Submitted By J. Sarpulla
In this digital age, many properties are wielding an inexpensive digital camera in order to handle their advertising photography in-house. The easy use of a digital camera, however, does not guarantee an ad-worthy photo. It’s surprising how often apartment community staff will post photos to advertising web sites that may be decent quality photos, but have very poor product presentation.
As Ansel Adams once said, “There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.” While this is surely sound and inspirational advice to photographers, there are assuredly rules for avoiding bad photographs.
In property management, we’re not leasing bland square footage, we’re leasing homes. A well-crafted photograph should give the prospect a glimpse into what their life will be like should they choose to reside in your community.
This advice doesn’t just apply to interior shots. Often times, we’ll see exterior photos with parking lots, roads, vehicles, garden hoses or bicycles in the shot. It’s important to eliminate all objects from the frame, except those that are necessary to illustrate your property or amenities.
Prospects are not looking to move into multiple units. So why do we often see photographs of an entire expanse of a building or community? The preferred arrangement would illustrate a cozy section of the building or entrance entrance, rather than tens of feet of brick or siding.
Embrace the darkness
In the absence of proper knowledge of lighting and shutter speed, the best photographs are taken during cloudy/overcast days.
Seize your window of opportunity
Where we reside in upstate New York, there is a very narrow window of opportunity to capture the best exterior photos. Ideally, we like to take our exterior photos after the flowers have bloomed and filled in. This is tricky because at that exact time, drought usually sets in and browns the grass. Autumn is a difficult time because the falling leaves litter the grounds. Generally speaking, there is a two-week window of opportunity. Coordination of the lawn cutting schedule and ideal lighting narrows that window even further. We’ve got to be conscious of that time period and grab the opportunity the moment we can, or it will be lost for another season.
Lay down on the job
Photographs taken from a standard height and angle lack creativity. The better shots are taken either lying on your belly, while directing the camera up toward the objects, or from an elevated level while standing on a chair or stool. Be careful not to get too much sky/ceiling or flooring in your shot, or you’ll detract from the subject of your photo.
We’re fortunate in this day and age to be able to take multiple photos without the time and expense of wasting film and development. The best tip for apartment photography is to experiment. Play around frequently with heights and angles. Arrange objects in your view so that all of your objects are not the same distance away. A vibrant plant or flower arrangement closer to your lens than the target frame helps to break up the monotony. Above all else, have fun with the camera!