hotels

Ten top tips for better property photographs by Neil Alexander

Because more and more people are searching for properties online before they even step into an estate agents office, great photographs are increasingly becoming essential in marketing a house. A good photograph of a property will catch the eye of house-hunters instantly, whereas poorly lit, wonky pictures are off-putting and relegate a property to the ‘to look at later’ list. This is a bit of an expansion on an article I wrote a few weeks back for the Right Move blog.

Photograph of an expertly crafted Mowlem and Co kitchen

  1. Attach your camera to a tripod. Hand held cameras are great for taking spur of the moment pictures, but a tripod will give you the stability to take clearer, sharper photographs. Work the scene until you have the composition you want, then get out your tripod. Even in the brightest of rooms, I'm quite often surprised about how low a shutter speed I'm working with. Being clamped to a tripod guarantees a sharp picture even at the slowest shutter speeds.
  2. Switch on all the house lights Even during the day. Having all the lights on in your home will instantly make it look warmer and more appealing. Hotels do it, estate agents do it, and they do it for a reason.
  3. Use lighting equipment. Dark corners don’t do your home any favours online, but simple lighting equipment will help you illuminate them. A flash will help, as will a reflector and even a light stand.
  4. Room preparation. Sometimes called staging, preparing a room is a way of showing how best it can be used. This is very often done by temporarily repositioning furniture in a room and putting lamps on tables and flowers in vases, or setting a table for dinner.
  5. Hot shoe bubble spirit level. To prevent your pictures looking wonky, use a bubble spirit level to ensure your camera is perfectly angled for each room. You can get these from ebay or your local camera store for a few pounds. They pop right into your hot shoe, and they make all the difference. If your picture looks lopsided, it's an instant turn off.
  6. Take your exterior shots in the morning. Getting up a dawn isn’t everyone’s idea of fun, but it’s the ideal time of day to get the best photographs of the outside of a property: dawn light is better and there are fewer people around. In fact civil twilight is the best time. That's around 30-40 minutes before dawn, or the same after sunset (it varies depending on the time of year). Agreed mid-summer, not too many people are going to want to get up at 3am to shoot, but if you want that winning shot.....
  7. Watch how the light hits your house. At different times of the day, and at different times of year, the light will change how your house looks. Take some time to stand outside and see how it looks on different days. So plan ahead, if you think that your house looks at its best in mid-December then why not try and get some great photographs of it. There's nothing stopping you using these when you want to sell it mid-summer three years later.
  8. Processing the image. Today, processing is a term for how the image is put through photography software before it is ready to be used. This helps to soften, sharpen and generally tidy up any imperfections. Sometimes a little vignette helps draw the viewers eye to a particular area of the photograph, or you may want to bring out the colour a little more. Adobe Lightroom is a must have for any serious photographer, and the tools available inside this application in it's latest iteration are really quite incredible.

  9. Take a photography course. There are photography courses run at adult education centres all over the country, and are the best place to start learning about taking better pictures. Alternatively many professional photographers now run their own workshops. Look at the work of photographers you admire, and contact them to see if they offer any instruction.
  10. Get a professional photographer. Hiring a professional is very cost effective. They are not expensive and can make the difference between the house selling/renting quickly or not. If you’re thinking of renting your property, then with a one-time investment in professional photographs, you can re-use them each time you come to let the property.
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  1. If you'd like to know more about the services I offer to home sellers, estate agents or lettings agents, then pop on over to my dedicated site - www.interior-photo.net

 Photograph of the Lake House at the Relais and Chateaux Gilpin Lodge Hotel, Lake District

Photograph of the Lake House restaurant at the Relais and Chateaux Gilpin Lodge Hotel, Lake District

 Photograph of the Lake House at the Relais and Chateaux Gilpin Lodge Hotel, Lake District

The Lake House at the Gilpin Lodge Hotel by Neil Alexander

The Harriet Suite, Lake House, Gilpin Lodge Hotel, Lake District

 A couple of weeks ago, I was extremely lucky to be given the chance to shoot some images for my portfolio up at the incredible Lake House, part of the Relais & Chateaux Gilpin Lodge Hotel. There are 6 delightful suites set in 100 acres of woodland on the edge of Knipe Tarn. This 5 star boutique hotel, quite separate from the main hotel itself, is fully staffed with a bar, dining room, swimming pool, and lounge. Since opening in September 2010, many guests have been simply "blown away" by the Lake House, and I can safely say that on arrival, I was too.

The Harriet Suite, Lake House, Gilpin Lodge Hotel, Lake District

Photographically, the weather was far from ideal. The earliest I could get up there, for one reason or another was about 11am, and as it was a gorgeous summer's day with barely a cloud in the sky by the time I got to shooting, the light was harsh. And very contrasty. Very quickly, I decided it was pointless trying to attempt any exterior shots. All my work would have to be carried out inside, and even then a whole chunk of bracketing was going to be required. Lately I've been trialling a new technique for interiors which basically consists of shooting several bracketed exposures (the number of which depends on just how contrasty the scene is), and then "fusing" them in Lightroom using a plugin called enFuse. Similar to HDR, but not quite, this method produces far more realistic interiors by combining the shadows and highlights from different frames into one, rather than using tone mapping, and the lack of a round trip from Lightroom to say, Photomatix and then back again, has vastly speeded up my workflow.

The Harriet Suite, Lake House, Gilpin Lodge Hotel, Lake District

All that's really left after the fusing, is straightening any converging verticals in Photoshop (I really wish Nikon would do a tilt/shift wider than 24mm), and some simple tweaks in the develop module in Lightroom.

The Harriet Suite, Lake House, Gilpin Lodge Hotel, Lake District

The Harriet Suite, Lake House, Gilpin Lodge Hotel, Lake District

All that's left to say, is a huge thank you to Zoë and her lovely staff. Hopefully I'll be back up there in the not too distant future to get some exteriors and some shots of the main hotel too.

Lowry Hotel, Manchester by Neil Alexander

The Lowry Hotel, Manchester at dusk by Neil Alexander

 A couple of weeks or so ago, I was extremely fortunate to get the opportunity to produce some new images for the Rocco Forte Lowry Hotel in Manchester.  Award winning and arguably the city's trendiest, Manchester's first five star hotel is a bold architectural statement with it's sweeping curved glass facade. The interior is just as bold, and to get to photograph it was great. Having shot a suite, the restaurant, the bar and the lobby, I made a return trip to shoot the exterior around civil twilight on a lovely blue sky evening.

The lobby at the Lowry Hotel, Manchester by Neil Alexander

A suite at the Lowry Hotel, Manchester by Neil Alexander

A suite at the Lowry Hotel, Manchester by Neil Alexander

A suite at the Lowry Hotel, Manchester by Neil Alexander

A suite at the Lowry Hotel, Manchester by Neil Alexander

A suite at the Lowry Hotel, Manchester by Neil Alexander

The restaurant at the Lowry Hotel, Manchester by Neil Alexander

The restaurant at the Lowry Hotel, Manchester by Neil Alexander

The bar at the Lowry Hotel, Manchester by Neil Alexander

Just before I sign off, I've also got a guest post up over on the Right Move blog, titled "Ten top tips for better property photographs". Swing by and check it out if you're interested.

TTFN...