How important is professional photography?

 

Critically important - that is all I need to say!

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Having made that statement I do have a need to explain a bit more. We live in a content overload-world, in which we are never more than a nanosecond away from a 'screen' - be that a tablet, a TV, a smartphone or nowadays a car console. In time, screens will become ever more present and less definable. In the context of real estate this places even more reliance on the role of photography in real estate marketing.

Consciously or unconsciously we judge property by the single image that represents it as being 'for sale' - be that the cover of a property magazine or supplement; or the search results on Trade Me or Realestate.co.nz. That single image has to work so hard to represent in this split second of engagement, the compelling reason why the viewer should spend the time to either view more photos as in the case of online or read more details and then check out the online details in the case of a print advert.

A professional photographic shoot is the best investment you can make as the basic requirement of real estate marketing. I know from personal experience that the latest smartphone has the most amazing software that can do amazing things to create a very professional shot but believe me nothing beats a great camera, great lighting and a real professional. There are many professional operations around the country and your local agent will have established great relationships with them. In my experience (limited to Auckland) the two I have first hand working relationship are Open2view and MyAgent.

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A high quality portfolio of images of a property should tell a story about the property. I hold the view that the 'hero' shot being the first in the sequence, should ideally be the front of the house as this is what triggers an emotional connection, as the parlance goes 'classic street appeal'. However I would be the first to admit that if the property has a unique and stunning view I concede that it would be hard to beat - this image below is for me the classic rule breaker. A property high above Muriwai beach that was recently for sale and prompted me to share this thought.

  Stunning property  recently sold by Bayleys 

Stunning property recently sold by Bayleys 

The portfolio of photos should be sequenced to lead the viewer logically and emotionally through the property bringing to the sequence the real selling points up front and leaving towards the end the functional but no less appealing shots. Above all else (and no self respecting professional photographer would do this) avoid shots of toilets, untidy rooms, selfie's in mirrors and people. 

When it comes to how many photos, there is no perfect number. For me 10 is way too few and 50 way too much, but remember and I say all this as I would encourage all sellers to take an interest in the photos, that Trade Me Property only shows 20 photos so bear this in mind - you may have 30 photos on Realestate.co.nz and the agents company site but those last 10 will not be seen on Trade Me, so curate the sequence so the first 20 tell a story and the final 10 reinforce the story.

As to the additional technology of virtual reality, videos, floorplans and drones. Well my views on drones can best be summed up in this recent article I wrote - they have their place, but don't get carried away. Video is a great medium when done well, but a slideshow presentation of photos masquerading as a video should be banned! Virtual reality is a major leap in technology and for traditional residential real estate nothing, but nothing should get in the way of physical inspection, but for new construction especially apartment developments then virtual reality is perfect. Floorplans finally are in my judgement a must, whilst not everyone has the ability to interpret flat plans (and there are much enhanced 3D plans nowadays) the layout and context a floorplan gives cannot be surpassed.

Alistair Helm