Engaging a professional photographer for advertising material is every bit as important for commercial real estate as it is in the residential market. Yet nowadays it is not such a giant leap to consider using your smartphone camera for the job when sourcing expert help isn’t possible.
By taking a few steps to enhance a device’s capabilities it is entirely feasible to use any of the more advanced smartphones on the market and end up with professional-looking high-quality images.
Photographer Brad Filliponi has been shooting real estate for almost 20 years and co-founded photo editing company BoxBrownie.com to help commercial property owners, agents and managers with their own images. While he emphasises that using a high-quality DSLR to shoot real estate is the best and preferred route, there will always be cases where such equipment is not readily available.
“It’s simply not an option for some listings,” he says. “Sometimes a smartphone is the only camera you may have access too – so adding in a smartphone lens to your tool belt can be an extremely handy idea – as the best part about being able to use a smartphone camera is that you actually have it on you all the time.”
These before and after images below put the task of shooting a multi-million commercial property with a smartphone to the test. Taken with a Samsung S9, they show the stark difference of images produced with and without a simple wide-angle lens attached and after an equally simple edit.
The Before Shot
The After Shot
“The before shot is very average,” Mr. Filliponi explains. “The image is cropped in, the sky is overcast, the colours are dull. We would not recommend using this for real estate marketing at all.”
The after shot is clearly the one for use. Most importantly it is the same width of professional property photographs. Creating this would require:
- • A newer advanced smartphone, ideally an iPhone 8 or higher, Google Pixel or a Samsung Galaxy S8/8 or higher.
- • An 18mm wide angle lens which allows for taking excellent wide-angle shots plus a phone case for mounting the lens onto the smartphone.
Be aware that such lenses do range in quality and investing in the best possible product is advisable. Less expensive attachments can result in black rings forming in the corners of photos or leave shots blurred on the edges.
“These lenses such as the 18mm Moment Wide lens make a huge difference and allows your phone to shoot wider which is preferential when it comes to real estate photography,” Mr. Filliponi says.
“Otherwise, without the wide lens attachment, your shots will appear cropped which looks unprofessional and detracts from the property being advertised.”
The next step is to make your photographs ‘pop’ with an editing program or by using the services of a photography company. Photo editing is mandatory to brighten colours, replace stormy skies with blue, and even mock up what the premises could look like if restyled as a café, or advertising company headquarters and so on.
These further tips below are among the most important to adhere when shooting your valuable asset:
- Always hire a professional photographer if you have the budget –Images taken by an expert with a top of the line DSLR and wide-angle lenses are unbeatable.
- If shooting a property yourself, use the best equipment you can afford and ALWAYS have images edited – The end result will be better quality, and the quality of your marketing reflects you and your brand.
- Shoot with a steady hand - Photo editing companies such as Box.Brownie.com and professional real estate photographers can fix almost about anything on your photos except sharpen blur.
- Declutter – Clean up inside and out of the property. Move cars and any unwanted items no matter how small that may look messy or distract from the asset. Pressure wash and clean driveways/building areas and glass, remove weeds, trim gardens, remove any graffiti.
- Replace blown light bulbs and turn on all lights – Only with interior lights though, as it creates warmth.
- Include aerial photos showing surrounding suburbs – Aerial photos are optimal for illustrating commercial block sizes. They also show perspective to any surrounding landmarks or attractions to the property. Drop pin edits can be added to show the names of local areas.
- Time of day – Always have the sun behind you when shooting an exterior. Midday sun is harsh; mid-morning or afternoon is light is softer and preferable.
- Buy a 360 camera – 3These start from around $500, allow enhancement of images and can be used on social media.
- Last but not least: always shoot landscape orientation – Most property portals do not accept portrait oriented images