Photographing Your Rental Property: Tips for Getting the Best Pics

Posted By: Tiffany Van Buren Housing Provider Tips,

You’ve heard the adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words”, and it is just as true when advertising your rental property as it is when illustrating a children’s book. Rental ads with photos get 90% more views than those without. Visuals convey crucial information that prospective renters want to know about your property, such as what the unit looks like, the condition it’s in, and if they can picture themselves living there.  The more photos you have, the longer a viewer will spend looking at your listing. If you can keep them there long enough to start thinking about where they’d place their furniture, you’ve increased the chances of generating a lead from your ad. But — not all photos are created equal! I’ve seen too many photos in listings that only show a corner of a room or were obviously taken right after a move-out; dirty walls, debris on the floor and countertops — there is no place for bad photos in good marketing! You want to show your property in its best light, literally and figuratively. I’m going to list some tips and tricks below, but a lot of it just comes down to patience and practice. Make friends with your smartphone camera; it’s amazing what they’re capable of.

Getting Started

  • Lighting: Believe it or not, overcast days are optimal because they cast the least shadows. Turn on all the interior lights and open the window treatments.
  • Close the lid on the toilet: No one needs to see inside the bowl. Thank you.
  • Ensure cleanliness: Don’t photograph dirty properties. Anything you can see will be captured in your photos, and viewers might zoom in; don’t risk it by taking photos before a thorough cleaning.
  • Consider features, such as crown moldings, built-ins, high-end appliances, hardwood floors, picture windows, skylights, etc., and how to best represent them with your photography.  

The Phone Camera

  • iPhone users: Open the Camera app. Hold your phone horizontally. Press the 0.5X icon to use the Ultra-Wide lens. Make sure you’re not in “Live” mode (the concentric circle-shaped icon in the corner-tap it off) and you probably don’t need the flash. If your phone camera has an HDR setting, use it.
  • Android users: Google made it impossible for me to advise since every manufacturer of Android phones stocks their devices with its proprietary application. Google is a very useful search engine, though, so search “taking real estate photos with my <phone model> phone”, or “the <appname> app.”

Taking the photos

  • Use both hands: You want a steady grip on your camera.
  • Hold your phone somewhere between chest and shoulder height: This way, you’ll capture a bit of the ceiling and the floor in your shots.
  • Show transitions: Showing how rooms connect to one another instead of shooting each room singularly will give the viewer a better idea of the layout. For example, when you’re shooting the living room, the doors in the distance that lead to the bedroom and bathroom should be open, and try to capture a bit of that view in your photo. If the kitchen is off the living room, show that transition, too.
  • Shoot in a clockwise order: Starting with the living room, work your way through the unit clockwise. It’s helpful later when you’re sorting through your photos since empty bedrooms can look a lot alike.
  • Stand in the corners of larger rooms: This is how to get the widest shot.
  • Stand in the doorway of smaller rooms: You can capture an entire small bathroom from the doorway.
  • Experiment with holding your phone vertically and horizontally: Vertical shots are great for showing detail, but they are a narrower view, so you want to hold your phone horizontally to photograph large spaces.
  • Capture no more than three walls in your photo: Photographing all four walls in one frame makes the room appear smaller.
  • Don’t be in a rush: Look at each photo after you take it. Does it express what you hoped to capture? Do you need to position yourself, your phone, or anything else differently before you snap another photo? Reset and try again.
  • Take more photos than you need: Thanks to digital cameras, you don’t have to be conservative when clicking the shutter button! Give yourself a library of photos to choose from.
  • Don’t forget the exterior: The best listings include exterior shots and a few neighborhood views, especially if there are attractions in the area, such as the university, parks, or shopping areas. Curb appeal is important, so sweep up, remove trash, and find an angle that represents your property’s best side.

When ordering the photos in your listing, how should you arrange them?  Your default photo should make the viewer want to see more. Does the building have incredible curb appeal? Is the living room the best feature? Or maybe a view from a particular window provides the unit’s wow factor. Draw them in with a great photo and keep them there with plenty more.