Practical Photography Tips if You Want to Sell Your Home on Your Own (FSBO)

Photo by Lilian Cordova on Unsplash

When selling a home, it’s important that you have stunning pictures of your property that you can upload on listing sites. You often don’t have to worry about real estate photography if you’re working with an agent or a broker. However, in a “For Sale By Owner” (FSBO) transaction where you chose to sell your property by yourself, you have two options to get decent photos of your property: You either hire a professional photographer or use your resources and take photos by yourself.

Deciding to take photos of your property is a no brainer as almost everyone takes photos nowadays and hiring a professional photographer is expensive. But if you want your property to stand out on a listing site like Zillow, you may not want it to go viral in a bad way even if you meant it as a joke to get attention. You need to present your property in a professional manner where potential buyers would “feel at home” as they browse pictures of your property.

While an entry-level DSLR camera is an ideal tool for the job, some advanced smartphones that have two or more optics can give you decent real estate pictures for most listing sites. If you’ve gone binge-watching real estate photography tutorials on YouTube, here are the practical photography takeaways you need to remember so you’re not going to end up shooting terrible pictures:

Understand how your camera works

This is not a problem if you own a digital camera and you’re shooting pictures for quite some time. However, if you’re going to borrow a camera from a relative or a friend, it’s important that you know how to change aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and color temperature settings. Although automatic camera settings come handy, it will often give you amateurish pictures, especially when shooting interiors in low-light conditions. Having a good understanding of your camera can give you an idea of its capabilities and limitations.

Understand and learn how to capture light

Light is the main reason why photography exists. A camera simply cannot capture a picture if there’s no light. If you’ve been living in your home for several years, you probably have an idea of what time of the day the sun shines on different parts of your home. This time, you may want to observe what time of the day a part of your home is properly lit. For example, your living room only gets natural lighting in the morning. Some find it ideal to use natural light when taking interior shots. If the natural lighting is insufficient you may need to turn on the lights so you can take properly exposed pictures. Unless you’re using an external flash, you’ll often get a picture with harsh lighting if you use the camera’s built-in flash.   

Plan on how to take pictures of your property

Like any regular task, having a workable plan can make you efficient when taking pictures of your property. Identify parts of the property that you want potential buyers to see. Find out if you need to repaint the room or you need to replace busted light bulbs. You may want to show a recently updated kitchen, or you may want to decorate a seemingly boring living room. Moreover, you may want to schedule your photo ops during the spring or summer season so you can get pleasant lighting and vivid colors compared when shooting during winter.

Remove all clutter and clean everything

The adage “less is more” also applies in real estate photography. Removing unnecessary clutters and cleaning everything before taking a picture is worth considering if you don’t want to waste time “cleaning” photos on Photoshop. For example, you don’t want a plate with several lined powdery substance on your kitchen tabletop when taking a picture. If you want to decorate, keep it minimal so your viewers will not strain their eyes while looking at your pictures. Always keep in mind that you’re taking pictures so potential buyers can imagine what it feels like to be in your property.

Use a tripod and self-timer to take sharp photos

Professional photographers mount their cameras on a tripod for a good reason: to take sharp photos even on low-light conditions. If you already know now that using manual settings can give you more control of your camera, a tripod will allow you to take pictures using small aperture openings and very slow shutter speeds, which are often ideal when taking interior shots.

You’ve probably used self-timer if you want to include yourself when taking group pictures. However, you can also activate the self-timer settings to avoid unnecessary movements if you’re placing the camera on a chair with stacks of books to get a good angle instead of a tripod.

Understand basic real estate photography compositions

If you already know how to capture good lighting, having a good understanding of basic photography compositions can make your interior and outdoor shots even more interesting. Like in other fields of photography, the rule-of-thirds also works best to prevent you from shooting fully-centered interior shots. Placing the camera on an eye-level angle can create a first-person point-of-view that makes potential buyers imagine that they are inside your property. When composing a shot, you may also want to avoid zooming out the lens to the widest to reduce distortions that can make your picture unnatural.   

Use photo-editing apps to enhance your shots

Before uploading your pictures on listing sites, you may want to enhance your pictures to make it even more stunning. You don’t have to get Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom subscriptions to crop, correct exposure, and improve the color of your pictures. Snapseed and VSCO are two free easy-to-use photo editing apps you can install on your iOS or Android mobile device. Simply load your pictures on your smartphone or tablet and tweak them with a few taps and swipes. When improving real estate shots, you may want to avoid using high-strength HDR effects or filters, that could make your pictures unnatural.

Final thoughts if you want to take listing pictures on your own

If you want to sell your property on your own, learning how to take decent pictures can save you money if you don’t want to work with an agent or hire a professional photographer. If you think you have a knack for photography and you’ve already watched tutorials on YouTube, you can use these tips as a reminder on how to take good listing photos.