Avoid these MLS photo mistakes

Capture the best side of every home to make the sale!

Chances are, you have you searched the MLS for a client, hoping to find them the perfect dream home, only to come across bad listings photos. As a former professional photographer, I thought I would offer some important insights to help you take better photos for your listings.

As Realtors®, we are charged with the business of selling our clients most expensive assets. We meet with the client, get all the information and take the listing. Then, more often than not, we whip out our smartphone and wander through the property taking shots of the rooms. After about 15 minutes we have enough pictures to post a listing.

Does this sound familiar? “I don’t need a professional photographer — my iPhone has a nine megapixel camera and takes really good quality pictures!” said every professional camera phone Realtor®!

Sounds like a good conclusion, considering previous smartphones had a much smaller megapixel capture. But let’s look at this from a strictly mechanical view.  You pay upwards of $600 for your smartphone. It does almost everything that your home computer can do. It has a great contact list and all the phone numbers that you need at your finger tips and … it also has a camera.

The lens on my iPhone 5S is 1/16″ wide. Quite small, actually. Internally it has some hardware and software to capture light and save an image. It even has a flash for those dark areas. But just because your phone has a camera doesn’t mean it should be your only tool. For my listings, I shoot with a Canon 60D and multiple Speedlite flashes to fill all the dark areas with abundant light. I also shoot High Dynamic Range (HDR) images where you don’t need flash. I can take excellent pictures with my camera, but, guess what? If I want to make a phone call, use my phone!

If you want to continue to use your smartphone to take pictures, here are some basic tips to improve your photos, and hopefully, we’ll all come away from MLS with better photos to show our clients:

  1. Turn your phone sideways to take a photo that is wider than it is tall.shower stall
  2. Use the flash! Open all drapes! (I see this issue all the time!)lighting
  3. Clean the house first. If the client won’t do it then you do it or hire someone to come in.living room mess
  4. Watch your angles. (Are those legs I see?)stairs
  5. Remove extra furniture, worn rugs, and items you don’t use. Put away papers, toys, etc., especially from the stairs.living room 2
  6. Make sure appliances are spotless.kitchen
  7. Close the lid!bathroom
  8. Remove as much clutter as possible.hallway
  9. Don’t post photos upside down.upside down
  10. Stop the car before you take the picture.car pic
  11. Mow the lawn, trim the shrubs, and clean the yard. But don’t forget to put away the rake!nice rake
  12. Hide pets! (Hello there, Doggie!)dog
  13. Hide people.sitting in living room
  14. Don’t use Photoshop to remove or add things, even if you wish the grass was greener!front yard greenbackyard grass
  15. Most Smart Phones do not have a setting for the different types of light you find in a home. This is why your pictures may look yellow. When this happens, you should edit it so it has a neutral colour. Whites should be white and not yellow.yellow cast in living room

These are just a few of the items that I see on a daily basis while searching the MLS.

Discuss the option of bringing in a professional photographer with your client and get them to pay the cost. It will make their home look better and generate more showings.

Remember… just because your Smart Phone has a camera doesn’t mean you should use it in place of a real camera. Go out and buy a point and shoot one from Canon or Nikon. You will not be disappointed!

Or better still, hire a professional, but only after the place is cleaned!


John Burke small 2012John Burke became a Realtor® in 2007, following a career in the printing and graphics business where he served at times as a photographer and worked alongside other professional photographers during various shoots for clients. John assists other real estate agents by cleaning up their photos. Email John at photoshop4realtors@gmail.com

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