Avoid these 5 common photo mistakes in your listings

Katrina Langer
Katrina Langer | 4 min. read

Published on April 14, 2016

In the days of Instagram and HGTV, it’s easy to imagine that we’re all amateur photographers just waiting for our 15 seconds of viral fame.

But even if you (and your followers) are huge fans of your coffee and croissant combo cast through the Valencia filter, you could still be committing real estate photo crimes (and costing yourself the attention of apartment hunters).

We profiled a few of the weirdest real estate photos we could find last year (and boy, were they weird); but this time around, we’d like to show you some examples of some of the most common photo mistakes. These are so common, in fact, that Jeff O’Connor, professional commercial photographer and owner of JS O’Connor Photography, was able to pull examples from his outtakes.

5 Common Real Estate Photography Mistakes to Avoid

Don’t Forget to Check the Background

If you’re in a rush to turn a property over and the current tenant isn’t psyched about having you traipse through their house to take photos, you may find strange things in the background when you go to edit.

jeff oconnor photography

That’s right: Even professionals fall victim to the accidental selfie. Avoid it by quickly checking all four corners of your frame before you snap the picture. That ensures your eyes have scanned the entire shot, so you’ll catch anything out-of-the-ordinary.

Focus on the Right Things

If you’re trying to capture the living room of an open concept property, be sure that your camera isn’t focusing on the teapot in the kitchen. With a mobile phone, you can usually adjust it by tapping on the screen where you’d like the focus to be. With a DSLR, you can adjust the auto focus or use the manual focus mode to capture the details you want.

Watch Your Flash

It’s tempting to use a flash in a dark room. But, the built-in flash on most cameras and smartphones is harsh and casts long shadows and create bright spots where you may not want them. So, instead of the looking warm and inviting, the property may end up looking like a haunted house. Take, for example, the two photos of the same room below. The first was taken with a flash, the second relies on the warm interior light and sunlight through the windows. Which would you rather share a meal with your family in?

misuse of flash

properly lit photo

Take Great Photos & Edit Very Little

We all have our days. You won’t always be at the property at the right time of day to capture a perfect, clean, perfectly-lit photo. But there is no need to go overboard with the saturation, sharpness, white-balance, or HDR. This makes photos look more like drawings, and they’re not very inviting. For example, this photo is a composite image created with the HDR capabilities of many editing programs. It’s overdone, harsh, and uninviting.

too much hdr

Do what you can to create a clean, well-lit image. Edit if you need to improve, but let the property speak for itself.

Don’t Post Too Many or Too Few

There is such a thing as juuust the right number of photos, according to the experts at Zillow. Listings with 11-15 photos get 70% more clicks than listings without any photos. Listings with more than 20 photos do not see any added benefits.

Have you fallen victim to any of these slip-ups? What crazy things have you seen posted on real estate listings around the web? Get the discussion started below!

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Katrina Langer

Katrina is the author of several Buildium ebooks and guides. She holds a B.A. in English from Northeastern University.

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