Property Photography

DIY Photos and Videos.

DIY Photos and Videos.

Edward Argyle’s First Example Photos. The Ingredients for Great Property Photos.

Between us, Helen and I have taught thousands of estate agents, property developers, photographers, private individuals and even one guy who went on to set up as a teaching competitor how to take professional-standard property imagery.

After winning instructions, pro-standard imagery is crucial to an agent's first objective: to get their properties noticed. If nobody notices your properties, how can you negotiate with them? Also, a study in 2014 showed that the perception of values could increase by 12% when the same houses were photographed well, compared to them photographed to an average/bad standard. Rightmove reckons viewings can quadruple.

The better your property marketing, the more likely you will win instructions on the best-looking homes. Nobody wants their £60,000 kitchen being made to look like the lower deck of Noah’s Ark after a nasty storm. People who spend tens or hundreds of thousands on their homes want them shown off.

Professional Standards vs Professional Imagery

It would be fantastic if you could afford a high-end pro like those in our Black Book. They’re the best of the best, but they’re not cheap. You get what you pay for. Not all professionals are equal. There are many whose only accurate claim to professionalism is they get paid to take photos or make videos. That’s why I prefer the label, ‘professional-standard’ to ‘professional photos.’ There’s a subtle difference that can be seen in the end quality of their images.

I don’t blame guys who turn out average work. They’re often paid peanuts by the companies employing them, meaning they must photograph/video several houses daily and spend hours optimising them to make ends meet. On top of that, they complete EPCs and draw floor plans. There isn’t the time to do a great job with the imagery. That’s sad when you consider the average value of UK property is around £280k. Even Cornflakes come in brightly-coloured boxes, not brown paper bags.

DIY – is it for you?

For photography, you need a little training to help you understand your camera’s settings. If I can understand them, you can too. No rocket science is involved. It’s mostly logic. Learning to drive a car requires you to synchronise your hands and feet, change gears, use the clutch, brake, and accelerator, coordinate eye movements, look into mirrors, and keep an eye on your speed and the road ahead. Compared to learning to drive, learning to take pro-standard property photos is a doddle. And you’re much less likely to kill someone with your camera unless you throw it at them.

For videography, you need to keep in mind some additional settings, such as the right frame rate, best resolution, and learning some curious choreography - to make your camera movements fluid and controlled.

The MOST important ingredient of Professional Property Photography

Most importantly, you must have the heart and the will to learn. Edward Argyle, one of my Alumni, gets it! Here’s what he says. 

“I used to sell millions of pounds of consumer goods to major retailers. Through that process, I've discovered that no matter how good you are at selling, nothing beats a quality product that is promoted with first-rate marketing.

With this in mind, when deciding to launch
Argyle Property Associates, I designed the agency to deliver quality at every level and nowhere is this more important than in photography. While it takes an average of 94 days for a property to sell subject to contract, it takes 7 seconds for a would-be buyer to decide whether to book a viewing. Great photos massively increase the number of enquiries, ultimately securing the vendor a better price.

Knowing this but needing camera experience, I attended John Durrant's training in an online course. I'm very happy to say I am now turning out photographs of a professional standard. My original plan was always to outsource the photography once the agency had grown sufficiently; however, being able to personally commit to vendors that I'm going to get the very best shots to enable the very best sale has been so powerful that I don't expect to be dropping the camera bags any time soon.

I can't recommend John and DCTR enough, both from a training and support services point of view.’

I always ask my students to send their first efforts. I love seeing their successes and was thrilled to see some of Edward’s first-ever photos. He has only recently set up. I mostly love the way he has bravely experimented, by using a wider aperture and creating a slightly blurred background for artistic effect. In this way these photos stand out from the norm. But it's a technique best used for artistic impact where the property deserves the extra effort.

Lifestyle - focus on the vase and flowers
Bedroom Lifestyle - note the care taken dressing the bed and focus on the coffee pot
Focus this time, is on the glass bottle

What About Optimising?

Every photo straight out of the camera, can be improved by 20-30%. Photoshop is not intuitive, it took me 18-months to get my head around it before I even considered launching Doctor Photo. Of course, you can learn yourself - there are plenty of online courses. This one was recommended by one of my students. It's a 5-day workshop. Keep in mind that our average time for Facelifting each photo is 4 minutes; 60 photos will take 4 hours! That's time better spent talking to your audience - buyers and sellers. Alternatively, you can feed your photos into our AI and have them optimised for you, very inexpensively and completed in minutes. There are no shortcuts if your objective is to create the highest standards in your property marketing. `They all must be optimised, and Windows Paint won't cut it for you.

My mantra is, ‘Every photo must be better than the last’. But just look at Edward’s starting point! Learned technique, plus commitment = the recipe for success.

John Durrant

Authored the RICS Guide to Property Photography. Judged awards. Served as an estate agent 1968 - 2005. Won national awards. Changed lanes and focused on property marketing in 2005, specialising in photographing very large country houses for Knight Frank, Savills etc. Founded Doctor Photo Ltd (DCTR) in 2012.