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5 Easy Composition Tricks for Better Listing Photos

April 10 2015

Do you suffer from lackluster listing photos? Unclear or carelessly composed snapshots of the home you're selling can leave consumers underwhelmed and uninterested. Fortunately, it's easy to improve the quality of your photos. The following tips are easy to implement and help breathe life into dull listing photographs.

1. Shoot at Twilight

It's become increasingly trendy to photograph listings at twilight. The darkened sky lets the windows of a home project warm, inviting light that draws the viewer in. It also makes the yard and other background elements less pronounced, narrowing the viewer's focus to the home. However, there's still enough light that one can see the slope of the yard and neighboring homes. But because of the reduced visibility, these things are less distracting.

Twilight also produces strong interior shots. There's no worry of bright sunlight washing out your photos, but there's just enough light to offer a muted hint of the view through the home's windows.

composition tricks twilight

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2. Use Light to Your Advantage

On the other hand, sunlight can be used to enhance the beauty of a shot. This is particularly effective for homes with prominent south or west-facing windows. Wait til late afternoon or the "golden hour" before sunset to capture light streaming in to a room. Whatever you do, avoid taking photos at midday. The bright light may wash out your pictures and the shadows are too short to add visual drama to your shots.

composition tricks light

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3. Use a Wide Angle Lens

The maximum 35mm setting of most point-and-shoot cameras can take okay interior shots. For truly great photos, however, consider investing in a wide angle lens of 28 or 24mm. You will be able to capture more of a room, and more of its features, in a single shot.

Don't overcompensate by using too wide of a setting, however, as this can distort things. For an example, take a look at the comparison below. The frame on the left was cropped from a shot taken at 19mm--so wide that it warped the shape of the items on the countertop. When the same items were photographed at a narrower (though still wide) 26mm, that distortion disappeared. Learn more about shooting with wide angles here.

composition tricks distortion

4. Shoot Into Corners

If you're unsure of how to set up a strong shot of a room, try pointing your camera into a corner. This captures more of the space and makes your photos seem more dynamic. Plus, you're automatically creating "leading lines" that draw the viewer's eyes through your photo. Use those lines to guide your viewer's gaze to exactly where you want.

composition tricks corner

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5. Remember the Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is a classic composition trick--and it's easy to use! Just imagine your image divided by two equally spaced horizontal and vertical lines. Align the most important elements in your photo along those lines to add interest and draw the eye.

The below photograph is a great example. The cabinets occupy the outer vertical thirds, separated by the mirrors. The very inner third acts as the heart of this photo, its focal point an attractive bathroom. For assistance in lining up your shots, check your camera. Many models will let you overlay a rule-of-thirds grid on the LCD screen as a built-in composition guide.

photocomp thirds

There you have it--and handful of tips to improve your photos! We'll be back with more suggestions soon. In the meantime, let us know your favorite photography tricks in the comments below!