How to Get the Best Photos for Your Real Estate Website
By Matthew Bushery
About Website Design
It’s been proven that images have an enormous impact on things like site traffic and bounce rates. Blog posts with images, for instance, get significantly more traction than those without any. When choosing photos for real estate websites, it’s important to set a visual tone that captivates your website visitor. You’re not just providing images that represent your business and what you can help buyers achieve, you’re also giving them a great user experience — one that’s visual, engaging, appealing, and that leads to results.
The amount of places you can implement top-notch photos are many: your homepage, landing pages, blog, bio page — the list goes on. (You can also eventually repurpose these photos for your social media banners and posts.) So, when putting together your marketing efforts, think about how adding vivid photography can aid in showcasing brand personality.
“But how do I get amazing photos for my site?” you may be asking. There are a few prime places to secure them: stock photo sites, taking them yourself or hiring a pro to take them for you. Each option has its benefits and drawbacks. To help you make your decision as to which avenue to take, we’ve created this guide for sourcing the best photos for you:
Selecting Stock Photos
PROS OF STOCK PHOTOS:
- You can find awesome, visually appealing shots that can make your website and social media profiles look more professional.
- Finding photos on stock photo sites takes very little time, and, as mentioned, can be done relatively affordably.
CONS OF STOCK PHOTOS:
- You may not find applicable or relevant real estate photos for websites on stock image sites. Showcasing photos that are too vague and obscure may confuse your audience.
- Even if you find an incredible photo to use, several other agents and brokers may be using the same one, which could make hurt your brand by making you look like you don’t care about what’s included in your marketing.
When it comes to stock photos, there are some pretty terrible ones out there. Now, there are many great ones on major stock photo sites like Shutterstock and Thinkstock, but those sites require payment, and you run out of those great photos pretty quickly. Don’t fret about an inability to find top-tier photography to plug onto your site, though, as there are plenty of premier, royalty-free image sites you can use to fill the pages of your site.
For example, stock photo sites Superfamous Studios, Little Visuals and Unsplash offer their photo selections for free commercial use, so long as you credit them on your website. While these sites may not strictly include real estate photography, you can find a plethora of stunning imagery to incorporate on your website and in your social media profiles.
The trick with selecting stock photos for your marketing is, more likely than not, they aren’t indicative of the properties located in your specific market. That’s not to say you can’t use photos of real estate that are more upscale or a different style than the properties in your area, it simply means you should think carefully of whether your audience would be more likely to convert when they see broader real estate photography like that or homes similar to those on your local market you could actually sell them.
“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”
— Ansel Adams
Taking Your Own Photos
PROS OF TAKING PHOTOS:
- You control what aspects of properties and neighborhoods are shot and can then edit them on your own time to make them as alluring as possible to buyers.
- You don’t have to be super-artistic to take your own shots. You just need to know the basics to getting the most out of your camera.
- The photos you take can also be used to promote your services on social media — from Twitter and Facebook to more visual-themed sites like Instagram and Pinterest.
- You learn a new, invaluable skill.
CONS OF TAKING PHOTOS:
- Learning how to use certain cameras and their various accessories can be a bit tricky, and taking your own shots is no guarantee you’ll end up with images you like and want to use on your site.
- You could end up spending valuable time learning how to shoot like the pros.
If you decide to forgo stock images altogether, your best bet may be to take photos of homes and neighborhoods yourself. Just know this hands-on approach requires you to learn the basics of photography, so be prepared to comb over how-to sites and manuals so you can shoot like the pros.
Once you’ve gotten your feet wet with some shooting sessions, you can even read up on how to take advanced photos. One of the keys to professional-looking pics is to use editing software so you can adjust the lighting, brightness, contrast and other aspects of your photos. Numerous photo-editing softwares exist, including Photoshop (for the tech-savvy real estate agent) and Pixlr (a little more user-friendly for novice designers). If you’re shooting on a smartphone, you could invest in apps that allow you to seamlessly shoot and edit within seconds. Some top considerations include Snapseed, Litely or VSCO Cam.
Whichever program you utilize when editing, just be sure you don’t alter too much of the properties or you run the risk of deceiving your audience.
To reduce the amount of editing needed for your photos, take the time of day you shoot into consideration. Many real estate photographers say taking photos in the morning of sunny days is often best, as it offers premium lighting of properties and affords them plenty of time to get the right shots. For instance, look at the shot below: The sun helps brighten the home and make every facet of it visible (and appealing).
And when it comes to quantity, you can never take too many photos. The more you take, the better the odds are that you’ll end up with at least a few top-notch shots to showcase on your new real estate website.
Hiring a Photographer
PROS OF HIRING PHOTOGRAPHER:
- Once you find a respected and dependable photo expert to work with, all you’ve got to do is pay up.
- You don’t have to deal with the hassle of getting the right shots yourself to include on your homepage.
- An experienced photographer can take your preferences for photos, shoot some incredible results and even edit the shots you love to perfect them further.
CONS OF HIRING PHOTOGRAPHER:
- The pro or amateur you hire may not “get it” in terms of what you’re looking for and could end up shooting the wrong kinds of photos, thus wasting your money (and causing a headache to boot).
- It may be difficult to link up your busy schedule with that of the photographer you hire.
Should you decide it’s best to leave the photography to the pros (or you simply don’t have the time or resources to take your own photos), you can get in touch with a professional one (or a well-reviewed amateur) to take them for your business. Be sure whomever you hire is a credible professional with plenty of good word-of-mouth and testimonials from fellow agents and offers an array of samples in their portfolio.
Hiring a professional real estate photographer also means opening up your pockets a bit, so you need to do your due diligence to get your money’s worth. Just as you would hire any other vendor… research, research, research! And when you hire someone to take your shots for you, you can direct them to take shots of anything and everything you want, including you working in your office and on-site at homes for sale (which you can use on your bio page and as featured images in blog posts).
At the end of the day, hiring a professional or amateur expert to assist your photography efforts can be a huge benefit to you, as you can devote more of your time, money and energy on your actual business and marketing efforts. So, if you have the financial wherewithal (and trust) to employ a skillful, seasoned photographer, it may be your best option.
In addition to using great photos in your marketing, you can also shoot videos to include across your site and promote on social media. Check out Tools for Real Estate Video: The Accessories to learn what resources you need to make great videos.
Got your own tips and tricks for getting the most out of real estate photography? Share your insights in the comments below!
Published on June 13, 2014
Written by Matthew Bushery
I'm the Sr. Content Creator for Placester, where I educate real estate professionals about modern marketing and, in turn, help agents and brokers make the most of their online presence, earn more traffic, and generate more leads and business.