Photography For Real Estate

Tips and techniques for real estate photography

The Most Important Photo of A Home

Posted by larrylohrman on May 4, 2007


Several discussions I’ve been having recently brought up various aspects of the fact that the front exterior photo is THE most important photo in real estate marketing. The reason is that time and time again the listing agent is required to choose a single photo that is either featured most prominently (as on web sites) or the only photo (as in print media ads). This single has the job of creating enough excitement to get the prospective buyer to click a link for more information or make the call to the agent to ask for more information. Many MLS’s require this photo to be an external photo.

Because of the importance of this single photo as much time, thought and expense should be focused on creating and choosing this single photo as all the other photos put together. You want grab the attention the potential buyer. It’s difficult to state rules for doing this. Twilight shots are just one approach. Some homes require an aerial low altitude aerial shot because they are so obscured by vegetation or neighboring homes. Frequently, just making sure the sky is not burned out will allow the sky to add emotional punch. Finding an unusual angle other than street level can add interest.

One thing that makes a boring exterior shot is a straight-on front shot that makes the home look like a flat facade with no depth. It is usually more interesting to take a “3/4” shot where you can see that the home has depth or even reveal details of the side yard or backyard.

Some homes are just plain ugly. We had a listing last year that was so ugly that I used a twilight shot so you couldn’t see much of the home.

This actually worked quite well by covering up many aspects of the home that were not attractive in the daylight.

Many times a straight-on shot accentuates the garage, large driveway or street these are usually not all that interesting. In short, do everything you can to make the front shot look great.

Now that you you’ve gone to all that work to make a great front shot, a little known fact is that when you use a photo on the MLS as the first photo, it becomes public domain:( at least that is the case on the NWMLS in the Seattle area.

Updated: 5/6/2007

For condominiums where a photo of the front of a particular unit in the condo is not inspiring I recommend a wide shot that shows the whole condominium structure and it’s surrounding environment so the buyer has a feel for the setting. Here is an example:

On this condo listing I even marked where the particular unit was we were selling. Not very cool, I admit but we wanted to show where the unit was because this was a very desirable location next to the greenbelt. I believe in this front shot you want to convey as much information as possible. A photo like this shows where the unit is as well as well as a complete feeling of the whole condo environment.

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6 Responses to “The Most Important Photo of A Home”

  1. jeff said

    thanks for reminding us how impt this one image is. twilight or not is usu. dependent on the buyer. But as you remind us, twilight is the way to go to hide some less photogenic areas of homes.

  2. One issue I have is these tract homes. It’s hard to get anything more than a front on. I try to angle some, but, of course, then you get the neighbors house. Also, out here in Phoenix, at least, shooting the exterior during the afternoon, the sky is just plain boring.

    Love those shots you posted!

  3. Scott said

    Sometimes, I find that the REAR exterior is the better facade, and can be substituted in MLS as the exterior.

    As for those awful condominiums where the front shot is nothing but garage door, and the unit is physically connected to the units on either side, I often shoot a tighter detail shot of the front door, which hopefully has some plantings or bright flowers to add some pizazz.

  4. Scott,
    You raise two excellent points. Use the most attractive angle for the home even if it is the rear. Sometimes the front just doesn’t work so don’t be afraid to use the rear.

    On condominiums I recommend a shot of the whole condo building and it’s environment over a tight front door shot because it gives the buyer more information. I’ve added a shot of the last condo we sold as an example. Although I admit frequently it is hard to find a good whole condo building shot.

  5. Josh Lee said

    Thanks for including the shot of a condo. I know we had spoken about what to do for a condo, but seeing it in a picture reaffirms what you were talking about. But, as you mentioned, its more difficult to get a really good picture of a condo.

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