between. Technical attributes like white balancing and ISO settings mean nothing to most people, while framing techniques such as the rule of thirds aren’t widely understood, either. Instead, most people make a subconscious decision about whether they like a particular shot based on factors like colour and clarity.

As a result, a company looking to refresh its website or produce new marketing materials might end up using photographs which don’t do its products and services any justice. Estate agents and letting agencies are notorious for this. A valuer who’s had one morning’s training on photographic techniques isn’t going to make a small shower room look impressive, especially if they’re only armed with an iPad. It’s tempting to think smartphones and tablets are capable of anything, but their images pale in comparison with professional property photography equipment.

When only professional property photography will do

As a specialist property and architectural photography agency, G75 Images uses property photography equipment which has been carefully chosen to maximise the sense of space and light in any residential or commercial building:

  1. Flash guns disperse huge volumes of light evenly across ceilings, ensuring every corner of an apartment is consistently illuminated.
  2. Wide angle lenses provide a view more representative of the human eye than the snapshots generated by a pocket camera or smartphone lens.
  3. Tripods provide stability in situations where handheld shots aren’t ideal, such as sunny north-facing scenes where a photographer’s shadow would be difficult to airbrush out
  4. Post-production software is used to remove imperfections, such as a piece of litter caught in a tree’s branches or the reflection of passing traffic in a mirror.

However, professional photography also involves framing the shot correctly in first instance. Truly great photography is about what you don’t see, as well as what you do. This can involve taking room shots from specific angles to hide cluttered display units, or angling the blinds to obscure utility vans parked outside.

Professional photography done properly

When G75 Images undertakes professional property photography for residential or commercial property clients, we’re very fussy about certain aspects of each image. Vertical lines have to be completely vertical, to give images a clean and crisp appearance. Colours must be accurately represented, so a bright wall doesn’t end up looking washed out or overly vibrant. You won’t see a reflection of the photographer in any of our shots – a common mistake made by less competent property photographers in confined spaces like en-suites. These issues have been plaguing the industry for decades, as our recent blog explained.

Whether you look through the residential, architectural or hotel and travel galleries on this website, you’ll notice how carefully each image has been framed. Professional photography makes even modest or tired accommodation look its best, while high-end homes and commercial premises appear compelling from every angle. That’s why companies across the UK rely on G75 Images to photograph everything from bedsits and B&Bs to office complexes and construction sites.

Residential photography in Scotland courtesy of G75 Images

Why residential photography is a unique specialism

There’s a common misconception that photography is an artform which transcends industries. People assume that knowing how to adjust a camera’s aperture settings or set up a slave flash gun qualifies a photographer to operate across any market or specialism. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth – which is why you should always employ a commercial or residential property photography specialist for sales particulars and marketing materials…

Because we’re dedicated to commercial and residential photography in Scotland and the wider UK, G75 Images has no experience of photographing live sporting events or breaking news stories. Our attempts at motoring photography (to complement our founder’s background as a freelance motoring journalist) have been largely successful, but not worthy of billboards or front covers. We’ve never been commissioned to attend a party or celebration, and despite various enquiries over the years, we don’t offer photography services for weddings.

To paraphrase Liam Neeson, different photography niches require a very specific set of skills. To continue the wedding analogy, we’d be able to identify great architectural backdrops, but we’d struggle to persuade six tipsy bridesmaids to stand in the right places. And the same is true in reverse. Even an experienced wedding snapper would struggle to replicate the skills of a residential photography expert by making a downstairs WC feel spacious, or capturing the exquisite detail imbued into Victorian cornicing.

Residential photography requires a combination of specialist camera equipment and attention to detail not necessarily shared by photographers in other industries. To demonstrate our point, take a look at the photo accompanying this article, and consider the following attributes:

• The room is brightly-lit, but the garden remains visible. Without the effective use of a flash gun, everything outside a window may appear bleached. Internals might look unnaturally dark, as the camera struggles to balance different internal and external light levels. Striking this balance is crucial for effective residential photography.
• Every vertical line is completely straight. Holding a camera at a fractional angle (even half a degree off true horizontal) can add a slope to lines that would appear perfectly straight in real life. In our photo, every doorframe and cupboard edge is plumbline-straight, as it should be.
• The best elements are all clearly visible. To some degree, this depends on a room’s layout and presentation. However, in this 1980s kitchen, the best features are clearly its double-aspect garden views and its three-sided expanse of solid wooden cabinetry. These elements take centre stage in our photo, with the dining table also on show.
• The sense of space is maximised. By taking this image from a doorway, we were able to use the full 102-degree field of vision offered by our chosen wide angle lens. Three of the kitchen’s four walls are visible in a single photograph, creating a sense of spaciousness which wouldn’t be achievable using a smartphone or tablet camera.
• Character is maximised. Every light source was turned on to add pools of illumination, subtly drawing the eye towards that quirky beamed ceiling. Bleach bottles were hidden, clutter was cropped out, and the dated eye-level oven was relegated to the periphery. Every effort was made to improve the kitchen’s aesthetics.

The photograph accompanying this article encapsulates 15 years of experience in commercial and residential photography in Scotland and across northern England. You can see other examples of our handiwork on the residential page of our website, or see how we’ve transformed hotels and B&Bs on our travel and hotels page. To give your property the ultimate makeover (or to ensure properties you’re selling and marketing look their best in online listings), send us an email or give us a call to discuss freelance property photography in Scotland or across the UK.