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4 Ideas for Better Exterior Listing Photos

January 10 2013

There's one photo that the majority of MLSs require of listings. Known as the "primary exterior shot," this all-important photo is the first thing potential buyers see--and your first opportunity to convert browsers into leads. If this picture is too grainy, too dark, or just badly composed, property searchers may simply pass your listing on by.

There's good news, though: bad photos are preventable! Here are a four tips to make the most of this crucial shot:

1. Increase camera elevation

It's amazing what a little height can do! Known as "pole aerial" photography, shooting from an elevated position can enhance your primary exterior photos. It lends your shots a new perspective and is great for portraits of property grounds. If you don't have access to aerial equipment, like many agents, try shooting your primary exterior shot from a ladder or a nearby hill. We've even heard stories of agents taking this photo from atop their vehicle!

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2. Take three-quarter shots

Photos taken at a slight angle, instead of straight-on, are often stronger and more dynamic. Again, this is all a matter of perspective. Changing your angle can let you include different property features, like landscaping. If you're unsure, take multiple shots from multiple places and choose the best later, during the editing process.

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3. Show as many home features as possible

As the "book cover" your listing will be judged by, it's important to get as many key property features into this photo as possible. Don't be afraid to venture away from the front of the house! Homes with pools or other water, outlying buildings, or impressive grounds can benefit from shots taken from the rear of the property.

The photo below is a great example of this. Instead shooting the front of the home, the photographer opted to emphasize the back, showing off more of the house's varied structure and the putting green.

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4. Shoot at the right time of day

Proper lighting is one of the most important elements of a good photo. Shots taken during "the golden hour"--the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset--avoid the harsh shadows and overexposure of photos taken at midday. Find out when the golden hour takes place in your area at to take advantage of this time's soft lighting and warm hues.

More adventurous photographers may want to consider shooting at twilight (or later). Turn the lights on in the home, increase your camera's exposure time, and start shooting. The glowing windows of the house contrast beautifully with the night and create a warm, inviting appearance. We recommend using a tripod, however, as the longer shutter speed increases the chance of a blurry photo is the camera is not held perfectly still.

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Photos by Ben FreedmanBen Freedman.