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Shooting Empty Spaces – 5 Tips

I shoot real estate in Atlanta and pretty much all over Metro Area, like Marietta, Alpharetta, Kennesaw and so on. Occasionally I am booked to shoot a brand new home that hasn’t been staged or a vacant home where all furniture and belongings have been removed. One might think, well, that should be easy, in and out in 20 minutes! Not so. Yes, perhaps you will spend less time figuring out your compositions and hiding lights behind furniture but there are still challenges.

1) Beige, beige, beige

Yes, most new construction homes in Atlanta have beige paint on their walls. Many have beige tile, beige counter tops and beige rug. Beige! I’m not against beige, neutral works great as a starting pallet for a new home buyer. For a photographer it can be a nightmare. Everything seems to be a blur so you have to work carefully and light the rooms just right to create some contrast.

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2) No place to hide your flash

Sure, you can try your best HDR technique but I try to go further. Even when there isn’t much to show in the room but the room itself it doesn’t mean you have to go extremely wide with your lens. Zooming in just a little gives me extra room along the walls to place my remote lights. Also I often place a light on the floor bouncing it’s light off the wall from about 2 or 3 feet. That provides a bit more light and texture across the carpeted area of the room.

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3) Closets and bathrooms

With one flash in the room and only ambient light in a closet or bathroom they will look as dark holes on the photo. So to create even lighting and some interest beyond the room itself I place remotely triggered lights both in the closet and bathroom. It creates character and mood.

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4) Balancing flash and ambient light

Many times the rooms will not have any lamps to help you with lighting so you will have to add more power to your flashes in addition to whatever ambient light you will get. I use at least two SB-80 Nikons in one room to make the light look more even and at the same time to be able to use fast enough exposure to not blow out the windows too much.

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5) Opportunity to be creative

It’s easy to be creative in a nicely staged homes, lots of compositions to play with. Empty home? Different game. Be creative with your kitchen shots, use all the lights you have to light up the cabinets, to create depth in your photos. Kitchens and baths sell, remember? Help your Realtor sell that home! Take good exterior shots, see if there’s anything interesting in the neighborhood. Offer a short video tour.

Practice and get these things under control and you will produce good real estate photography even when you are shooting empty homes.

Money Shots – Part 1 – Living Rooms

Money Shots – Part 1 – Living Rooms

Living Room Snell Isle home

Let’s pause and think for a minute: at what rooms do you spend most times looking when searching for a home?  What room photos do you just scroll through and which ones you observe with extra interest?  I guess the answer will be – the photos of a room you will mostly spend your time in (not sleeping in!), a room in your future home that most visitors will see – your living room.

living room Snell ArcadeWhen browsing through listings you look for character, rooms size, windows placement, floors type and other features.  Sometimes you just like how the home feels based on the photos.  And when you are a buyer you don’t like surprises during your first showing, you want the room to look as close as possible to what you saw in the picture.  This means the size shown in the photo must (or should) reflect true scale of things.  Often this is hard to achieve because the mind of a seller and real estate agent wants to showcase the whole room in one shot.  This is possible with the use of an ultra-wide lens.  However, shooting a room at a focal length under 15mm will make the room look larger than it really is.

living room kitchen Brightwaters BlvdShooting with an ultra-wide lens is sometimes useful, especially in tightareas like small bathrooms. But with larger rooms most of the time it is not necessary.

Here’s why it’s better to shoot above 15mm:

– You will have better shot compositions

– You will have more “out-of-shot” spaces to hide extra flashes and thus have a better lit image

– Room size will look close to reality – no surprises for buyers

The interesting thing about human mind is that we can easily complete an image in our head if we only see a portion of a subject, so sometimes it’s ok to cut off a portion of a sofa or a large frame, especially if there are two of them side by side.  So, if I can’t show a whole room in one photo how do I showcase it to the buyer?  Take another shot from a different angle or corner of that room, make a connecting shot with the kitchen or dining room.

living room Snell IsleMost MLSs will allow up to 25 photos, so impress your potential buyers with money shots: living rooms, dining rooms and kitchens.  Trust me, most bedrooms have 4 walls and a bed in the middle, one picture of your bedroom is usually enough for marketing purposes. Small bathrooms or half baths?  Not really necessary to showcase at all.  Much rather find a few cool architectural features and add their photos to your marketing portfolio.

Photos of your living room are your money shots.  Make them stand out, spend time finding a good composition and work on your lighting – it will pay off.  And if you are busy selling and can’t take the photos yourself, you can always hire me, I’m available to shoot anywhere in Atlanta.  Check out my photography portfolio, video tours and pricing.