If you ask any pilot what is the first thing he does before flying, he will say that he goes through his preflight plan, which consists of a number of steps that pilots do in order to have a safe flight. Here, I am going to give you a series of tips on what you should do before leaving your house, a sort of “flight plan”, really steps to follow in order to guarantee yourself better results taking just house pictures.
The idea is to prepare your mid-frame as much as you prepare your equipment in order to take not just good pictures but better pictures than just those photographers who see, aim, click and go to the next scene.
The general idea behind your work is not to see your objectives as a photographer but to change the role you have to play with your camera: instead of seeing the house as a photographer, looking for the spaces, the light, the angles, the objects, the size of things, positions and colors, what you have to do is to put yourself in place of the photographer and become the buyer: what do you want to see that will make you fall in love with the house!
Think Like a Movie Director
How many times you have seen a film, not as the audience but as the director and you look at those angles that the rest of the other viewers do not see? Where is the light coming from? What object or person is in front and what is in the back: is that relevant? Should it have been there? Does it look there or should it have been in another place or not at all because it does not go with anything, which in that case is causing an unnecessary distraction that causes the people to look into another and less important direction? Should the curtain had been fully open or fully close, or halfway to the right, or to the left?
I know what you may be thinking right now: But I am not there to redecorate the house! What if I start an unnecessary argument with the owner, not to mention with his wife? What if they say that my job is to take pictures and leave? What if…
Yes, you are right, you have been contracted to take pictures and not to teach lessons in Home Décor…
So What Should I Do?
I can help you with a good answer that works almost all the time, at least it has for me: Listen, sir or madam, have you seen the best magazines in the market today… for example, Architectural Digest… Vogue… Dwell Magazine… New York School of Interior Design… Southern Style… Mario Buatta… Luxe… and I could give you a list one mile long… or you can go to Google and search for Home Decoration Magazines… and you would be surprised how and why they sell those houses: because they contract excellent photographers… and that’s all!
Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, so they say, and it is the photographer, like you, or me, or those hundreds if not thousands of people who take pictures, some better and others, and their secret is in the eyes of the photographer who looks through a camera, even and Instamatic and not necessarily a Leika…
It’s Not The Size, It’s How You Use It!
As a matter of fact, one of the best photographers that I met personally used a Leika, so small that it looked like a Kodachrome. Because his secret was not in the camera but in his eyes: he saw what the rest of the mortals could not see, and then, everyone would say Wow, what a house, what a palace!
And that is the secret in photographing a house and delivering a photograph of a palace.
The future buyer is going to see the picture first, and it, really you, will make the buyer and his wife go see that house that you where you closed a door, or opened a window to look at the garden, or waited for the sunlight to come at a certain time of the day, and even if you take forty pictures of five rooms, I bet you will agree with me in this, every one of those forty pictures will look different depending on the light, the subject, the location of the arrangement, and even a book here and there, or an ashtray that does have to be made of Murano, maybe just a souvenir that the owner bought is a church bazaar.
Remember, it’s the arrangement and the light and the camera and you. Look into what would make you buy that house, and think that you are buying the house, not just photographing it. Sell it to yourself first!
“What can I say? I love taking photos of houses.”
Based in Orlando Florida, Jose is a real estate photographer specializing in vacation homes, working for realtors and property managers to make their properties look great.